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Allan's Wife by H. Rider Haggard

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men, watch! /it grows white!/"

"Yes, it grows white," they said. "Ou! it grows white."

"It grows white because the blood returns to whence it came," said
Indaba-zimbi. "Now, great Spirit, hear me. Thou art dead, the breath
has gone out of thy mouth. Yet hear me and arise. Awake, White Spirit,
awake and show thy power. Awake! arise unhurt!"

I began to respond cheerfully to this imposing invocation.

"Not so fast, Macumazahn," whispered Indaba-zimbi.

I took the hint, and first held up my arm, then lifted my head and let
it fall again.

"He lives! by the head of T'Chaka he lives!" roared the soldiers,
stricken with mortal fear.

Then slowly and with the greatest dignity I gradually arose, stretched
my arms, yawned like one awaking from heavy sleep, turned and looked
upon them unconcernedly. While I did so, I noticed that old Indaba-
zimbi was almost fainting from exhaustion. Beads of perspiration stood
upon his brow, his limbs trembled, and his breast heaved.

As for the Zulus, they waited for no more. With a howl of terror the
whole regiment turned and fled across the rise, so that presently we
were left alone with the dead, and the swooning child.

"How on earth did you do that, Indaba-zimbi?" I asked in amaze.

"Do not ask me, Macumazahn," he gasped. "You white men are very
clever, but you don't quite know everything. There are men in the
world who can make people believe they see things which they do not
see. Let us be going while we may, for when those Umtetwas have got
over their fright, they will come back to loot the waggons, and then
perhaps /they/ will begin asking questions that I can't answer."

And here I may as well state that I never got any further information
on this matter from old Indaba-zimbi. But I have my theory, and here
it is for whatever it may be worth. I believe that Indaba-zimbi
/mesmerized/ the whole crowd of onlookers, myself included, making
them believe that they saw the assegai in my heart, and the blood upon
the blade. The reader may smile and say, "Impossible;" but I would ask
him how the Indian jugglers do their tricks unless it is by mesmerism.
The spectators /seem/ to see the boy go under the basket and there
pierced with daggers, they /seem/ to see women in a trance supported
in mid-air upon the point of a single sword. In themselves these
things are not possible, they violate the laws of nature, as those
laws are known to us, and therefore must surely be illusion. And so
through the glamour thrown upon them by Indaba-zimbi's will, that Zulu
Impi seemed to see me transfixed with an assegai which never touched
me. At least, that is my theory; if any one has a better, let him
adopt it. The explanation lies between illusion and magic of a most
imposing character, and I prefer to accept the first alternative.

CHAPTER VI

STELLA

I was not slow to take Indaba-zimbi's hint. About a hundred and fifty
yards to the left of the laager was a little dell where I had hidden
my horse, together with one belonging to the Boers, and my saddle and
bridle. Thither we went, I carrying the swooning Tota in my arms. To
our joy we found the horses safe, for the Zulus had not seen them.
Now, of course, they were our only means of locomotion, for the oxen
had been sent away, and even had they been there we could not have
found time to inspan them. I laid Tota down, caught my horse, undid
his knee halter, and saddled up. As I was doing so a thought struck
me, and I told Indaba-zimbi to run to the laager and see if he could
find my double-barrelled gun and some powder and shot, for I had only
my elephant "roer" and a few charges of powder and ball with me.

He went, and while he was away, poor little Tota came to herself and
began to cry, till she saw my face.

"Ah, I have had such a bad dream," she said, in Dutch: "I dreamed that
the black Kaffirs were going to kill me. Where is my papa?"

I winced at the question. "Your papa has gone on a journey, dear," I
said, "and left me to look after you. We shall find him one day. You
don't mind going with Heer Allan, do you?"

"No," she said, a little doubtfully, and began to cry again. Presently
she remembered that she was thirsty, and asked for water. I led her to
the river and she drank. "Why is my hand red, Heer Allan?" she asked,
pointing to the smear of Bombyane's blood-stained fingers.

At this moment I felt very glad that I had killed Bombyane.

"It is only paint, dear," I said; "see, we will wash it and your
face."

As I was doing this, Indaba-zimbi returned. The guns were all gone; he
said the Zulus had taken them and the powder. But he had found some
things and brought them in a sack. There was a thick blanket, about
twenty pounds weight of biltong or sun-dried meat, a few double-
handfuls of biscuits, two water-bottles, a tin pannikin, some matches
and sundries.

"And now, Macumazahn," he said, "we had best be going, for those
Umtetwas are coming back. I saw one of them on the brow of the rise."

That was enough for me. I lifted little Tota on to the bow of my
saddle, climbed into it, and rode off, holding her in front of me.
Indaba-zimbi slipped a reim into the mouth of the best of the Boer
horses, threw of the sack of sundries on to its back and mounted also,
holding the elephant gun in his hand. We went eight or nine hundred
yards in silence till we were quite out of range of sight from the
waggons, which were in a hollow. Then I pulled up, with such a feeling
of thankfulness in my heart as cannot be told in words; for now I knew
that, mounted as we were, those black demons could never catch us. But
where were we to steer for? I put the question to Indaba-zimbi, asking
him if he thought that we had better try and follow the oxen which we
had sent away with the Kaffirs and women on the preceding night. He
shook his head.

"The Umtetwas will go after the oxen presently," he answered, "and we
have seen enough of them."

"Quite enough," I answered, with enthusiasm; "I never want to see
another; but where are we to go? Here we are alone with one gun and a
little girl in the vast and lonely veldt. Which way shall we turn?"

"Our faces were towards the north before we met the Zulus," answered
Indaba-zimbi; "let us still keep them to the north. Ride on,
Macumazahn; to-night when we off-saddle I will look into the matter."

So all that long afternoon we rode on, following the course of the
river. From the nature of the ground we could only go slowly, but
before sunset I had the satisfaction of knowing that there must be at
least twenty-five miles between us and those accursed Zulus. Little
Tota slept most of the way, the motion of the horse was easy, and she
was worn out.

At last the sunset came, and we off-saddled in a dell by the river.
There was not much to eat, but I soaked some biscuit in water for
Tota, and Indaba-zimbi and I made a scanty meal of biltong. When we
had done I took off Tota's frock, wrapped her up in a blanket near the
fire we had made, and lit a pipe. I sat there by the side of the
sleeping orphaned child, and from my heart thanked Providence for
saving her life and mine from the slaughter of that day. What a
horrible experience it had been! It seemed like a nightmare to look
back upon. And yet it was sober fact, one among those many tragedies
which dotted the paths of the emigrant Boers with the bones of men,
women, and children. These horrors are almost forgotten now; people
living in Natal now, for instance, can scarcely realize that some
forty years ago six hundred white people, many of them women and
children, were thus massacred by the Impis of Dingaan. But it was so,
and the name of the district, /Weenen/, or the Place of Weeping, will
commemorate them for ever.

Then I fell to reflecting on the extraordinary adroitness old Indaba-
zimbi had shown in saving my life. It appeared that he himself had
lived among the Umtetwa Zulus in his earlier manhood, and was a noted
rain-doctor and witch-finder. But when T'Chaka, Dingaan's brother,
ordered a general massacre of the witch-finders, he alone had saved
his life by his skill in magic, and ultimately fled south for reasons
too long to set out here. When he heard, therefore, that the regiment
was an Umtetwa regiment, which, leaving their wives and children, had
broken away from Zululand to escape the cruelties of Dingaan; under
pretence of spying on them, he took the bold course of going straight
up to the chief, Sususa, and addressing him as his brother, which he
was. The chief knew him at once, and so did the soldiers, for his fame
was still great among them. Then he told them his cock and bull story
about my being a white spirit, whose presence in the laager would
render it invincible, and with the object of saving my life in the
slaughter which he knew must ensue, agreed to charm me out of the
laager and deliver me into their keeping. How the plan worked has
already been told; it was a risky one; still, but for it my troubles
would have been done with these many days.

So I lay and thought with a heart full of gratitude, and as I did so
saw old Indaba-zimbi sitting by the fire and going through some
mysterious performances with bones which he produced from his bag, and
ashes mixed with water. I spoke to him and asked what he was about. He
replied that he was tracing out the route that we should follow. I
felt inclined to answer "bosh!" but remembering the very remarkable
instances which he had given of his prowess in occult matters I held
my tongue, and taking little Tota into my arms, worn out with toil and
danger and emotion, I went to sleep.

I awoke just as the dawn was beginning to flame across the sky in
sheets of primrose and of gold, or rather it was little Tota who woke
me by kissing me as she lay between sleep and waking, and calling me
"papa." It wrung my heart to hear her, poor orphaned child. I got up,
washed and dressed her as best I could, and we breakfasted as we had
supped, on biltong and biscuit. Tota asked for milk, but I had none to
give her. Then we caught the horses, and I saddled mine.

"Well, Indaba-zimbi," I said, "now what path do your bones point to?"

"Straight north," he said. "The journey will be hard, but in about
four days we shall come to the kraal of a white man, an Englishman,
not a Boer. His kraal is in a beautiful place, and there is a great
peak behind it where there are many baboons."

I looked at him. "This is all nonsense, Indaba-zimbi," I said.
"Whoever heard of an Englishman building a house in these wilds, and
how do you know anything about it? I think that we had better strike
east towards Port Natal."

"As you like, Macumazahn," he answered, "but it will take us three
months' journey to get to Port Natal, if we ever get there, and the
child will die on the road. Say, Macumazahn, have my words come true
heretofore, or have they not? Did I not tell you not to hunt the
elephants on horseback? Did I not tell you to take one waggon with you
instead of two, as it is better to lose one than two?"

"You told me all these things," I answered.

"And so I tell you now to ride north, Macumazahn, for there you will
find great happiness--yes, and great sorrow. But no man should run
away from happiness because of the sorrow. As you will, as you will!"

Again I looked at him. In his divinations I did not believe, yet I
came to the conclusion that he was speaking what he knew to be the
truth. It struck me as possible that he might have heard of some white
man living like a hermit in the wilds, but preferring to keep up his
prophetic character would not say so.

"Very well, Indaba-zimbi," I said, "let us ride north."

Shortly after we started, the river we had followed hitherto turned
off in a westerly direction, so we left it. All that day we rode
across rolling uplands, and about an hour before sunset halted at a
little stream which ran down from a range of hills in front of us. By
this time I was heartily tired of the biltong, so taking my elephant
rifle--for I had nothing else--I left Tota with Indaba-zimbi, and
started to try if I could shoot something. Oddly enough we had seen no
game all the day, nor did we see any on the subsequent days. For some
mysterious reason they had temporarily left the district. I crossed
the little streamlet in order to enter the belt of thorns which grew
upon the hill-side beyond, for there I hoped to find buck. As I did so
I was rather disturbed to see the spoor of two lions in the soft sandy
edge of a pool. Breathing a hope that they might not still be in the
neighbourhood, I went on into the belt of scattered thorns. For a long
while I hunted about without seeing anything, except one duiker buck,
which bounded off with a crash from the other side of a stone without
giving me a chance. At length, just as it grew dusk, I spied a Petie
buck, a graceful little creature, scarcely bigger than a large hare,
standing on a stone, about forty yards from me. Under ordinary
circumstances I should never have dreamed of firing at such a thing,
especially with an elephant gun, but we were hungry. So I sat down
with my back against a rock, and aimed steadily at its head. I did
this because if I struck it in the body the three-ounce ball would
have knocked it to bits. At last I pulled the trigger, the gun went
off with the report of a small cannon, and the buck disappeared. I ran
to the spot with more anxiety than I should have felt in an ordinary
way over a koodoo or an eland. To my delight there the little creature
lay--the huge bullet had decapitated it. Considering all the
circumstances I do not think I have often made a better shot than
this, but if any one doubts, let him try his hand at a rabbit's head
fifty yards away with an elephant gun and a three-ounce ball.

I picked up the Petie in triumph, and returned to the camp. There we
skinned him and toasted his flesh over the fire. He just made a good
meal for us, though we kept the hind legs for breakfast.

There was no moon this night, and so it chanced that when I suddenly
remembered about the lion spoor, and suggested that we had better tie
up the horses quite close to us, we could not find them, though we
knew they were grazing within fifty yards. This being so we could only
make up the fire and take our chance. Shortly afterwards I went to
sleep with little Tota in my arms. Suddenly I was awakened by hearing
that peculiarly painful sound, the scream of a horse, quite close to
the fire, which was still burning brightly. Next second there came a
noise of galloping hoofs, and before I could even rise my poor horse
appeared in the ring of firelight. As in a flash of lightning I saw
his staring eyes and wide-stretched nostrils, and the broken reim with
which he had been knee-haltered, flying in the air. Also I saw
something else, for on his back was a great dark form with glowing
eyes, and from the form came a growling sound. It was a lion.

The horse dashed on. He galloped right through the fire, for which he
had run in his terror, fortunately, however, without treading on us,
and vanished into the night. We heard his hoofs for a hundred yards or
more, then there was silence, broken now and again by distant growls.
As may be imagined, we did not sleep any more that night, but waited
anxiously till the dawn broke, two hours later.

As soon as there was sufficient light we rose, and, leaving Tota still
asleep, crept cautiously in the direction in which the horse had
vanished. When we had gone fifty yards or so, we made out its remains
lying on the veldt, and caught sight of two great cat-like forms
slinking away in the grey light.

To go any further was useless; we knew all about it now, so we turned
to look for the other horse. But our cup of misfortune was not yet
full; the horse was nowhere to be found. Terrified by the sight and
smell of the lions, it had with a desperate effort also burst the reim
with which it had been knee-haltered, and galloped far away. I sat
down, feeling as though I could cry like a woman. For now we were left
alone in these vast solitudes without a horse to carry us, and with a
child who was not old enough to walk for more than a little way at a
time.

Well, it was no use giving in, so with a few words we went back to our
camp, where I found Tota crying because she had woke to find herself
alone. Then we ate a little food and prepared to start. First we
divided such articles as we must take with us into two equal parts,
rejecting everything that we could possibly do without. Then, by an
afterthought, we filled our water-bottles, though at the time I was
rather against doing so, because of the extra weight. But Indaba-zimbi
overruled me in the matter, fortunately for all three of us. I settled
to look after Tota for the first march, and to give the elephant gun
to Indaba-zimbi. At length all was ready, and we set out on foot. By
the help of occasional lifts over rough places, Tota managed to walk
up the slope of the hill-side where I had shot the Petie buck. At
length we reached it, and, looking at the country beyond, I gave an
exclamation of dismay. To say that it was desert would be saying too
much; it was more like the Karroo in the Cape--a vast sandy waste,
studded here and there with low shrubs and scattered rocks. But it was
a great expanse of desolate land, stretching further than the eye
could reach, and bordered far away by a line of purple hills, in the
centre of which a great solitary peak soared high into the air.

"Indaba-zimbi," I said, "we can never cross this if we take six days."

"As you will, Macumazahn," he answered; "but I tell you that there"--
and he pointed to the peak--"there the white man lives. Turn which way
you like, but if you turn you will perish."

I reflected for a moment, Our case was, humanly speaking, almost
hopeless. It mattered little which way we went. We were alone, almost
without food, with no means of transport, and a child to carry. As
well perish in the sandy waste as on the rolling veldt or among the
trees of the hill-side. Providence alone could save us, and we must
trust to Providence.

"Come on," I said, lifting Tota on to my back, for she was already
tired. "All roads lead to rest."

How am I to describe the misery of the next four days? How am I to
tell how we stumbled on through that awful desert, almost without
food, and quite without water, for there were no streams, and we saw
no springs? We soon found how the case was, and saved almost all the
water in our bottles for the child. To look back on it is like a
nightmare. I can scarcely bear to dwell on it. Day after day, by turns
carrying the child through the heavy sand; night after night lying
down in the scrub, chewing the leaves, and licking such dew as there
was from the scanty grass! Not a spring, not a pool, not a head of
game! It was the third night; we were nearly mad with thirst. Tota was
in a comatose condition. Indaba-zimbi still had a little water in his
bottle--perhaps a wine-glassful. With it we moistened our lips and
blackened tongues. Then we gave the rest to the child. It revived her.
She awoke from her swoon to sink into sleep.

See, the dawn was breaking. The hills were not more than eight miles
or so away now, and they were green. There must be water there.

"Come," I said.

Indaba-zimbi lifted Tota into the kind of sling that we had made out
of the blanket in which to carry her on our backs, and we staggered on
for an hour through the sand. She awoke crying for water, and alas! we
had none to give her; our tongues were hanging from our lips, we could
scarcely speak.

We rested awhile, and Tota mercifully swooned away again. Then Indaba-
zimbi took her. Though he was so thin the old man's strength was
wonderful.

Another hour; the slope of the great peak could not be more than two
miles away now. A couple of hundred yards off grew a large baobab
tree. Could we reach its shade? We had done half the distance when
Indaba-zimbi fell from exhaustion. We were now so weak that neither of
us could lift the child on to our backs. He rose again, and we each
took one of her hands and dragged her along the road. Fifty yards--
they seemed to be fifty miles. Ah, the tree was reached at last;
compared with the heat outside, the shade of its dense foliage seemed
like the dusk and cool of a vault. I remember thinking that it was a
good place to die in. Then I remember no more.

I woke with a feeling as though the blessed rain were falling on my
face and head. Slowly, and with great difficulty, I opened my eyes,
then shut them again, having seen a vision. For a space I lay thus,
while the rain continued to fall; I saw now that I must be asleep, or
off my head with thirst and fever. If I were not off my head how came
I to imagine that a lovely dark-eyed girl was bending over me
sprinkling water on my face? A white girl, too, not a Kaffir woman.
However, the dream went on.

"Hendrika," said a voice in English, the sweetest voice that I had
ever heard; somehow it reminded me of wind whispering in the trees at
night. "Hendrika, I fear he dies; there is a flask of brandy in my
saddle-bag; get it."

"Ah! ah!" grunted a harsh voice in answer; "let him die, Miss Stella.
He will bring you bad luck--let him die, I say." I felt a movement of
air above me as though the woman of my vision turned swiftly, and once
again I opened my eyes. She had risen, this dream woman. Now I saw
that she was tall and graceful as a reed. She was angry, too; her dark
eyes flashed, and she pointed with her hand at a female who stood
before her, dressed in nondescript kind of clothes such as might be
worn by either a man or a woman. The woman was young, of white blood,
very short, with bowed legs and enormous shoulders. In face she was
not bad-looking, but the brow receded, the chin and ears were
prominent--in short, she reminded me of nothing so much as a very
handsome monkey. She might have been the missing link.

The lady was pointing at her with her hand. "How dare you?" she said.
"Are you going to disobey me again? Have you forgotten what I told
you, Babyan?"[*]

[*] Baboon.

"Ah! ah!" grunted the woman, who seemed literally to curl and shrivel
up beneath her anger. "Don't be angry with me, Miss Stella, because I
can't bear it. I only said it because it was true. I will fetch the
brandy."

Then, dream or no dream, I determined to speak.

"Not brandy," I gasped in English as well as my swollen tongue would
allow; "give me water."

"Ah, he lives!" cried the beautiful girl, "and he talks English. See,
sir, here is water in your own bottle; you were quite close to a
spring, it is on the other side of the tree."

I struggled to a sitting position, lifted the bottle to my lips, and
drank from it. Oh! that drink of cool, pure water! never had I tasted
anything so delicious. With the first gulp I felt life flow back into
me. But wisely enough she would not let me have much. "No more! no
more!" she said, and dragged the bottle from me almost by force.

"The child," I said--"is the child dead?"

"I do not know yet," she answered. "We have only just found you, and I
tried to revive you first."

I turned and crept to where Tota lay by the side of Indaba-zimbi. It
was impossible to say if they were dead or swooning. The lady
sprinkled Tota's face with the water, which I watched greedily, for my
thirst was still awful, while the woman Hendrika did the same office
for Indaba-zimbi. Presently, to my vast delight, Tota opened her eyes
and tried to cry, but could not, poor little thing, because her tongue
and lips were so swollen. But the lady got some water into her mouth,
and, as in my case, the effect was magical. We allowed her to drink
about a quarter of a pint, and no more, though she cried bitterly for
it. Just then old Indaba-zimbi came to with a groan. He opened his
eyes, glanced round, and took in the situation.

"What did I tell you, Macumazahn?" he gasped, and seizing the bottle,
he took a long pull at it.

Meanwhile I sat with my back against the trunk of the great tree and
tried to realize the situation. Looking to my left I saw too good
horses--one bare-backed, and one with a rudely made lady's saddle on
it. By the side of the horses were two dogs, of a stout greyhound
breed, that sat watching us, and near the dogs lay a dead Oribé buck,
which they had evidently been coursing.

"Hendrika," said the lady presently, "they must not eat meat just yet.
Go look up the tree and see if there is any ripe fruit on it."

The woman ran swiftly into the plain and obeyed. Presently she
returned. "I see some ripe fruit," she said, "but it is high, quite at
the top."

"Fetch it," said the lady.

"Easier said than done," I thought to myself; but I was much mistaken.
Suddenly the woman bounded at least three feet into the air and caught
one of the spreading boughs in her large flat hands; then came a swing
that would have filled an acrobat with envy--and she was on it.

"Now there is an end," I thought again, for the next bough was beyond
her reach. But again I was mistaken. She stood up on the bough,
gripping it with her bare feet, and once more sprang at the one above,
caught it and swung herself into it.

I suppose that the lady saw my expression of astonishment. "Do not
wonder, sir," she said, "Hendrika is not like other people. She will
not fall."

I made no answer, but watched the progress of this extraordinary
person with the most breathless interest. On she went, swinging
herself from bough to bough, and running along them like a monkey. At
last she reached the top, and began to swarm up a thin branch towards
the ripe fruit. When she was near enough she shook the branch
violently. There was a crack--a crash--it broke. I shut my eyes,
expecting to see her crushed on the ground before me.

"Don't be afraid," said the lady again, laughing gently. "Look, she is
quite safe."

I looked, and so she was. She had caught a bough as she fell, clung to
it, and was now calmly dropping to another. Old Indaba-zimbi had also
watched this performance with interest, but it did not seem to
astonish him over-much. "Baboon-woman?" he said, as though such people
were common, and then turned his attention to soothing Tota, who was
moaning for more water. Meanwhile Hendrika came down the tree with
extraordinary rapidity, and swinging by one hand from a bough, dropped
about eight feet to the ground.

In another two minutes we were all three sucking the pulpy fruit. In
an ordinary way we should have found it tasteless enough: as it was I
thought it the most delicious thing I had ever tasted. After three
days spent without food or water, in the desert, one is not
particular. While we were still eating the fruit, the lady of my
vision set her companion to work to partially flay the oribé which her
dogs had killed, and busied herself in making a fire of fallen boughs.
As soon as it burned brightly she took strips of the oribé flesh,
toasted them, and gave them to us on leaves. We ate, and now were
allowed a little more water. After that she took Tota to the spring
and washed her, which she sadly needed, poor child! Next came our turn
to wash, and oh, the joy of it!

I came back to the tree, walking painfully, indeed, but a changed man.
There sat the beautiful girl with Tota on her knees. She was lulling
her to sleep, and held up her finger to me enjoining silence. At last
the child went off into a sound natural slumber--an example that I
should have been glad to follow had it not been for my burning
curiosity. Then I spoke.

"May I ask what your name is?" I said.

"Stella," she answered.

"Stella what?" I said.

"Stella nothing," she answered, in some pique; "Stella is my name; it
is short and easy to remember at any rate. My father's name is Thomas,
and we live up there," and she pointed round the base of the great
peak. I looked at her astonished. "Have you lived there long?" I
asked.

"Ever since I was seven years old. We came there in a waggon. Before
that we came from England--from Oxfordshire; I can show you the place
on a big map. It is called Garsingham."

Again I thought I must be dreaming. "Do you know, Miss Stella," I
said, "it is very strange--so strange that it almost seems as though
it could not be true--but I also came from Garsingham in Oxfordshire
many years ago."

She started up. "Are you an English gentleman?" she said. "Ah, I have
always longed to see an English gentleman. I have never seen but one
Englishman since we lived here, and he certainly was not a gentleman--
no white people at all, indeed, except a few wandering Boers. We live
among black people and baboons--only I have read about English people
--lots of books--poetry and novels. But tell me what is your name?
Macumazahn the black man called you, but you must have a white name,
too."

"My name is Allan Quatermain," I said.

Her face turned quite white, her rosy lips parted, and she looked at
me wildly with her beautiful dark eyes.

"It is wonderful," she said, "but I have often heard that name. My
father has told me how a little boy called Allan Quatermain once saved
my life by putting out my dress when it was on fire--see!"--and she
pointed to a faint red mark upon her neck--"here is the scar of the
burn."

"I remember it," I said. "You were dressed up as Father Christmas. It
was I who put out the fire; my wrists were burnt in doing so."

Then for a space we sat silent, looking at each other, while Stella
slowly fanned herself with her wide felt hat, in which some white
ostrich plumes were fixed.

"This is God's doing," she said at last. "You saved my life when I was
a child; now I have saved yours and the little girl's. Is she your own
daughter?" she added, quickly.

"No," I answered; "I will tell you the tale presently."

"Yes," she said, "you shall tell me as we go home. It is time to be
starting home, it will take us three hours to get there. Hendrika,
Hendrika, bring the horses here!"

CHAPTER VII

THE BABOON-WOMAN

Hendrika obeyed, leading the horses to the side of the tree.

"Now, Mr. Allan," said Stella, "you must ride on my horse, and the old
black man must ride on the other. I will walk, and Hendrika will carry
the child. Oh, do not be afraid, she is very strong, she could carry
you or me."

Hendrika grunted assent. I am sorry that I cannot express her method
of speech by any more polite term. Sometimes she grunted like a
monkey, sometimes she clicked like a Bushman, and sometimes she did
both together, when she became quite unintelligible.

I expostulated against this proposed arrangement, saying that we could
walk, which was a fib, for I do not think that I could have done a
mile; but Stella would not listen, she would not even let me carry my
elephant gun, but took it herself. So we mounted with some difficulty,
and Hendrika took up the sleeping Tota in her long, sinewy arms.

"See that the 'Baboon-woman' does not run away into the mountains with
the little white one," said Indaba-zimbi to me in Kaffir, as he
climbed slowly on to the horse.

Unfortunately Hendrika understood his speech. Her face twisted and
grew livid with fury. She put down Tota and literally sprang at
Indaba-zimbi as a monkey springs. But weary and worn as he was, the
old gentleman was too quick for her. With an exclamation of genuine
fright he threw himself from the horse on the further side, with the
somewhat ludicrous result that all in a moment Hendrika was occupying
the seat which he had vacated. Just then Stella realized the position.

"Come down, you savage, come down!" she said, stamping her foot.

The extraordinary creature flung herself from the horse and literally
grovelled on the ground before her mistress and burst into tears.

"Pardon, Miss Stella," she clicked and grunted in villainous English,
"but he called me 'Babyan-frau' (Baboon-woman)."

"Tell your servant that he must not use such words to Hendrika, Mr.
Allan," Stella said to me. "If he does," she added, in a whisper,
"Hendrika will certainly kill him."

I explained this to Indaba-zimbi, who, being considerably frightened,
deigned to apologize. But from that hour there was hate and war
between these two.

Harmony having been thus restored, we started, the dogs following us.
A small strip of desert intervened between us and the slope of the
peak--perhaps it was two miles wide. We crossed it and reached rich
grass lands, for here a considerable stream gathered from the hills;
but it did not flow across the barren lands, it passed to the east
along the foot of the hills. This stream we had to cross by a ford.
Hendrika walked boldly through it, holding Tota in her arms. Stella
leapt across from stone to stone like a roebuck; I thought to myself
that she was the most graceful creature that I had ever seen. After
this the track passed around a pleasantly-wooded shoulder of the peak,
which was, I found, known as Babyan Kap, or Baboon Head. Of course we
could only go at a foot pace, so our progress was slow. Stella walked
for some way in silence, then she spoke.

"Tell me, Mr. Allan," she said, "how it was that I came to find you
dying in the desert?"

So I began and told her all. It took an hour or more to do so, and she
listened intently, now and again asking a question.

"It is all very wonderful," she said when I had done, "very wonderful
indeed. Do you know I went out this morning with Hendrika and the dogs
for a ride, meaning to get back home by mid-day, for my father is ill,
and I do not like to leave him for long. But just as I was going to
turn, when we were about where we are now--yes, that was the very bush
--an oribé got up, and the dogs chased it. I followed them for the
gallop, and when we came to the river, instead of turning to the left
as bucks generally do, the oribé swam the stream and took to the Bad
Lands beyond. I followed it, and within a hundred yards of the big
tree the dogs killed it. Hendrika wanted to turn back at once, but I
said that we would rest under the shade of the tree, for I knew that
there was a spring of water near. Well, we went; and there I saw you
all lying like dead; but Hendrika, who is very clever in some ways,
said no--and you know the rest. Yes, it is very wonderful."

"It is indeed," I said. "Now tell me, Miss Stella, who is Hendrika?"

She looked round before answering to see that the woman was not near.

"Hers is a strange story, Mr. Allan. I will tell you. You must know
that all these mountains and the country beyond are full of baboons.
When I was a girl of about ten I used to wander a great deal alone in
the hills and valleys, and watch the baboons as they played among the
rocks. There was one family of baboons that I watched especially--they
used to live in a kloof about a mile from the house. The old man
baboon was very large, and one of the females had a grey face. But the
reason why I watched them so much was because I saw that they had with
them a creature that looked like a girl, for her skin was quite white,
and, what was more, that she was protected from the weather when it
happened to be cold by a fur belt of some sort, which was tied round
her throat. The old baboons seemed to be especially fond of her, and
would sit with their arms round her neck. For nearly a whole summer I
watched this particular white-skinned baboon till at last my curiosity
quite overmastered me. I noticed that, though she climbed about the
cliffs with the other monkeys, at a certain hour a little before
sundown they used to put her with one or two other much smaller ones
into a little cave, while the family went off somewhere to get food,
to the mealie fields, I suppose. Then I got an idea that I would catch
this white baboon and bring it home. But of course I could not do this
by myself, so I took a Hottentot--a very clever man when he was not
drunk--who lived on the stead, into my confidence. He was called
Hendrik, and was very fond of me; but for a long while he would not
listen to my plan, because he said that the babyans would kill us. At
last I bribed him with a knife that had four blades, and one afternoon
we started, Hendrik carrying a stout sack made of hide, with a rope
running through it so that the mouth could be drawn tight.

"Well, we got to the place, and, hiding ourselves carefully in the
trees at the foot of the kloof, watched the baboons playing about and
grunting to each other, till at length, according to custom, they took
the white one and three other little babies and put them in the cave.
Then the old man came out, looked carefully round, called to his
family, and went off with them over the brow of the kloof. Now very
slowly and cautiously we crept up over the rocks till we came to the
mouth of the cave and looked in. All the four little baboons were fast
asleep, with their backs towards us, and their arms round each other's
necks, the white one being in the middle. Nothing could have been
better for our plans. Hendrik, who by this time had quite entered into
the spirit of the thing, crept along the cave like a snake, and
suddenly dropped the mouth of the hide bag over the head of the white
baboon. The poor little thing woke up and gave a violent jump which
caused it to vanish right into the bag. Then Hendrik pulled the string
tight, and together we knotted it so that it was impossible for our
captive to escape. Meanwhile the other baby baboons had rushed from
the cave screaming, and when we got outside they were nowhere to be
seen.

"'Come on, Missie,' said Hendrik; 'the babyans will soon be back.' He
had shouldered the sack, inside of which the white baboon was kicking
violently, and screaming like a child. It was dreadful to hear its
shrieks.

"We scrambled down the sides of the kloof and ran for home as fast as
we could manage. When we were near the waterfall, and within about
three hundred yards of the garden wall, we heard a voice behind us,
and there, leaping from rock to rock, and running over the grass, was
the whole family of baboons headed by the old man.

"'Run, Missie, run!' gasped Hendrik, and I did, like the wind, leaving
him far behind. I dashed into the garden, where some Kaffirs were
working, crying, 'The babyans! the babyans!' Luckily the men had their
sticks and spears by them and ran out just in time to save Hendrik,
who was almost overtaken. The baboons made a good fight for it,
however, and it was not till the old man was killed with an assegai
that they ran away.

"Well, there is a stone hut in the kraal at the stead where my father
sometimes shuts up natives who have misbehaved. It is very strong, and
has a barred window. To this hut Hendrik carried the sack, and, having
untied the mouth, put it down on the floor, and ran from the place,
shutting the door behind him. In another moment the poor little thing
was out and dashing round the stone hut as though it were mad. It
sprung at the bars of the window, clung there, and beat its head
against them till the blood came. Then it fell to the floor, and sat
upon it crying like a child, and rocking itself backwards and
forwards. It was so sad to see it that I began to cry too.

"Just then my father came in and asked what all the fuss was about. I
told him that we had caught a young white baboon, and he was angry,
and said that it must be let go. But when he looked at it through the
bars of the window he nearly fell down with astonishment.

"'Why!' he said, 'this is not a baboon, it is a white child that the
baboons have stolen and brought up!'

"Now, Mr. Allan, whether my father is right or wrong, you can judge
for yourself. You see Hendrika--we named her that after Hendrik, who
caught her--she is a woman, not a monkey, and yet she has many of the
ways of monkeys, and looks like one too. You saw how she can climb,
for instance, and you hear how she talks. Also she is very savage, and
when she is angry or jealous she seems to go mad, though she is as
clever as anybody. I think that she must have been stolen by the
baboons when she was quite tiny and nurtured by them, and that is why
she is so like them.

"But to go on. My father said that it was our duty to keep Hendrika at
any cost. The worst of it was, that for three days she would eat
nothing, and I thought that she would die, for all the while she sat
and wailed. On the third day, however, I went to the bars of the
window place, and held out a cup of milk and some fruit to her. She
looked at it for a long while, then crept up moaning, took the milk
from my hand, drank it greedily, and afterwards ate the fruit. From
that time forward she took food readily enough, but only if I would
feed her.

"But I must tell you of the dreadful end of Hendrik. From the day that
we captured Hendrika the whole place began to swarm with baboons which
were evidently employed in watching the kraals. One day Hendrik went
out towards the hills alone to gather some medicine. He did not come
back again, so the next day search was made. By a big rock which I can
show you, they found his scattered and broken bones, the fragments of
his assegai, and four dead baboons. They had set upon him and torn him
to pieces.

"My father was very much frightened at this, but still he would not
let Hendrika go, because he said that she was human, and that it was
our duty to reclaim her. And so we did--to a certain extent, at least.
After the murder of Hendrik, the baboons vanished from the
neighbourhood, and have only returned quite recently, so at length we
ventured to let Hendrika out. By this time she had grown very fond of
me; still, on the first opportunity she ran away. But in the evening
she returned again. She had been seeking the baboons, and could not
find them. Shortly afterwards she began to speak--I taught her--and
from that time she has loved me so that she will not leave me. I think
it would kill her if I went away from her. She watches me all day, and
at night sleeps on the floor of my hut. Once, too, she saved my life
when I was swept down the river in flood; but she is jealous, and
hates everybody else. Look, how she is glaring at you now because I am
talking to you!"

I looked. Hendrika was tramping along with the child in her arms and
staring at me in a most sinister fashion out of the corners of her
eyes.

While I was reflecting on the Baboon-woman's strange story, and
thinking that she was an exceedingly awkward customer, the path took a
sudden turn.

"Look!" said Stella, "there is our home. Is it not beautiful?"

It was beautiful indeed. Here on the western side of the great peak a
bay had been formed in the mountain, which might have measured eight
hundred or a thousand yards across by three-quarters of a mile in
depth. At the back of this indentation the sheer cliff rose to the
height of several hundred feet, and behind it and above it the great
Babyan Peak towered up towards the heavens. The space of ground,
embraced thus in the arms of the mountain, as it were, was laid out,
as though by the cunning hand of man, in three terraces that rose one
above the other. To the right and left of the topmost terrace were
chasms in the cliff, and down each chasm fell a waterfall, from no
great height, indeed, but of considerable volume. These two streams
flowed away on either side of the enclosed space, one towards the
north, and the other, the course of which we had been following, round
the base of the mountain. At each terrace they made a cascade, so that
the traveller approaching had a view of eight waterfalls at once.
Along the edge of the stream to our left were placed Kaffir kraals,
built in orderly groups with verandahs, after the Basutu fashion, and
a very large part of the entire space of land was under cultivation.
All of this I noted at once, as well as the extraordinary richness and
depth of the soil, which for many ages past had been washed down from
the mountain heights. Then following the line of an excellent waggon
road, on which we now found ourselves, that wound up from terrace to
terrace, my eye lit upon the crowning wonder of the scene. For in the
centre of the topmost platform or terrace, which may have enclosed
eight or ten acres of ground, and almost surrounded by groves of
orange trees, gleamed buildings of which I had never seen the like.
There were three groups of them, one in the middle, and one on either
side, and a little to the rear, but, as I afterwards discovered, the
plan of all was the same. In the centre was an edifice constructed
like an ordinary Zulu hut--that is to say, in the shape of a beehive,
only it was five times the size of any hut I ever saw, and built of
blocks of hewn white marble, fitted together with extraordinary
knowledge of the principles and properties of arch building, and with
so much accuracy and finish that it was often difficult to find the
joints of the massive blocks. From this centre hut ran three covered
passages, leading to other buildings of an exactly similar character,
only smaller, and each whole block was enclosed by a marble wall about
four feet in height.

Of course we were as yet too far off to see all these details, but the
general outline I saw at once, and it astonished me considerably. Even
old Indaba-zimbi, whom the Baboon-woman had been unable to move,
deigned to show wonder.

"Ou!" he said; "this is a place of marvels. Who ever saw kraals built
of white stone?"

Stella watched our faces with an expression of intense amusement, but
said nothing.

"Did your father build those kraals?" I gasped, at length.

"My father! no, of course not," she answered. "How would it have been
possible for one white man to do so, or to have made this road? He
found them as you see."

"Who built them, then?" I said again.

"I do not know. My father thinks that they are very ancient, for the
people who live here now do not know how to lay one stone upon
another, and these huts are so wonderfully constructed that, though
they must have stood for ages, not a stone of them had fallen. But I
can show you the quarry where the marble was cut; it is close by and
behind it is the entrance to an ancient mine, which my father thinks
was a silver mine. Perhaps the people who worked the mine built the
marble huts. The world is old, and no doubt plenty of people have
lived in it and been forgotten."[*]

[*] Kraals of a somewhat similar nature to those described by Mr.
Quatermain have been discovered in the Marico district of the
Transvaal, and an illustration of them is to be found in Mr.
Anderson's "Twenty-five Years in a Waggon," vol. ii. p. 55. Mr.
Anderson says, "In this district are the ancient stone kraals
mentioned in an early chapter; but it requires a fuller
description to show that these extensive kraals must have been
erected by a white race who understood building in stone and at
right angles, with door-posts, lintels, and sills, and it required
more than Kaffir skill to erect the stone huts, with stone
circular roofs, beautifully formed and most substantially erected;
strong enough, if not disturbed, to last a thousand years."--
Editor.

Then we rode on in silence. I have seen many beautiful sights in
Africa, and in such matters, as in others, comparisons are odious and
worthless, but I do not think that I ever saw a lovelier scene. It was
no one thing--it was the combination of the mighty peak looking forth
on to the everlasting plains, the great cliffs, the waterfalls that
sparkled in rainbow hues, the rivers girdling the rich cultivated
lands, the gold-specked green of the orange trees, the flashing domes
of the marble huts, and a thousand other things. Then over all brooded
the peace of evening, and the infinite glory of the sunset that filled
heaven with changing hues of splendour, that wrapped the mountain and
cliffs in cloaks of purple and of gold, and lay upon the quiet face of
the water like the smile of a god.

Perhaps also the contrast, and the memory of those three awful days
and nights in the hopeless desert, enhanced the charm, and perhaps the
beauty of the girl who walked beside me completed it. For of this I am
sure, that of all sweet and lovely things that I looked on then, she
was the sweetest and the loveliest.

Ah, it did not take me long to find my fate. How long will it be
before I find her once again?

CHAPTER VIII

THE MARBLE KRAALS

At length the last platform, or terrace, was reached, and we pulled up
outside the wall surrounding the central group of marble huts--for so
I must call them, for want of a better name. Our approach had been
observed by a crowd of natives, whose race I have never been able to
determine accurately; they belonged to the Basutu and peaceful section
of the Bantu peoples rather than to the Zulu and warlike. Several of
these ran up to take the horses, gazing on us with astonishment, not
unmixed with awe. We dismounted--speaking for myself, not without
difficulty--indeed, had it not been for Stella's support I should have
fallen.

"Now you must come and see my father," she said. "I wonder what he
will think of it, it is all so strange. Hendrika, take the child to my
hut and give her milk, then put her into my bed; I will come
presently."

Hendrika went off with a somewhat ugly grin to do her mistress's
bidding, and Stella led the way through the narrow gateway in the
marble wall, which may have enclosed nearly half an "erf," or three-
quarters of an acre of ground in all. It was beautifully planted as a
garden, many European vegetables and flowers were growing in it,
besides others with which I was not acquainted. Presently we came to
the centre hut, and it was then that I noticed the extraordinary
beauty and finish of the marble masonry. In the hut, and facing the
gateway, was a modern door, rather rudely fashioned of Buckenhout, a
beautiful reddish wood that has the appearance of having been
sedulously pricked with a pin. Stella opened it, and we entered. The
interior of the hut was the size of a large and lofty room, the walls
being formed of plain polished marble. It was lighted somewhat dimly,
but quite effectively, by peculiar openings in the roof, from which
the rain was excluded by overhanging eaves. The marble floor was
strewn with native mats and skins of animals. Bookcases filled with
books were placed against the walls, there was a table in the centre,
chairs seated with rimpi or strips of hide stood about, and beyond the
table was a couch on which a man was lying reading.

"Is that you, Stella?" said a voice, that even after so many years
seemed familiar to me. "Where have you been, my dear? I began to think
that you had lost yourself again."

"No, father, dear, I have not lost myself, but I have found somebody
else."

At that moment I stepped forward so that the light fell on me. The old
gentleman on the couch rose with some difficulty and bowed with much
courtesy. He was a fine-looking old man, with deep-set dark eyes, a
pale face that bore many traces of physical and mental suffering, and
a long white beard.

"Be welcome, sir," he said. "It is long since we have seen a white
face in these wilds, and yours, if I am not mistaken, is that of an
Englishman. There has been but one Englishman here for twelve years,
and he, I grieve to say, was an outcast flying from justice," and he
bowed again and stretched out his hand.

I looked at him, and then of a sudden his name flashed back into my
mind. I took his hand.

"How do you do, Mr. Carson?" I said.

He started as though he had been stung.

"Who told you that name?" he cried. "It is a dead name. Stella, is it
you? I forbade you to let it pass your lips."

"I did not speak it, father. I have never spoken it," she answered.

"Sir," I broke in, "if you will allow me I will show you how I came to
know your name. Do you remember many years ago coming into the study
of a clergyman in Oxfordshire and telling him that you were going to
leave England for ever?"

He bowed his head.

"And do you remember a little boy who sat upon the hearthrug writing
with a pencil?"

"I do," he said.

"Sir, I was that boy, and my name is Allan Quatermain. Those children
who lay sick are all dead, their mother is dead, and my father, your
old friend, is dead also. Like you he emigrated, and last year he died
in the Cape. But that is not all the story. After many adventures, I,
one Kaffir, and a little girl, lay senseless and dying in the Bad
Lands, where we had wandered for days without water, and there we
should have perished, but your daughter, Miss----"

"Call her Stella," he broke in, hastily. "I cannot bear to hear that
name. I have forsworn it."

"Miss Stella found us by chance and saved our lives."

"By chance, did you say, Allan Quatermain?" he answered. "There is
little chance in all this; such chances spring from another will than
ours. Welcome, Allan, son of my old friend. Here we live as it were in
a hermitage, with Nature as our only friend, but such as we have is
yours, and for as long as you will take it. But you must be starving;
talk no more now. Stella, it is time to eat. To-morrow we will talk."

To tell the truth I can recall very little of the events of that
evening. A kind of dizzy weariness overmastered me. I remember sitting
at a table next to Stella, and eating heartily, and then I remember
nothing more.

I awoke to find myself lying on a comfortable bed in a hut built and
fashioned on the same model as the centre one. While I was wondering
what time it was, a native came bringing some clean clothes on his
arm, and, luxury of luxuries, produced a bath hollowed from wood. I
rose, feeling a very different man, my strength had come back again to
me; I dressed, and following a covered passage found myself in the
centre hut. Here the table was set for breakfast with all manner of
good things, such as I had not seen for many a month, which I
contemplated with healthy satisfaction. Presently I looked up, and
there before me was a more delightful sight, for standing in one of
the doorways which led to the sleeping huts was Stella, leading little
Tota by the hand.

She was very simply dressed in a loose blue gown, with a wide collar,
and girdled in at the waist by a little leather belt. In the bosom of
her robe was a bunch of orange blooms, and her rippling hair was tied
in a single knot behind her shapely head. She greeted me with a smile,
asking how I had slept, and then held Tota up for me to kiss. Under
her loving care the child had been quite transformed. She was neatly
dressed in a garment of the same blue stuff that Stella wore, her fair
hair was brushed; indeed, had it not been for the sun blisters on her
face and hands, one would scarcely have believed that this was the
same child whom Indaba-zimbi and I had dragged for hour after hour
through the burning, waterless desert.

"We must breakfast alone, Mr. Allan," she said; "my father is so upset
by your arrival that he will not get up yet. Oh, you cannot tell how
thankful I am that you have come. I have been so anxious about him of
late. He grows weaker and weaker; it seems to me as though the
strength were ebbing away from him. Now he scarcely leaves the kraal,
I have to manage everything about the farm; he does nothing but read
and think."

Just then Hendrika entered, bearing a jug of coffee in one hand and of
milk in the other, which she set down upon the table, casting a look
of little love at me as she did so.

"Be careful, Hendrika; you are spilling the coffee," said Stella.
"Don't you wonder how we come to have coffee here, Mr. Allan? I will
tell you--we grow it. That was my idea. Oh, I have lots of things to
show you. You don't know what we have managed to do in the time that
we have been here. You see we have plenty of labour, for the people
about look upon my father as their chief."

"Yes," I said, "but how do you get all these luxuries of
civilization?" and I pointed to the books, the crockery, and the
knives and forks.

"Very simply. Most of the books my father brought with him when we
first trekked into the wilds; there was nearly a waggon load of them.
But every few years we have sent an expedition of three waggons right
down to Port Natal. The waggons are loaded with ivory and other goods,
and come back with all kinds of things that been sent out from England
for us. So you see, although we live in this wild place, we are not
altogether cut off. We can send runners to Natal and back in three
months, and the waggons get there and back in a year. The last lot
arrived quite safe about three months ago. Our servants are very
faithful, and some of them speak Dutch well."

"Have you ever been with the waggons?" I asked.

"Since I was a child I have never been more than thirty miles from
Babyan's Peak," she answered. "Do you know, Mr. Allan, that you are,
with one exception, the first Englishman that I have known out of a
book. I suppose that I must seem very wild and savage to you, but I
have had one advantage--a good education. My father has taught me
everything, and perhaps I know some things that you don't. I can read
French and German, for instance. I think that my father's first idea
was to let me run wild altogether, but he gave it up."

"And don't you wish to go into the world?" I asked.

"Sometimes," she said, "when I get lonely. But perhaps my father is
right--perhaps it would frighten and bewilder me. At any rate he would
never return to civilization; it is his idea, you know, although I am
sure I do not know where he got it from, nor why he cannot bear that
our name should be spoken. In short, Mr. Quatermain, we do not make
our lives, we must take them as we find them. Have you done your
breakfast? Let us go out, and I will show you our home."

I rose and went to my sleeping-place to fetch my hat. When I returned,
Mr. Carson--for after all that was his name, though he would never
allow it to be spoken--had come into the hut. He felt better now, he
said, and would accompany us on our walk if Stella would give him an
arm.

So we started, and after us came Hendrika with Tota and old Indaba-
zimbi whom I found sitting outside as fresh as paint. Nothing could
tire that old man.

The view from the platform was almost as beautiful as that from the
lower ground looking up to the peak. The marble kraals, as I have
said, faced west, consequently all the upper terrace lay in the shadow
of the great peak till nearly eleven o'clock in the morning--a great
advantage in that warm latitude. First we walked through the garden,
which was beautifully cultivated, and one of the most productive that
I ever saw. There were three or four natives working in it, and they
all saluted my host as "Baba," or father. Then we visited the other
two groups of marble huts. One of these was used for stables and
outbuildings, the other as storehouses, the centre hut having been,
however, turned into a chapel. Mr. Carson was not ordained, but he
earnestly tried to convert the natives, most of whom were refugees who
had come to him for shelter, and he had practised the more elementary
rites of the church for so long that I think he began to believe that
he really was a clergyman. For instance, he always married those of
his people who would consent to a monogamous existence, and baptized
their children.

When we had examined those wonderful remains of antiquity, the marble
huts, and admired the orange trees, the vines and fruits which thrive
like weeds in this marvellous soil and climate, we descended to the
next platform, and saw the farming operations in full swing. I think
that it was the best farm I have ever seen in Africa. There was ample
water for purposes of irrigation, the grass lands below gave pasturage
for hundreds of head of cattle and horses, and, for natives, the
people were most industrious. Moreover, the whole place was managed by
Mr. Carson on the co-operative system; he only took a tithe of the
produce--indeed, in this land of teeming plenty, what was he to do
with more? Consequently the tribesmen, who, by the way, called
themselves the "Children of Thomas," were able to accumulate
considerable wealth. All their disputes were referred to their
"father," and he also was judge of offences and crimes. Some were
punished by imprisonment, whipping, and loss of goods, other and
graver transgressions by expulsion from the community, a fiat which to
one of these favoured natives must have seemed as heavy as the decree
that drove Adam from the Garden of Eden.

Old Mr. Carson leaned upon his daughter's arm and contemplated the
scene with pride.

"I have done all this, Allan Quatermain," he said. "When renouncing
civilization, I wandered here by chance; seeking a home in the
remotest places of the world, I found this lonely spot a wilderness.
Nothing was to be seen except the site, the domes of the marble huts,
and the waterfalls. I took possession of the huts. I cleared the path
of garden land and planted the orange grove. I had only six natives
then, but by degrees others joined me, now my tribe is a thousand
strong. Here we live in profound peace and plenty. I have all I need,
and I seek no more. Heaven has prospered me so far--may it do so to
the end, which for me draws nigh. And now I am tired and will go back.
If you wish to see the old quarry and the mouth of the ancient mines,
Stella will show them to you. No, my love, you need not trouble to
come, I can manage. Look! some of the headmen are waiting to see me."

So he went; but still followed by Hendrika and Indaba-zimbi, we
turned, and, walking along the bank of one of the rivers, passed up
behind the marble kraals, and came to the quarry, whence the material
of which they were built had been cut in some remote age. The pit
opened up a very thick seam of the whitest and most beautiful marble.
I know another like it in Natal. But by whom it had been worked I
cannot say; not by natives, that is certain, though the builders of
these kraals had condescended to borrow the shape of native huts for
their model. By the way, the only relic of those builders that I ever
saw was a highly finished bronze pick-axe which Stella had found one
day in the quarry.

After we had examined this quarry we climbed the slope of the hill
till we came to the mouth of the ancient mines which were situated in
a gorge. I believe them to have been silver mines. The gorge was long
and narrow, and the moment we entered it there rose from every side a
sound of groaning and barking that was almost enough to deafen us. I
knew what it was at once: the whole place was filled with baboons,
which clambered down the rocks towards us from every direction, and in
a manner that struck me as being unnaturally fearless. Stella turned a
little pale and clung to my arm.

"It is very silly of me," she whispered. "I am not at all nervous, but
ever since they killed Hendrik I cannot bear the sight of those
animals. I always think that there is something human about them."

Meanwhile the baboons drew nearer, talking to each other as they came.
Tota began to cry, and clung to Stella. Stella clung to me, while I
and Indaba-zimbi put as bold a front on the matter as we could. Only
Hendrika stood looking at the brutes with an unconcerned smile on her
monkey face. When the great apes were quite near, she suddenly called
aloud. Instantly they stopped their hideous clamour as though at a
word of command. Then Hendrika addressed them: I can only describe it
so. That is to say, she began to make a noise such as baboons do when
they converse with each other. I have known Hottentots and Bushmen who
said that they could talk with the baboons and understand their
language, but I confess I never heard it done before or since.

From the mouth of Hendrika came a succession of grunts, groans,
squeals, clicks, and every other abominable noise that can be
conceived, conveying to my mind a general idea of expostulation. At
any rate the baboons listened. One of them grunted back some answer,
and then the whole mob drew off to the rocks.

I stood astonished, and without a word we turned back to the kraal,
for Hendrika was too close to allow me to speak. When we reached the
dining hut Stella went in, followed by Hendrika. But Indaba-zimbi
plucked me by the sleeve, and I stopped outside.

"Macumazahn," he said. "Baboon-woman--devil-woman. Be careful,
Macumazahn. She loves that Star (the natives aptly enough called
Stella the Star), and is jealous. Be careful, Macumazahn, or the Star
will set!"

CHAPTER IX

"LET US GO IN, ALLAN!"

It is very difficult for me to describe the period of time which
elapsed between my arrival at Babyan's Peak and my marriage with
Stella. When I look back on it, it seems sweet as with the odour of
flowers, and dim as with the happy dusk of summer eves, while through
the sweetness comes the sound of Stella's voice, and through the gloom
shines the starlight of her eyes. I think that we loved each other
from the first, though for a while we said no word of love. Day by day
I went about the place with her, accompanied by little Tota and
Hendrika only, while she attended to the thousand and one matters
which her father's ever-growing weakness had laid upon her; or rather,
as time drew on, I attended to the business, and she accompanied me.
All day through we were together. Then after supper, when the night
had fallen, we would walk together in the garden and come at length to
hear her father read aloud sometimes from the works of a poet,
sometimes from history. Or, if he did not feel well, Stella would
read, and when this was done, Mr. Carson would celebrate a short form
of prayer, and we would separate till the morning once more brought
our happy hour of meeting.

So the weeks went by, and with every week I grew to know my darling
better. Often, I wonder now, if my fond fancy deceives me, or if
indeed there are women as sweet and dear as she. Was it solitude that
had given such depth and gentleness to her? Was it the long years of
communing with Nature that had endowed her with such peculiar grace,
the grace we find in opening flowers and budding trees? Had she caught
that murmuring voice from the sound of the streams which fall
continually about her rocky home? was it the tenderness of the evening
sky beneath which she loved to walk, that lay like a shadow on her
face, and the light of the evening stars that shone in her quiet eyes?
At the least to me she was the realization of that dream which haunts
the sleep of sin-stained men; so my memory paints her, so I hope to
find her when at last the sleep has rolled away and the fevered dreams
are done.

At last there came a day--the most blessed of my life, when we told
our love. We had been together all the morning, but after dinner Mr.
Carson was so unwell that Stella stopped in with him. At supper we met
again, and after supper, when she had put little Tota, to whom she had
grown much attached, to bed, we went out, leaving Mr. Carson dozing on
the couch.

The night was warm and lovely, and without speaking we walked up the
garden to the orange grove and sat down upon a rock. There was a
little breeze which shook the petals of the orange blooms over us in
showers, and bore their delicate fragrance far and wide. Silence
reigned around, broken only by the sound of the falling waterfalls
that now died to a faint murmur, and now, as the wavering breeze
turned, boomed loudly in our ears. The moon was not yet visible, but
already the dark clouds which floated through the sky above us--for
there had been rain--showed a glow of silver, telling us that she
shone brightly behind the peak. Stella began to talk in her low,
gentle voice, speaking to me of her life in the wilderness, how she
had grown to love it, how her mind had gone on from idea to idea, and
how she pictured the great rushing world that she had never seen as it
was reflected to her from the books which she had read. It was a
curious vision of life that she had: things were out of proportion to
it; it was more like a dream than a reality--a mirage than the actual
face of things. The idea of great cities, and especially of London,
had a kind of fascination for her: she could scarcely realize the
rush, the roar and hurry, the hard crowds of men and women, strangers
to each other, feverishly seeking for wealth and pleasure beneath a
murky sky, and treading one another down in the fury of their
competition.

"What is it all for?" she asked earnestly. "What do they seek? Having
so few years to live, why do they waste them thus?"

I told her that in the majority of instances it was actual hard
necessity that drove them on, but she could barely understand me.
Living as she had done, in the midst of the teeming plenty of a
fruitful earth, she did not seem to be able to grasp the fact that
there were millions who from day to day know not how to stay their
hunger.

"I never want to go there," she went on; "I should be bewildered and
frightened to death. It is not natural to live like that. God put Adam
and Eve in a garden, and that is how he meant their children to live--
in peace, and looking always on beautiful things. This is my idea of
perfect life. I want no other."

"I thought you once told me that you found it lonely," I said.

"So I did," she answered, innocently, "but that was before you came.
Now I am not lonely any more, and it is perfect--perfect as the
night."

Just then the full moon rose above the elbow of the peak, and her rays
stole far and wide down the misty valley, gleaming on the water,
brooding on the plain, searching out the hidden places of the rocks,
wrapping the fair form of nature as in a silver bridal veil through
which her beauty shone mysteriously.

Stella looked down the terraced valley; she turned and looked up at
the scarred face of the golden moon, and then she looked at me. The
beauty of the night was about her face, the scent of the night was on
her hair, the mystery of the night shone in her shadowed eyes. She
looked at me, I looked on her, and all our hearts' love blossomed
within us. We spoke no word--we had no words to speak, but slowly we
drew near, till lips were pressed to lips as we kissed our eternal
troth.

It was she who broke that holy silence, speaking in a changed voice,
in soft deep notes that thrilled me like the lowest chords of a
smitten harp.

"Ah, now I understand," she said, "now I know why we are lonely, and
how we can lose our loneliness. Now I know what it is that stirs us in
the beauty of the sky, in the sound of water and in the scent of
flowers. It is Love who speaks in everything, though till we hear his
voice we understand nothing. But when we hear, then the riddle is
answered and the gates of our heart are opened, and, Allan, we see the
way that wends through death to heaven, and is lost in the glory of
which our love is but a shadow.

"Let us go in, Allan. Let us go before the spell breaks, so that
whatever overtakes us, sorrow, death, or separation, we may always
have this perfect memory to save us. Come, dearest, let us go!"

I rose like a man in a dream, still holding her by the hand. But as I
rose my eye fell upon something that gleamed white among the foliage
of the orange bush at my side. I said nothing, but looked. The breeze
stirred the orange leaves, the moonlight struck for a moment full upon
the white object.

It was the face of Hendrika, the Babyan-woman, as Indaba-zimbi had
called her, and on it was a glare of hate that made me shudder.

I said nothing; the face vanished, and just then I heard a baboon bark
in the rocks behind.

Then we went down the garden, and Stella passed into the centre hut. I
saw Hendrika standing in the shadow near the door, and went up to her.

"Hendrika," I said, "why were you watching Miss Stella and myself in
the garden?"

She drew her lips up till her teeth gleamed in the moonlight.

"Have I not watched her these many years, Macumazahn? Shall I cease to
watch because a wandering white man comes to steal her? Why were you
kissing her in the garden, Macumazahn? How dare you kiss her who is a
star?"

"I kissed her because I love her, and because she loves me," I
answered. "What has that to do with you, Hendrika?"

"Because you love her," she hissed in answer; "and do I not love her
also, who saved me from the babyans? I am a woman as she is, and you
are a man, and they say in the kraals that men love women better than
women love women. But it is a lie, though this is true, that if a
woman loves a man she forgets all other love. Have I not seen it? I
gather her flowers--beautiful flowers; I climb the rocks where you
would never dare to go to find them; you pluck a piece of orange bloom
in the garden and give it to her. What does she do?--she takes the
orange bloom, she puts it in her breast, and lets my flowers die. I
call to her--she does not hear me--she is thinking. You whisper to
some one far away, and she hears and smiles. She used to kiss me
sometimes; now she kisses that white brat you brought, because you
brought it. Oh, I see it all--all; I have seen it from the first; you
are stealing her from us, stealing her to yourself, and those who
loved her before you came are forgotten. Be careful, Macumazahn, be
careful, lest I am revenged upon you. You, you hate me; you think me
half a monkey; that servant of yours calls me Baboon-woman. Well, I
have lived with baboons, and they are clever--yes, they can play
tricks and know things that you don't, and I am cleverer than they,
for I have learnt the wisdom of white people also, and I say to you,
Walk softly, Macumazahn, or you will fall into a pit," and with one
more look of malice she was gone.

I stood for a moment reflecting. I was afraid of this strange creature
who seemed to combine the cunning of the great apes that had reared
her with the passions and skill of human kind. I foreboded evil at her
hands. And yet there was something almost touching in the fierceness
of her jealousy. It is generally supposed that this passion only
exists in strength when the object loved is of another sex from the
lover, but I confess that, both in this instance and in some others
which I have met with, this has not been my experience. I have known
men, and especially uncivilized men, who were as jealous of the
affection of their friend or master as any lover could be of that of
his mistress; and who has not seen cases of the same thing where
parents and their children are concerned? But the lower one gets in
the scale of humanity, the more readily this passion thrives; indeed,
it may be said to come to its intensest perfection in brutes. Women
are more jealous than men, small-hearted men are more jealous than
those of larger mind and wider sympathy, and animals are the most
jealous of all. Now Hendrika was in some ways not far removed from
animal, which may perhaps account for the ferocity of her jealousy of
her mistress's affection.

Shaking off my presentiments of evil, I entered the centre hut. Mr.
Carson was resting on the sofa, and by him knelt Stella holding his
hand, and her head resting on his breast. I saw at once that she had
been telling him of what had come about between us; nor was I sorry,
for it is a task that a would-be son-in-law is generally glad to do by
deputy.

"Come here, Allan Quatermain," he said, almost sternly, and my heart
gave a jump, for I feared lest he might be about to require me to go
about my business. But I came.

"Stella tells me," he went on, "that you two have entered into a
marriage engagement. She tells me also that she loves you, and that
you say that you love her."

"I do indeed, sir," I broke in; "I love her truly; if ever a woman was
loved in this world, I love her."

"I thank Heaven for it," said the old man. "Listen, my children. Many
years ago a great shame and sorrow fell upon me, so great a sorrow
that, as I sometimes think, it affected my brain. At any rate, I
determined to do what most men would have considered the act of a
madman, to go far away into the wilderness with my only child, there
to live remote from civilization and its evils. I did so; I found this
place, and here we have lived for many years, happily enough, and
perhaps not without doing good in our generation, but still in a way
unnatural to our race and status. At first I thought I would let my
daughter grow up in a state of complete ignorance, that she should be
Nature's child. But as time went on, I saw the folly and the
wickedness of my plan. I had no right to degrade her to the level of
the savages around me, for if the fruit of the tree of knowledge is a
bitter fruit, still it teaches good from evil. So I educated her as
well as I was able, till in the end I knew that in mind, as in body,
she was in no way inferior to her sisters, the children of the
civilized world. She grew up and entered into womanhood, and then it
came into my mind that I was doing her a bitter wrong, that I was
separating her from her kind and keeping her in a wilderness where she
could find neither mate nor companion. But though I knew this, I could
not yet make up my mind to return to active life; I had grown to love
this place. I dreaded to return into the world I had abjured. Again
and again I put my resolutions aside. Then at the commencement of this
year I fell ill. For a while I waited, hoping that I might get better,
but at last I realized that I should never get better, that the hand
of Death was upon me."

"Ah, no, father, not that!" Stella said, with a cry.

"Yes, love, that, and it is true. Now you will be able to forget our
separation in the happiness of a new meeting," and he glanced at me
and smiled. "Well, when this knowledge came home to me, I determined
to abandon this place and trek for the coast, though I well knew that
the journey would kill me. I should never live to reach it. But Stella
would, and it would be better than leaving her here alone with savages
in the wilderness. On the very day that I had made up my mind to take
this step Stella found you dying in the Bad Lands, Allan Quatermain,
and brought you here. She brought you, of all men in the world, you,
whose father had been my dear friend, and who once with your baby
hands had saved her life from fire, that she might live to save yours
from thirst. At the time I said little, but I saw the hand of
Providence in this, and I determined to wait and see what came about
between you. At the worst, if nothing came about, I soon learned that
I could trust you to see her safely to the coast after I was gone. But
many days ago I knew how it stood between you, and now things are
determined as I prayed they might be. God bless you both, my children;
may you be happy in your love; may it endure till death and beyond it.
God bless you both!" and he stretched out his hand towards me.

I took it, and Stella kissed him.

Presently he spoke again--

"It is my intention," he said, "if you two consent, to marry you next
Sunday. I wish to do so soon, for I do not know how much longer will
be allowed to me. I believe that such a ceremony, solemnly celebrated
and entered into before witnesses, will, under the circumstances, be
perfectly legal; but of course you will repeat it with every formality
the first moment it lies in your power so to do. And now, there is one
more thing: when I left England my fortunes were in a shattered
condition; in the course of years they have recovered themselves, the
accumulated rents, as I heard but recently, when the waggons last
returned from Port Natal, have sufficed to pay off all charges, and
there is a considerable balance over. Consequently you will not marry
on nothing, for of course you, Stella, are my heiress, and I wish to
make a stipulation. It is this. That so soon as my death occurs you
should leave this place and take the first opportunity of returning to
England. I do not ask you to live there always; it might prove too
much for people reared in the wilds, as both of you have been; but I
do ask you to make it your permanent home. Do you consent and promise
this?"

"I do," I answered.

"And so do I," said Stella.

"Very well," he answered; "and now I am tired out. Again God bless you
both, and good-night."

CHAPTER X

HENDRIKA PLOTS EVIL

On the following morning I had a conversation with Indaba-zimbi. First
of all I told him that I was going to marry Stella.

"Oh!" he said, "I thought so, Macumazahn. Did I not tell you that you
would find happiness on this journey? Most men must be content to
watch the Star from a long way off, to you it is given to wear her on
your heart. But remember, Macumazahn, remember that stars set."

"Can you not stop your croaking even for a day?" I answered, angrily,
for his words sent a thrill of fear through me.

"A true prophet must tell the ill as well as the good, Macumazahn. I
only speak what is on my mind. But what of it? What is life but loss,
loss upon loss, till life itself be lost? But in death we may find all
the things that we have lost. So your father taught, Macumazahn, and
there was wisdom in his gentleness. Ou! I do not believe in death; it
is change, that is all, Macumazahn. Look now, the rain falls, the
drops of rain that were one water in the clouds fall side by side.
They sink into the ground; presently the sun will come out, the earth
will be dry, the drops will be gone. A fool looks and says the drops
are dead, they will never be one again, they will never again fall
side by side. But I am a rain-maker, and I know the ways of rain. It
is not true. The drops will drain by many paths into the river, and
will be one water there. They will go up to the clouds again in the
mists of morning, and there will again be as they have been. We are
the drops of rain, Macumazahn. When we fall that is our life. When we
sink into the ground that is death, and when we are drawn up again to
the sky, what is that, Macumazahn? No! no! when we find we lose, and
when we seem to lose, then we shall really find. I am not a Christian,
Macumazahn, but I am old, and have watched and seen things that
perhaps Christians do not see. There, I have spoken. Be happy with
your star, and if it sets, wait, Macumazahn, wait till it rises again.
It will not be long; one day you will go to sleep, then your eyes will
open on another sky, and there your star will be shining, Macumazahn."

I made no answer at the time. I could not bear to talk of such a
thing. But often and often in the after years I have thought of
Indaba-zimbi and his beautiful simile and gathered comfort from it. He
was a strange man, this old rain-making savage, and there was more
wisdom in him than in many learned atheists--those spiritual
destroyers who, in the name of progress and humanity, would divorce
hope from life, and leave us wandering in a lonesome, self-consecrated
hell.

"Indaba-zimbi," I said, changing the subject, "I have something to
say," and I told him of the threats of Hendrika.

He listened with an unmoved face, nodding his white lock at intervals
as the narrative went on. But I saw that he was disturbed by it.

"Macumazahn," he said at length, "I have told you that this is an evil
woman. She was nourished on baboon milk, and the baboon nature is in
her veins. Such creatures should be killed, not kept. She will make
you mischief if she can. But I will watch her, Macumazahn. Look, the
Star is waiting for you; go, or she will hate me as Hendrika hates
you."

So I went, nothing loth, for attractive as was the wisdom of Indaba-
zimbi, I found a deeper meaning in Stella's simplest word. All the
rest of that day I passed in her company, and the greater part of the
two following days. At last came Saturday night, the eve of our
marriage. It rained that night, so we did not go out, but spent the
evening in the hut. We sat hand in hand, saying little, but Mr. Carson
talked a good deal, telling us tales of his youth, and of countries
that he had visited. Then he read aloud from the Bible, and bade us
goodnight. I also kissed Stella and went to bed. I reached my hut by
the covered way, and before I undressed opened the door to see what
the night was like. It was very dark, and rain was still falling, but
as the light streamed out into the gloom I fancied that I caught sight
of a dusky form gliding away. The thought of Hendrika flashed into my
mind; could she be skulking about outside there? Now I had said
nothing of Hendrika and her threats either to Mr. Carson or Stella,
because I did not wish to alarm them. Also I knew that Stella was
attached to this strange person, and I did not wish to shake her
confidence in her unless it was absolutely necessary. For a minute or
two I stood hesitating, then, reflecting that if it was Hendrika,
there she should stop, I went in and put up the stout wooden bar that
was used to secure the door. For the last few nights old Indaba-zimbi
had made a habit of sleeping in the covered passage, which was the
only other possible way of access. As I came to bed I had stepped over
him rolled up in his blanket, and to all appearances fast asleep. So
it being evident that I had nothing to fear, I promptly dismissed the
matter from my mind, which, as may be imagined, was indeed fully
occupied with other thoughts.

I got into bed, and for awhile lay awake thinking of the great
happiness in store for me, and of the providential course of events
that had brought it within my reach. A few weeks since and I was
wandering in the desert a dying man, bearing a dying child, and with
scarcely a possession left in the world except a store of buried ivory
that I never expected to see again. And now I was about to wed one of
the sweetest and loveliest women on the whole earth--a woman whom I
loved more than I could have thought possible, and who loved me back
again. Also, as though that were not good fortune enough, I was to
acquire with her very considerable possessions, quite sufficiently
large to enable us to follow any plan of life we found agreeable. As I
lay and reflected on all this I grew afraid of my good fortune. Old
Indaba-zimbi's melancholy prophecies came into my mind. Hitherto he
had always prophesied truly. What if these should be true also? I
turned cold as I thought of it, and prayed to the Power above to
preserve us both to live and love together. Never was prayer more
needed. While its words were still upon my lips I dropped asleep and
dreamed a most dreadful dream.

I dreamed that Stella and I were standing together to be married. She
was dressed in white, and radiant with beauty, but it was a wild,
spiritual beauty which frightened me. Her eyes shone like stars, a
pale flame played about her features, and the wind that blew did not
stir her hair. Nor was this all, for her white robes were death
wrappings, and the altar at which we stood was formed of the piled-up
earth from an open grave that yawned between us. So we stood waiting
for one to wed us, but no one came. Presently from the open grave
sprang the form of Hendrika. In her hand was a knife, with which she
stabbed at me, but pierced the heart of Stella, who, without a cry,
fell backwards into the grave, still looking at me as she fell. Then
Hendrika leaped after her into the grave. I heard her feet strike
heavily.

"/Awake, Macumazahn! awake!/" cried the voice of Indaba-zimbi.

I awoke and bounded from the bed, a cold perspiration pouring from me.
In the darkness on the other side of the hut I heard sounds of furious
struggling. Luckily I kept my head. Just by me was a chair on which
were matches and a rush taper. I struck a match and held it to the
taper. Now in the growing light I could see two forms rolling one over
the other on the floor, and from between them came the flash of steel.
The fat melted and the light burnt up. It was Indaba-zimbi and the
woman Hendrika who were struggling, and, what is more, the woman was
getting the better of the man, strong as he was. I rushed towards
them. Now she was uppermost, now she had wrenched herself from his
fierce grip, and now the great knife she had in her hand flashed up.

But I was behind her, and, placing my hands beneath her arms, jerked
with all my strength. She fell backwards, and, in her effort to save
herself, most fortunately dropped the knife. Then we flung ourselves
upon her. Heavens! the strength of that she-devil! Nobody who has not
experienced it could believe it. She fought and scratched and bit, and
at one time nearly mastered the two of us. As it was she did break
loose. She rushed at the bed, sprung on it, and bounded thence
straight up at the roof of the hut. I never saw such a jump, and could
not conceive what she meant to do. In the roof were the peculiar holes
which I have described. They were designed to admit light, and covered
with overhanging eaves. She sprung straight and true like a monkey,
and, catching the edge of the hole with her hands, strove to draw
herself through it. But here her strength, exhausted with the long
struggle, failed her. For a moment she swung, then dropped to the
ground and fell senseless.

"Ou!" gasped Indaba-zimbi. "Let us tie the devil up before she comes
to life again."

I thought this a good counsel, so we took a reim that lay in the
corner of the room, and lashed her hands and feet in such a fashion
that even she could scarcely escape. Then we carried her into the
passage, and Indaba-zimbi sat over her, the knife in his hand, for I
did not wish to raise an alarm at that hour of the night.

"Do you know how I caught her, Macumazahn?" he said. "For several
nights I have slept here with one eye open, for I thought she had made
a plan. To-night I kept wide awake, though I pretended to be asleep.
An hour after you got into the blankets the moon rose, and I saw a
beam of light come into the hut through the hole in the roof.
Presently I saw the beam of light vanish. At first I thought that a
cloud was passing over the moon, but I listened and heard a noise as
though some one was squeezing himself through a narrow space.
Presently he was through, and hanging by his hands. Then the light
came in again, and in the middle of it I saw the Babyan-frau swinging
from the roof, and about to drop into the hut. She clung by both
hands, and in her mouth was a great knife. She dropped, and I ran
forward to seize her as she dropped, and gripped her round the middle.
But she heard me come, and, seizing the knife, struck at me in the
dark and missed me. Then we struggled, and you know the rest. You were
very nearly dead to-night, Macumazahn."

"Very nearly indeed," I answered, still panting, and arranging the
rags of my night-dress round me as best I might. Then the memory of my
horrid dream flashed into my mind. Doubtless it had been conjured up
by the sound of Hendrika dropping to the floor--in my dream it had
been a grave that she dropped into. All of it, then, had been
experienced in that second of time. Well, dreams are swift; perhaps
Time itself is nothing but a dream, and events that seem far apart
really occur simultaneously.

We passed the rest of the night watching Hendrika. Presently she came
to herself and struggled furiously to break the reim. But the untanned
buffalo hide was too strong even for her, and, moreover, Indaba-zimbi
unceremoniously sat upon her to keep her quiet. At last she gave it
up.

In due course the day broke--my marriage day. Leaving Indaba-zimbi to
watch my would-be murderess, I went and fetched some natives from the
stables, and with their aid bore Hendrika to the prison hut--that same
hut in which she had been confined when she had been brought a baboon-
child from the rocks. Here we shut her up, and, leaving Indaba-zimbi
to watch outside, I returned to my sleeping-place and dressed in the
best garments that the Babyan Kraals could furnish. But when I looked
at the reflection of my face, I was horrified. It was covered with
scratches inflicted by the nails of Hendrika. I doctored them up as
best I could, then went out for a walk to calm my nerves, which, what
between the events of the past night, and of those pending that day,
were not a little disturbed.

When I returned it was breakfast time. I went into the dining hut, and
there Stella was waiting to greet me, dressed in simple white and with
orange flowers on her breast. She came forward to me shyly enough;
then, seeing the condition of my face, started back.

"Why, Allan! what have you been doing to yourself?" she asked.

As I was about to answer, her father came in leaning on his stick,
and, catching sight of me, instantly asked the same question.

Then I told them everything, both of Hendrika's threats and of her
fierce attempt to carry them into execution. But I did not tell my
horrid dream.

Stella's face grew white as the flowers on her breast, but that of her
father became very stern.

"You should have spoken of this before, Allan," he said. "I now see
that I did wrong to attempt to civilize this wicked and revengeful
creature, who, if she is human, has all the evil passions of the
brutes that reared her. Well, I will make an end of it this very day."

"Oh, father," said Stella, "don't have her killed. It is all dreadful
enough, but that would be more dreadful still. I have been very fond
of her, and, bad as she is, she has loved me. Do not have her killed
on my marriage day."

"No," her father answered, "she shall not be killed, for though she
deserves to die, I will not have her blood upon our hands. She is a
brute, and has followed the nature of brutes. She shall go back whence
she came."

No more was said on the matter at the time, but when breakfast--which
was rather a farce--was done, Mr. Carson sent for his headman and gave
him certain orders.

We were to be married after the service which Mr. Carson held every
Sunday morning in the large marble hut set apart for that purpose. The
service began at ten o'clock, but long before that hour all the
natives on the place came up in troops, singing as they came, to be
present at the wedding of the "Star." It was a pretty sight to see
them, the men dressed in all their finery, and carrying shields and
sticks in their hands, and the women and children bearing green
branches of trees, ferns, and flowers. At length, about half-past
nine, Stella rose, pressed my hand, and left me to my reflections. A
few minutes to ten she reappeared again with her father, dressed in a
white veil, a wreath of orange flowers on her dark curling hair, a
bouquet of orange flowers in her hand. To me she seemed like a dream
of loveliness. With her came little Tota in a high state of glee and
excitement. She was Stella's only bridesmaid. Then we all passed out
towards the church hut. The bare space in front of it was filled with
hundreds of natives, who set up a song as we came. But we went on into
the hut, which was crowded with such of the natives as usually
worshipped there. Here Mr. Carson, as usual, read the service, though
he was obliged to sit down in order to do so. When it was done--and to
me it seemed interminable--Mr. Carson whispered that he meant to marry
us outside the hut in sight of all the people. So we went out and took
our stand under the shade of a large tree that grew near the hut
facing the bare space where the natives were gathered.

Mr. Carson held up his hand to enjoin silence. Then, speaking in the
native dialect, he told them that he was about to make us man and wife
after the Christian fashion and in the sight of all men. This done, he
proceeded to read the marriage service over us, and very solemnly and
beautifully he did it. We said the words, I placed the ring--it was
her father's signet ring, for we had no other--upon Stella's finger,
and it was done.

Then Mr. Carson spoke. "Allan and Stella," he said, "I believe that
the ceremony which has been performed makes you man and wife in the
sight of God and man, for all that is necessary to make a marriage
binding is, that it should be celebrated according to the custom of
the country where the parties to it reside. It is according to the
custom that has been in force here for fifteen years or more that you
have been married in the face of all the people, and in token of it
you will both sign the register that I have kept of such marriages,
among those of my people who have adopted the Christian Faith. Still,
in case there should be any legal flaw I again demand the solemn
promise of you both that on the first opportunity you will cause this
marriage to be re-celebrated in some civilized land. Do you promise?"

"We do," we answered.

Then the book was brought out and we signed our names. At first my
wife signed hers "Stella" only, but her father bade her write it
Stella Carson for the first and last time in her life. Then several of
the indunas, or headmen, including old Indaba-zimbi, put their marks
in witness. Indaba-zimbi drew his mark in the shape of a little star,
in humorous allusion to Stella's native name. That register is before
me now as I write. That, with a lock of my darling's hair which lies
between its leaves, is my dearest possession. There are all the names
and marks as they were written many years ago beneath the shadow of
the tree at Babyan Kraals in the wilderness, but alas! and alas! where
are those who wrote them?

"My people," said Mr. Carson, when the signing was done, and we had
kissed each other before them all--"My people, Macumazahn and the
Star, my daughter, are now man and wife, to live in one kraal, to eat
of one bowl, to share one fortune till they reach the grave. Hear now,
my people, you know this woman," and turning he pointed to Hendrika,
who, unseen by us, had been led out of the prison hut.

"Yes, yes, we know her," said a little ring of headmen, who formed the
primitive court of justice, and after the fashion of natives had
squatted themselves in a circle on the ground in front of us. "We know
her, she is the white Babyan-woman, she is Hendrika, the body servant
of the Star."

"You know her," said Mr. Carson, "but you do not know her altogether.
Stand forward, Indaba-zimbi, and tell the people what came about last
night in the hut of Macumazahn."

Accordingly old Indaba-zimbi came forward, and, squatting down, told
his moving tale with much descriptive force and many gestures,
finishing up by producing the great knife from which his watchfulness
had saved me.

Then I was called upon, and in a few brief words substantiated his
story: indeed my face did that in the sight of all men.

Then Mr. Carson turned to Hendrika, who stood in sullen silence, her
eyes fixed upon the ground, and asked her if she had anything to say.

She looked up boldly and answered--

"Macumazahn has robbed me of the love of my mistress. I would have
robbed him of his life, which is a little thing compared to that which
I have lost at his hands. I have failed, and I am sorry for it, for
had I killed him and left no trace the Star would have forgotten him
and shone on me again."

"Never," murmured Stella in my ear; but Mr. Carson turned white with
wrath.

"My people," he said, "you hear the words of this woman. You hear how
she pays me back, me and my daughter whom she swears she loves. She
says that she would have murdered a man who has done her no evil, the
man who is the husband of her mistress. We saved her from the babyans,
we tamed her, we fed her, we taught her, and this is how she pays us
back. Say, my people, what reward should be given to her?"

"Death," said the circle of indunas, pointing their thumbs downwards,
and all the multitude beyond echoed the word "Death."

"Death," repeated the head induna, adding, "If you save her, my
father, we will slay her with our own hands. She is a Babyan-woman, a
devil-woman; ah, yes, we have heard of such before; let her be slain
before she works more evil."

Then it was that Stella stepped forward and begged for Hendrika's life
in moving terms. She pleaded the savagery of the woman's nature, her
long service, and the affection that she had always shown towards
herself. She said that I, whose life had been attempted, forgave her,
and she, my wife, who had nearly been left a widow before she was made
a bride, forgave her; let them forgive her also, let her be sent away,
not slain, let not her marriage day be stained with blood.

Now her father listened readily enough, for he had no intention of
killing Hendrika--indeed, he had already promised not to do so. But
the people were in a different humour, they looked upon Hendrika as a
devil, and would have torn her to pieces there and then, could they
have had their way. Nor were matters mended by Indaba-zimbi, who had
already gained a great reputation for wisdom and magic in the place.
Suddenly the old man rose and made quite an impassioned speech, urging
them to kill Hendrika at once or mischief would come of it.

At last matters got very bad, for two of the Indunas came forward to
drag her off to execution, and it was not until Stella burst into
tears that the sight of her grief, backed by Mr. Carson's orders and
my own remonstrances, carried the day.

All this while Hendrika had been standing quite unmoved. At last the
tumult ceased, and the leading induna called to her to go, promising
that if ever she showed her face near the kraals again she should be
stabbed like a jackal. Then Hendrika spoke to Stella in a low voice
and in English--

"Better let them kill me, mistress, better for all. Without you to
love I shall go mad and become a babyan again."

Stella did not answer, and they loosed her. She stepped forward and
looked at the natives with a stare of hate. Then she turned and walked
past me, and as she passed whispered a native phrase in my ear, that,
being literally translated, means, "Till another moon," but which has
the same significance as the French "au revoir."

It frightened me, for I knew she meant that she had not done with me,
and saw that our mercy was misplaced. Seeing my face change she ran
swiftly from me, and as she passed Indaba-zimbi, with a sudden
movement snatched her great knife from his hand. When she had gone
about twenty paces she halted, looked long and earnestly on Stella,
gave one loud cry of anguish, and fled. A few minutes later we saw her
far away, bounding up the face of an almost perpendicular cliff--a
cliff that nobody except herself and the baboons could possibly climb.

"Look," said Indaba-zimbi in my ear--"Look, Macumazahn, there goes the
Babyan-frau. But, Macumazahn, /she will come back again/. Ah, why will
you not listen to my words. Have they not always been true words,
Macumazahn?" and he shrugged his shoulders and turned away.

For a while I was much disturbed, but at any rate Hendrika was gone
for the present, and Stella, my dear and lovely wife, was there at my
side, and in her smiles I forgot my fears.

For the rest of that day, why should I write of it?--there are things
too happy and too sacred to be written of.

At last I had, if only for a little while, found that rest, that
perfect joy which we seek so continually and so rarely clasp.

CHAPTER XI

GONE!

I wonder if many married couples are quite as happy as we found
ourselves. Cynics, a growing class, declare that few illusions can
survive a honeymoon. Well, I do not know about it, for I only married
once, and can but speak from my limited experience. But certainly our
illusion, or rather the great truth of which it is the shadow, did
survive, as to this day it survives in my heart across all the years
of utter separation, and across the unanswering gulf of gloom.

But complete happiness is not allowed in this world even for an hour.
As our marriage day had been shadowed by the scene which has been
described, so our married life was shadowed by its own sorrow.

Three days after our wedding Mr. Carson had a stroke. It had been long
impending, now it fell. We came into the centre hut to dinner and
found him lying speechless on the couch. At first I thought that he
was dying, but this was not so. On the contrary, within four days he
recovered his speech and some power of movement. But he never
recovered his memory, though he still knew Stella, and sometimes
myself. Curiously enough he remembered little Tota best of all three,
though occasionally he thought that she was his own daughter in her
childhood, and would ask her where her mother was. This state of
affairs lasted for some seven months. The old man gradually grew
weaker, but he did not die. Of course his condition quite precluded
the idea of our leaving Babyan Kraals till all was over. This was the
more distressing to me because I had a nervous presentiment that
Stella was incurring danger by staying there, and also because the
state of her health rendered it desirable that we should reach a
civilized region as soon as possible. However, it could not be helped.

At length the end came very suddenly. We were sitting one evening by
Mr. Carson's bedside in his hut, when to our astonishment he sat up
and spoke in a strong, full voice.

"I hear you," he said. "Yes, yes, I forgive you. Poor woman! you too
have suffered," and he fell back dead.

I have little doubt that he was addressing his lost wife, some vision
of whom had flashed across his dying sense. Stella, of course, was
overwhelmed with grief at her loss. Till I came her father had been
her sole companion, and therefore, as may be imagined, the tie between
them was much closer than is usual even in the case of father and
daughter. So deeply did she mourn that I began to fear for the effect
upon her health. Nor were we the only ones to grieve; all the natives
on the settlement called Mr. Carson "father," and as a father they
lamented him. The air resounded with the wailing of women, and the men
went about with bowed heads, saying that "the sun had set in the
heavens, now only the Star (Stella) remained." Indaba-zimbi alone did
not mourn. He said that it was best that the Inkoos should die, for
what was life worth when one lay like a log?--moreover, that it would
have been well for all if he had died sooner.

On the following day we buried him in the little graveyard near the
waterfall. It was a sad business, and Stella cried very much, in spite
of all I could do to comfort her.

That night as I sat outside the hut smoking--for the weather was hot,
and Stella was lying down inside--old Indaba-zimbi came up, saluted,
and squatted at my feet.

"What is it, Indaba-zimbi?" I said.

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