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´╗┐Title: Zero the Slaver - A Romance of Equatorial Africa
Author: Fletcher, Lawrence
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Zero the Slaver - A Romance of Equatorial Africa" ***

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Zero the Slaver, by Lawrence Fletcher.

________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________
ZERO THE SLAVER, BY LAWRENCE FLETCHER.



CHAPTER ONE.

MISSING.

1,000 Pound Reward.

The above-named Sum will be paid to any person giving information which
will lead to the discovery of the whereabouts of a young Englishman
named Richard Grenville, who was last seen at Durban on 15th December,
1877.

Apply to Masterton and Driffield, Advocates, Port Natal.

Facing this striking announcement, and with his back to the Standard
Bank of South Africa, in Durban, stood, one morning in July, 1880, a
wiry-looking, clean-shaved man of about five- or six-and-thirty, dressed
in a rough grey homespun suit.

Man after man paused, read, marked, learned, and, no doubt, inwardly
digested, the contents of the advertisement, then passed on his way
without giving the matter a second thought--beyond, perhaps, half
wishing, in a lazy sort of way, that he knew something about this man
who seemingly was so much wanted by his own people.  But our grey-coated
friend still stood there, and appeared to be literally devouring the
announcement.

At length he turned sharply away with a muttered "Hum!  It's a big pile.
Five thousand dollars--now, I wonder if--" But here his keen eye noted
the stoppage of another person--a fashionably-dressed man--before the
advertisement, which seemed of considerable personal interest to him,
judging from the way he stared at it, and from the fact that his cigar
dropped from his lips, which mechanically opened with an involuntary
exclamation the moment the wording caught his eye.  Quickly recovering
himself, the man glanced keenly at grey-coat, who was, however,
diligently charging his pipe, and then he, too, like his predecessors,
passed on his way.

"Snakes!" muttered our friend.  "Now, I wonder who that swell is, and
why this lay startled him so infernally.  Reckon I'll have to get you
weighed up before I clear, old chap;" and, lighting his pipe, he moved
briskly away in the direction of Masterton and Driffield's office.

Arrived there, he in due course expressed to a young clerk his desire to
interview one of the principals on the subject of a considerable
interest which he proposed to acquire in certain land at Durban, and
very shortly found himself closeted with Mr Driffield.

"I have called, sir," he said, "to see you regarding this advertisement
of yours for one Richard Grenville, and to learn what further details
you can afford me beyond the information given in the announcement."

Our friend, be it observed, was something of a curiosity.  A
thorough-bred Yankee, he seldom or never indulged in "Americanisms" of
any kind except when soliloquising, which he had a singular habit of
doing whilst deducing his own peculiar theories.

"Oh!" said the lawyer, in a somewhat aggrieved tone.  "My clerk stated
that you wished to consult me with regard to the purchase of some land.
That advertisement was only printed off last night, and if we have had
one call concerning it, we have already had at least two hundred."

"I didn't choose to let your clerk know my business, or anything about
me, Mr Driffield," replied grey-coat curtly; "but here's my card, sir,
and now let me hear all you've got to say, without further loss of
time."

Mr Driffield took the pasteboard, read it, and stared blankly at the
other, who laughed quietly, and then reached out his hand, which the
lawyer grasped in most unmistakably hearty fashion.

"Why, God bless me, Kenyon," said he, "I should never have known you in
this get-up; but look here, come and dine with me to-night, and we'll go
right into this business.  You are the one man I would have chosen for
it out of all the world, and I shall be very much mistaken if I haven't
a good twelve months' work for you.  To-night, at seven, at the
Athenaeum, then.  And now `good morning,' for I'm up to the eyes in
work.  Oh! by the way, Kenyon, if you haven't read this book, do so at
once, there's a good fellow, for it contains a full account of
Grenville's South African adventures, and your perusal of it will
prepare my way, and save me going over most of the old ground again
to-night."  So saying, the lawyer dismissed his visitor, who was none
other than Stanforth Kenyon, the keenest and wiliest detective New York
could boast of--a man born to his profession, and consequently an
ornament to it.

At five-and-twenty Kenyon was an unknown, but--having regard to his
literary merit--an overpaid scribbler on one of the big New York
dailies; but now, only ten years later, he was universally admitted to
be the most unerring sleuth-hound of the whole shrewd band of secret
police owning allegiance to Uncle Sam, and whose business in South
Africa at the present time, needless to say, was known only to himself.

At once retaking his way to the hotel he had left that morning, the
detective settled down to read the book in question, ["Into the
Unknown"] and in a few hours' time had mastered its contents, and lay
quietly back in his chair, smoking, and thinking deeply.

After a further hour had been expended in this comforting and, no doubt,
edifying fashion, he took out a well-worn notebook, and wrote several
lines therein in shorthand; then, returning the book to his pocket, he
started out for a stroll, and seven o'clock saw him seated opposite to
the lawyer, and enjoying most thoroughly the excellent dinner provided
for him by that worthy gentleman.

"And now," said Mr Driffield, when the cloth was removed and both men
had lighted their cigars, "let me have your opinion of `Into the
Unknown,' or, rather, as to what extent the events narrated therein may
or may not bear upon the present disappearance of our friend Grenville."

"First," said the detective, calmly begging the question, and taking out
his notebook, "who are you working for, Mr Driffield?  I mean," he
added, quickly, "is it some relation of Grenville's who is anxious about
the missing man, or have you yourself any personal interest in the
search?"

"None at all," was the reply.  "Let me be quite frank with you, Kenyon.
I am employed by his cousin, Lord Drelincourt, who shared his adventures
amongst the Mormons, and my lord is in no end of a taking about him.
You see, the two men were like twin brothers all their lives, and now
that Lord Drelincourt has lost his wife and child, he feels alone in
life, poor fellow, and would give his whole fortune to have his cousin
by his side."

"How very sad," commented the detective.  "So he took poor Dora Winfield
homo only to bury her.  How did it all happen?"

"No one knows," said the little lawyer, dropping his voice.  "Poor Lady
Drelincourt and her one-year-old boy were found dead in bed one morning,
without even the suspicion of a mark of violence upon them.

"My lord was away from home when it happened, and the shock almost
unseated his reason, and for weeks after the sad event he was down with
brain fever.  Though quite a young man, his hair turned snowy-white when
he realised the awful extent of his cruel loss, and awoke from his long
illness only to find that his dead had long been buried out of his
sight.  Doctors and detectives were called in at the time, but
everything was in vain.  The detectives were hopelessly at fault, and
the only theory the doctors could advance was that mother and child had
been chloroformed to death.

"The servants were old family retainers, and were entirely beyond
suspicion, being all of them passionately devoted to their sweet young
mistress, and bound to their loved master as much by his personal worth
and goodness as by the unbroken ties of voluntary servitude during three
generations.

"And now, Kenyon, will you undertake the case?  The reward is already
well worth working for, great though the risks may be; but I can
undertake to _double it_ if you bring our man in alive.  You will get a
fine sporting holiday up country, with all expenses liberally provided
for, and in point of fact it is the opportunity of a lifetime--or
perhaps I ought to say that to anyone but yourself it would be such."

The detective sat thinking for awhile, and then said, "See here, Mr
Driffield; this is a large order--a very large order--and I must just
reason the matter out in my own way; but I'll let you have my answer by
or before this time to-morrow.  Your man may be only shooting in the far
interior, or camping out in this infernal secret territory of the
Mormons, or he may be--well, elsewhere."

The two then separated for the night, the lawyer going straight to the
telegraph station, and in a few minutes more the submarine cable had the
following message flashing over it:--

"To Drelincourt, London.

"Splendid man probably available; terms, two thousand and expenses.
Shall I secure him?

"Driffield."

Arrived at his hotel, the detective sought his own room, lighted his
pipe, and puzzled over his notebook for upwards of an hour, idly
drumming on the table with his fingers, and listlessly turning over the
leaves pregnant with flotsam and jetsam of criminal interest, and
glancing from time to time in a half-attentive, half-indifferent fashion
at a number of pencilled faces which adorned its earlier pages.
Suddenly, however, his attention became riveted, the man's face seemed
as if turned to stone and his whole expression transformed whilst he
gazed fixedly at one portrait as if unable to believe his eyes.

"Gods!" he cried at last, springing excitedly to his feet; "I have it!
Aha!  Master Zero, we shall meet at last, and then look out for
yourself, my friend, for if ever I entertained hatred and malice and all
uncharitableness, it is towards you, and with good cause; and, Heaven
helping me, before next year is out, I'll pay you back a little of the
debt, the fearful debt, I owe you."

Quickly he also proceeded to the cable offices, and a few minutes later
another message--this time in cypher--traversed the ocean depths, as
follows:--

"To Heliostat, New York.

"Kingdom rage offing."

Which being interpreted meant--

"To the Chief of Police, New York.

"Wire latest information Zero's movements."

Early next morning the cable company handed out two messages, first to--

"Driffield.  Port Natal.

"Secure at any cost.  Wire result."

Second to--

"Wilkinson, Alexandra Hotel, Durban.

"Noughts and crosses hades horrify handfast holy ostrich."

Meaning--

"Sailed for England 15th April, 1879; left France for Madagascar about
September same year."

Eagerly seizing his message, the detective hurriedly mastered its
contents, and with an emphatic grunt of satisfaction started off
instantly for the lawyer's office, and an hour later yet another message
was flashed across the seas--

"To Drelincourt, London.

"Secured; starts immediately."

To which Mr Driffield was considerably astonished to receive the prompt
reply--

"To Driffield, Port Natal.

"Let him wait my arrival.  Sail _Tartar_ to-morrow, bringing all needful
equipment.--Drelincourt."

------------------------------------------------------------------------

His lordship arrived in due course, and the lawyer was inexpressibly
shocked at the change which had taken place in the appearance of his
client.  The man looked twenty years older, but was nevertheless strong,
vigorous, and stern, and the detective noted with secret joy the
hard-set lines in his patron's face, and felt that here at least there
would be no faltering or shrinking, no quarter given and none required,
when the bitter end came; for bitter did this astute man-hunter already
feel certain that the end would prove to be.

The two men were fast friends in a very short time, and one of his
lordship's earliest instructions to Kenyon and the lawyer was to conceal
his identity as far as possible by addressing him simply under his
family name of Leigh, by which he had been known when a younger son,
and, in all human probability, the reverse of likely to become a peer of
the realm.

Months later, Leigh and Kenyon, with their full complement of native
bearers, bade a long farewell to the shores of the mighty lake of
Victoria Nyanza, and struck out boldly into central Africa, steering
hard and fast by the equatorial line.

Leigh, as we shall continue to call Lord Drelincourt, was naturally
curious to know why the detective, who held the compass and took all the
observations, should be so extremely particular about his latitude, but
that worthy either could or would give no explanation, and Leigh had
already acquired such implicit confidence in every action of his
self-constituted guide, that he let himself be led blindly whithersoever
the American chose to take him, feeling that the man was either working
confidently upon "information received," or that his faculty of instinct
was so finely developed that he was unlikely to make any very serious
mistakes.

As a matter of fact Leigh was right to a certain extent, for starting
with a theory of his own, which had the rooted belief of Zero's
complicity in the disappearance of Grenville for its point of departure,
the American, whilst waiting the arrival of his patron from England, had
worked up several slender clues, and had afterwards elaborated them in a
manner calculated to have made his yet far-distant foe feel the reverse
of comfortable, had he been conscious of the very tender interest taken
by an outsider in the most trifling actions performed by him during the
past, both distant and relatively near.

By careful watching, and by shadowing in a variety of inimitable
disguises, Kenyon, who was an infinitely better actor than many a man
who makes his living "on the boards," had soon unearthed, become
intimate with, and pretty well "weighed up"--to use his own expression--
the gentleman who had exhibited such unequivocal signs of dismay when
unexpectedly confronted with the advertisement concerning Grenville, and
the detective had satisfied himself that this fellow, Crewdson Walworth
by name, was a man with a history, could he but find it out--a history,
moreover, which instinct assured him would prove to be of the greatest
service to the Grenville search party at the present juncture.  More, he
also knew for a fact that his friend Crewdson corresponded in cypher
with someone at Zanzibar, but even the cunning of Stanforth Kenyon had
totally failed to ascertain who that someone was, or by what name he or
she was designated, or, indeed, to get out of Master Crewdson Walworth
anything else at all worth knowing.

The detective, however, had put two and two together, and had built up a
theory in his usual cautious fashion, and every step of the ladder,
though most rigidly and thoroughly tested, had thus far proved to be
absolutely correct, and his deductions to be altogether justified by the
course of events.



CHAPTER TWO.

A NIGHT OF HORROR.

No serious mishap befell our pair of adventurers until they neared the
Katonga River, but just here they dropped in for a streak of ill-luck,
which was like to have brought the expedition to a premature and utterly
disastrous termination.

Leaving their men in camp one morning, Leigh and Kenyon had set out to
thoroughly and carefully explore a mighty kloof, or gorge, in the
adjacent hills, expecting to complete their investigations easily in a
couple of hours or thereabouts.

As the pair entered this natural mountain fastness, however, it rapidly
developed into a deep gorge, along which trickled a stream of water so
tiny that it frequently lost itself altogether amongst the stones which
served it for a bed.

On either hand great grey barren walls shot up like precipices, whilst
mighty scarped-out rocks seemed to hang over the very heads of the
explorers, the giant walls elsewhere being thickly fringed towards the
skyline with trees and bushes, many of the former absolutely hanging
head-downwards, and appearing to maintain their precarious tenure of
existence solely by the aid of magnificent festoons of creepers, which
hung from tree to rock, and from rock to tree, these gigantic parasites
absolutely sustaining the decayed trunks of many a long-dead monarch of
the woods, which they had enfolded in their tenacious and eventually
fatal embrace; higher still the foliage upon the very summit of the
cliffs looked like narrow gleaming threads of green and gold against the
dull background of soft sandstone rock.  Within the kloof it was
unquestionably more or less dark at the best of times, but just now
darker than usual, for a vast white cloud, which the pair had noticed in
the distance when they entered the pass some hours before, had gradually
and ominously settled down, until it seemed to hang like a veritable
curtain of rich, fleecy wool directly over the chasm; and as our friends
were in the act of discussing the advisability of taking the back track
to camp, and returning to complete their investigations on the morrow,
this cloud suddenly burst over their very heads, and in one short moment
transformed their rocky road into an angry, swelling torrent of
leaden-coloured water, alive with branches, trees, and stones, and this
now rushed foaming and roaring down the awful pass, sweeping everything
before it, and threatening each instant to engulf the two wretched men,
who had saved themselves for the nonce by hanging on to a tree trunk
which was jammed cross-wise in the narrow gully of rock.

Suddenly Leigh gave a gasp, turned white as death, and relaxed his hold,
but ere the water could sweep him away he was in the iron grasp of the
American; many an enemy had known to his bitter cost what it was to feel
the clutch of the detective, but never had that grip of steel stood a
friend in so good a stead as now.

A floating log had struck Leigh violently on the side, dislocating a rib
and causing him to swoon away.  For several anxious moments it seemed to
Kenyon that one or both of them must go, but to his intense relief he
suddenly noticed that the rush of the water was becoming less swift, and
Leigh at the same time pulling round again to some extent, the twain
were soon in comparative safety from the water, which vanished almost as
rapidly as it had appeared.

By this time, however, evening was coming on, and this, in the depths
tenanted by our friends, quickly meant the darkness of Erebus, and
unpleasant though it was, they had no alternative but to sit patiently
on their friendly log and wish for daylight.  The unfortunates had not
even the consolation of a smoke, for both tobacco and matches had been
reduced to a mere pulp by the water, nor had they aught in the shape of
food or drink save a handful of unpleasantly damp peppermints owned by
the American, and a pint of good brown brandy in Leigh's flask.

Now most people will concede that under such circumstances the
consumption of the brandy was not only permissible but distinctly
advisable, though very few, perhaps, would care to tackle the
peppermints.

Not so, however, our friends, for not once nor twice had they been
indebted at a pinch entirely to these simple "sweets" for keeping body
and soul together during long days and anxious nights, when, with savage
foes following keen-eyed and red-handed on their tracks, any stoppage
for food or fire would have meant certain sudden death.

All that Kingsley has said regarding the use of the "divine weed" may be
re-written, and with much more truth, in favour of the harmless and not
more odorously objectionable peppermint.  "A lone man's companion, a
hungry man's food, a sad man's cordial, a chilly man's fire;" all this,
and more, did the despised peppermint prove to our friends that awful
night, and needless to say they appreciated their oft-tried food at its
honest value.  Under the coldest conditions it was acceptable to a
degree, and almost equally so under a blazing sun, with the thermometer
registering 80 degrees in the shade, for whilst it comforted the inside
of the body, it cooled the fevered palate by causing every breath of
burning tropic air to rush into the mouth like draughts of nectar, laden
with a welcome icy message from the far unlovely north.

Slowly the hours passed away, so slowly that the American thought his
companion would die of exposure, for he was still suffering keenly from
the blow his side had received, and never was dawn more welcome to man
than when those two miserable mortals at last saw it blushing golden
upon the trees far above them, followed by the glorious sun glinting
upon the damp metallic-looking rocks, till the whole angry chasm was
bathed in a tremulous reddening glow of lovely light and shade.

A weary way it seemed back to camp; indeed, it is doubtful in the
extreme if Leigh would ever have reached it, had the pair not been met
half-way by their anxious sable retainers, who did not in the least
degree appreciate the honour of being left in unsupported possession of
this great lone land; these men very soon had their masters under
canvas, and after a steaming cup of coffee, stowed them away inside
their blankets and left them to the undisturbed enjoyment of their
well-earned repose.

For several days Leigh was in a high fever, consequent upon the
dislocated rib, but this having been carefully put to rights by the
skilful Kenyon, he rapidly mended, and their camp being fortunately
placed in a healthy position, he was completely recovered at the end of
a few weeks, and again ready and eager to betake himself to the search
for his cousin.

With returning health, Leigh had betrayed an increased desire to extract
precise information from Kenyon as to the why and wherefore of their
present position, but all the satisfaction he could obtain from that
worthy was a laconic assurance that so far they had made no mistakes,
and that at that moment they were either very near their destination, or
else were on the tail-end of a trail which had been blinded with
consummate skill Kenyon had, he himself said, been very far from idle
during Leigh's illness, and had thoroughly exploited the district, and
taken a number of photographs in the immediate vicinity; but he had come
to the conclusion that nothing of practical utility could be
accomplished until Leigh was fit to return with him to the pass and
again take up the thread of search where they had dropped it, and he
added that if naught of Richard Grenville was written on its silent
walls, he would then be completely nonplussed.

Kenyon, as Leigh had long since learned, was no ordinary police
detective; he was a shrewd and skilful tracker, a man born and brought
up on the frontier of the Far West, and his experience had been dearly
bought in many an Indian fight and foray before he gravitated to New
York to try his hand at journalism as favoured by the New World.

A crack shot with the revolver, and no mean exponent of the beauties of
the Winchester repeater, he was at all times a man to be feared by his
foes, and to be looked up to by his friends, as a veritable tower of
strength.

Of Leigh we need say little, beyond remarking that he was in the prime
of manhood, was as strong as a bull, and had lost none of his skill with
the rifle, whilst he had derived a new, and to his enemies a doubly
dangerous energy, begotten of his loves and of his hates; to him it
seemed that, could they but find his cousin Dick, nothing would be
impossible with such heads and hearts as Grenville and Kenyon possessed,
especially if he were himself there to take a third hand at the game.



CHAPTER THREE.

"BLACK IVORY."

Having arranged to recommence their search at dawn of day, our friends
turned in to rest that night, leaving one of their Zanzibaris on guard.
This man had thus far shown himself fairly reliable, and being a very
great coward, had proved a most excellent watchman, seldom failing to
alarm the camp, at least once every night, with the fearsome news that
bloodthirsty foes, in some shape or form, were close upon them, the
attacking force, nine times out of ten, existing only in his fertile
imagination, and turning out to be either hungry and inquisitive beasts
of prey, or the grey mists of early dawn rising to greet the sun.

These constant scares had naturally had the effect of inclining everyone
in the camp to cry "Wolf!" turn over in his blanket, and, after roundly
anathematising the alarmist, to go comfortably to sleep again; but when
Kenyon was roused by this man on the night in question, a single glance
convinced him that the fellow was, at all events, in desperate earnest,
for his knees knocked together, and his face was fairly grey with the
horror of some new and unexplained phenomenon, as he stammered out his
statement to the effect that several hundred men were silently creeping
upon their position, under cover of the mist, and asserting that he
could see them sufficiently clearly to count their numbers by the
moonlight.

"Let my master," he said, "open his white eyes as clear as crystal, and
see my tongue, for there is no lie upon it."  Picking up his rifle,
Kenyon roused Leigh, the pair quickly following the watchman outside the
tent, and this was what they saw.

Slightly to their right, and entering ghost-like the suspected mountain
gorge, was a long train of human beings moving silently, yet swiftly,
westwards.

The camp was completely shrouded in mist, and altogether invisible to
these people passing it within stone's-throw, but its occupants by lying
down could see tolerably well beneath the thick grey curtain, which
overhung them in every direction, and it did not require a second glance
to satisfy the Europeans that the spectacle they were watching was
simply an African slave caravan, of unusually large dimensions, on the
march.  For some minutes the pair gazed in silence, and then with a
fierce but subdued ejaculation, Leigh endeavoured to spring to his feet,
but was held still by the iron hand of the detective.

"Down! man, down! for your life!" he whispered.  "The game is only just
beginning."

"But curse it all," growled Leigh, "don't you see that _most of the
slaves are white, and that many of them are women_?"

"I see it all," was the answer, in a stern incisive whisper, "but I see
little beyond what I expected to see when we arrived here a month ago.
Just wait a while, and if I know anything of my work, these people will
lead us to your cousin.  If we follow them to their destination, there I
am convinced shall we find Richard Grenville, if he be still in the land
of the living."

For fully half an hour did the wretched troop continue to file past, and
then captives, white and black, male and female, together with their
countless guards, were engulfed in the eerie shadows of the rocky gorge,
and entirely lost to human ken.  Not a sound had the anxious watchers
heard from first to last, and when the hindmost figure vanished from
sight, Leigh could not refrain from rubbing his eyes to see if he were
really awake and not dreaming; then, becoming satisfied that the former
was the case, he seized his rifle, turned eagerly to Kenyon, and begged
him to get on the trail of these nocturnal wanderers without another
moment's delay.

Here, again, however, Leigh's fiery impetuosity was confronted by the
stubborn coolness of the American, that worthy absolutely refusing to
make any movement for at least another hour.

"No, thank you, Leigh," he said; "if yonder poor creatures are captives
to the man who I firmly believe has them in his grip, all I say is just
look out for squalls.  You may take my word for it that before you got
your foot inside the pass you would be simply riddled with bullets.  I
dare stake my reputation that there are not less than a score of scouts
outlying all around us, and we have to thank this very substantial veil
of mist for saving our lives, for the moment, at all events.  In another
hour the entire crowd will have got some way through the gorge, and then
the scouts will draw in, and give us a chance of moving, but it would be
sheer madness on our part to stir from our present position before
dawn."

"Wherever can those blackguards possibly have laid hands on the dozens
of white men and women we saw in the caravan?" asked Leigh.

"Ah! now you are making a great mistake," replied Kenyon.  "There were
at most only half-a-dozen white men amongst the captives, and I saw but
one white woman; the rest were unfortunate creatures from one of the
native tribes south of the Great Lakes, and whose habit it is to plaster
their bodies with grey ashes.  The first glance under this misty-looking
moon deceived me, too, but I can reassure you on that score.  There
were, quite half-a-dozen white men amongst them, though, and as for the
white woman, the less said about her the better, for _she was one of the
slave-drivers_.  I think, however, Leigh, that you are missing the main
point offered to us in this affair.  Don't you see that by all the laws
of reason and common-sense this caravan should be steering due east for
the seaboard, and here we find slaves obviously imported from a distance
(for I never heard of the grey ash colouring being practised anywhere in
this latitude) _being driven due west_.  Now, if you will take your map
for what it is worth, or will question any of these frauds of ours
called `Guides,' you will find that there is no town of any kind in this
vicinity, nothing, indeed, of any note at all within hundreds of miles,
so far as is known, let alone any such thing as a slave market.
Whither, then, can this immense caravan possibly be going?

"Another point that impressed itself upon my notice was the fact that
the slave-drive was composed entirely of full-grown men and women (it
positively did not contain one single youth or child), all of which
looks as if the strongest slaves had been purposely selected for severe
labour of some kind in the interior, far or near, their ultimate
destination and precise occupation being what we have to find out."

"Give me to understand your whole theory, Kenyon, and why you connect
these people with my cousin," said Leigh.

"No!" was the curt reply.  "I have no theory; at least, I have as yet
only the very faintest suspicion of one, and the possibilities before us
are far too vast for me at present to hazard even the remotest guess at
either the final result of all this, or whither our investigations will
ultimately lead us; only I believe, nay, I am morally certain, that in
following yonder caravan--if follow it we can--we shall be treading in
the steps taken voluntarily by the remnant of the Mormons who escaped
from Grenville's vengeance in East Utah, and who were, I am equally
sure, succeeded at a later date by your cousin, and probably by many of
his Zulu friends, as part and parcel of just such a slave caravan as we
have seen to-night.  And now let us stop talking and get to work at some
food, for the light is beginning to grow, and in half-an-hour's time we
ought to be ready to move.  I have slipped two of our fellows into the
long grass with orders to keep their wits about them, but I expect the
cowards will lie so close for the sake of their own precious skins that
they will see nothing, however much there may be for them to observe."

"Ay!" said Leigh, bitterly, "I wish we had a handful of our old Zulu
allies here and we would make it very warm for the slavers; but as for
these wretched curs, they are not worth their salt, except to carry
loads, which they will throw to the deuce at the veriest shadow of
approaching danger."

As soon as the sun had fairly risen and sucked up the mist, the camp was
struck, and the entire party entered the rocky defile and proceeded to
thread its dark avenues with the utmost caution, all of which, however,
seemed totally unnecessary, as they nowhere saw the slightest sign of
life, or the remotest indication that the stony way had ever before been
trodden by the foot of man.

One thing, nevertheless, struck the Europeans as being most singular,
and this was the fact that when they had penetrated a very considerable
way through the gorge, and arrived at the spot where Leigh's unfortunate
accident had occurred, they discovered the roadway to be absolutely
closed by the fallen tree which had so staunchly stood their friend on
the occasion of their previous visit, and which was still firmly jammed
endwise across the narrow rugged path.

This obstruction was very carefully examined, but it bore no traces of
having been tampered with in any shape or form, nor was there the
slightest mark upon it which would lead even the most suspicious to
believe that the obstacle had been climbed over by either man or beast.

Kenyon at last decided that it would be best for them to mount the log
and proceed on their way, arguing that if the people they sought were
really concealed anywhere in the kloof--which certainly did not appear
to offer even sufficient cover for a fox--they must be on the watch, and
any attempt to return and investigate would be the signal for instant
destruction, whilst if their party, on the other hand, passed quietly
onwards, the slavers would probably conclude that it was composed of
explorers and was best left alone, knowing what an awkward habit England
has, during her spasms of activity, of beating up the world at large for
her missing scientific men.

This course was accordingly adopted, on the principle of choosing the
least of two evils, and before night fell, the party had left the dismal
gorge behind them, and were sitting comfortably round their camp fire,
after having taken the precaution to post two scouts near the exit of
the kloof, with instructions that, should anything suspicious occur, one
of them was instantly to come into camp with the news.  All, however,
remained perfectly quiet, and the night passed without an alarm of any
kind, even the ultra-particular night-watchman failing for once to
discover so much as the shadow of one of his customary nocturnal
horrors.

Thus did Leigh and his astute comrade for the second time miss the
secret of the place, or, as it is known amongst the scattered native
tribes, the "Black Pass of the Dark Spirit of Evil."

For hours that evening did Leigh and Kenyon discuss the question of the
mysterious disappearance of the slave caravan, for that those who
composed it had not penetrated as far as their own present position they
had quite satisfied themselves before pitching their tent for the night.

The outer, or western end of the rocky defile debouched upon highlands
of soft spongy turf, and this nowhere bore the slightest impress of a
human foot, which it would most certainly have done had anyone crossed
it recently; indeed, had the "slave-drive" passed that way, the whole
place would have been paddled like a sheep pen.

"You may well cudgel your brains, Leigh," said Kenyon, after hours of
profitless arguing on the following night, "for those fellows never left
the kloof either by this end or the other after they once entered it.
Tell me, Leigh," he continued, venturing a question, which, hardened
man-hunter that he was, had scores of times trembled upon the tip of his
tongue in the past few months, and had yet remained unasked--"tell me,
have you no clue, no idea, and absolutely no theory as to who was
responsible for the murder of your wife and child? for foully murdered I
am quite convinced they were."

Vitally important as the query was, Kenyon would have given all he
possessed could he have withdrawn the words ere they were well spoken,
for the fearful anguish depicted in the countenance of his friend gave
him, for but one second as it were, a fleeting glimpse of the agony of
soul in which this strong man lived from day-to-day, and from hour to
hour.  The misery of expression was awful, but a glance infinitely less
keen than that of the skilled detective would have noted, with a wealth
of pity, that it was a misery which had never learned to say "Thy will
be done."

For full five minutes did Leigh hide his face in his hands and give no
answering sign, and it was the detective who had once again to break the
dread silence.

"Forgive me," he said, "old friend, if I have torn the quivering wound
anew, and believe me when I say that not idle curiosity, but dire
necessity, as I conceived it, on behalf of the living, could have made
me touch upon the hallowed subject of the loved but unavenged dead."
And he rose to walk away.

Quickly Leigh raised his face, lined, as it seemed to his friend, in one
short five minutes with a whole lifetime of keenest suffering.

"Stop, Kenyon," he said hoarsely, "and excuse my want of self-control.
You are right, the loved and unforgotten dead are passed from us for a
season, peace be with them!  Now let us see what we can do to pay our
debts--an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, ay, and _blood for
blood_!  See here," and he laughed a discordant laugh, which wrung
Kenyon's very soul by the pitiful wail with which it closed, as the
strong man broke down and sobbed in a bitter agony of keen remembrance.
"See here," he said, as he again pulled himself together, and opened the
back of his watch, from which he extracted a small scrap of paper, "they
found this pinned to the coverlid of my darling's bed."

The detective reached over and took the paper, but before looking at it
he poured out, and insisted upon Leigh drinking, a stiff glass of
brandy, for he saw that his friend was completely unhinged.

This done, he turned his whole attention to the morsel of paper lying in
his hand, and this was what he saw.  Simply a small white sheet with a
circular, dead black line drawn thus upon it:--

Pinned on a dead woman's breast, what did this senseless hieroglyphic
mean?

To doctors and detectives, _nothing_!

To the bereaved and desperate husband, _nothing_!!

To Stanforth Kenyon, the wily American detective, _nothing_!!!

"_Nothing_!" gentle reader, just that, and no more.

One glance he gave--but one; then, springing to his feet, fairly
palpitating with excitement, he almost screamed, "I knew it, I knew it.
Zero!  Zero! by the Living God!" and as if it were a sombre echo of his
words, a rifle spirted its vivid jet of flame from the outer gloom
beyond the camp fire, and one of the native guides sitting just behind
Kenyon sprang into the air with a bullet through his brain, and fell to
the ground a corpse.

Instantly the whole party sought cover, but no further attempt of any
kind was made to molest them, and when morning dawned they could nowhere
find a trace of the dastard who had fired the fatal shot, and all that
remained for them to do was to bury the body of their poor, unoffending
servant, and choose out a safer camping ground where they might,
perhaps, obtain immunity from such unpleasant nocturnal visitors.

Through the livelong night the thoughts of both Leigh and Kenyon had, as
may well be imagined, been very busy; but whilst Leigh was entirely
absorbed in the one idea of avenging his murdered wife and child, the
purposes of the American went deeper.  He, too, had a righteous act of
retribution to perform, but he had also first, in the execution of his
duty, to find Grenville alive, and release him, if it could be done; and
then, again, vengeance, according to his idea, would not be consummated
by a bullet wound or a spear-thrust: he simply yearned to get his hated
enemy in his clutches, and to make him ignominiously expiate the
countless crimes of his villainous life under the hands of the public
executioner, but feared that such a triumph would be utterly
unobtainable, for, setting aside all other considerations, and glancing
at Leigh's stern, set countenance, Kenyon felt that the common enemy
would receive but short shrift so far as the Englishman was concerned if
once he fell into the power of the little band.

Clearly, however, it was little use as yet planning the cooking of a
hare which appeared much more likely to catch them than to allow the
reverse to happen, and until they knew how and where the enemy was
posted it was absolutely necessary to exercise the greatest discretion,
which, in vulgar parlance, meant "making themselves scarce," which they
accordingly did without further loss of time, giving the place leg-bail,
and putting five-and-twenty miles between themselves and the kloof ere
they again halted for the night.



CHAPTER FOUR.

THE MOUTH OF HELL.

Leigh had naturally asked Kenyon for an explanation of his wild
excitement consequent upon the production of the treasured scrap of
paper, and for information concerning the murderer whom he designated as
"Zero," and these details the American had promised to give him the
moment he was absolutely sure that the man whom he now knew to be,
without a doubt, responsible for the deaths of Lady Drelincourt and her
infant son, was identical with the slaver for whom their party was
searching.  Of this last he felt morally certain, for his deductions
had, all through, proved much too correct to turn out utterly wrong in
their final act: still it was a methodical and praiseworthy habit of
his, born of his wide experience amongst criminals of every class, to
impute nothing and to infer nothing which he could not prove up to the
very hilt, and there were, moreover, personal facts arising from the
explanation, facts of which his whole soul abhorred the revelation, and
of which nothing short of the iron hand of stern necessity would
persuade him to speak, even to Leigh.

By the camp fire that night the white men consulted long and earnestly,
whilst their sable followers crouched near them in the gloom, in abject
fear of the arrival of another unwelcome messenger from the mysterious
rifles of their unseen foes.

Not one single instant would these black fellows have remained beside
our two friends had they possessed even the ghost of a notion of where
to run to, but to their terror-stricken minds the whole vast unknown of
Central Africa, backed by their white masters, was preferable to facing
the certainty of having to retrace their undefended steps through the
Black Pass of the Dark Spirit of Evil, whose weird natural horrors were
so ably seconded by unseen, but none the less unerring, marksmen.

The conclusion that Leigh and Kenyon ultimately came to was, that they
had better coast round the slaver's supposed position in an easterly
direction, making themselves thoroughly acquainted with the general run
of the country, and keeping, meantime, their present distance from the
pass, gradually work in a semicircle until they again reached the
eastern exit of the kloof, when they would once more make a determined
and final effort to fathom the secret of the place; and in accordance
with this resolution the little band struck their tents at daybreak, and
to the delight of the natives once more turned their faces towards the
rising sun.

For a full hour the little party marched cheerfully eastwards, and then
their journeying in that direction was brought to a sudden and
unpleasant end by the two leading natives disappearing into the ground
without a moment's warning.  No power on earth could save the wretched
men, who vanished into the morass--for such it was--ere any of the party
had even time to stretch out a hand to help them.

The rest of the black fellows drew cautiously away, with their teeth
chattering, and uttered cries indicative of intense fear, and no
possible argument would induce any of them to again take the lead, so
that Kenyon and Leigh had to get in front of the party and run the
entire risk, whilst these cowards leisurely and safely followed them at
a respectful distance.

The pair exercised very great caution, and soon grew to understand the
signs of this immense swamp, which they now endeavoured to skirt in a
northerly direction, and upon the dismal edge of which they camped again
that night.

The days that followed were days of anxiety, not to say despair, for the
very ground on which they trod would often shake and quiver beneath
their tired feet, and the whole party scarce knew whether each step that
was taken might not prove to be their last; and it was only after they
had manfully struggled northwards for close upon a hundred miles that
they were once more able to plant their feet on firm ground, and to
breathe freely, with the knowledge that the treacherous swamp lay, at
last, behind them.

After expending a couple of days in a much-needed rest, an experimental
trip was made in a south-easterly direction, with the object of
ascertaining if it were possible to force the slaver's supposed position
by an advance in that quarter, but something less than three miles again
brought the party into the dreaded swamp, from which they beat a hasty
and undignified retreat.

For a whole weary day our friends marched due east, and then had the
luck to fall in with a hunting party of friendly-disposed natives, from
whom Kenyon learned that they must compass another two days' journey
towards the rising sun, ere the swamp would permit them once more to
travel southwards.

This quivering, quaking morass was known to the natives by an awful
name, the nearest English equivalent for which appeared to be "the Mouth
of Hell itself;" and a truly awful tract of country it was, and of a
certainty merited most thoroughly this infernal denomination.

These people knew nothing of any way through the marsh, and ridiculed
the very notion of such a path existing, so that it was quite clear to
our friends that many days of weary travel must elapse ere they could
regain the eastern end of the kloof which they so eagerly sought to
reach.

To add to the troubles of the little band, first Leigh and then the
whole of their bearers, one after another, succumbed to swamp fever, and
Kenyon, who entirely escaped its influence, had--as may well be
imagined--his hands full for the next ten days.  The American ascribed
his own immunity from fever, to his having choked off the malarial
microbes by almost incessant smoking, but if this view of the case were
correct, Leigh should also have been let down very lightly, whereas the
reverse obtained.

As soon as the men were sufficiently recovered to move, the whole party
dragged their fevered forms a day's journey from the edge of the marsh,
and again camping on high, firm ground, did simply nothing until they
had in some measure regained both health and vigour, after which they
more cheerfully resumed the road, and in another ten days were once
again posted in their old location near the entrance to the pass,
exercising the additional precaution, however, of walling in the camp
with a particularly spiky and impenetrable zareba of thorn-bushes, and
of placing a couple of men on guard at night.

The day following their arrival our friends decided to spend lazily in
camp enjoying a thorough rest; and it was whilst Leigh was dozing and
smoking by turns in the afternoon, that the ever active Kenyon stumbled,
by the merest chance, upon an important discovery--no less, in fact,
than the earnestly-desired key to the secret of the Black Pass.  The
matter fell out thus: Kenyon having nothing else to do, had, on the
previous night developed several photographic negatives, and was now
taking advantage of the sun to print off a number of pictures.

As each view came out of the printing frame, it was in turn examined and
passed quickly into the fixing bath; but as he was, however, about to
slip into the bath a view of the pass, he suddenly paused spell-bound,
and forgetting his unfixed picture, held it in his hands, his eyes
keenly noting every detail of the place.  The strong light, of course,
quickly turned the picture black, and with an exclamation of impatience
he resumed his cool manner, printed and fixed another positive, then
stowed away all his paraphernalia, and lighting his pipe, sat quietly
down and gave his whole attention to the photograph.

After carefully studying the picture for close upon an hour, throwing
now and again a keen glance at the gloomy-looking entrance to the kloof,
he gave a grunt of satisfaction, and put the view into Leigh's ready
hand, saying as he did so, "Well, old fellow, I have often heard the
remark that photography cannot lie, but never until now have I realised
the full force of the axiom.  To-morrow, at daybreak, thanks to my
camera, we shall enter Master Zero's mysterious territory, and then it
will be diamond cut diamond with a vengeance."

Leigh was instantly alive with excitement, and this Kenyon quickly
relieved by his explanation, which, aided as it was by the little
picture, was as simple as it was lucid.



CHAPTER FIVE.

THE SECRET OF THE PASS.

The secret of the place, as revealed by the tell-tale photograph,
existed simply in the perfect natural "blind" provided by the presence
of the road _through_ the pass, whilst the slaver's secret way was
defined on the picture by a narrow wavy line, which absolutely wormed
its way along the apparently unbroken face of the precipitous cliff
itself, this way being primarily gained by climbing over the large,
loose boulders which were freely strewed about just inside the entrance
to the kloof.  Gradually rising, and painfully zig-zagging up the giant
wall of the rock, the narrow pathway could be clearly traced until it
pierced the dark patch of brushwood which thickly crowned the summits of
the towering cliffs, and was thenceforth lost to view.  Deferring to
Leigh's anxiety regarding his cousin, the pair left the camp as soon as
the moon rose that night, and found, to their surprise, that they could
easily climb the slaver's rocky road, and that what looked like a mere
pathway for a goat, was in reality a well-worn track of a uniform width
of from two and a half to three feet, and this being positively hollowed
out to the depth of nearly a yard, made travelling perfectly safe, if
not very fast.  Human hands, at least in Central Africa, could never
have accomplished such a stupendous task as this, and it was quickly
evident to our friends that a small stream, running and zig-zagging down
the cliff through the ages of bygone years, had gradually worn for
itself a deep channel in the soft sandstone rock, and the lynx-eyed
slaver had doubtless seen the value of the position, and on winning his
way to the summit, in an abnormally dry season, had turned the stream
into some other, and possibly more useful channel.

Proceeding with the utmost caution, and expecting every instant to
receive the contents of a rifle through his ribs, Kenyon led the way up
this strange ascent and in about forty minutes' time the pair had
entered the dark and heavy patch of trees and brushwood which thickly
crowned the cliffs, and which served, in some degree, to mask their true
and enormous proportions.  Arrived there, progress became of necessity
slow, for it was only in places that the moonlight penetrated the
interlaced tropic foliage, and threw ghostly patches of light and shade
across the path of the adventurers, who drew nearer together as the
painfully mysterious silence of the place impressed itself upon them.

It is not an altogether pleasant experience to find yourself alone at
night in an ordinary English coppice or plantation, a mile or two from
anywhere; but transplant that plantation into equatorial Africa, and
stand there with the knowledge that you are hundreds of miles from even
the nearest native village, people the wood with bloodthirsty foes,
lurking, keen-eyed, in every brake and covert, armed with the
treacherous spear or the ready rifle, and you will understand why Leigh
and Kenyon, ordinarily bold enough in the open, could only creep forward
with their hearts in their mouths, and felt an access of fear when a
great owl, disturbed by their cautious passage through the wood, rose
from the trees above them, waking the hush of night with a weird,
spirit-shaking hoot, and winged his way far off into the moonlight,
which was everywhere flooding the outside world with its mellow glory.

Soon, however, our friends again escaped from the lonely wooded path,
and emerged into the brilliantly-lighted open, with a magnificent range
of vision in every direction, except where the cliffs on the other side
of the kloof shot upwards quite a hundred feet beyond the height of
those now tenanted by themselves.  This peculiarity, which the pair had
not previously observed, of course effectually prevented them from
seeing anything at all in the southern board, but in front and on each
side of them the veldt could be seen sweeping clear away to the skyline,
dotted here and there by clumps of bush and by moving herds of game.
Behind them the mighty rocks frowned sternly down upon the adventurers,
as if rebuking these weak creatures of an hour for disturbing with their
puny presence the mist-beshrouded slumber of these mighty monarchs of
all time.

After a short conference our friends withdrew again into the shadow of
the wood, and sat themselves down to wait patiently for the dawn,
talking all the time in a busy undertone, Leigh urging one plan of
action, whilst Kenyon was seemingly quite determined upon taking a
diametrically opposite course.  Leigh wished, in fact, to move on at
once towards the north, so as to remove their persons from the tell-tale
heights before daybreak, whilst Kenyon was obstinately and aggressively
desirous to know what lay behind the frowning wall of rock in their
immediate rear, and as this meant re-descending the pass, and apparently
crawling up the other side on their hands and knees, without any really
definite object in view, Leigh's arguments certainly seemed the better.

"Why, Kenyon," he concluded, "do you want to change your mind?  Formerly
you were anxious to penetrate the swamp from an altogether impossible
quarter in order to arrive at our present location, and now that you
have a good open down-hill road before you, you are keen to turn your
back upon it.  At least, let me have your reason for this change of
front."

"Simply this, Leigh," was the reply.  "The pass itself, I now find, lies
somewhat to the north of the equator, and I am positively certain that
the man we seek will be found in some place which lies absolutely on the
equatorial line, consequently behind us, and therefore away on the other
side of the kloof."

"But why, in the name of common-sense," persisted Leigh, "_should_ your
man live on the equator, or near it at all?  That's what I can't
understand."

"See here, Leigh," was the cool answer; "that was my very first clue to
this affair.  _He lives on latitude Number 0, otherwise Zero_.  Basing
my whole theory and reasoning upon that, I have traced him to this spot,
so I may fairly assume that my deductions are correct.  However, sooner
or later we shall have to investigate this side of the pass, so if you
like we'll toss up when daylight comes, and let the coin decide for us."

Still unconvinced, though admiring the shrewdness of his comrade in
following up a mere piece of guess-work, and elaborating it into such a
strikingly correct theory, Leigh continued to urge his view of the
matter, and soon the dawn came gliding over the earth, waking all nature
with a kiss of peace, and preparing her for the advent of the glorious
orb of day.



CHAPTER SIX.

RICHARD GRENVILLE, HIS MARK.

The daylight, however, told our friends nothing very new, only Kenyon
hinted to Leigh that where the rocks below them levelled down to, and
impinged upon, the veldt, everything was most suspiciously green and
verdant, from which he inferred the presence of their old enemy, the
marsh, in the immediate vicinity; then, turning round to examine the
opposite cliff, his eye was caught by what seemed to be a curious kind
of diagram engraved upon the face of the rock, perhaps two or three
yards from the upper edge of one of its platforms, and scarce fifty feet
away from them across the intervening chasm.  The appearance it
presented was as undernoted, the characters being some eighteen to
twenty inches in length, and cut deeply into the soft sandstone with
some apparently blunt instrument.

"Now," said Kenyon, calling his companion's attention to this, "what the
deuce does yonder curious hieroglyphic signify?  I've no knowledge of
Arabic, but I think I'm right in saying that those signs belong to the
calligraphy of no known language.  To my professional eye they rather
resemble a rough gibbet with three bodies hanging from it."

It so happened that, as soon as daylight had satisfied the pair that
their foes were not hanging about in the immediate vicinity, Leigh had
quietly laid himself down to enjoy a comfortable smoke, and was at the
moment in question lying on the broad of his back, gazing at the wide
vista of country below him, and puffing away in perfect tranquillity,
with the apex of his skull pointing towards the chasm.  To save himself
the trouble of rising, he lazily elevated his chin, and performed the
interesting occupation of looking, so to speak, over the top of his own
head, and then electrified Kenyon by bounding to his feet with a wild
hurrah, and shaking hands with him enthusiastically.  "Found!" he fairly
yelled.  "Found, as sure as there is a heaven above us!"

"Why, confound it, old fellow," said Kenyon, ruefully nursing his
bruised fingers, "whatever is the matter with you?"

"Matter!" was the reply.  "Why, your hieroglyphic is as good as my
cousin looking me in the face from yonder splendid rock.  The solution
of your mystery is a simple matter to me--a man, hanging head-downwards
from yonder cliff, laboriously graved those curious characters, upside
down, as we see them, upon the face of the rock, and the hand that wrote
them was the hand of Grenville."

"And the meaning?" queried the attentive Kenyon, without showing any of
his customary signs of incredulity or dissent.

"The hieroglyphic which is such a stumbling-block to you, Kenyon,
simplified, stands thus:--

"I. _v_.  LIII,

"and the meaning is merely `Richard Grenville.'  It was a secret sign
between my cousin and myself when we were mere schoolboys, and the
simile was drawn from the memorable sea-fight in the reign of good Queen
Bess, when Sir Richard Grenvil--God rest him for a gallant
gentleman!--`with one small ship and his English few,' fought for a day
and a night with fifty-three Spanish galleons.  As a boy, my cousin--
though no descendant of the hero--was passionately devoted to this page
of history, and used to sign himself `1 _versus_ 53,' and so, by yonder
sign, I know he lives, and lives looking for me to find him, and to read
the hand he wrote, which to all others would, of course, be utterly
unintelligible."  And Leigh again set to and fairly danced with joy and
excitement at this truly singular and fortunate discovery.

Whilst being thoroughly surprised, Kenyon could but congratulate himself
at seeing the hall-mark of absolute accuracy thus unexpectedly stamped
upon every link in the chain of his pet theory, and both men were now
equally eager to descend the rocky pathway--the reason for the existence
of this last being, under the circumstances, a positive enigma to them--
and recommence their search for the lost one on the other side of the
kloof.

After a hasty breakfast, however, the pair decided that, as they were
already on the spot, it would be best to thoroughly satisfy themselves
regarding their own side of the chasm, more especially as, by the time
they had descended the rocky pathway and called at the camp, it would
have been too late to attempt the ascent of the cliffs, which were now
believed by them to provide a rampart for the enemy, and a prison for
their friend.

The twain, therefore, scrambled down the rocks facing towards the north,
and quickly found, as Kenyon had predicted, that the position on that
side was rendered altogether inaccessible by the presence of the swamp,
which just here was very much in evidence.  In every direction, as far
as the eye could reach, it spread itself out brightly verdant and
inviting in the sunshine, but utterly treacherous and unstable, and the
nearer it approached to the rocks the more palpable did the fraud
appear, as, at the point where the stony ground impinged upon the veldt,
the swamp was little better than stagnant pools of slimy, evil-smelling
water, overgrown with reeds and rushes.

Re-ascending the rocks, Leigh and Kenyon sheltered themselves in the
woods from the rays of the vertical sun, utilising their time by making
themselves, as they believed, thoroughly conversant with the place, and
when the day began to grow towards evening, they left the bush-clothed
heights, and again turned their faces towards the camp.

Just as the pair commenced the descent of the narrow rocky path Kenyon
suddenly paused, and drew in his breath with an angry hiss, and
following the direction of his eager gaze, Leigh looked towards their
tent, which was plainly in view, about a mile away as the crow flies.

From the height at which our friends stood, they had, of course, an
unrestricted view of the plain stretched out before them, and everything
upon it, and there, some two hundred yards from the camp, and clearly
outlined against the veldt upon which he lay stretched, was the
unwelcome figure of an unmistakable spy, who, so far as he could be made
out at that distance, wore the garments of a white man.

When he had spent quite half-an-hour in this position, and no doubt
thoroughly taken stock of his surroundings, the fellow was seen to turn
and worm his way back, until he obtained the cover of a low clump of
bush about a quarter of a mile from the camp, and was thenceforward
hidden from sight.

After some little time had elapsed, and as our friends were debating
what steps they had best take, a fresh surprise was provided for them,
as the pair distinctly saw a snow-white pigeon leave the bush in
question, describe one or two airy circles round it, and then wing its
way directly towards the cliffs across the kloof, beyond which it
quickly disappeared.

"A carrier pigeon, by Jove!" said Kenyon, "doubtless bearing a request
to Master Zero to come down and cut all our throats to-night.  All
right, my friend, forewarned is forearmed, and you'll find it so this
evening, unless I am very much mistaken."

Carefully getting down to the exit of the pass, the twain commenced a
cautious stalk, and came in upon their quarry just at dusk, and great
was the astonishment and consternation of the wretched spy when the two
men quietly rose from the long grass, and, covering him with their
revolvers, peremptorily ordered him to lay down his arms; this he
promptly did in most abject fashion, and was in two minutes bound hard
and fast with his own lasso, of which most objectionable instrument his
armament consisted, backed up by a long American muzzle-loading rifle
and a light axe or tomahawk.

The captive was apparently a Spaniard, as he protested volubly in that
language--of which Kenyon had a smattering--against the gratuitous
outrage committed upon his unoffending person.

Suddenly, taking advantage of an instant when neither of his captors had
their eyes on him, the fellow darted to one side, and gave a kick at
some small object which our friends had passed unnoticed in the long
grass; this object, however, proved to be a little wicker basket, and
from this receptacle--its prison doors thrown open by the intentional
violence of its owner--there fluttered a large, black pigeon, which
circled round the heads of the party and prepared to take its flight,
just as its white predecessor had previously done.  Fortunately, the
bird was dazed and confused by the blow it had received, and hovered
round the spot an instant too long.  Like a flash Leigh's rifle went to
his shoulder, and the next second the bird lay in a lifeless heap upon
the ground, whilst the spy ground out a bitter Spanish curse.

The shot was a very fine one, and but few men could have accomplished it
with a repeating-rifle and a single bullet, but its success had, without
a doubt, prevented the spy from giving to his friends or followers
inopportune notice of his capture and detention.

Quickly proceeding into camp, where the rifle-shot had set their men
buzzing about like bees, a hasty meal was partaken of, and then, leaving
the tent still standing, the whole party, upwards of twenty-five in
number, at once set out for the pass, as our friends believed that if
they could once get their men up to the top of the rocky path, they
would easily be able to hold the wood and the steep and narrow way
against all comers.  Finding it a matter of impossibility to get any
information out of the captive, they gagged him and walked him off with
them, Kenyon sternly telling him that if he tried to make any noise or
attempted to escape, he would run a hunting-knife through his ribs
without further notice.

By the time the moon rose the party had stumbled out their way to the
mouth of the kloof, and soon had sufficient light to commence the
ascent.  Having to go in front and lead the way, Kenyon put Leigh in the
rear to see that none of the bearers lost heart and turned back, giving
the captive into the charge of a gigantic Zanzibari, and warning him
that did he let the man go he should himself be shot like a dog.  All
went well until the party was quite two-thirds of the way up the zig-zag
in the rock, when suddenly a commotion arose, and a cry went up that the
prisoner was escaping.  Turning angrily round, with his revolver half
raised, Kenyon saw the spy standing on the very edge of the parapet of
rock, with his hands at liberty, and in the act of drawing the gag from
his mouth.  On seeing Kenyon turn, the Zanzibari doubtless thought he
was himself about to be shot, and impelled by rage and fear, he sprang
wildly upon the ledge of rock and seized the Spaniard by the throat.
Forgetting the extreme danger of his position, the white man swayed
backwards to strike an effective blow at his sable assailant,
overbalanced, and down they both went, with a horrid scream that rang
out far into the stilly night, and awakened long-drawn, fearsome echoes
in the dark and silent kloof.

One second more, and the horror-stricken band of listeners heard the
united bodies of the ill-fated pair strike with a sickening scrunch on
the rocks five hundred feet below.  The whole affair was over in an
instant of time, and even the stem detective was deeply impressed by
this awful dual fatality, and could only beckon with his hand for the
others to follow him upwards quickly and in silence.

In a few moments more the adventurers emerged from the rocky path and
gained the shelter of the bushes, where Leigh and Kenyon quickly
bestowed the men in safe covers, and then posted themselves at a point
from which they could command the other side of the kloof, and so
possibly form an opinion as to how their enemies scaled its heights; for
at a glance the ascent gave promise of providing them with an extremely
difficult, if not impossible, task, and if, in addition to negotiating
this, they had to cope _en route_ with an armed and intrenched foe, the
prospect of success would be extremely problematical.

Leigh had a theory that the slavers were provided with long
rope-ladders, but arguing from the rapid disappearance of the slave
caravan, Kenyon declared that this suggestion would not hold water for a
moment.

Scarcely had Leigh and Kenyon gained their covers than, to their utter
astonishment, steps were heard approaching through the wood in their
rear, and whilst they were making themselves as small as possible, and
breathing a devout prayer that the black fellows might not lose their
heads and try to run away, a band of armed men passed swiftly by their
position and emerged into the moonlight.

The new-comers were about thirty in number, all armed with axe, rifle,
and lasso, and were, with but two or three exceptions, white men.  As
they reached the zig-zag pass, the party extended into single file and
promptly disappeared from view down the face of the rock.  Until all had
vanished Kenyon scarcely breathed, then Leigh and he turned eagerly to
one another, and hurriedly and anxiously discussed the situation.

Their examination that very day of the side of the kloof upon which they
now stood had been much too complete to admit of their believing that
the men who had just passed them had been all the time lying hid, and
the inference naturally was that these strange people had some peculiar
method of crossing the gorge at its upper edge.  Such an apparently
preposterous idea had, of course, not occurred to the pair when
searching the wood, but had the path been at all easy to find they would
most certainly have stumbled across it.

Moving quietly along the back track, the pair cautiously examined every
likely spot, and were about to enter a particularly black-looking clump
of bush, when they were suddenly brought to a standstill by the gruff
challenge of a colossal-looking sentry, who started out from the dark
background of wood and threateningly raised his rifle.

"Halt! halt! and give the password!"

Leigh's hand stole towards his revolver; but men think rapidly in
emergencies like this, and in a moment of inspiration, Kenyon coolly
answered, "_Zero_!"

"_Pass, Zero, and all's well_," grunted the gigantic sentinel, grounding
his arms with a clash, and then, in a theatrical whisper as the pair
approached him, "Mates, you haven't got a drink on you, have you?  It's
main cold up here."

Quickly Leigh held out his flask, and as the other was in the very act
of drinking, Kenyon flew at his throat like a cat, and choked him down,
whilst Leigh knelt on his chest, and tried to bind him.  Our friends
were both exceptionally powerful men, but this fellow was a regular bull
of Bashan, and it was only after a low whistle had summoned one of their
native guides that the trio got the sentry bound and gagged to their
satisfaction.  Next, sending the black fellow to keep watch at the top
of the zig-zag, the pair set to to thoroughly explore the tangled path
which had been guarded by the sentry.  A most unpleasant task this was,
too, feeling their way about on the very verge of an immense precipice,
thickly clothed with trees and bush, through which the rays of the moon
cast at intervals a sickly glamour of feeble light and heavy shade.

At last a brief exclamation from Leigh announced a discovery, and
standing by his side, and looking directly across the chasm, Kenyon saw
a curious, and in its way, a striking spectacle.  From one side of the
kloof to the other stretched the taut strands of a mighty double rope or
hawser, and from this rope was suspended a small cage, capable of
containing two or three men, the occupants drawing themselves across by
small guide-ropes, whilst the cage moved easily along the hawser upon
wheeled blocks, the whole arrangement being entirely concealed from the
view of anyone, either above or below, by the trees on either side of
the chasm, which at this point blended and interlaced both their foliage
and their branches.

So far good, but as the cage now swung in mid-air over the very centre
of the chasm itself, and had, moreover, an occupant, it was difficult to
see what the next move was to be.  It was, however, our friends
reflected, at all events consoling to know that a slash or two with a
sharp knife would effectually dispose of all possibility of their savage
foes attacking them in the rear.

Just at this moment a cautious whistle told Kenyon that danger was to be
apprehended from the direction of the veldt, but at that very instant
the man in the cage, evidently thinking that the signal had been given
for his benefit, commenced to haul upon the rope, and quickly gaining
their side of the chasm, leaped out right into the ready arms of the
pair, who very soon had him securely gagged and tied to a tree, at a
little distance from his fellow.  Hurrying back as another low but
earnest whistle reached their ears, our friends found that the slavers
had been seen to surround the tent, and thoroughly explore it; then,
evidently disliking the look of things, they had set out at speed
towards the pass, which they must now be in the very act of climbing.

Carrying off the whole frightened crowd, with the exception of one man
who had shown himself a tolerable marksman and something removed from an
abject coward, Kenyon showed them how to cross the chasm safely and
quietly, and bade them get over at once with all the ammunition.
Persuasion and explanation was, however, of no use at all, and he had to
drive the first batch into the strange vehicle at the muzzle of his
revolver.  Then, finding they were quite safe, the negroes promptly
commenced to chatter like so many monkeys, whereupon Kenyon threatened
to shoot them, if he heard another sound, and then returned with all
expedition to Leigh, who had posted himself so as to command the
zig-zag, and had cleverly rolled a big rock into the very mouth of the
channel by which the foe was approaching.

All was now in readiness, and a dead silence reigned.  The hush of a
tranquil tropical midnight was upon everything, and all nature was
looking her loveliest under the glamour of the shimmering moonlight.
All at once the stillness was marred by a footfall, and then rent, as it
were, by a furious curse, as the leading slaver reached the top of the
pass, and found the way blocked up.  Climbing carefully over the stone,
however, he safely reached terra firma, and was stooping down to remove
the obstruction, when he was angrily hailed in nervous English by
Kenyon--"Here, you dog, leave that stone alone, and go back by the way
you came.  Quickly now, and drop that rifle--drop it, I say, or your
blood be on your own head!"

For answer, the fellow fired point-blank in the direction of the voice
(for he could not see Kenyon, who was standing in the shadows of the
wood), and then made for cover, but he never reached it; indeed, he had
hardly moved in his tracks, when down he went, as dead as a door-nail,
being followed a moment later, along the same dark and fearsome road, by
a comrade who persisted in obtruding over the rock rather more of his
person than Leigh was disposed to permit, and ere the thundering echoes
of the rifles had ceased to answer and to mock one another amongst the
surrounding rocks, the remainder of the slavers, having no more stomach
for such work, were in full retreat down the rock, and half an hour
later were seen steering wide out into the south-western veldt, thus
putting entirely to rest any doubts which Kenyon still entertained of
the feasibility of an attempt to scale the opposite cliffs.

Had there been any way of ascending on the other side of the kloof, it
was quite certain the slavers would have known about it, whereas they
had clearly found it necessary to make a very wide circuit in order to
get round the rocks, and thus make their way back to head-quarters.

Sending forward their sable supporters with instructions to get the
prisoners across the chasm, Kenyon led his wondering comrade up the
cliffs to the right, where they suddenly came upon a small lake,
obviously fed by a neighbouring mountain stream.

"Now, old fellow," said he, "just lay down your rifle, and help me to
break up this wall, and assist outraged nature to regain her ancient
rights."

Leigh quickly saw that the water, which came sweeping rhythmically down
from the further heights beyond the hill, had at this point been
artfully turned by a well-made wall, built of rock and broken stone, and
apparently strengthened with mortar or cement, so that the stream,
instead of exercising its own sweet will by zig-zagging down the rock,
as it had done of yore, was wasted on the north-western veldt, where its
advent had probably been largely responsible for the origination of the
marsh, which had already given our friends such a world of trouble.  The
wall of the dam, however, proved considerably stronger than Kenyon had
bargained for, so they finally bored a hole in it, and blew the whole
affair up with a couple of flasks of powder taken from the fallen
slavers.

When the smoke of the explosion cleared away, the released water could
be seen bounding over the rocks, and shooting down the narrow channel
with a wild, sweeping rush, effectually closing this method of ascending
the cliffs unless in abnormally dry seasons.  A moment later and our
friends could see the stream filtering along its old course across the
veldt, looking like a mighty silver snake as it gleamed and twisted on
its tortuous way, reflecting at every turn the brilliancy of the lovely
crescent moon.

Regaining the edge of the kloof, our friends stepped into the cage, and
were soon hauled across the chasm by one of their men, who was already
quite expert in this singular method of semi-aerial procedure.

On examining the prisoners Kenyon was disgusted to find that they were
both stone dead, the cowardly blacks having killed them, bound as they
were, lest the slavers should get loose and do them an injury.  This was
the more aggravating, as Kenyon had fairly counted upon forcing
information of some kind out of the men, and he was, besides, disposed
to think well of the big sentry who had hailed them in English.
However, the men were dead, and it was, therefore, useless regretting
them, but Kenyon inwardly registered a vow to get even with the rascal
who had committed such a brace of infernally cold-blooded murders should
he ever find him out.  Then sternly ordering the men to shoulder their
loads, the party set out under the waning moon, directing their steps
downwards and towards the south-east.



CHAPTER SEVEN.

"JUST IN TIME."

For quite a quarter of a mile our friends found that the road provided
very rough travelling indeed.  This was the more annoying, as the moon
was fast going down, and it was a matter of vital importance that the
little band should progress quickly and secure a strong position before
daylight revealed their movements to the enemy.

Their only difficulty would be with regard to water, as the party had an
abundant supply of stores and ammunition; for, having, of course, no
idea as to how long the expedition might be detained in the Interior,
Leigh had provisioned it most lavishly, and as game had hitherto been
plentiful, the stores had been very lightly dealt with.

In an hour's time all had, as they thought, reached level ground, for
the road, after the first half-mile had been negotiated, proved fairly
good, and finding a lofty cavern in the rock, Kenyon drew his whole
party into it, cast anchor, and wished for the day.

The darkness had now become positively opaque, for the moon had entirely
disappeared behind the mountains, and a film of mist seemed everywhere
to hang over the lower lands, and had their enemies been absolutely
within arm's length, our friends would have been utterly unable to
distinguish them.

Soon, however, the "darkest hour" was over, and the eastern mountains
became dimly outlined through the gauze-like curtain of mist, as the
glad light of another brilliant day came speeding in upon the wings of
the morning, heralding the advent of the sun himself with all the
attendant splendour of an equatorial African day.

Our friends at once perceived that, so far from having reached the level
of the country, they were at present posted on a ridgy platform upon the
mountain side, whilst far below them, the land which lay considerably
lower than that on the other side of the kloof, was stretched out before
them in wonderfully beautiful panorama.

On one hand a limpid stream glided peacefully along its course, making
dreamland music in the sunshine, and watering mile after mile of verdant
pasture land, which was dotted hero and there with moving herds of game,
whilst on the other was a mighty belt of giant forest trees, backed to
the eastward by the everlasting mountains, which appeared absolutely to
ring-in the country in that direction, though towards the west, as far
as the eye could reach, only grass land could be seen, the rolling veldt
sweeping clear away to the skyline unrelieved by even a single clump of
trees or bush, and broken only here and there by the silvery tracery of
tiny streamlets; whilst to the south, blue in the far distance and
faintly relieved against the azure setting of the sky, could be traced
the dim outline of a giant mountain-peak, probably fifteen thousand feet
in height, its snow-capped crest flashing back in many-coloured radiance
each glorious spear of light cast by the rising sun.

Kenyon and Leigh were about to give the word to their men (all of whom
were busily gazing at the inviting prospect before them) to get under
weigh, when both were fairly electrified by hearing a voice raised in
the cavern just behind them.

"Greeting!" it said; "greeting to ye strangers."  Then as our friends
turned quickly round, and their white personality became evident to the
speaker, "Greeting, white strangers, who come from the northern lands
beyond the distant seas.  What seek ye here in this foul place, where
all things that are good live but to die, and where only evil prospers,
and the arch-fiend himself bears rule?  What seek ye here with Muzi
Zimba the old? and ye black ones, are ye tired of life, and of that
freedom which alone makes life worth living, that ye venture your heads
inside the lion's mouth?  Go I go, all of ye, white and black.  Go! in
God's name, while the life is yet whole in ye.  Why tarry ye here?
Escape for your lives, my sons, and peace go with ye."

Our friends had been closely watching the individual who delivered this
strange yet forcible appeal, and looks of commiseration passed from one
to the other.  The man was as white-skinned as themselves, and judging
from the purity of his English must have been at one time a British
subject.  He was, however, extremely old, probably eighty-five or
ninety, and his face, which was benign and gentle, was shrouded by his
long, silvery locks, and muffled, as it were, in an immense snow-white
beard, which reached down to his very waist, and gave him an altogether
venerable and striking appearance; his voice was strong and resonant,
his manner quiet and peaceful, _but the man was obviously mad_.  He had
evidently become so accustomed to the native metaphor that he had
unconsciously adopted it as his own language, and his diction at best
halted somewhat, as if he were unused, indeed, to exercising his tongue
in framing speech of any kind.

Whilst Kenyon hesitated what to do, Leigh went frankly forward and held
but his hand to the old fellow, who shook it heartily; then, humouring
him, Leigh spoke, and as the full, rich voice struck upon his ear, the
old man bent his head and seemed as if the familiar accents had brought
back to him some signs or memories of the long-forgotten past.

"Greeting, my father, greeting," answered Leigh.  "Thy sons have
wandered hither on a long and very weary path, seeking for a lost one
who left them many moons ago.  In face he was even as I am, and in form
was somewhat less, and spoke to his people with an English tongue.  Tell
me, hast thou seen such an one, my father?"

The old man gazed steadily at Leigh for some moments, then, changing his
wrapt manner, he spoke sadly, "My son, I have, indeed, met with him, and
thy living image he was; but never, alas! wilt thou see him in the
flesh, for to-day he dies--ay! dies a dog's death, and does it for his
faith, like a gallant Christian man."

"Dies?" thundered Leigh; "he shall not die, he must not die--oh!  Dick,
Dick, have I come right across the world to arrive one day too late?"

Eagerly the pair tried to question the old man, but he at once grew
confused and his weak mind evidently failed to realise their anxiety or
to grasp the drift of their questions, and at last he turned upon them
with quiet dignity.  "Leave me now, my sons," he said, "for I go to
offer prayers for him who dies when yonder sun reaches the zenith.
Return whence ye came, so shall ye live and not die--go, and God go with
ye--farewell!" and this strange individual moved slowly away down the
cavern and disappeared in the inner gloom.

Hastily directing their men to lie hidden in the cave until their
return, Leigh and Kenyon armed themselves to the teeth, and quickly
slipping down the rocky path, were soon speeding across the open, and
directing their hurried steps towards the forest.

Each was equipped with a repeating-rifle, four Smith and Wesson's
revolver-pistols, and as much ammunition as he could well carry, so that
the pace, in spite of the best endeavours of the pair, was somewhat
slow, and when, after two hours of continued effort, they entered the
belt of wood, both judged it expedient to sit down and eat some food
whilst enjoying a short rest.  Soon, however, getting on their legs
again, our friends struck into a forest path, which they followed as
fast as they could travel, instinct, or else the promptings of despair
leading them in the right direction.

For another hour the pair ascended gradually through the forest, the
path leading steadily upwards, and ultimately terminating in a sharp
climb; but, just as they were about to negotiate this piece of wooded
rock, they heard a burst of music [_sic_] evidently proceeding from
tom-toms, horns, and other instruments of abomination, dear to the heart
of the aboriginal African.

Cautiously ascending the rock, our friends concealed themselves in a
bush, and then a curious sight met their eyes.  Some thirty feet below
them lay a sort of hollow in the mountains, which looked as if it had at
one time formed the base of a vast quarry, being perhaps a thousand
yards across its widest part, and shaped somewhat in the form of a
horseshoe, but now carpeted everywhere with short, smooth turf.  At the
farther side of this mighty enclosure was a narrow gap or pass in the
mountains, which clearly gave access to the spot, and through this
striking natural gateway some thousands of ebony-skinned Africans were
now pouring, accompanying their march with all sorts of horrible and
ear-splitting native music.

Quickly the black fellows filed in, to the number of, probably, three
thousand, and squatted themselves down on the rocks, which, as on the
side occupied by Leigh and his comrade, formed a solid barrier some
thirty feet high round the ring of level turf.

Following upon the heels of this riff-raff appeared a mixed mob of some
three to four hundred white men and women, escorting a native who was
evidently a King, or, at least, a "Big Chief," judging from the
attentions they lavished upon him, and from his striking "get up."  This
last consisted of a stove-pipe hat, a scarlet coat adorned with gold
braid, and a pair of bright yellow stockings of unusual length, reaching
well up the thigh; round his waist was buckled an enormously long
cavalry sword, which trailed upon the ground as he walked, and in his
hand he carried a "gun" considerably taller than himself; it was, in
fact, one of those fearfully and wonderfully made specimens of the genus
gas-pipe with which England and Germany delight to arm the whole of
Africa at about eight shillings per head.

"Solomon in all his glory, by Jove," whispered Leigh to the observant
and attentive Kenyon.  All disposition to laugh was, however, quickly
stifled by the appearance of a man carrying a flag, which was promptly
planted in the very centre of the open space, and welcomed by the
assembled thousands with a positive frenzy of enthusiasm, but was
greeted by Leigh with a groan of horror and dismay, for upon a dead
black ground it bore a white circle, and in the centre of this ring were
three horrible basilisk-looking eyes.

Kenyon on his part whistled quietly.  "So!" he said, "Zero and the
Mormon Trinity--birds of a feather, by all that's holy!  Well, we must
watch and wait, and somehow I don't think our patience will be tried for
very much longer."

Just then a hammock was borne in, and from this there alighted a white
woman, a Spaniard or an Italian by her looks; this female being
instantly accommodated with a seat, and approached with much deference
by the white men in the crowd.

Leigh thought he had never seen a more wicked, yet withal a more
handsome, face.  Her complexion was beautifully clear, her hair black
and glossy as the raven's wing, and her figure simply superb; but the
eyes looked like coals of living fire, and the mouth, as Kenyon--who was
busy sketching her in his notebook--remarked, was more like a spring
rat-trap than anything else.

A wait of half an hour next ensued, during which the native band
discoursed sweet (?) music, and then there went up a mighty shout from
the motley throng which thickly lined the farther side of the great
enclosure, as a small crowd of men, white and black, were driven in at
the spear's point; all had their hands tied behind them, but had their
legs left perfectly free to enable them to run at will, the slavers
knowing well, that deprived as the captives were of the use of their
hands and arms, they could not escape by climbing up the rocks.

A moment later the friends, to their utter horror, beheld a barrier
lifted, and through the opening thus made there immediately charged a
colossal-looking bull-elephant.  For a full minute the great brute gazed
wickedly about him, as if debating the possibility of getting at the
block fellows who were rapidly angering him with their infernal
tom-toms; next he trumpeted until the welkin rang again, and then all of
a sudden threw up his trunk, and hurled his vast bulk blindly at the
wretched band of captives, who fled incontinently in every direction,
whilst the air resounded with yells of laughter from the spectators,
black and white, across the wide enclosure.  These wretches were
evidently enjoying to the full this intensely Roman spectacle, and Leigh
felt his blood boil at the thought that the lives of human beings--white
men, moreover--were to be deliberately sacrificed in this truly
diabolical manner to provide an hour's amusement for an ignorant savage
and his greasy, yelping retinue of semi-monkeyfied followers.  By and
by, however, a great black man fleeted--with the speed of light--past
the rock where our friends lay hid, the enraged elephant following close
upon his heels; and brief though the glimpse was, in an instant Leigh
knew his man, and blew a peculiar little reed whistle which Kenyon had
often noticed attached to his friend's watch-chain.

Once! twice! thrice! he sounded the signal, and then, lo! and behold,
every captive on the ground, both white and black, was seen to turn
short in his tracks and speed madly across the wide stretch of open, in
a wild endeavour to reach the distant rock; close behind the crowd
thundered the giant mammal, screaming with rage, and gaining upon the
luckless wights at every step, the tip of his snake-like trunk almost
seeming to touch the hindmost runner.  It was an altogether
extraordinary, yet at the same time a very dreadful, sight; and as
Leigh's rifle leaped to his shoulder, he seemed, by one of those curious
tricks which fancy sometimes plays us, to see the Colosseum spread out
before him, its benches packed to suffocation with the pleasure-seekers
of an ancient Roman holiday, and its arena peopled by the noble martyrs
falling beneath the claws of Nero's ravening beasts.

History ever repeats itself, and at this very instant, whilst the
easy-going people of the nineteenth Christian century were sitting
quietly in their peaceful homes, thanking God that such acts and deeds
were for ever at an end, here was the horrid self-same spectacle being
re-enacted in darkest Africa, without any of the added refinements of
modern cruelty, upon the living bodies of their own fellow-men, both
white and black.

Thought, however, is swift, and Leigh's thought delayed him never an
instant, and even as he pressed the trigger and saw the deadly bullet go
homo, and the mighty elephant pitch forward upon his knees, he sprang
upright upon the ledge of rock, to show the captives where their friends
lay hid; then, as his rifle thundered out again, backed up by the echo
of Kenyon's heavy piece, and the discomfited elephant wallowed on the
ground with three shell bullets in his ugly carcass, Leigh was conscious
that Kenyon was slipping down the rock, and quickly following his
friend, both were in an instant busy with their hunting-knives upon the
thongs which held the prisoners, who, twenty-five in number, six white
and the rest black, were all at liberty and eagerly scrambling up the
rock before the mixed assemblage beyond the great enclosure had
thoroughly realised what was going on, less than a thousand yards away,
under cover of the smoke and the rapid discharges of strange rifles.

Just as a crowd of white men came streaming across the ground, and as
Leigh was about to raise his rifle with the view of checking their
advance, a voice behind him said, "Give me a turn at that, Alf; I long
to get even with yonder blasphemous slaving hound.  He tarred and
feathered me one day."

Leigh knew the voice, and turning quickly, confronted his long-lost
Cousin Dick.  One warm hand-grasp was all, then the tears started to his
eyes, as he relinquished his gun and strode away.

Dick Grenville!  But alas! how changed--feeble, emaciated, and
hollow-eyed, covered with filth, and clad in the skin of a leopard.
Leigh had actually taken his own cousin for a very ordinary-looking
black man, but the old spirit, unbroken by Mormons or slavers, was still
there--the eye as true, and the hand firm as a grip of steel.  Springing
forward, he shook the weapon over his head, and his voice went ringing
across the rock-bound stretch of veldt, as he called to the leader of
the advancing crowd, "Crewdson Walworth, I promised you this a year ago,
and here it is--a Grenville ever keeps his word."  The rifle vomited its
deadly contents, and the man, who was none other than Kenyon's quondam
acquaintance, the "Swell" of Durban, went down, with a bullet through
his heart, and pitched head over heels like a shot rabbit.

Kenyon coolly followed up the shot, and the repeaters fairly opened a
lane in the approaching crowd, who fired wildly into the bush without
doing any serious damage, and in another moment, to the number of about
twenty, were busy scrambling up the rock, whilst Leigh, Grenville and
Kenyon emptied rifle and revolver into their ranks at point-blank range.
Suddenly Leigh heard another well-remembered voice.  "Let my father,"
it said, "give Amaxosa a little space, that the child of the Undi may
revenge himself, and slay these evil-minded men;" and moving to one
side, Leigh saw his oft-tried comrade-in-arms, the proud young Zulu
chief, walk coolly to the very verge of the platform, with a mighty mass
of rock poised in his powerful arms.  For one brief instant he stood
thus, while his keen eye played over the hated forms of his late
masters; then with a wild, earth-shaking shout he plunged the enormous
missile right into the midst of the enemy where they were most closely
massed together, bearing them backwards to the ground a bleeding,
senseless pulp of human flesh and bones.

The revolvers quickly accounted for the few men who were left alive, and
a minute later the re-united cousins, led by Kenyon, and followed by
their triumphant "Impi," were descending the rock on its outer side, and
making for the friendly cover of the forest, their only loss being one
Zulu, who was shot through the body, and whom necessity compelled them
to leave behind at the point of dissolution.

A hasty consultation ensued when the whole party had reached the forest,
and both Leigh and Kenyon heard, with unmixed satisfaction, that the
enemy would be under the necessity of following directly upon their
trail, there being absolutely no path by which he could get round or cut
off the retreat of the fugitives.  Grenville also added that his friends
had come in a fortunate hour, for had Zero himself been present, or had
Crewdson Walworth not fallen so early in the fray, all would have had
their work cut out to get away from the enclosure with whole skins.  So
weak were the late captives, that travelling was of necessity very slow
indeed, or at least it seemed so to men fleeing with the knowledge that
re-capture meant prompt and certain death.

Owing to the villainous treatment he had received, poor Grenville was in
a pitiable state, but after a twenty minutes' rest, during which his
cousin fed him with biscuits steeped in brandy, he made another effort,
and Kenyon having speeded on ahead, and chased down their bearers with a
hammock, the party soon had Grenville safely and comfortably housed in
their temporary lodging on the mountain side.

Here the rescued one assured them that the whole band might safely lie
hidden for a day or two during Zero's absence, as both white and black
slavers held the spot in superstitious veneration on account of the
presence of the old hermit--for some such thing Grenville declared their
mad friend of the morning to be.  Half priest he was, half doctor, and
partly recluse.  Grenville knew naught of him beyond the fact that he
had occupied his present location, and been looked up to by the natives
as a species of god, long years before ever Zero and his following of
scoundrels overran the country side.  For his simple necessities he
received weekly supplies at the hands of the surrounding negro chiefs,
who held him to be the greatest fetish in the land, and believed that he
could kill or cure them, ruin their crops, or give them rain and
fruitful seasons at his will; not that he, poor old man, had ever
attempted to inoculate them with any such belief, having, on the
contrary, always treated them as kindly as if they were his own
children.  To Grenville he had been extremely good, and had seemed much
impressed with him, because our friend hod once again refused to buy his
life at the prohibitive price of an introduction into the Mormon
brotherhood.

Kenyon had tried to give Grenville in few words the history of his
cousin's bereavement, fearing that a natural, yet abrupt, inquiry after
Lady Drelincourt would greatly distress poor Leigh.  The detective
found, however, to his astonishment, that Grenville was in possession of
full particulars of the cowardly double murder, Zero having boasted to
him of the commission of the deed as a meritorious action, performed in
revenge for the doings of their own party in East Utah.  The
slaver-chieftain had, it appeared, possessed himself of the persons of
Grenville and of Amaxosa and some thirty of his warriors, by a
skilfully-executed night attack, in which he was supported by upwards of
three hundred armed whites and a horde of natives.

The story of the captives after this date was written in letters of
torture and of blood, and when his cousin, to try him, asked Grenville
how soon he would be in condition to turn his face homewards, the old
spirit blazed out once more, as he vowed by all he held sacred that he
would never leave the locality until Zero and his villainous following
were completely wiped out and stamped flat, even did he know that his
own life would in consequence be forfeited.

Needless to say, both Leigh and Kenyon heard these determined
expressions with undisguised satisfaction, for these two had already
come secretly to a like unanimous decision, and being now assisted by
Grenville, with his perfect local knowledge, and backed by several white
men, in addition to the redoubtable Amaxosa and a score of his picked
warriors, who only required a few days of rest and good food to fit them
for anything at all in the fighting line, both men felt much more
sanguine of accomplishing the end they had in view, and of meting out
stern retributive justice to the villainous slavers, and the double-dyed
murderer who acted as their chief.

Asked to relate how he had executed the hieroglyphic upon the face of
the rock within the kloof, Grenville explained that he had been bound at
the "tail-end" of a line of half-a-dozen Zulus, and thrown upon the
ground at the very edge of the cliff, whilst the slavers were bringing
up the rest of their wretched captives by moonlight, and getting a sharp
stone in his fettered hands, he had hung, head-downwards, suspended over
the gulf in perfect safety, knowing that the weight of the men above
would be a sheet-anchor for him.  To Grenville's dismay, however, he
found, when his work was done, that he could not regain his position on
the rock, and just as he was losing consciousness with the rush of blood
to his head, he was rescued by the slavers, who flogged him soundly for
what they took to be a deliberate attempt to rob them of his valued
person by the committal of cold-blooded suicide.

Cautious as ever, Grenville could not be persuaded to rest or sleep
until he had seen Leigh and Amaxosa on guard, and had warned Kenyon to
relieve the Zulu chief in two or three hours, as the poor fellow had
had, he said, an uncommonly rough time of it lately, and the diabolical
and senseless ill-usage to which he had been subjected, must have told
its tale upon even his iron constitution.

The rest of the white men and Zulus, all of whom Leigh had been able to
arm out of his ample stores of weapons, were already sleeping such a
sleep as they had not enjoyed for a full year.  To Grenville's delight,
he found that his cousin had got a spare Winchester rifle for him, and
with this and a pair of his favourite revolvers, he felt fit and ready
for anything once again.



CHAPTER EIGHT.

ZERO.

Though quietly settled down for the night, our friends had yet, however,
to learn that they hod not altogether done with the Mormon-cum-Slaver
fraternity, who evidently could not rest satisfied, or allow the day to
close, without making a particularly abominable attempt to get even with
the fugitives and their new-found friends.

In the very dead of night, as Leigh and Amaxosa stood on guard at the
mouth of the cave, conversing in an undertone, they were treated to a
new and extremely objectionable sample of the qualities of their
detested foes.  The fire behind them inside the cavern had completely
burnt itself out, and close to its ashes lay Grenville, sleeping
heavily, whilst the other members of the party were scattered about the
cave on beds of moss or dried grass.  Not a sound of any kind betokening
the presence of a foe had the anxious watchers heard, when all of a
sudden both were startled into action by an angry hiss just behind them,
followed by the well-known and universally dreaded "skirr" of a
rattlesnake, and quickly lighting a torch of twisted grass, the pair saw
the horrid reptile gliding down the cave towards them, evidently making
for the entrance.  Seizing a native sword, Amaxosa rushed at the snake
with a wild shout.  Instantly the reptile stopped in its tortuous
course, and reared itself to strike, but the active Zulu was altogether
too quick for it, and, with one fell sweep of his keen weapon, drove its
head clean from its body, when something was heard to roll with a
hollow, bell-like sound upon the rocky floor.

As Amaxosa's voice went ringing up the arches of the cavern, each
occupant had sprung to his feet in an instant, with arms in his hands,
and Grenville was himself the first to step forward and pick up the
article, the fall of which had caused the ringing noise referred to.  He
gave but a single glance at this hollow, silver ring, for such it was,
and then handed it to the Zulu chief, with the one word, "Apollyon!"

"Ay!  Inkoos," was the answer, "I saw the shining circlet ere I struck,
and the sight lent strength to my arm, for well I knew that if the blow
did not go home I should not live to strike again.  Glad am I, my
father, that yon evil beast is dead, for I ever feared it more than I
feared the evil ones themselves."

Grenville then explained to Kenyon and the wonder-stricken Leigh that
this horrible reptile was a pet snake, kept by the white woman they had
that day seen in the enclosure, and who, going by the name of Zero's
wife, was at this time the dominating female spirit of the Mormon
Community in Equatoria, as the adjacent slave-town was called.  This
infernal nineteenth-century harpy had made the snake, "Apollyon," her
peculiar care, and _by continual practice upon ailing or dying slaves_
had trained it to follow a trail, and to fix itself upon any person of
whom she gave it the scent, quite as surely, and infinitely more quietly
and fatally, than even Zero's own particular bloodhounds.  It was
self-evident that the reptile had been commissioned to destroy
Grenville, and would most certainly have succeeded in doing so had not
an all-merciful Providence willed otherwise.  Unfortunately for the
snake, it had drawn its loathsome coils right across the spot where the
fire had recently been blazing, and, although the wood had quite burnt
itself out, the floor of the cave was still absolutely red-hot, and the
whole stomach of the snake was in consequence terribly scorched and
blistered, and the sudden agony had no doubt caused it to emit the
warning hiss which had put Amaxosa on his guard, whilst the severe
nature of its injuries had probably contributed, in no small degree, to
the success of his attack, by rendering the motions of the reptile
unusually slow and extremely painful.  Anyhow, it was a miraculous and
providential escape, for which all felt uncommonly thankful, and Leigh
heard with unconcealed satisfaction that the snake in question was
positively the only one so trained which the vindictive Madame Zero had
in her possession.

This unpleasant adventure had fairly killed all chance of sleep for that
night, so after our trio of friends had lighted their pipes, Kenyon drew
Leigh and Grenville on one side out of earshot of the rest of the party.
"And now," said he, "let us seriously consider our position, for it is
one of very great danger; but first, give me your attention, Leigh,
whilst I fulfil my promise and relate to you the history of Zero so far
as it is known to me, after which your cousin will doubtless cap my
information with a few interesting and instructive details regarding the
life and opinions of the greatest scoundrel on the face of the earth.

"Zero, whose real name by the way is Monckton Bassett, is, I am ashamed
to admit, an American by birth, and hails from New York, where his
father originally figured as a respectable and a fairly successful
foreign merchant.  Master Bassett was an only and a precocious child,
and having at the early age of twenty-three succeeded in breaking his
poor mother's heart by the wild wickedness of his ways, and ruining his
foolishly indulgent father by wheedling him into bearing from time to
time the expense of a systematic and unsuccessful gambling career, next
threw in his lot with a villainous card-sharper named Weston Harper,
through whose instrumentality he first came under the notice of the
police, being, as I proved at the time, very nearly concerned in a
burglary committed upon the house of a wealthy New Yorker, to whose
daughter he had formerly been engaged.  This gentleman, however, Mr
Harmsworth by name, had abruptly put a stop to the embryo love affair
when he accidentally learned the life that his would-be son-in-law was
leading.  The burglary was not the worst of it; for Mr Harmsworth was
deliberately and unnecessarily shot dead in his bed, and there was every
reason to believe that young Bassett's hand had fired the fatal shot,
though I could never absolutely bring the murder home to him.  However,
we fixed the burglary on this precious pair, and both got a ten-years'
sentence, but escaped by bribing the gaolers, and successfully made
their way to Salt Lake City, after which, like a fool, I ceased to
bother my head about them.  This was six years ago you see," added
Kenyon, "and I wasn't quite so well posted in the ways of criminals as I
am now supposed to be.  Well, gentlemen, about a couple of years after
this I myself became affianced to a sweet young girl named Roxana
Kenyon, my own cousin on the father's side; and, as I was rapidly rising
in my new profession, we had every prospect of being united at no
distant date; but, to save time, I had better carry my story forward
another two years--that is, bringing it to the year 1879, when our
wedding-day was fixed for the 15th of April.  Our house was taken and
furnished throughout, and everything was duly arranged; but, on the
night before the wedding, my bride disappeared as completely as if the
very earth had opened and swallowed her."  For a moment the stern
detective faltered, and, overcome by his conflicting emotions, buried
his face in his bands, quickly, however, recovering himself and
continuing his story.  "There," he said impatiently, "it was all over,
and the rest is soon told.  On Roxana's bed, which had not been slept
in, I discovered a scrap of white paper with a dead black circle
skilfully drawn upon it--exactly similar, let me remark, to that
hieroglyphic found upon the body of the late Lady Drelincourt, only that
in my case, upon the reverse side of the paper, there appeared the
words: `_Zero gets even with Stanforth Kenyon over the Harmsworth
burglary_.'  I knew the writing well, and the hand that wrote it was the
hand of Monckton Bassett.  Without loss of time, I beat up his career
subsequent to the burglary and prior to the abduction, and discovered
through trusted agents that he had been absent from the New World for
nearly three years, and after having returned to Utah, possessed of
considerable property and accompanied by the woman he calls his wife,
had again gone abroad, and was then believed to be somewhere in South
Africa engaged upon business connected with the community of the Latter
Day Saints.

"I at once sent in my resignation to the Chief of Police, who, however,
refused to accept it, giving me instead a three years' holiday to
prosecute my search, as well as many kindly offers of assistance both
monetary and official.  Declining the former, I sailed for Cape Town as
soon as ever I could possibly get away, and finally worked round to
Durban, where, in a lucky moment for all of us, I tumbled up against
Leigh's advertisement, and, recognising in Driffield an old friend of
mine, professional instinct prompted me to call and pump him with regard
to Grenville the missing; but it was only after the lawyer had made me a
most generous offer with the object of inducing me to lead a search
party into the Interior, and had given me the history of the adventures
of you two in East Utah, that a sudden inspiration gave me the clue to
Monckton Bassett's whereabouts.

"Zero, I said to myself, means just nothing at all: why then has this
man--who, by the way, thinks no small beer of himself--adopted such an
extraordinary name?

"Next, is there any place or district in Africa bearing the name of
Zero.  No!  Stop! then like a living ray of light upon my mental
darkness was flashed the answer--the Line--the Equatorial Line--Number
Nought--_that is Zero_.  I wired New York at once, obtained the latest
particulars of his known movements, and then, with complete faith in my
good angel, I shut up my notebook, went right off to Driffield and
engaged myself in the search both body and soul.  And now, my friends, I
am here, and you, Grenville, are free, and all I ask is that you will
both wait long enough for me to settle my little account with this
infernal scoundrel, and then Westward Ho! for all of us."

"One moment, Kenyon," interjected Leigh; "I claim this fiend from hell
as my personal property.  Think, man, you have but lost one who, it is
true, was almost your wife; but I, ah!  God, he owes me everything--
wife, child, my love, my life--my very trust in Heaven, and for this I
hold my right to prove upon his vile body to be before the right of any
living man;" and, strung to the highest pitch, by the very worst and
strongest passions of human nature, these two firm friends fairly glared
at one another in the thoughtless anger of this intense moment.

"Peace! gentlemen," said the attentive Grenville, "peace!  Remember I
too have a right to act in this matter, if aught of wrong received upon
this earth can give the right of revenge upon a fellow-man.  Nay, Alf, I
am not seeking to enforce my claim.  God's hand rests upon this curse of
Central Africa, as I told him to his face, and when his time comes he
must go even as we; yet do I fervently pray that one of ourselves may be
the fleshly instrument selected to cause his going.

"And now, Kenyon, how called you your affianced wife?--Roxana, was it
not?--Roxana--ay, an Asiatic name signifying, if I mistake not, the
`Goddess of the Morning.'  It must be the same--hear me out, old
fellow," as Kenyon rose, fairly trembling with excitement.  "A young
white woman, known amongst the natives by a name signifying `The Star of
the Morning,' and reputed to be very fair to look upon, was brought over
from Madagascar to Zanzibar by Zero and his so-called wife, and was a
prisoner in their hands until just before the time that I and my men
were taken captives by his band.  He was then working his way up here
from the coast--but during his absence from camp one day, his zareeba
was stormed by a horde of Arabs, who swept out the best half of his
property, including the white girl and upwards of one hundred
repeating-rifles, the latter having been purchased and carefully
smuggled in for the use of his men.

"When Zero returned, he behaved, I heard, like a creature bereft of his
senses; he had, of course, expected to make `big money' out of the sale
of the girl, and to reduce the Arabs themselves with the Winchesters,
whereas the boot was now very much on the other leg.  I also heard that
he cautiously followed the tracks of the spoilers, but found that the
girl had persuaded them to take her to Zanzibar, where she was quickly
liberated through the kind agency of the British Consul, and was
supposed to have left for America.  Zero then made tracks for home, and
came upon our hunting party in an evil hour, and the rest you know."

Kenyon gripped Grenville's hand in silence, and the tears chased one
another rapidly down his cheeks.  "God bless you, old fellow," he
blurted out at last: "it was well worth saving your life, if only for
this--I was fast becoming a brute, and you've given me back love and
hope, and with them my faith in Heaven."  Grenville and his cousin rose
quietly and left him alone with the cruel memories of the darksome past
and the bright hopes of the near future, and nothing in all their lives
became them better; but as they walked away Leigh put his hand on his
cousin's shoulder: "Good old Dick," he said, in a tone of anguish, "you
have no hope nor help for _me_."  Then his voice changing to a positive
hiss--"You may talk till you're black in the face, my boy, but I'll
never leave this spot until I've sent back yonder cursed scoundrel to
the hell from whence he came."

Before Grenville could answer, however, Kenyon called to the twain to
return, and, sitting down again, Grenville gave his companions a pretty
full account of the abominable cruelties of Zero and his "wife," and of
the way they were devastating the country in almost every direction; and
Kenyon now learnt, to his surprise, that an enormous slave-trade was
done in the very heart of Africa, and that so far from trafficking in
"Black Ivory" direct with the Coast, either east or west, the slavers'
market for human flesh and blood was found principally amongst tribes
which lay to the west of Equatoria, and as the purchase money--when not
provided in ivory--usually consisted of pure rock-gold or gold-dust
packed in quills, the slaves were in all probability passed on to
Dahomey or Asyanti, whence they no doubt gravitated northwards and
ultimately found their way to Morocco, travelling incredible distances
and constantly changing hands.

Towards the rising sun Master Zero's operations were of a restricted,
and, to him, an extremely unsatisfactory nature, as his position was
everywhere hemmed in by hostile Arabs, who kept with a strong hand the
country they had originally secured by artifice, and to whom, as
followers of "the one True Prophet," Zero was doubly hateful, on account
of his Mormon connections.

The man was himself absent at the present time, personally conducting an
important "slave-drive," but might be expected back in the course of two
or three days, when the whole of his captives would be passed on to the
native King, whom the slavers were now busily entertaining, and who was,
in fact, simply waiting for Zero's return to "make his trade" and march
westward with his purchases; and until this matter was satisfactorily
disposed of, Grenville was inclined to believe that no serious attempt
would be made to interfere with themselves, but once let this fiend in
human form get clear of the pressing business in hand, and he would
promptly turn his attention to their own little account and would give
them no rest until the affair was settled, one way or the other.



CHAPTER NINE.

THE WAR TRAIL.

As the question had now purely resolved into one of warfare, offensive
or defensive, Amaxosa was called into council, in order that a definite
and feasible plan of action might be formulated.

Leigh and Kenyon were disposed to stay just where they were, as the
place seemed well-adapted for defence, had an ample supply of water, and
was, at the same time, sufficiently close to Equatoria to be handy in
the event of their party finding it desirable to sally out upon Zero's
position.

Grenville, however, was distrustful with regard to the cave itself, as
he half-suspected that Muzi Zimba the hermit had a secret method of
entering the Mormon Town without going all round by the forest; and if
such a way existed, Zero would be quite certain to know of it, although
his followers might be kept, in ignorance for a purpose; and, of course,
it would never do for our friends to get themselves fixed between two
fires.

The Zulu chief listened intently to all the arguments _pro_ and _con_,
but never opened his mouth until Grenville, addressing him in the Zulu
tongue, asked him to express his opinion upon the matter under notice.

"Can my father," he said, "tell his son Amaxosa, whither the Black One
(Zero) has journeyed?"

"Surely, my brother," answered Grenville, "didst thou not hear when but
yesterday we stood yonder tethered like oxen for the slaughter that he
had compassed thrice three days' travel towards the east, and that his
bloodhounds could not return in time to gnaw the flesh from our broken
bones?"

"Ay, Inkoos," was the reply, "I heard the words, but yet believed them
not.  Hearken! my father, when the Black One went forth, he went at dead
of night, and with him went the savage dogs and but one hundred men with
guns.  Think, then, my father, for well thou knowest that did the Black
One journey but one day towards the rising sun without a full impi at
his back, he would be eaten up by the Arab tribes, who dwell outside
this land of witchcraft, and who hate him even as we do.  More, my
father, I know that the men lied when they spoke, for only yester morn
did I see two of the snow-white message birds arrive, and they came from
the mountains of the distant southern lands.

"Hearken to my words, oh, chiefs! and if ye follow them, doubt not that
all shall yet go well.

"To-morrow night, when the moon rises, will the Black One rest beneath
the cool shadow of yon distant peak; let us be there, oh! chiefs, and he
shall sleep the sleep that never wakes in life.

"Thus shall the matter go--thou knowest well the place, my father--the
evil ones will come in from the southern lands--the Lands of Lakes and
Rivers--and will set their kraal beneath the great white mountain, and
towards the setting sun, at the spot in the deep hollow where there ever
flows a spring of clear, sweet water, where is a mighty wall of rock on
this side and on that side, and a hill hard to be climbed towards the
further north; and it shall be, my father, that when the evil ones,
filled with food and worn with the toil of the day, have entered into
the trap, and have lain them down to rest, that we will turn from its
course the flowing waters of the great river which runs on the path of
the rising sun, and will fill the place with weeping, and with the
bodies of dead men.

"With ten of these low black fellows (Zanzibaris) will I turn the river,
and with those that remain, and with the spears and guns, shalt thou, my
father, safely keep the northern hill, and it shall be that ere the
arrows of the dawn glance upon the snows of the great white mountain,
the evil ones shall be stamped flat and eaten up, and the foul carcase
of the Black Master of Evil himself, shall be but food for the vultures
and the wolves.  I have spoken."

The Zulu's idea was, unquestionably, a very fine one, and promised to
rid our friends of their arch-enemy, together with a hundred of the very
vilest of his following at one fell swoop, and it was therefore
determined that the plan should be adopted in its entirety, their own
party thus taking the initiative.

If the scheme failed, the little band would be really no worse off than
they were at the present time, whilst if it succeeded--and with the
cunning of the Zulu at its back, it certainly had every chance of
success--the campaign would be capitally inaugurated by drawing the
lion's teeth at the very first attempt.  Zero, it was conceded upon all
sides, was the one man to be feared, and could they but dispose of him
out of hand, the Mormon-cum-Slaver fraternity would be like a ship
without a helm, and would very soon find itself in unpleasantly rough
water.

Our friends calculated that the slavers, on discovering the near
approach of the water, would first drive their black captives up the
hill, and after Grenville's party had allowed these to pass and save
themselves, his men would keep the road against the slavers and fiercely
contest the narrow passage hand to hand, with axe and spear, rifle and
pistol.  It would be a stubborn fight; that was certain, for, granting
that the slavers had expended a few men on their distant foray, they
would still be in the proportion of two to one; and if they once
penetrated the ranks of our friends, it would be all up with the little
band, as they would instantly be driven back by sheer weight of numbers,
into a ready-made watery grave of their own providing.

At dawn, therefore, the entire party breakfasted hastily, and, after
leaving in the outer cave a few articles likely to be of service to the
friendly old hermit, made their way quickly down the hill, and striking
well into the fog-banks at its foot, steered a straight course for the
distant mountains; Grenville and the other rescued white men, who were
extremely feeble, being carried by the Zanzibaris in hammocks, so as to
husband, as far as possible, what little strength they possessed.

The Zulu knew his ground thoroughly, and ere the mist had been
completely sucked up by the sun, had got his followers some miles on
their way, and travelling smoothly along the shallow bed of a small
stream, whose overhanging banks provided a capital safeguard against
prying eyes.

Naught of interest occurred that day, and by keeping the men hard at it,
so as to shorten the next day's journey, a good forty miles was knocked
off before the tired wayfarers lay down to snatch a brief spell of rest
until the tardy appearance of the moon provided them with sufficient
light to proceed by, when the little band again took the road and kept
moving until the waning light put a welcome period to their labours, and
sleeping a heavy, dreamless sleep until the sun once more awoke them to
the weary toil and travel of another burning tropic day.

A glorious sight now met the wondering eyes of our friends, for right
before them and distant perhaps a score of miles across the veldt, rose
the giant fabric of the wished-for mountain, now sharply defined in
every detail of its vast and massive grandeur.  Straight up into the
very heavens themselves shot one glorious, glittering peak, whose
perfect beauty was beyond all earthly praise: around its lofty summit
the everlasting snows had grouped themselves like gleaming, flashing
jewels in the radiant crown of this mighty cloud-clad monarch of the
equator.  Wreaths of filmy, fleecy mist drifted slowly here and there
across his distorted shoulders, which were seamed in every direction
with yawning fissures, whose awful blackness was rendered even more
striking by contrast with the unmatched, glittering glory of this
solitary inland peak, whilst the green and rolling veldt, sweeping away
unbroken to the horizon on every hand, formed a fit setting for this
lovely, lonely diadem of God's own fashioning.

Soon, however, the heat-clouds settled down upon the mountain, veiling
from sight all but its lower vast proportions, upon whose rugged sides
no vestige of vegetation could as yet be seen.

With but a short rest at mid-day, our adventurers pressed on, in spite
of the stifling heat, and reached the spring of which Amaxosa had
spoken, about three o'clock in the afternoon, when the fighting brigade
instantly threw themselves down to rest and sleep in the grateful shade
cast by the giant walls of overhanging rock, which stretched grimly
upwards on either hand, their barren wildness relieved only here and
there by a few odd patches of trees and bush.

Grenville himself kept guard, and Kenyon at once proceeded down the pass
and climbed some way up the mountain side to keep a sharp look-out over
the southern veldt, whilst Leigh and Amaxosa turned their faces towards
the river, and closely scrutinised its banks for quite half a mile
beyond the further exit of the pass ere they discovered a species of
creek, or inlet, only two score yards from the edge of the track, and in
every way eminently suited to their requirements.  Leigh then returned
to the spring, and promptly dispatched ten of the Zanzibaris, with their
implements, to join the Zulu chief, and to lie hidden until they
received his further orders.

The scheme, artfully as it hod been planned, had one weak spot in it,
which gave both Grenville and Kenyon much serious thought, and that
anxiety was caused by the certain knowledge that Zero had with him his
three magnificent bloodhounds, which, token in conjunction with their
vile master--who was, perhaps, more of a brute than the noble animals
themselves--composed the most formidable quartette in Equatoria.
Grenville had already warned his friends not to waste their bullets on
the dogs, but to leave the brutes to him, as should the slavers once get
within range, he would not raise a hand against them until he had first
settled with the canine element His great fear was, however, that the
hounds would warn their masters of the presence of the little band the
moment they struck the scent.  The way through the pass being, however,
mostly composed of rock, and a heavy gang of slaves going on in front,
it was, of course, more than possible that the scent would be rendered
too faint to attract anything but a mere passing whimper from the great
dogs.

When the party had had perhaps three hours' rest, a shrill whistle was
suddenly heard from Kenyon, and looking upwards Grenville saw him making
the agreed danger signal.

Half-an-hour later the American rejoined his friends, and reported that
a vast mob of human beings had come within range of his field-glass
during the last hour, and were now a score of miles away and heading
direct for their own position in the pass.  News was quickly sent round
to Amaxosa, who, however, soon appeared and carried off the chief, who,
next to himself, stood highest among his own men.  Him he carefully
inducted into the mysteries of the "Zulu irrigation scheme," as Kenyon
styled it, and then returned to the main body, where he considered "his
father would need his arm"--the fact, of course, being, that the
splendid fellow was simply spoiling for a good fight with his late
tormentors.



CHAPTER TEN.

"NO QUARTER."

Hardly had our friends perfected the details of their scheme for
surprising the slavers, than darkness rushed upon them like a tangible
thing.  All, however, were much too excited to sleep, and, as soon as
the rising moon gave sufficient light, the whole party removed itself
beyond the steep crest of the northern hill, and impatiently awaited
developments, or, as the Zulus have it, "fought the fight of sit down."

It had been agreed amongst them, that the slavers were to have a clear
hour allowed them from the time of entering the pass, to permit of their
settling down quietly for the night, and this hour would of course, be
employed to advantage by the men in charge of the "water department,"
whilst the defenders of the hill had of necessity to take their cue from
the movements of the enemy as occasion might arise.

For once in a way, matters fell out even better than the most sanguine
had dared to hope.  The slavers trooped quietly in, the dogs failing to
show the slightest sign of uneasiness, and as soon as the slaves had
been watered at the spring, the wretched creatures, to the number of
about three hundred, all carefully manacled, were mercilessly driven on
towards Equatoria, guarded by half a score of heavily-armed and
powerful-looking ruffians, whilst Zero and the rest of his following
encamped for the night beside the spring, taking no precautions whatever
against surprise, and obviously considering themselves perfectly safe in
their own happy hunting-grounds, relying, no doubt, upon the dogs to
give them timely notice of any hostile approach.  Nothing could have
been better than this arrangement; for had the miserable slaves been
detained in the hollow of the pass, it would have caused our friends
very considerable difficulty to separate the poor unoffending creatures,
from their sworn vengeance upon Zero and his host of scoundrels, whereas
now, every shot would have a definite and decided aim.

After the dismal procession had filed out of sight, the time hung very
heavily on the hands of the anxious watchers on the hill, and none
seemed to feel it more keenly than did Leigh.  He fidgeted first with
his rifle, and then with his revolvers, until Grenville and Kenyon made
sure that one or other of the weapons would explode, and prematurely
unmask the whole affair, when matters would in all likelihood get
uncomfortably warm for their little party.

Leigh was possessed of but one desire, and that was to get sight of
Zero, when none who watched his face as Grenville did, could doubt that
there would be bloodshed.

Slowly an hour dragged out its weary length.  Below all was still as
death, the slavers were fast asleep round their fire, and as a gentle
zephyr was breezing in from the south, there was no scent to disturb the
repose of the great dogs, who seemed to appreciate the warmth of the
fire, equally with their tired masters.

All at once the death-like silence was rent by a thundering explosion,
which seemed to fairly shake the mighty fabric of the mountain, and to
rend the very vault of heaven itself, whilst in the twinkling of an eye,
every man amongst the slavers was on his feet, gun in hand, and gazing
inquiringly at his nearest comrade.

Hardly had the Titanic echoes ceased to answer one another amongst the
mountain fastnesses, than a wild cry went up from the wretched men
beside the spring, as they saw the angry river come foaming and dancing
towards them--a frothing, bubbling sea of glancing foam--as it flew
along down the narrow pass under the weird rays of the ivory moonlight.

But a single look the slavers gave; then, turning as one man, the whole
band rushed blindly for the hill, but scarcely had they commenced to
climb, when the crown of the ascent seemed to fairly open before their
astonished eyes in a glancing sheet of flame, as Grenville gave the
word, and two score angry rifles poured their deadly contents into the
surging mob of humanity but fifty yards below, whilst a chorus of
shrieks and imprecations went up to heaven, and men rolled over in every
direction, dead and dying, thus testifying to the fatal results of the
discharge.

The slavers paused aghast; but, with a wild, deep-throated bay, the
noble hounds sprang forward, undaunted by the presence of the foe--
useless bravery, for Grenville kept his word: the moonlight was good
enough to shoot by, and three shots from his Winchester accounted for
the three great dogs in much less time than it takes to tell.

Meantime the water was rushing forward like a living thing, and the
slavers, forced onwards by it, dashed up the hill in a positive frenzy
of fear, paying no attention to their leader, who vainly shouted to them
to keep their heads, as the water would take some time to rise the
height of the steep ascent.  On they came in spite of another blinding
discharge, which absolutely singed their faces and thinned their ranks
by quite one-half, and then, hand to hand, the combatants met with a
mighty roar.  Hither and thither swung the fight in all its ghastly
details, the crash of the axes, and the rapid detonations of the
revolver-pistols, almost drowning the war-cries of the Zulus as they
wreaked their righteous vengeance upon their late tormentors.  Soon,
however, friend and foe were so closely blent together that even
Grenville--who kept out of a scrimmage in which he was yet too weak to
take his accustomed part--found it extremely difficult work to get in a
single shot without danger to his own people.

The Slaver-Chief was unquestionably a brave man, and in his fighting cry
there was inspiration for his band; but what could he do when three such
men as Leigh, Kenyon, and Amaxosa would, if they could help it, fight
neither with small nor great but with himself only; whilst Grenville,
meantime, watched, lynx-eyed, for a chance of putting a bullet through
him?

Four times did this determined trio charge the slavers, axe in hand, and
Zero himself at last fell upon a heap of his companions, whose living
bodies had lately been his only rampart against these vindictive and
invincible foes.

Upon the fall of the Slaver-Chief a mighty shout went up from the little
band of friends, and the few remaining slavers immediately threw down
their arms and begged for mercy.  Mercy!  Fools!  What could they
expect?  _A Zulu shows no mercy to a beaten foe_, and if beaten himself
he asks none.  Moreover, the foe in this case richly deserved all he
got, for he had been guilty of every species of senseless and abominable
cruelty under heaven, and merited to the full a far more dreadfully
retributive justice than the sudden and almost painless death which he
received at the hands of his relentless executioners.

So much for one side, now for the other.  Four of the white men rescued
from the Mormons by Leigh and Kenyon, were stone dead, as were three
Zanzibaris, who had stayed on the spot in an unaccustomed and ill-fated
excess of valour or curiosity.  The remaining white man, a sturdy young
Highlander, named Duncan Ewan, had received a nasty scalp wound, whilst
five of the Zulus were lying about very severely cut up, though all
would recover with careful treatment.  Of the three champions, Amaxosa
was the only one who had received any hurt, and that was superficial, a
bullet having grazed and laid open one side of his face.  Hastily our
friends shook hands with one another--and with themselves, so to speak--
and then Leigh and Amaxosa, supported by all the available Zulus,
started off at speed upon the trail of the departed slave-gang, leaving
Grenville and Kenyon (together with the frightened Zanzibaris, who were
cautiously returning by twos and threes from the four winds of heaven,
whither they had fled when the first shot was fired) to get the wounded
into a place of safety; for the water was still rapidly rising, and once
over the crest of the hill, it would simply sweep the whole plain
towards the north, unless something could be done to stop its wild
career.  Quickly getting the wounded men out of the pass, and some
little way up the mountain side, Grenville and Kenyon next made a
careful examination of the old course, of the river beyond the pass, and
found that if they could blow up one mighty piece of rock, the river
would immediately descend through the medium of a waterfall into its own
original bed.  The pair, accordingly, returned to the scene of the fight
in order to collect all the gunpowder belonging to the deceased slavers;
but hardly had they reached the spot than Kenyon, to Grenville's utter
astonishment, let out a bitter curse.  "Fooled," he cried, "as I'm a
living sinner--fooled again by that cursed fox!" and turning quickly, as
a mocking laugh grated upon their ears, Zero was seen by the pair
standing upon a rock at the northern outlet of the pass, perhaps a
hundred yards away, and taking aim at them with his rifle.  Grenville's
Winchester went up like a flash, and the two reports blended into one.
The slaver's bullet whistled harmlessly past their ears, and at the same
instant he was seen to drop his gun, and clap his hand upon his left
shoulder, and then, shaking his fist angrily at Grenville, he hurled a
vile curse at the two friends, and, springing down from the rock, was at
once lost to view amidst the gloomy shadows of the mountain.

Whilst Grenville collected the powder, Kenyon promptly set out in
pursuit of the slaver, but could find no trace of his whereabouts.  The
fellow's claws were, however, cut for the nonce, as there was blood upon
the rock where he had been standing, and his rifle was still lying
there, the hammer having been cut clean away by Grenville's bullet.  So
that wounded, unarmed, and unsupported, it was a shrewd count that they
would easily get him when daylight came, and get him they must, for he
clearly was a dangerous, as well as a very slippery, villain.

Our friends soon succeeded in blowing up the rock, and preparing a new
outlet for the water, and this was not accomplished any too soon, as by
the time they had collected the arms, which were everywhere strewed
about the confined field of battle, the water was already lapping gently
against the upper edges of the steep ascent, and in another ten minutes
it was racing down the track, and shooting clear over the beetling wall
of rock, thus returning to its own natural bed in the shape of a
magnificent waterfall, whose enormous volume, as it fell, waked a mighty
echo, which would henceforward cause a perpetual and thundering murmur
amongst the rocky glens of the mountains, as if nature were herself
complaining of this irremediable mischief, wrought by the puny hand of
careless and unthinking man.

Hardly had Grenville and Kenyon regained the mountain side, than the
report of firearms was heard away across the veldt, and the quick
flashes of Leigh's repeating-rifle could be distinctly seen.  In a few
short minutes all was again as quiet as death, and the twain looked
anxiously at one another, yearning to know with whom the victory rested,
when all at once, through the still night air, and right across the
rolling veldt was wafted the wild war-cry of the children of the Undi,
proclaiming the successful accomplishment of another act of retribution,
and the absolutely triumphant success of Amaxosa's daring scheme for the
destruction of the foe--a success which was marred only by the single
detail of the temporary escape from their vengeance, of the Slaver-Chief
himself.

Grenville and Kenyon next lighted a large fire to apprise the detachment
out upon the veldt, of the exact position of the party upon the mountain
side; and this having been done, Kenyon, who never travelled without a
complete surgeon's "kit," proceeded to attend to the injuries of the
wounded men, and soon had the poor fellows as comfortable as
circumstances permitted.

Shortly after this, the Zulu, Umbulanzi, in charge of the "water
department," and to whom belonged no small share of the credit of this
successful affair, made his appearance, accompanied by all but two of
the Zanzibaris, who, under his direction, had acted in the capacity of
sappers.

It seemed that Amaxosa had fortunately foreseen the possibility of this
detachment hitting upon a bed of rock, and thus having their work
stopped, and the whole scheme completely ruined, and he had, therefore,
supplied his _confrere_ with a 56 pound keg of powder out of Leigh's
ample stores, and finding that a great slab of broken ironstone rock was
spoiling his little game, this Zulu had coolly slapped _the whole keg_
under the edge of this obstruction, and blown the entire affair
sky-high, and along with it two of the Zanzibaris, whose unfortunate
curiosity had prevailed over their accustomed discretion.

"Haow Inkoos," he said, speaking rapidly to Grenville in the Zulu
tongue, "it was indeed a very great sight, and never will Umbulanzi see
the like again.  The rock shot up to the heavens on high, and with it
went the low black fellows.  The great stone came down again, my father;
but, though I waited long for the low fellows, they came not, and as the
cowards must have run away for good, Umbulanzi did not stay."

The moon was waning fast, but the stars still held the curtains of night
over the wide-stretched whispering veldt, when the victorious party of
Amaxosa, accompanied by the slave-gang, was heard approaching from the
north, and upon their arrival it was found that the little band had not
suffered further in any way, having satisfactorily "rushed" the
remaining slavers, and disposed of them every one.

The anger of Leigh and Amaxosa, however, knew no bounds when the cunning
escape of the arch-enemy was made known to them, and both bitterly
repented that they had not made sure of the fox by knocking him on the
head, and registered a solemn vow to commit no further mistakes of the
kind, should Zero fall into their hands again.  Clearly, however,
nothing could be done until dawn of day, and it was decided, therefore,
to let the rescued slaves sleep in their irons, and to wait for
daylight, in order that their captors might gain some little insight
into the character of their new charges.  So, having set a watch of
Zanzibaris, overlooked by Grenville himself, the tired army laid itself
down, and was soon fast asleep, whilst the rescued slaves, who had been
told the good news that they would be liberated in the morning,
chattered to one another throughout the livelong night, like a troop of
monkeys in the forest.  With the first gleam of daylight, Leigh and
Amaxosa were afoot, and without even staying to dispatch a mouthful of
food, threw themselves upon the bloodstained trail of the Slaver-Chief,
and were almost instantly lost to sight amongst the dense fog-banks
which overhung the surrounding veldt in every direction.



CHAPTER ELEVEN.

"THE PEOPLE OF THE STICK."

First thing in the morning the slaves were unshackled, and, after all
had breakfasted, they were interviewed through the medium of one of the
native "guides," and our friends found to their horror that Zero and his
band of fiends had fallen upon this people, in the night, and after
picking out 300 of the finest among the men, had effectually stamped out
the remainder of the tribe, both root and branch, by _fastening them
all, young men and maidens, old men and children, in their huts, and
then setting fire to the village_, lining the palisades with their
rifles meantime, lest any should break out and escape, to bring down
upon the murderers swift and unsparing vengeance at the hands of a great
and warlike native people, who lived near at hand, and who were closely
related to the stricken tribe.

They seemed an intelligent and brave people, and would no doubt have
given a good account of themselves if Zero had not taken them utterly
unawares in their huts by night; and the men, who were as a rule fine,
athletic-looking fellows, declared that they would follow the white men
to the death, if they would but lead their party on and entirely eat up
these slavers, whom they denounced as monsters of cruelty--one man
stating that the great bloodhounds had been deliberately fed by Zero
himself _with the flesh of several baby boys, who had been roasted
alive_, and he added that, if the white men would not go with them, his
own people would carry on the war, even if they had to fight with empty
hands.

This was so far good, but our friends were utterly at their wits' end
regarding arms for their new allies, who clearly did not understand the
use of guns, whilst the few spears and axes saved from the slavers
deceased in the fight of the previous day, would not equip one-fourth of
their number.

On being asked, however, what weapons they would prefer to use, the men
replied proudly that they were called "Atagbondo" or "the People of the
Stick," in consequence of their habit of fighting only with long-handled
clubs, which they could cut for themselves as soon as forest land,
similar to their own, was reached by the party.

These clubs, it appeared, formed their sole weapon of offence, but they
also used--as our friends found at a later date--an instrument of a most
peculiar nature, and of which their white leaders could not at first
comprehend the utility.

The instrument referred to, was a neatly-fashioned piece of extremely
hard wood, from a yard to a yard and a half in length, thick in the
centre, where it contained a cavity to protect the hand, and tapering to
both of its slender-looking extremities.  At its widest part it was but
some few inches broad, was fitted with a thong in which to slip the
hand, and generally gave one the idea of a modified quarter-staff with
an elongated bulb in the middle.  The instrument was called a "quayre;"
and when this people went into battle the warriors tapped the quayre
against the shaft of the club and produced a rattling volume of sound,
which could be heard a mile away, and was supposed to strike terror into
the heart of the foe; whilst the quayre itself, which they handled in a
most expert fashion, was used not only to ward off blows struck at the
persons of the men with native axes, clubs, or similar weapons, but even
in parrying spear-thrusts--a difficult operation, which they performed,
however, with no little dexterity, whilst the quayre was at the same
time less than one-third of the weight of a very ordinary fighting
shield.

On being informed that the white men were about to hold a council of
war, and would like them to be represented, the chief of the Atagbondo
stepped forward.  Probably forty years of age, this man was a
magnificent specimen of his race, who are all very much above the
average height of Englishmen.  He stood, probably, six feet two inches,
but whilst he was not quite so tall as Amaxosa he possessed a more
heavily built frame, being broader and deeper in the chest, and more
massive in his appearance generally.  Taken all through, he was,
perhaps, the more powerful of the two men, but what the Zulu lacked in
point of muscle was more than compensated for by the symmetry of his
build, and his consequently superior activity; besides, this was
relatively speaking, a man of peace, whilst the fierce Zulu was a man of
war from his youth up, trained in every art and artifice, and inured to
hardships and dangers by the experiences of many a well-fought field.

The Chieftain of the Stick had an intensely "Negro" face, but without
its ordinary stolidity, and, in common with his warriors, had his head
shaved with the exception of a sort of central tuft, which somewhat
resembled the "scalp lock" of the North American Indians, and through
this tuft was thrust, in the case of every man, a miniature quayre,
beautifully carved in ivory, standing, in point of fact, for the "totem"
of his tribe, and proudly indicating the race from which he sprang.

The chief--whose name, by the way, was "Barad," or "The Hailstorm"--in a
few well-chosen words, thanked the white men for releasing himself and
his people, and then declared his intention of putting his party
entirely into the hands of our friends, until vengeance had been taken
upon the wicked men "who dwelt on the frontier of the far north, and
amongst the mountains of Muzi Zimba the Ancient."  Our friends were more
than surprised to find that their new allies both knew and reverenced
the friendly hermit who overlooked Zero's location, but found that
beyond sending the old man a yearly "hongo," or tribute, they knew
nothing of him, but regarded him as a "very big fetish."

Amaxosa and Leigh now returning empty-handed and disgusted from their
search after Zero, a council was called to receive their report.  This
was as short as it was unsatisfactory.  The slaver had been
unquestionably wounded by Grenville's bullet, but it was, unfortunately,
one of those wounds which act upon a flying foe as they do upon a
running deer, and simply make him leap the faster.

The pair had followed the track of the fugitive for close upon ten
miles, beyond which it was useless to go, as they now knew positively
from the "sign" that Zero had unearthed a canoe from its hiding-place
amongst some rocks near the river, and had gone off down stream, and
was, therefore, completely out of reach for the time being.

Smarting with fury at the crushing defeat he had sustained, and maddened
by the loss of both friends and plunder, the party might safely reckon
upon the slaver delivering a crushing attack upon their position at no
distant date, and it only now became a question as to whether they were
sufficiently strong to go out and meet him in the open, or had better
choose out a likely place on the mountain side, and make it good, until
the loss on the side of the foe provided them with a chance of wiping
him out "one time," as the natives say, with a well-delivered sortie.

True, the little band had now the not-to-be-despised support of three
hundred able-bodied men, all thirsting for vengeance upon the common
foe; but then, these men were entirely unarmed, whilst Zero, besides
mustering close upon a thousand of his own rogues, well supplied with
guns, would in all probability be supported by the native King already
referred to, backed by several thousands of his followers, all armed
with bow and spear, in the use of which they were said to be both bold
and skilful.

Ultimately, therefore, our friends decided to stay where they were, or,
rather, to select a strong position on the mountain capable of a
sustained defence, and in the interval which they might calculate upon
prior to an attack, they determined to employ themselves in an endeavour
to arm, after their own peculiar fashion, the warlike People of the
Stick, and to induct the most intelligent amongst them into the
mysteries of the rifle.  This last would necessitate some little
expenditure in the way of ammunition; but, as the party had abundance of
powder taken from the vanquished slavers, they were fortunately in a
position to afford this outlay.

Towards evening, the indefatigable Amaxosa, who had gone out on a tour
of inspection, returned with an exceptionally favourable report, and the
first thing on the morrow the whole band removed to the rocky fastness
selected for their occupation by the keen-eyed Zulu chief, and all hands
were at once set to work to excavate, to build earthworks, and in many
other ways to amplify the already considerable natural defences of the
place, whilst the Atagbondo flayed every bush and tree within a scoro of
miles, to furnish themselves with offensive clubs and defensive quayres.



CHAPTER TWELVE.

FIGHTING THE FLAMES.

For fully three days did our friends occupy themselves in the very
necessary work of perfecting the defences of their stronghold on the
mountain, and in teaching a picked dozen of the Atagbondo the use of the
rifle, with which weapon they soon became fair marksmen, in the native
acceptance of the term.

On the fourth day, however, a discovery, trifling in itself, convinced
the party that, so far from having been forgotten by Zero, they were at
present occupying the whole of his earnest attention.

The incident in question was the accidental notice taken by Kenyon of a
small bird wheeling round and round their position; closer and closer it
came, until all could see perfectly well that it was a white carrier
pigeon, bearing a message.  Finding, however, that the party did not
whistle it in, the bird grew shy, and quickly took to flight Leigh
raised his rifle with the intention of bringing it down, but Kenyon
stopped him just in time.

"Don't shoot, old fellow," he said; "I've a fancy to let that bird
severely alone.  I want to know just where it's bound for at the present
moment."

Watching very carefully, the pigeon was at last seen to enter a clump of
bush about half a mile up the mountain side, and scarcely ten minutes
later, either it, or a similar bird, left the same cover, and winged its
rapid way due north.

The inference was plain, and our friends looked blankly at one another;
but, ere they could speak, the Zulu chief had summoned Umbulanzi and
directed him to take two men, thoroughly search the suspected spot, and
put to the assegai anyone they might find lurking there.

Grenville and Kenyon would have much preferred taking the spy--if spy
there was--alive, but the fear that his presence would cause the injured
People of the Stick to overstep all restraint and become guilty of some
fearful act of barbaric cruelty, decided them to let the man fight it
out to the bitter end for his own life, rather than to permit him to
fall into the hands of a raging mob of naked savages, whose tenderest
mercies, maddened as they were by their frightful wrongs, would be cruel
indeed.

Anxiously our friends watched the progress of the three Zulus up the
mountain, and all at once Leigh took a fancy to follow them, and was
soon swinging up the slant with rapid steps, accompanied by Amaxosa and
Kenyon.

The Zulus reached the spot and plunged into the cover, from which there
instantly arose a tremendous hubbub, and a moment later all three
reappeared, fairly driven out by half a score of white men, and fighting
furiously with their spears against several of the slavers, who were
armed with axes, whilst the remainder stood by eagerly seeking an
opportunity to use their guns.

Promptly Leigh and Kenyon pitched forward their rifles, and two of the
slavers instantly rolled head over heels down the mountain side, whilst
at the same moment, uttering a wild shout of encouragement, Amaxosa
dashed forward like an arrow from the bow, and in another second was
side by side with his warriors, their nervous arms dealing out death and
disaster with every sweeping blow.  When Leigh and Kenyon reached the
platform upon which this tragedy had been enacted, there was but one of
the enemy left alive, and he was engaged in a terrific hand-to-hand
combat with Amaxosa.  All at once the Zulu's axe broke off short in the
haft, and the ruffian slaver rushed at him with a victorious shout.
Springing lightly to one side, however, the active chief easily avoided
the deadly stroke aimed at him by his opponent, whom he seized the next
instant from behind, with his powerful hands pinning the man's arms to
his side, and before anyone could interfere, or even speak, with one
mighty effort the fierce Zulu fairly swung his hapless foe from the
ground, and then dashed him down full upon the rock, on his bare skull,
which was crushed in like an egg-shell, the awful blow, of course,
killing him on the spot, and an instant later the mountain side echoed
to the triumphant notes of the famous Undi war-chant.

"Oh, my father," said the great Zulu, contemplating his handiwork with
satisfaction, and speaking to Leigh, "it was a great fight; few could
have slain the man with empty hands.  Sleep softly, ye evildoers; the
Lion of the Undi bids you sleep!"

Carefully examining the cover from which the discomfited foe had sprung,
our friends found that it consisted of a shallow cave in the face of the
rock, the entrance being masked by low bushes, and a thick undergrowth
of wild vines.  In this hiding-place Kenyon discovered a basket
containing three white and two black pigeons, whilst a note, evidently
the one just received, lay upon the rocky floor.  Eagerly pouncing upon
this, the detective quickly mastered its contents, which were simply as
follows:--

"The second detachment will arrive at midnight to-night.--

"Zero."

Clearly it was not, therefore, a mere question of spying upon their
position; but the evident intention of the cunning slaver was to send in
small drafts of men to conceal themselves upon the mountain; and these,
when his own army moved up to the attack, would, at a given signal,
doubtless fall upon our friends in the rear, and thus effect a very
serious diversion in favour of Zero, at a most critical moment.

The scheme was well thought-out, but the watchfulness of Kenyon had
completely ruined it; and if the further suggestions which he now made
should prove workable, the little band might be relied upon to read
Master Zero another very severe and humiliating lesson, when he made his
intended final onset.

Briefly, Kenyon's idea consisted of an attempt to lure the second
detachment of slavers on to their utter destruction, but in view of
their prematurely taking the alarm in consequence of our friends
possibly failing to understand and correctly to answer their secret
signals, a large party was to be slipped into the long grass of the
veldt to intercept the slavers in the event of their making a push to
escape, and an endeavour was to be made to capture some of the men
alive, and force them to give up the secrets of their curious system of
aerial correspondence.

Finally it was decided that Amaxosa should set out with ten of his own
men and fifty of the warriors of the Atagbondo at moonrise, and lie in
ambush about three miles to the north of the mountain, but this party
was on no account to make any movement, except in the event of a rocket
being fired from the camp, giving them the direction of the escaping
slavers.  The Zulu was especially cautioned against making fire signals
of any kind, as it was calculated that the enemy would, themselves,
probably employ these.

Little, however, did our friends know, as yet, of the devilish ingenuity
of Master Zero, who had but to suspect the very remotest possibility of
the existence of a trap to guard against it in most effectual fashion,
and that night our friends received a peculiarly unpleasant proof of his
dangerous capabilities in this direction.

The matter fell out thus:--As Kenyon, Leigh, and a party of fifty picked
men were lying noiselessly in wait in the cover from which they had that
morning driven the enemy, they were suddenly and viciously attacked,
without a moment's warning, by Zero's forerunner, in the shape of an
enormous jaguar, which severely mauled a number of the men ere he was
settled by Kenyon, who drove a Zulu assegai through the beast's spine,
whereupon his roarings woke every living echo in the country side, and a
moment later a moving mass of dark forms could be seen gliding out from
the friendly shadows cast by the mountain, and stringing themselves
across the veldt in a vain effort to escape from their active foes.

Quickly Grenville sent up his rocket, and as the glittering thread of
fire traced its way across the heavens, Leigh and his eager party dashed
down the mountain, and followed the flying foe at speed across the
veldt, fearing from their apparent strength that the slavers might prove
too heavy for Amaxosa and his little band.

A mile from the rocks, finding their retreat cut off, the slavers formed
in square and stood at bay between two fires.  Leigh called to them to
surrender, and lay down their arms, but the answer was hurled back in
the shape of a contemptuous curse and a rattling volley, which stretched
several of the Atagbondo upon the ground.

Not one moment after this could Leigh or Amaxosa restrain their men, who
simply flung themselves upon the very muzzles of the slavers.  Nothing
short of a triple line of bayonets could have withstood such a
magnificently audacious charge, and in less time than it takes to tell,
the "People of the Stick" had literally wiped their hated foes off the
face of the earth.

Five minutes covered the whole ghastly affair from beginning to end, and
in that short space of time, Zero, in addition to the loss of his pet
tiger, had suffered to the extent of fifty-three men, whilst our friends
had on their side eleven killed outright and seventeen wounded, two of
these last, dying the next day.

"Haow Inkoos," said the Zulu chief approvingly; "it is indeed a brave
people, and fights well, almost as well as the Amazulu, but I would they
used the assegai or the axe and made cleaner work of it.  Well, what is
done is done, my father, and these evil witch-finders will never trouble
us again," and the great Zulu philosophically took a mighty pinch of
snuff and offered one to Leigh in token of his entire satisfaction with
the result of the night's work.

As soon as the arms had been collected, and the wounded men properly
attended to, a council of war was held by the entire party, and under
the circumstances it was considered useless to try and impose deceptive
messages upon Zero, the more so as Kenyon himself was strongly of
opinion, that not the pigeons, but the jaguar, had in the present
instance been intended to carry back to Equatoria, news of the safe
arrival of the band.  The great cat would, of course, have been started
off in the dark, without loss of time, or risk of suspicion even in the
event of its being observed, and would certainly have travelled very
swiftly to its distant home.

On the following morning the Atagbondo buried their dead, and then threw
the deceased slavers into the river to carry a message of woe and
weeping to their friends a hundred miles below.

Noticing his cousin looking anxiously at the summit of the mountain
several times that day with Kenyon's field-glass, "What's the matter
with the peak, old chap?" said Leigh.

"I wish I knew, Alf," was the reply; "I haven't seen it since the night
we got here: ever since then it has been completely hidden by yonder
white cloud, which rests upon it, and unless I am mistaken, the heat
emanating from that vapour is so intense, that the everlasting snows are
being absolutely melted away from the summit of the cone."

Just then a very wonderful and awful thing happened, for even as
Grenville was speaking, the heat-clouds suddenly rolled away like a
scroll and curled up out of sight, revealing the glittering peak for one
brief instant in all the radiant majesty of its unveiled glory, and then
the very next second there shot far, far up into the azure vault, a
giant jet of angry, inky-looking smoke, which floated lightly and lazily
through the absolutely pulseless air towards the north, and was quickly
succeeded by another great puff, and another, until the whole of the
northern heavens were densely clouded, and the mountain itself bore the
appearance of a gigantic monster mechanically expelling vast volumes of
dead black smoke at every labouring respiration of its mighty rock-girt
lungs, and shrouding the whole country in a sombre death-like pall of
weird and awful shade.

"A volcano, by Jove!" ejaculated Leigh.

"Yes," replied his cousin, "and an active one, too.  I fear that
Umbulanzi's explosion, the first night we came, has awakened the
slumbering internal fires, or else the water is somehow penetrating into
the crater and interfering with the gases imprisoned in its abysmal
depths.  We shall be in a nice pickle if the volcano takes a fancy to
indulge in an eruption just at present; however, we must hope for the
best, old man, and put our trust in Providence."

That very night, sad to say, our friends were awakened by the
objectionable throes of a mighty earthquake; the rocks quaked and
groaned, and the very bowels of the mountain were rent and torn by
ear-splitting explosions, and in less than ten minutes the whole party
was in full flight across the northern veldt, positively chased from the
stronghold upon which they had bestowed so much labour by great streams
of burning lava which, like vast rivers, flowed unimpeded down the
mountain side, and, instantly setting the long grass on fire, caused our
friends a most anxious time until they had safely crossed the river and
got well away from the spot--their movements being rendered relatively
slow by the necessity of carefully transporting the wounded men in
hammocks.

After a short consultation it was decided to steer for the Hermit's Cave
again, and to try and discover a place capable of defence somewhere in
the immediate vicinity of Equatoria; for, with the exception of the
mountain from which they had just been so rudely expelled, our friends
were assured by the natives that no natural fastness of any kind existed
within a hundred miles to the south of their present location, and
southwards all, both black and white, absolutely declined to move until
Zero was stamped out, or until they themselves were effectually disposed
of in attempting to settle with him.

A very sharp look-out would have to be kept in order to avoid falling
into the hands of the slavers, who were sure to notice the eruption of
the volcano, and, knowing that the little band would have in consequence
to relinquish the shelter afforded by the mountain, would doubtless be
outlying with a view to falling upon them unawares; but by confining the
travels of the party strictly to the night-time, and lying carefully hid
by day, Grenville and Amaxosa hoped to bring all safely into the desired
haven.

At all events, our friends were no worse off, in consequence of their
journey to the peak, having, on the contrary, inflicted two crushing
blows upon the enemy, and exchanged the bare handful of men with which
they left Equatoria for a small army thoroughly equipped for war,
already well-tried, and thirsting for occupation in the fighting line.



CHAPTER THIRTEEN.

IN FREEDOM'S CAUSE.

Owing to the difficulty of transporting so many wounded men, it took our
friends quite four days to accomplish the distance which they had
covered on a former occasion in less than one-half that time; but by the
fourth night all had safely reached the mountains of the north, and
after Amaxosa had carefully reconnoitred the vicinity of the hermit's
cave, the party took undisputed possession thereof, and made
arrangements to defend the place in the event of an attack, by throwing
up a great earthwork round the outlet of the cavern.

This important matter attended to, Grenville and Kenyon next proceeded
to explore, by torchlight, the labyrinth of caves with which the heart
of the mountain proved to be honeycombed, and in the furthest of those
natural vaulted chambers they finally discovered Muzi Zimba the Ancient.
The old man was in a state of very great prostration, and was obviously
dying from sheer decay of all his faculties.  Kenyon at once
administered to him a spoonful of brandy, and afterwards prevailed upon
him to swallow some beef-tea.  This grateful nourishment soon appeared
to revive his sinking form, and, recognising Grenville, he accorded him
a hearty welcome, and congratulated him kindly upon his marvellous
escape from death, and then, speaking very lucidly, his mental faculties
seeming to grow clearer as his bodily vigour gradually died out, he
dilated at some length to the attentive pair, upon their present
dangerous position, and regarding the cause and the remedy for the
horrors of the slave-trade.

It must not, however, be supposed that the conversation given here, is
written down precisely as it was spoken; for at times our friends had
much ado to keep the poor old man alive, and it was only by continually
giving him weak stimulants, that body and soul were kept together until
his work was done.  Often, too, his halting tongue refused to frame the
meanings he desired to convey, and Grenville had thus frequently to come
to his assistance, and express his thoughts for him in clear, every-day
English.

"My sons," said the aged man, "I came hither many, many years ago--how
many, I know not, for my mind has for a long and weary time been under a
very darksome cloud, but it is clearer now, and in the light which
streams through heaven's wide-open gates.  I once more see, with the eye
of faith, and know that all will yet again be well.  Hearken, my sons,
for I can tell ye much that may avail ye to escape from the hands of the
demon who dwells in yonder city of evil.

"Ye are brave men, and I have heard how that ye have already rescued
many precious lives from this fiend in human form, and have thrice
brought defeat and disaster upon his hateful arms.  Nevertheless, be ye
ware, my sons, for he has, indeed, a very great army of bloody-minded
and wicked men, and he has, moreover, sworn to entirely eat you up.
Know, therefore, that in the third cave from here is a spot where, by
moving a great black stone, a narrow passage can be found, but wide
enough for two men to walk abreast, and this leads gently downwards,
step by step, right through the bowels of the mountain, and so into the
town of the evil ones, where there are many white and black slaves, both
of men and women.  Mark this passage well, my children, for if once yon
monster wins the secret of the way, ye, too, will exist only as I do--
even midway between the bitter memories of the unforgotten past and the
golden shores of the great hereafter.

"And now, my sons, bear with me yet, regarding this shameful trade in
human flesh and blood.  Long years ere Zero came hither, like a curse,
this country was peaceful and all happy, and much did I teach the simple
people that tended to the welfare of both soul and body; but since the
coming of this man of sin, all has been turned again to evil, and the
land everywhere weeps tears of sorrow and of blood.

"What can we do more, my sons, we who, simply placing our lives in the
hands of the good God who gave them, penetrate unarmed, and with naught
of defence but the Gospel of Peace, to the furthest confines of this
dark land?  What, I say, can we do, when the misguided rulers of
Christian countries at home daily permit--nay, encourage--the
unrestricted sale to the wretched natives, of millions of gallons of a
very evil drink, which goes by the name of `square face,' but which the
traders declare to be but harmless gin.  Gin! my sons, _the first coat
of which is under one shilling a gallon_, and which is poured into the
land, after it has paid the British governors upon the western sea-girt
border of this mighty continent _a duty of half-a-crown a gallon_, or
equal to two-and-a-half times its cost.  Look what follows.  The already
debased African is at once reduced below the level of the very beasts
that perish.  He must have this fiery spirit, the first fatal draught of
which has inflamed his soul, and brought into active being every vicious
slumbering detail of his fallen human nature, and in order to obtain the
wherewithal to purchase the beloved `Square Face,' he falls unawares
upon his next-door neighbour, so to speak--perhaps upon his own familiar
friend, who trusts him--and carrying him off by night, secretly sells
him to the highest bidder, white or black, that he can find within easy
distance of his home.

"The trade in gin and rum is at the bottom of one-half of this evil
slave-dealing, and so long as this crying sin is not only permitted, but
encouraged, amongst a simple people, who have no more judgment to
exercise, than have a third of the weak-minded ones sheltered from the
cruel world in many a private mad-house, so long will Central Africa
remain a country where cruelty and misery, and the shedding of blood,
prevail, where men bow down to stocks and stones, where Satan's kingdom
is, and where the missionary, my sons, is little more than a useless
martyr, his precious life expended in the lively faith that the mighty
power of his God will cause the barren soil he waters with his blood to
prove a fruitful field before the great day of reckoning comes for
missionary, for slaver, and for the miserable aboriginal African, whose
body and soul these opposing forces contend for mightily both night and
day.

"Hear me further, my sons, for much good may yet be done, in spite of
Zero and of the Arabs, who accomplish a world of evil, if someone of the
great white nations of the world will but come forward and use its
God-given strength for the purpose of putting down the slave-trade,
suppressing entirely the sale of gin and rum in Africa, and supporting
the missionaries.  Africa!  The whole country is being depopulated, and
every acre of it watered with the tears of a people torn from their
happy homes and sold into slavery in distant lands, or sent across the
seas, and soon this vast and fertile region, as yet almost unknown to
the white races, will become in all directions an impenetrable and
useless jungle, through which even the mammoth elephant must fail to
force his way--a dark continent in very deed and truth, an eyesore to
both God and man.

"In the earlier days of my sojourn in this place, my sons, I looked to
free and happy England to do all that this rich and fruitful land
required to make it perfect; and I taught the natives, under God, to
reverence and to pray for the Great White Queen, their mother, in whose
all-powerful name I came to them in Freedom's cause.  Alas! my sons, the
first slaver who entered here and broke up their quiet homes was this
shameless scoundrel Zero; and, speaking with the same tongue as my own,
naught of difference could this people see between his land and mine;
and then worse, far worse, when the horrible slave traffic attracted
hither the native dealers from the farther west, these brought with them
word that slaves could be freely sold under French and German, and--oh!
the shame of it--under British rule, ay, under Freedom's own flag on the
utmost coast of Western Equatorial Africa.

"My sons, I credited it not, and I sent my trusted runner a journey of
many, many weary moons, and he brought me back a faithful word--alas!
that it should have been a true one.

"`The thing is even so, my father,' he said.  `Almost within the very
cities of the Great White Queen, where the moving water beats, ever
murmuring, upon the yellow sands, and within hearing of the guns of
British forts, I saw very many slaves; and these were sold from house to
house, or from land to land, as their owners in the towns desired.
Also, day by day I watched great caravans of slaves from the peoples of
many, many powerful kingdoms, bringing in native produce and dust of
gold, and carrying out very many cases of square face and of rum.'

"`It is a false report that ye bring,' I said; `how know ye that the men
were slaves? the Great White Queen frees all who come beneath the shadow
of her glorious flag.'

"`That may be,' he said, `as I saw not the Great White Queen herself,
but the slaves were there, all marked with a brand on the cheek, my
father.  Also, I had speech of some of these, and they said that they
were slaves.  More, my father, there are also in the cities many native
guards, and most of these men are also slaves, who serve under the
Queen's ruler for money, which they give to the owners of their bodies
whenever the Queen pays them; and so, my father, I would even live here
under your shadow, where I and my people are free by the strength of our
own right hands, than be a pining slave under the flag of the Great
White Queen, my mother, who is too far away to help her suffering
children when they cry out of wrong and find none to hear them.'

"Then it was, my sons," said the aged man, "that I lost my reason; I
could not eat my food, and my sleep at nights went from me; I could only
kneel and humbly pray, both night and day, to the good God on high that
lie would wake the ear of our gracious Queen to hear the pitiful cry of
these poor defenceless creatures, over whom he has given her an empire,
and power, and glory, and who, though they are so far from her, are yet
her loyal subjects, and very near to the great God Himself, in whose
hand her breath is, and whose are all her ways.

"And now, my sons, my eyes are closing fast, and I leave ye to follow me
along the weary road which leads to the great hereafter.  Take, then,
the last blessing of a very aged and a defenceless man, to whom ye were
both kind and good.  Fear God, and follow that which is good, so shall
we meet again in the land where sorrows are forgotten, and where peace
and rest await both you and me.  Greeting, then, my sons, to you and
yours--greeting and farewell!"

And so he died, this one staunch witness for freedom and his God, in a
land where all else was foul and evil.  Very peacefully his life slipped
from him with the dawn of day, and his loyal spirit soared to the very
presence of Him who gave it life.

"God rest him," said Grenville gently; "God rest His faithful servant.
May I too die the death of a brave man, and may my last end be even as
the end of Muzi Zimba the Ancient."

That same day the little band buried the hermit's body, the natives
following him to the grave with many marks of respect and reverence, and
the white men firing a farewell salute over the last resting-place of
this gallant soldier, who had given up his life for the truth, and died
in freedom's cause, in this far-distant land.



CHAPTER FOURTEEN.

EQUATORIA.

As soon as our friends had paid the final honours to the mortal remains
of Muzi Zimba, they carefully warned the "People of the Stick" against
spreading the news of his decease in any shape or form, fearing that the
ignorant natives in the surrounding country might foolishly impute his
somewhat sudden and unexpected end, to the unauthorised presence of the
little hand in his cavernous dwelling.

Hardly were the funeral obsequies over than Kenyon drew Grenville aside,
and after a few moments of earnest conversation, the pair announced
their intention of investigating the secret stair through the mountain,
of which the old hermit had spoken to them.

Taking Amaxosa along, and supplying themselves from Muzi Zimba's ample
stores with torches made of fibre, the trio entered the indicated cave,
shifted the black, basaltic-looking rock, and duly found themselves in
the entrance of the tunnel.  The tortuous way was rough and very narrow,
but it was, as the old man had said, fairly easy to traverse, and in
twenty minutes' time our friends emerged into semi-daylight in the
narrow shaft of a dry and disused well, from whence--by means of a stout
but roughly-constructed ladder of rope, which hung from its upper
orifice--the old man had evidently obtained access at will into the
slavers' town.

Withdrawing cautiously into the mountain again, in fear lest the smoke
of their torches should be seen above the mouth of the well, our friends
entered into a somewhat heated argument.

Grenville was for entirely closing the narrow passage by blocking it
once for all with mighty rocks, which would effectually prevent Zero
from discovering the secret of the way, and perhaps destroying
themselves and their cavern by an explosion of gunpowder; but Kenyon
declared that, sooner than permit such a capital means of access to
Equatoria to be destroyed, he would himself sit and watch it night and
day.  His specious arguments and professional instinct, at length
prevailed over Grenville's caution, and the trio then resolved that two
reliable men should be kept constantly on the watch beneath the well,
provided with a cord, the other end of which they would attach to the
trigger of a small pistol fixed in the cavern above, and should anyone
attempt to descend the well, the sentinels were to jerk the cord, fire
the pistol as an anxious call for help, and forthwith retreat
noiselessly into the mountain burrow, where they would be met at the
narrowest part of the tortuous path by armed support.

During the whole of that day the party on the rock could descry in the
far distance large bands of the slaver fraternity patrolling the
southern veldt, and carefully searching the borders of the eastern
forest, being evidently altogether at a loss to know what had become of
the dangerous and hated foe, and yearning, no doubt, for the
resuscitation of their slaughtered bloodhounds; whilst when night fell,
the furthest limit of vision revealed, a hundred miles away, the
fire-girt summit of the fierce volcano, its blazing peak hanging upon
the distant line of smoke-beclouded sky like a glittering star of the
first magnitude.

The night was very dark and moonless when Kenyon and Amaxosa left the
outer cave to relieve Leigh and Grenville, who were keeping watch below
the well; but, pausing before he entered the narrow passage, the
American sent the Zulu forward, simply saying he would join him
by-and-by, as he had yet some work to do, and so it came to pass that
the two cousins returned to the cavern without having seen him, and that
Amaxosa, keeping his lonely vigil by torchlight, passed through the most
fearsome trial his courageous but untutored heart had ever known; for
whilst he watched and waited, patient as a statue carved in stone, the
great Zulu heard a light footfall behind him, and, turning quickly,
beheld, to his utter horror, the well-known figure of the ancient Muzi
Zimba approaching through the gloom.  The warrior's heart stood still
with fear and his very blood froze in his veins--Muzi Zimba, whose dead
body he had that very day helped to consign to its grave, and upon whose
breast he had placed giant rocks to scare the beasts of prey; yet here
he stood, and there before him in the flesh stood Muzi Zimba.  Nay, it
could not be flesh and blood, but a spook (spirit) of the mountain, and
not even a child of the Undi could fight with spooks.  Coming swiftly to
him, the vision spoke quietly to him in broken Zulu.  "Greeting," it
said, "greeting, Lion of the Undi, what dost thou here by night in Muzi
Zimba's secret way."

"Greeting, great Father of the Spooks," boldly answered the Zulu.  "I do
this here, I watch thy dark and narrow stair, oh, Ancient One, by order
of the Great White Chief, my father, and if any enter to disturb thy
restful peace, he dies a swift and easy death on this my ready spear."

"Well done, Amaxosa," was the cool reply which the astonished chief
received from his ancient friend, the "Father of the Spooks," as the
dread thing deftly removed its flowing wealth of beard and whiskers, and
revealed the clean-shaved countenance of Stanforth Kenyon, the American
detective.

"Wow, Inkoos!" said the astonished Zulu.  "Wow! the thing was indeed
well done; and I, even I, the son of the witch-doctor, Isanusi, would
have let thee pass and leave me for a spook.  Yet, did it seem strange
to me, my father, thou shouldst speak to thy son with the tongue of his
own people, for ever I heard that the Ancient One who has gone from us,
knew not to speak as speak the children of the Zulu."

Briefly explaining his intentions to the chief, Kenyon carefully
readjusted his disguise, and, nimbly mounting the ladder of rope,
scrambled out of the mouth of the well, and at once found himself in a
clump of bushes, and close to the outskirts of the slavers' town,
towards which he fearlessly directed his now seemingly feeble steps.

Well was it for Stanforth Kenyon that years of rigid training in his own
peculiar walk of life enabled him to support to perfection the somewhat
difficult, because exquisitely simple, character, which his supreme
audacity had undertaken.  The extreme darkness of the night was,
however, favourable to his enterprise, as there were but few people
about, and the detective found himself in the very centre of Equatoria
without being accosted by anyone.  The town, to his surprise, proved to
be very compactly built, and consisted of perhaps five hundred houses,
mostly composed of wood and roofed with iron, the only exceptions to
this rule being what were evidently the public offices of the place,
which were built of a mixture of sand and gravel, a composition going
amongst the natives by the name of "swish," and which presented, so far
as he could see by the light of the oil-lamps hung round the buildings,
an extremely handsome appearance.

Just as Kenyon was about to move forward after carefully taking stock of
the place, a young girl started out from a side street, and laid a
gently detaining hand upon his arm.

"Father," she said, "I have looked and longed for thee every night, and
feared that thou wert ill.  Come and see my boy, I beseech thee, good
father, for he dies--he dies before my face, and here is none to help
but thee."

With a sign of brief assent, the detective turned and halted slowly
along, despite the manifest impatience of the young and anxious mother.

Turning into a small house some little way along the street, she led him
through a comfortably but roughly furnished parlour, into a bed-room at
the rear, where lay a baby boy not more than eighteen months old, and
whom his medical experience soon assured him was suffering from a slight
attack of that most malignant disease, diphtheria.

Knowing, through Grenville, that the old hermit had acted in the
capacity of physician and surgeon to both slavers and natives, Kenyon,
before he left the cavern, had provided himself with several articles,
including a small case of phials, likely to be of use in supporting his
assumption of the character of a medical practitioner; and, briefly
directing the young mother to keep the child quiet and supply him with
cooling drinks, he carefully painted the tonsils with perchloride of
iron, and left her instructions to continue this treatment.

As Kenyon, however, was moving away, the grateful mother again stopped
him.  "Father," she said, "I call thee such by permission; canst thou do
naught for yon poor woman whom these cruel, heartless Mormons have
condemned to death by fire, because she will not change her faith and
`marry' one of their own creatures.  Thou knowest my history, my father;
how I was stolen away when but a girl, and wedded to a man I used to
hate, and that my happiest hour was when he died in battle.  Yet do I
love my little son, and could I but give freedom to this woman I would
fly the country with her, and take refuge with the brave men of my own
race who have escaped hence, and who now hold Zero at defiance."

"Where lies this woman, my daughter?" said the false hermit, after
making a show of thinking carefully for some little time.

"Still in the same strong place, my father--the great hall of the common
prison-house; and at noon, next day but one, she suffers at the stake.
Save her, if thou canst, my father; and if it be indeed beyond thy
power, then give her, in mercy, a draught of swift and deadly poison, if
thou hast such, and earn a double blessing from her ere she dies."

With a promise that he would endeavour on the following night to see the
condemned one referred to, our adventurer at length got away from the
importunate woman, and effected, undiscovered, his retreat to the well,
and thence into the depths of the mountain, where he, of course, found
the Zulu on guard, the pair being soon after this relieved by Umbulanzi
and the young Scotsman, Ewan, of whom all had formed a high opinion,
both as to shrewdness and bravery.

Arrived in the cave above, Kenyon communicated to his astonished and
admiring friends his experiment and the result of it, and all then fell
to eagerly discussing ways and means for the rescue of the poor
condemned woman from her villainous judges and would-be executioners;
and, ere the party lay down to sleep, it was decided that Kenyon should
make an attempt to see her the following night in his character of a
priest, and learn what suggestions the captive could herself make, with
regard to a plan to save her life and give her back her liberty.



CHAPTER FIFTEEN.

"HOPE."

On the following night, therefore, as soon as darkness fell, Kenyon,
disguised to represent the old hermit, again entered the slavers' town,
whilst Leigh, Grenville, Amaxosa, and a score of picked men lay in wait
below the well, from which, in the event of hearing a given signal
whistle, they were to sally out and assist our adventurous friend.

The detective went about his accustomed work with the greatest
_nonchalance_; and, on reaching the building which had been pointed out
to him the previous night, simply and plainly told the guard that he
wished to have speech of the condemned woman.  Without a word of reply,
one of the men on duty signed to Kenyon to follow him, and well might
our adventurer, under the loose folds of his cloak, clench his fingers
over the butt of a friendly revolver when he found himself ushered
directly into the well-known and hated presence of Zero the Slaver.  For
a moment the impulse was almost unconquerable in Kenyon to slip out his
six-shooter and make an end of this inhuman monster without further
palaver; but, recognising how much hung upon the result of his actions
that night, he wisely restrained his passions.

The slaver was sitting in a handsomely got-up room carpeted with furs,
and thick with weapons and with trophies of the chase, and opposite to
him--fortunately, perhaps, for Kenyon--sat the native king already
spoken of, and who immediately did our adventurer reverence, in his
capacity of Muzi Zimba the Ancient.

As the guard detailed his errand.  Zero rose with a sneering laugh.
"Ay! let him go to her," he said, "and look 'ee here, old man, if this
captive escapes me as did the last ones, thine own life shall pay the
forfeit.  Now go, nay, by all the Gods, I will go too!" and, passing on
in front of the supposed hermit, he provided Kenyon with another almost
overpowering temptation to use his weapons.

Unbarring the door of another room, Zero let the hermit in and closed
the portal behind them both, and Kenyon found himself face to face with
an imperially beautiful woman, still quite young, but whose lovely face
was worn with sorrow and anguish, and furrowed with her bitter tears.  A
tall, well-knit figure, a wealth of lustrous golden hair, and glorious
deep blue eyes, formed a _tout ensemble_ which might have won pity from
a stone, but had no effect whatever upon this scoundrel who battened on
human misery.

"Well, madam," said the slaver, in cutting tones, "you have your own
obstinacy to thank for your death, which takes place to-morrow.  Here's
a priest for you, so be quick and say your patter, or whatever it is.
You'd be surprised to see how fast your precious boy is picking up the
tenets of our Holy Mormon Faith," and the demon laughed a jeering,
taunting laugh, which made Kenyon's blood boil, and he could have kissed
the feet of the defenceless woman before him for the gesture of
ineffable contempt with which she turned her back on the wretched hound.
"Pray, begone," she said in a firm but musical voice; "your hated
presence comes between me and my God."

"Ha! ha!" laughed the sardonic ruffian; "one for you, Sir Priest, one
for you, I reckon.  Well, come along with you, I've no time to fool away
here."  But Kenyon, mindful of the part he had to play, took not the
slightest notice of the slaver, but kneeled reverently down by himself
for a few brief moments, then rose and left the room obedient to an
impatient signal from the fierce and wicked man, whom his fingers fairly
itched to throttle then and there.

Had Zero looked behind him he would have been greatly astonished to see
the captive woman bend simply down and gaze wildly at the floor beneath
her feet; and then, in a mighty revulsion of feeling, give way to a
perfect paroxysm of tears and sobs.  What, you ask, gentle reader, was
the cause of this sudden and subtle change from strength to weakness?
What?  Simply Stanforth Kenyon's message written with the point of his
finger on a dusty boarded floor, and that message was:

"Hope."

Only four precious letters; yet this man had written them at the peril
of his life.  It must, it did, mean something, and all her woman's wit
was instantly on the alert to lay hold of the earliest clue to the
whereabouts of these her secret friends.

Hope!  Oh pity her, gentle reader, a lovely woman in the zenith of her
beauty and the pride of motherhood, condemned to die a frightful death
before another day had run its course, and die merely to satisfy the
insensate malice of a ruffian Mormon hound.

Turning away from Zero, Kenyon would have left the building in silence;
but the slaver laid upon his shoulder a firm, detaining hand.  "Softly,
my good old man!  `Softly! softly! catch monkey,' as these infernal
niggers say.  You live on the mountain, and I reckon you can see a long
way.  Now have you seen naught of this cursed Grenville and the pack of
fools who follow him?  Speak out, man, or I guess I'll soon find means
to open your wretched old jaws."

Like a flash of light, an inspiration came to Kenyon; and, drawing
himself up proudly, he shook off the slaver's hand.  "The men ye name
are even now within my cave upon the hill," he said.  "Go seek them if
ye dare, monster of evil, but beware the end thereof; beware, for Muzi
Zimba warns thee!"

The effect was precisely what Kenyon had calculated upon.  Flinging the
old man from him with a fearful oath, the slaver sent his powerful voice
echoing through the house and out along the streets, calling up guards
and officers in every direction, whilst our adventurous friend soon
after took his departure, entirely unnoticed during the tumult which
followed the communication of the news which he had given, regarding the
position of his friends.

Hanging about for a few moments, however, Kenyon learned all he wished
to know, as he heard Zero, with a volley of oaths, exclaim: "Put off her
execution?  No, by all the Gods--no, tie the slut to the faggots at noon
to-morrow, and let her roast, and mind you have her whelp of a son to
watch her die, whilst I eat up these cursed fools who think to change my
vengeance and to spoil my trade."

This was all that Kenyon required to know, and an hour later he was deep
in consultation with his friends in the hermit's cave, amongst the
northern hills.

It was agreed on all hands that Kenyon had acted for the best, as the
plan he had formed, though simple in the extreme, had every promise of a
grand success.

Briefly, the scheme stood thus:--Whilst Zero was moving up to the
attack, as he evidently meant to do next morning, a party of their own
was, by way of the secret passage and the well, to enter Equatoria, fall
upon the few guards left there, carry off the captive woman, and
generally do as much damage to the slavers' town as they found it in
their power to accomplish.  It was calculated that the rifles of Leigh,
Umbulanzi, and Ewan, supported by the Atagbondo marksmen, would be quite
sufficient to check Zero in his ascent up the steep and difficult path
to the cavern; and, even if he forced his way so far, he would have to
reckon with about two hundred of the Atagbondo, and would find their
warriors uncommonly hard nuts to crack; whilst Kenyon and Grenville, who
were to assail the town, would take with them Amaxosa and his men,
together with a hundred of the "People of the Stick," quite sufficient,
they thought, to do irreparable damage to the slavers' home in the two
hours which they promised themselves to spend in Equatoria.

And so, after looking carefully over their arms and their defences, the
little band lay down to sleep that night with perfect confidence in
their leaders, and in the issues of the morrow; only Leigh sat up the
whole night cleaning his weapons, with murder in his heart, and a wealth
of determined resolve upon his handsome face.



CHAPTER SIXTEEN.

ALIVE FROM THE DEAD.

Soon after dawn the whole party was astir, and the defenders of the cave
were quickly at their several posts, whilst Kenyon and Grenville again
carefully looked over their plan of attack.

Grenville was fortunately able to define the probable site of the
execution, knowing from experience, that the miserable victims done to
death by the infamous Mormon Inquisitors were _either burned alive or
crucified_ upon a small natural hill--a curious smooth-topped,
skull-shaped mound, in fact, perhaps fifty feet in height, and which,
fortunately, stood between the mouth of the old well and the slavers'
town, and was equi-distant from each, perhaps five or six yards.  It was
a shrewd count, therefore, that the little rescue-party would be able to
get within easy rifle range before they were discovered by the enemy;
and, as Zero would be certain to carry practically the whole of the
fighting population with him, it was extremely probable that when our
friends unmasked their party, a general stampede for safety on the part
of the slavers would be the immediate result, when it was hoped that the
poor captive woman would be quite forgotten, and, being left behind,
would prove an easy acquisition, and when they once had her in safety,
the hands of our friends would, of course, be perfectly free to act in
the way that might seem best.

At eleven o'clock the leaders of the storming party exchanged a warm
hand-grasp with Leigh and Umbulanzi, and left the cavern by way of the
tunnel, through which we will now follow their fortunes.

The getting of such a relatively large number of men down through this
singular mountain burrow and up beyond the mouth of the well on the
other side of the range, took considerably longer than the detective had
reckoned upon, and the hour was within a very few minutes of noon by the
time that all were safely hidden in the straggling line of bush which
masked their presence, and impinged upon the narrow stretch of veldt
lying between their position and the curious knoll referred to, upon
which, to their horror, our friends could now plainly see a great
upright stake fixed, and around this post were placed bundles of heavy
faggots, packed closely with a resinous, woody fibre, and even while
they looked, the executioner appeared upon the hill, carrying in his
hand a swinging brazier, filled with some burning substance.

Grenville quickly pointed out that the victim was to be faced towards
the town, which was another circumstance in their favour, as the crest
of the knoll would effectually screen their movements from the
preoccupied herd of sightseers beyond.

All hearts beat fast as they saw the poor sufferer led up and bound to
the martyr stake, whilst the mighty, spontaneous shout which went up to
heaven, caused each man's fingers to clinch anxiously upon his weapons,
as it proved to them that the multitude beyond the knoll could be no
inconsiderable one.

The instant that the executioner turned his back upon the well, and
busied himself with the fastening of the poor woman to the stake,
Grenville gave the word, and the whole party as one man shot noiselessly
out of the bush, and commenced a jog-trot across the open space which
separated them from the scene of the execution.  When all were within a
hundred yards, the wretched fellow upon the hill turned him round and
saw them; then uttering a wild shout, and hurriedly bending down, he
seized a lighted brand and endeavoured, with trembling hands, to thrust
it in amongst the faggots.

Dropping quickly upon one knee, Grenville raised his rifle, but still
somewhat weak and shaken by the sharp run, for once he missed his man.
Kenyon, however, quickly following, "wiped his eye," knocking the rascal
head-over-heels off the hill.

A great roar of surprise and wonder burst from the mob beyond the knoll,
changed to a shriek of terror and consternation as the fierce Zulus sent
their wild battle-cry echoing across the rolling veldt, and charged
right up the hill, instantly surrounding the poor creature at the stoke,
and killing the Mormon satellites who were clambering up to the spot.

And now ensued a stubborn fight, for Zero had left behind him many more
men than our friends had counted upon, and these, having mostly left
their rifles behind them in the town, charged madly up the little hill,
and furiously engaged the rescue-party hand-to-hand, and for quite five
minutes the cause of all this tumult was utterly forgotten, whilst the
fight swung fiercely to and fro, and the issue hung in doubt.  Our
friends certainly had the advantage of position, whilst the slavers, on
the other hand, still stood in the proportion of at least two to one;
but the fiery valour of the active Zulus, nobly backed by the almost
insensate fury of the injured "People of the Stick," would brook no
living check, and presently, led by Amaxosa, they went right through the
slaver crowd, cutting them down on every hand, and driving all that were
left of the wretched men pell-mell into the town, which both bands
entered simultaneously.

Kenyon then bethought him of the prisoner, and, taking Grenville back,
both men turned to ascend the hill, and relieve the poor girl from her
painful and dangerous position.  Still as a statue she stood, with her
head drooping forward upon her breast, and for one moment the thought
that some stray shot had struck her crossed painfully the minds of both;
but when they had arrived within twenty yards of her position the girl
heard them, and quickly raised her head, her beautiful face all wet with
tears, and eloquent with voiceless prayers to heaven.  Staggering back,
as if struck by a shot, Grenville, to Kenyon's utter astonishment,
dropped his gun, and threw up his hands in a frenzy of terror.

"God in heaven!" he screamed, "Dora, sister Dora! or am I mad, indeed."

Well might poor Grenville think his brain had turned.  After all Zero's
wicked boasts of crime, and all his cousin's bitter sorrow for his
long-dead wife, how could he believe that _there before him, in the
flesh, beautiful as when first he saw her in East Utah, stood Dora, Lady
Drelincourt_, dressed in deep black, with a pure white cross upon her
breast, and fastened to a martyr's stake, in the darkest part of darkest
Equatorial Africa?

"Dick!" she cried, "dear Dick Grenville, tell me, does my darling
husband live, or have I lost him, too.  Tell me, tell me!  I beseech
you, for the love of God."

Pulling himself together, as the music of those well-known accents
reached his ears, Grenville at once ran to the poor girl's side, and
quickly unbound the chain which fixed her to the cruel stake, speaking
meanwhile soothing words of hope and joy, and peace on earth, whilst
Kenyon, hearing that her boy was in the town, went off, like an arrow
from the bow, to make certain of the safety of his friend and patron's
little son.

In every direction, as the detective entered the town, he found blazing
houses, and dead and dying men, but the Atagbondo had behaved
splendidly, and set a lesson to their evil white-skinned foes, in this
respect, that on woman or on child they laid no hand, but every man they
found died by the spear or by "the stick."  One ghastly sight, however,
did Kenyon see, for absolutely pinned to a burning house by a Zulu
assegai, which had passed right through her heart, hung the dead
mistress of Zero, the slaver-chief, and the beholder know that the hand
that killed her was the hand of justice--justice on a woman more evil in
her ways than many a wicked man who had that day fallen in fair fight.

Cornered, like rats, and yet more numerous than their fierce opponents,
the slavers fought with all the Courage of despair, but naught availed
them, and soon the only house in Equatoria which remained intact, was
the great public hall, into which the storming party had collected the
entire movable wealth of the slaver fraternity, and from the roof of
which the Saint George's ensign now floated lazily upon the labouring
breeze.  Seeing the good old flag, Grenville at once led his rescued
"sister," as it was always his habit to call her, back to the Mormon
town, and the anxious young mother forgot the awful scenes of carnage
and of blood, in the joy of embracing, once more, her loving little
child.

Ordering the men to shoulder everything worth having, and to return to
the upper cave before Zero and his band could arrive, Grenville and
Kenyon prepared to leave Equatoria, accompanied by Lady Drelincourt and
her son, and by the woman of whom mention has previously been made,
together with her child, who was now in better health, whilst the whole
of the Mormon-cum-slaver women and children had scampered away to the
woods, which lay in the rear of the town.

Just now, however, the victorious little band received a very severe
check, for ere they reached the skull-shaped hill, the report of
firearms broke upon their ears, and Grenville suddenly exclaimed, "By
Jove! what can have happened?  There goes Alf's repeater.  What, in the
name of fortune, is he doing here?"

Dashing up the hill, and leaving the women in shelter on the town side
of it, they came upon a sad sight.  Right below their position, Leigh
and about a hundred men only, were sullenly falling back upon the knoll,
fighting every inch of the ground like fiends, but being steadily driven
in, by something like seven times their number of heavily-armed slavers.

As the retreating party got against the hill, the slavers uttered a
shout of triumph, and charging in, drove the little band in every
direction; but little they reckoned upon the thunderbolt which fell upon
them from above.  Down from the top of the knoll like a living,
irresistible whirlwind, came the lion-hearted children of the Zulu, led
by their fierce and active chief, and close upon their heels, in a
compact serried mass, followed the ready "People of the Stick," behind
whom Leigh and his gallant little band re-formed and charged the slavers
home.

By this time the rifles were almost silent, only Grenville's piece
occasionally speaking its mind, for he seemed to have eyes for every
combat of a friend, and when the great Zulu had led his men clean
through the heart of the slavers, and had charged madly back again along
a ghastly lane of dead and dying men, the foe drew off a little, and
sought to load his guns.

This would never do, and with a wild earth-shaking shout, Amaxosa again
charged the craven crowd; with him came the staunch war-dogs of the
Zulu, who loved the slaughter as they loved their daring chief, and
scarce a rod behind came Barad "the Hailstorm," his faithful people
following into the very jaws of death the gallant "Chieftain of the
Stick," and ever side by side with the mighty Zulu, there fought Alf
Leigh, scarcely less fierce than his sable friend, and even more
determined; and before the "giant three" the foe fell in every
direction, like corn beneath the sickle.

Suddenly, however, Leigh broke out of the line, and, with a wild cry of
triumph, fiercely engaged Zero himself, hand to hand, and axe to axe.
The slaver-chief was a powerful and an active man, but he was no match
for the colossal Englishman, to whom fury, revenge, and long-nursed
bitter hate, had given a tenfold strength, and in ten seconds Zero lay
wounded and stunned upon the ground.

Then there arose a mighty uproar, the slavers charged madly in upon the
foe, and bore them back a dozen rods, fighting the while like fiends,
and thus succeeded in carrying their wounded chieftain off the field,
then surging in around the little band which was now fighting in square,
the desperate slavers made a tremendous effort to annihilate their
plucky and determined foes.  Clubs are poor weapons to keep the face of
a square, and the formation was quickly broken, and, fighting like
lions, our friends were driven backward to the hill, every one of them
fairly drenched with blood, and almost all wounded, whilst their number
now totalled something under a hundred men.

All about lay the slain, singly and in knots and heaps; dead men
everywhere, and everywhere rivers of blood, and the horrid stench of
slaughter.

After a few moments' rest, the slavers charged in with a wild shout,
resolved, at all cost, to wipe out the little band of heroes who held
the skull-shaped hill; and when the surging struggling mass of men had
been lost in a rain of blows, for full ten minutes, all chance of escape
or triumph for our friends seemed gone: but fifty men were left to fight
three hundred.

Grenville and Leigh, Amaxosa and Kenyon, were back to back, their blows
rained straight and sure, and at every blow from each a man went down,
still what could they do against such overwhelming odds as six to one.

Down went the gallant Umbulanzi, with a great spear wound in his back,
and down upon his breathless corpse went his recreant foe, his head
split to the very chin by a vengeful blow from Grenville's ready axe.

All was in vain, yet even as our friends had given up all hope of
escaping from the hideous crowd which surged in upon them like hungry
wolves round a dying buffalo, a clear, cold voice rang out in stentorian
tones across the startled veldt, arresting every hand and every arm.

"Cease," it said; "cease and hold your hands, ye uncircumcised ones,
both white and black, unless ye wish to die."  And there upon the knoll,
to the utter horror of our friends, flaunted the dreaded banner of
Mormonism, and round the mingled mass of combatants, and of dead and
dying men, there extended on every hand a mighty triple ring of armed
and hated followers of the False Prophet.

Ringed in by fully a thousand well-armed men, further resistance was
worse than useless.  Moreover, Grenville's keen eye quickly noted the
curious fact that, so far from displaying anything like enthusiasm over
the advent of the Mormon host, the slavers seemed considerably more
taken aback by the presence of the new arrivals than even his own party.

The tension of feeling between the three bands was all at once
unintentionally relieved by poor Leigh suddenly noticing Dora on the
crest of the knoll, where the poor girl had been an agonised spectator
of the awful fight, and where her cries, notifying the dreaded Mormon
approach, had been no more audible than the twitterings of a sparrow.
Suddenly noticing her, I say, an expression of positive terror froze
poor Leigh's face, his hair rose up upon his head, and with a fearful
shriek of "Dora, Dora, my long-dead, darling wife!" he threw up his
hands and fell prone upon his face, with the life-blood welling from his
mouth.

Kenyon threw himself upon his knees beside his friend, but in another
instant Dora was holding her lover's head upon her lap, lover and
husband both in one, lost and found; and, after all these cruel years of
weary waiting, must she find her darling but to lose his love for ever?
No! for the good God was full of mercy to the faithful heart that had
trusted Him to the very stake of martyrdom, and her husband soon came
round again, but to relapse into a dangerous attack of brain fever, from
which he escaped only by slow degrees, and it took many weary months and
a world of anxious nursing night and day ere Alfred Leigh regained his
normal strength.

Speaking again, the Mormon leader, a fine-looking old man, with a
snow-white beard, commanded the combatants to lay down their arms and
consider themselves the prisoners of the Holy Three, and this order the
slavers instantly obeyed.

Stepping coolly forward, however, Grenville spoke up boldly--

"Who are you, and by what right do you command here, sir?  Yonder floats
the flag of England, under which we serve, and we demand that you
respect its world-wide rights."

"Richard Grenville, I know you," was the cool reply, "and here I command
everyone by the right of might, so lay down your arms, or my men shall
sweep you off the face of the earth and save further trouble: ay, both
you and yonder heap of carrion with you," and the Mormon pointed to the
slavers, who were huddled together a hundred yards distant from their
late antagonists.

Clearly the game was up, and there was nothing for it but to comply with
the Mormon's commands, which all did with a very ill grace, when,
commencing with the slavers, they were quickly bound; but, coming
swiftly to Grenville the Mormon leader spoke.

"I know," he said, "that ye are brave and upright, but bloody-minded
men, yet is your word your bond, and if ye give it me now that ye will
not essay escape, no cord or chain shall touch ye or this your giant
friend," and he pointed to the great Zulu, who was painted a ghastly red
from head to foot.

Eagerly thanking the Mormon, all gladly gave the required parole, and,
under this man's direction, they then carried Leigh into a room in the
public offices and left him there with his wife and child; after which,
by permission, Kenyon first attended to the wounds of his own party, and
afterwards to those of the slavers, though the old Mormon cynically
remarked to him that it would be much more merciful to let the
scoundrels die at once.

A curious meeting it was in Central Africa between the detective and his
quarry, when this amateur doctor came to the point of exercising his
healing art upon the fallen Zero.

"Well, Monckton Bassett, we meet again," said Kenyon, coolly; "and now
let me look at this head of yours, for I should be sorry for you to go
off the ropes without Uncle Sam having a hand in the affair."

For reply Zero hurled a fearful curse at the detective, and ordered him
to begone, so Kenyon calmly left the scoundrel to himself.



CHAPTER SEVENTEEN.

"QUOD DIXI DIXI."

As soon as opportunity offered, Grenville closely questioned the
Chieftain of the Stick as to the manner in which his party, commanded by
Leigh, had been expelled from the cavern, where all had thought them so
securely entrenched, and now it was that our friends received another
striking proof of Zero's intense cunning, and of the absolutely perfect
knowledge which the man possessed regarding the mountain fastnesses in
the immediate neighbourhood of his quarters.

Foolishly enough, the little band had failed to notice the singular fact
that the air in the cave was at all times fresh and crisp, instead of
being extremely heavy and "muggy," as is ordinarily the case in long,
unventilated caverns; and it was only now that they realised the truth,
which was that Muzi Zimba's home was situated in the very heart of an
immense volcano, which had been extinct for ages, but whose final
convulsions had probably torn the range in two, and formed the kloof, or
pass, of the Dark Spirit of Evil.

This fact, however, was perfectly well-known to their astute and
unscrupulous foe, and, appreciating his knowledge at its right strategic
value, and sending on by night a large party provided with an immense
rope-ladder, Zero had occupied the adjacent heights above and in the
rear of Leigh's position, and had actually dropped three hundred men
down through the very crater of the extinct volcano; and the first
intimation which the defenders of the cave had received of the presence
of this large force in their immediate rear, came to them in the
objectionable form of a well-aimed volley poured into their very backs
at point-blank range, just at the moment of the delivery, by Zero with
his main army, of a furious attack upon their defences in the mouth of
the cave.

To turn their attention to the force ambushed in their rear would, of
course, have been to let the slaver-chief in upon them, when the cavern
would have literally become a shambles, and every man of the party would
have died a dog's death, for the ambushed foe was securely entrenched
between the position of our friends and the entrance of the mountain
burrow leading to the old well.

Choosing the least of two evils, Leigh drew his men together, and then
launched them like a thunderbolt down the hill and into the very heart
of Zero's force, which they drove before them like chaff before the
wind.  Then, getting right through the ranks of the slavers, our
friends, to the utter bewilderment of the foe, ignored altogether the
cover of the forest, and commenced to fall back steadily upon Equatoria,
in order, of course, to effect a junction with Grenville and Kenyon,
whom Zero, perhaps naturally, imagined to be lying dead in the cavern
along with poor Ewan and upwards of a score of the Atagbondo, who had
fallen victims to the first treacherous and fatal discharge of the
ambushed foe.

In the running fight which had ensued, the loss on the side of our
friends had not been worth speaking of, whilst Leigh, with his repeater
charged with explosive bullets, had dropped an enemy on every hundred
yards of ground from the mountain to the skull-shaped knoll.  But when
the slavers once sighted the mighty volumes of smoke ascending from
their burning town, they naturally scented something extremely wrong,
and Zero's active mind instantly jumped to the likeliest solution of the
mystery, and told him that Grenville and the great Zulu, both of whom he
hated beyond expression, were revenging themselves upon his force at
home, and stamping out his town.

This caused the slaver to throw the whole of his available force, at any
cost, upon the desperate little band, and drive them in upon the town
pell-mell, with fearful loss upon both sides, for the Atagbondo had
contested every inch of ground, with a stubborn valour little short of
incredible when it is borne in mind that to rifle, spear, and axe, they
could only oppose their rough-hewn wooden clubs.

Of the Zanzibari carriers nothing had been seen since the very
commencement of the fight, for they had been placed for safety in the
hindmost cavern of all, as being worse than useless to the fighting
brigade; but whether the cowards were still in hiding there, or whether
the ambushed slavers had found and massacred the wretched men forthwith,
was, of course, as yet unknown, though, as the slavers in the cavern had
followed our friends out when they fled the spot, it was more than
probable that the fellows were still where their masters had left them.

Seeing, however, that the Mormon leader was almost certain to have their
old location searched for the baggage and belongings of the party,
Grenville thought it much better to make a virtue of necessity, and to
communicate the position of affairs to the old man without further
delay, adding that, on the whole, he almost thought he would prefer to
let even the Mormons divide the goods and chattels of his friends,
rather than see them calmly appropriated by such a wretched craven crew.

Our friend accordingly asked an audience of the aged Prophet--for by
this high-sounding, but somewhat empty, title the old man was designated
by his own people--and informed him that in the old hermit's cave upon
the northern mountains there lay very much valuable baggage and
ammunition, which, unless it was instantly looked after, would probably
be opened and appropriated by the thievish bearers, and he added that it
would be quite unnecessary to send an armed force to take possession, as
the wretched cowards would run away at the first sight of an armed man.

The prophet briefly acknowledged the information, and then dismissed
Grenville, first, however, promising that the little party should have
the use of their own well-stocked medicine-chest immediately upon its
arrival in Equatoria--a favour which Kenyon had most earnestly impressed
upon our friend the absolute necessity of inducing the Mormon to grant,
if by any means in his power he could prevail upon him to do so.

Just before nightfall the Zanzibaris made their unwilling appearance,
bearing their master's baggage, and being driven along, like sheep for
the slaughter, by a couple of formidable-looking and heavily-armed
Mormons, and the whole property of the little band was at once deposited
in the public hall, with the exception of the much-desired
medicine-chest, which was delivered, without loss of time, to the
waiting Kenyon, who particularly required its contents for immediate use
in poor Leigh's case, the complications of which were already causing
this amateur doctor much mental worry and very grave anxiety, as the
patient after becoming conscious for a few moments, had again relapsed
into a state of complete coma.

That night all slept an uneasy, troubled sleep, for the common hall was
packed to suffocation with men, women, and children; and as almost all
the late combatants were more or less wounded--many very severely so--
the building was more like a hospital than anything else, and no one was
particularly sorry when the great doors were opened in the morning, and
an announcement was made by the officer on guard that all must leave the
place to obtain food, and that the Holy Three would sit in judgment upon
the prisoners at high noon that very day.

This judgment was a very impressive affair, and was held in the public
hall.  In two long lines sat the combatants of the previous day, facing
one another on opposite sides of a square, and all closely guarded by
the Mormon host.  At the head of the room sat the Ancient Prophet,
supported by two other very venerable-looking men--these three being the
accredited representatives in Africa of the Mormon Holy Three--whilst at
the lower end of the square, huddled together like frightened sheep,
were the women and children of Equatoria, who knew not what to expect
from the stern judges, whose iron code of laws was, they were well
aware, as unchanging as the laws of the Medes and Persians.

Kenyon, who was, of course, by profession, a physiognomist, completely
forgot all his own personal danger in the absorbing interest which he
took in the varied and changing expressions of the anxious faces which
surrounded him on every hand.

The fallen and discomfited slavers looked what they were--partly sullen,
partly indifferent, and wholly despairing, for well they knew that no
mercy could be expected at the hands of the tribunal into whose clutches
they had fallen; Zero, utterly mad with rage, and sulky as a bear;
whilst it almost made the beholder laugh to notice the striking faces of
Amaxosa the Zulu, and Barad, the Chieftain of the Stick.  The eyes of
these men were positively like coals of fire, and were absolutely
riveted on the hated countenance of the slaver-chief, who seemed almost
uneasy under the burning intensity of their threatening gaze.

Grenville, chivalrous as ever, was busily endeavouring to infuse hope
and comfort into the heart of poor Lady Drelincourt, who was the only
person in the assembly allowed to sit in the presence of the judges.

When perfect silence had been obtained, the old Prophet rose to his feet
and commenced a direct and startling indictment of Zero and his band of
ruffians, who had, he said, robbed and pillaged the fraternity of the
Elect in the most impudent and bare-faced manner, and had, moreover,
murdered out of hand a number of messengers, who had been sent to them
with positive instructions from head-quarters, to return at once to Salt
Lake City, report themselves without delay to the Holy Mormon Trinity,
and render a full account of their stewardship; and in consequence of
Zero's disregarding these definite and repeated commands, the Prophet
had, he explained, been sent out with a very great array of the Saints
by the Three Unsleeping Ones, who watched over the welfare of the one
true faith, and whose written instructions he carried with him, to
demolish the stronghold of these audacious rebels, and to execute fully
retributive justice upon these men of sin, whose evil and wicked doings
had come up, with very evil savour, into the nostrils of the Holy Ones
who dwelt across the seas, whilst in Africa he had himself found that,
owing to the outrageous conduct of these reprobates, the very name of
Mormonism had become a by-word for all that was wholly and irredeemably
bad.

The Prophet then brought forward a number of witnesses to prove
unauthorised deeds of violence and of blood against Zero and his band,
all being without exception classed in the one dreadful category, and
the testimony of one of these not only proved the slaver-chief to have
been guilty of countless murders in Africa, but deposed that, in the
speaker's own un-regenerate days, he had himself been an eye-witness of
the shooting of Mr Harmsworth in New York--this diabolical and
cold-blooded murder having, as Kenyon had opined, been committed by the
hand of Zero, in revenge for what he considered to be a personal slight.

The aged Prophet then consulted briefly with the two elders who were his
co-representatives in Africa of the Mormon Trinity, and, once again
rising to his feet, briefly and clearly pronounced _sentence of death_.

The whole of the renegade band would die by the rifle at sundown that
very night, and their carcases would be thrown to the wild beasts of
prey, whilst Zero himself would be _crucified at noon on the following
day_, and his body would be left to the vultures and the crows.

The sentence was evidently what all had foreseen; for, with the
exception of a very few despairing shrieks from the women, there was
neither voice nor sound.

The old Mormon concluded his harangue by saying that the women and
children would be conveyed by his men to the nearest seaport town, and
their passage paid to any civilised country they desired to reach, after
which the Brotherhood of the Saints entirely washed their hands of them.
For a brief instant one could have heard a pin drop, then from the poor
creatures at the bottom of that living square there went up one mighty
gasp of intense relief, followed by a babel of blessings upon their
ancient judge, from which it was quite clear that the poor wretches, who
were, most of them, more sinned against than sinning, had fully expected
to find themselves and their little ones devoted to the same red grave
as their wicked lords and masters.

As the old Prophet ceased speaking, Kenyon suddenly started to his feet,
holding up his hand to attract the attention of the judges, and when
silence again reigned supreme, and when every eye in that vast
assemblage was curiously fixed upon him, quietly but clearly, he spoke
out.

"Sir," he said, "I know, and fully admit, your powers of judgment here,
by the right of might; but you also are an American, as I am, and I,
therefore, ask that, in courtesy to the Stars and Stripes, you will even
yield to my prior claim upon the body of this scoundrel, Zero, and allow
the executioner of the States, to end his sinful life."

"Who art thou, and whence knowest thou me?" queried the astonished
Mormon.

"I, sir," was the cool reply, "am Stanforth Kenyon, of the New York
Detective Force, and I have followed this fellow hither from the New
World, just as you have done, and, having been the first to find him, I,
therefore, think my claim the best, and my case, the Harmsworth murder,
on American ground, being now indubitably proved by your own witness,
this Zero can no longer now escape the law."

"By repute, I know you well, Detective Kenyon," came the answer, "but
Uncle Sam, for once, goes empty-handed.  The Elect, as you very well
know, recognise no law outside themselves, and allow no interference
with their affairs, on the part of the unbelieving and accursed
Gentiles.  Nay," as Kenyon attempted to speak again, "I cannot hear you
further.  I sit here, with my colleagues, as the representatives of the
heaven-taught Holy Three, and what I _have_ said I _have_ said."

Then, after another short conference with his fellows, the old Mormon
announced that the business of the meeting was now concluded, and that
his decision with regard to the disposal of the remaining prisoners
would be announced at noon next day.

All were at once returned to their prison in the common hall, with the
exception of the wretched slavers, who, to the number of nearly three
hundred, were immediately led out to execution, and were shot, like mad
dogs, in accordance with the unchanging decree of the Mormon Holy Three,
whilst Zero, heavily ironed, was forthwith consigned to the condemned
cell in the public building, knowing that he must, in a few hours,
suffer the extreme agonies of the awful death by torture, which he had
himself often and often inflicted upon his helpless and unresisting
fellow-creatures.



CHAPTER EIGHTEEN.

"A FRIEND IN NEED."

That very night, when our friends were conversing together in the house
of their prison, a guard appeared with a small note, which he handed to
Kenyon, and signified that he was to await his answer.

At once tearing open the cover, the wonder-stricken detective read the
simple message:--

"Follow the bearer.

"Weston Abbott (`Noughts and Crosses')."

Springing to his feet in joyful haste, he quietly whispered to
Grenville, "A friend at court! by Jove, old man!  The note is from Uncle
Sam's own trusted correspondent in Salt Lake City.  We're in luck
again," and, indicating to the officer his willingness to comply with
the instructions contained in the note, Kenyon quickly followed the man
out of the hall.

To the astonishment of our friend, the fellow led him directly to the
ancient Prophet's room, where he found the old man very comfortably
domiciled, and prepared to receive him most kindly, though still in a
strictly business-like manner.

"Well, Mr Kenyon," he said, "so in this out-of-the-way part of the
world we meet at last, and I assure you that it gives me pleasure to
know you personally.  I am the man who wrote this note, and am also your
regular and constant correspondent in Salt Lake City.

"Now, I want you just to tell me the whole history of this affair, and
why I find you here at the ends of the earth, when I thought you in New
York.  Tell me all; for, I assure you, we are at our wits' end to know
how to deal with these English people, whom, particularly the woman and
child, I rather shrink from slaying."

Kenyon then gave him a full, true, and particular account of the whole
expedition, adding that the presence of Lady Drelincourt in Equatoria
was still an enigma to him, as he believed her dead in England, slain by
Zero's hand; but that the poor woman was still so weak and hysterical
that they had not liked to question her, especially whilst her recovered
husband hung between life and death.  The detective also touched warily
upon the destruction of East Utah by Grenville and his friends some
years before, palliating their conduct there, by pointing out how very
necessary it had seemed to them to rescue Miss Winfield and her father
from their captors.  To Kenyon's surprise, however, the old Mormon
frankly told him that Grenville had in this case, also, only anticipated
the intentions of the Holy Three in Utah itself, where they had
absolutely enrolled an army of the Saints to eat up the whole of this
rebellious African community as soon as they could find out the precise
whereabouts of East Utah--a task which had, however, proved too
difficult for them; and Zero's idea had been to found a colony of his
own, supported by the abominable traffic in slaves, and, by drawing into
it (under the name of Mormonism) all the cut-throats and scoundrels he
could lay hands on, to make the community much too strong for even the
Saints to overcome him or prevail against him, and eventually no doubt,
by exercising the power of the enormous wealth which he had wrung from
suffering flesh and blood, to usurp the supreme authority in Salt Lake
City itself.

Far into the night this curious pair sat talking of matters vitally
interesting to both, and though the old Prophet would not absolutely
commit himself to any promise regarding Kenyon's friends, he willingly
undertook to do his best for them, adding that, so far as he was
concerned, he rather liked them all, and should be glad to do the
detective a good turn by setting them all free, but that there were many
matters of policy to be considered by himself and his colleagues ere
they could see their way to any definite decision upon this head.

In the morning, when Grenville and Kenyon were released from the room
which they had been allotted, next to that occupied by the still
unconscious Leigh and his anxious wife and child, they were surprised to
notice the unusual quiet which overhung the place, but soon found that
one of the old Mormon's earliest measures of policy had consisted in
starting off to the southward the whole of the female population of
Equatoria at dawn, accompanied by their children, and convoyed by five
hundred of his own well-armed band.

Immediately breakfast was over, every soul remaining in the town was
summoned to another grand assembly, at which it was formally announced,
to the astonishment and annoyance of everyone, that Zero had succeeded
in filing through his fetters, and had decamped in the night, together
with the Zulu Amaxosa and the Chieftain of the Stick, and, therefore,
said the stern judges, when these men were recaptured, all three would
be crucified without mercy, and Zero, for this additional offence, would
be _nailed head-downwards to the awful cross_.

The prophet then proceeded to say that, after due and careful
consideration of the whole peculiar circumstances of the case, the Holy
Three had decided to give life and unconditional freedom to all the rest
of the prisoners, both white and black, and to present them in addition
with large and handsome rewards for the way in which they had acted, as
there could be no doubt that the fearful slaughter inflicted by the
English party upon the rebel crew, had alone saved the Mormon community
from having to fight several severe battles, from losing very many lives
of valued men, and perhaps, owing to their lack of knowledge of the
district, failing, after all, to accomplish their desired object.  For
the gentle English lady, and for the injured "People of the Stick," the
Holy Three had nothing but sympathy, and had, therefore, decided to
apportion the immense spoil taken from Zero--amounting to nearly a
million of money--into three equal parts: one for the Mormon community,
one for the Atagbondo--to enable them to rebuild their kraals, to buy
new wives and weapons, and stock their enclosures with oxen and with
goats--and the third share for the English-Zulu party, who had behaved
so well and fought so grandly, and amongst whom was classed Detective
Kenyon of Uncle Sam's police.

It was a bold course to take, and the old Mormon had unquestionably done
a wise thing when he weeded out, and started on the home journey in
charge of the women and children of Equatoria, all the possible
malcontents of his own band.  Still, the Mormons had already seen such a
lot of bloodshed that they probably thought the course adopted by their
leaders to be the wisest; at all events, they raised no voice against
it.

The aged Prophet had, as he afterwards confided to Kenyon, positively no
other course open to him under his instructions: either he must declare
the party guilty, and cut them off, one and all, absolutely without
exception; or he must liberate them unconditionally, congratulate them
upon the success of their actions, and give them large rewards for the
valuable services they had rendered to the community in destroying the
slavers; and this latter course the old gentleman had, fortunately, seen
his way to take.

The old fellow would, however, listen to no word of pleading or of
explanation for either Amaxosa or Barad, and frankly said that he dared
not leave the country until Zero was known to be actually dead, as
otherwise he would himself get into very serious trouble at
head-quarters, and experience an unpleasantly warm time of it on his
return; and he accepted with grateful alacrity Kenyon's offer to assist
with his own party in the search for the missing man--an offer which
Grenville gladly concurred in, saying that none of them could know a
moment's perfect rest until this slippery villain was finally disposed
of.

To our friends, the unexplained absence of Amaxosa and of the Chieftain
of the Stick was, of course, a complete enigma.  Only of this one thing
were they sure: that, though both might have either followed or have
preceded the slaver-chief--probably the former--they certainly had not
escaped along with him, but would, on the contrary, never rest until the
rascal's life-blood had washed their spears and clubs.



CHAPTER NINETEEN.

A FORCED MARCH.

After arranging with the old Mormon to start out with Grenville and a
scouting party of Zulus at dawn of day, Kenyon turned into the room
jointly occupied by himself and Grenville; but, both being overwrought
by the events of the day, entirely failed to find the sleep they sought,
and finally rose and strolled outside for a moonlight smoke, carefully
taking with them their restored and treasured rifles.  Both felt
relatively happy, for the fear of death--and, however brave a man may
be, a violent death is still a fearsome thing--the fear of death, I say,
no longer weighed upon them; and the fact that Leigh had that night
taken a favourable turn, which placed him out of danger, had also lifted
a load of sorrow from the heart of each; and as they strolled quietly
along, the pair talked pleasantly of home and friends, and of an early
start for England.

Just as the twain reached the limits of their stroll, and were about to
turn back and have another try to sleep, Grenville's keen eye detected a
movement in the long grass at his right hand.  Throwing forward his
rifle, he was about to fire, when a shrill, peculiar whistle broke upon
the night air, and, dropping the butt of his rifle upon the ground, he
stood expectant, whilst Amaxosa coolly stalked forth from his lair, and,
advancing to where they stood, gravely saluted them.

"Greeting, Inkoosis, greeting," said the great Zulu; "it does my heart
good to see ye free again, and gun in hand.  And now, my brothers, lead
me, I pray ye, to the ancient man of this people of many women and three
kings, for I have news to tell him--news which will not wait; and ye
must be my mouth to him, O chiefs!"

"My brother," answered Grenville, laying a hand kindly on the shoulder
of his stalwart friend, "knowest thou that, because of thy departure, he
has sentenced thee to death; ay, thee, and Barad the Hailstorm with
thee."

"Nay, my father," replied the Zulu, "I knew it not, nor do I care
whether I live or die; yet do I think the ancient one will gladly hear
my words."

Quickly returning to the public hall, Kenyon sent in word to the old
Prophet that the Zulu chief had returned of his own accord, and had news
of much importance for his private ear.

A few minutes elapsed, and then all were ushered into the united
presence of the Holy Three, where, utterly disregarding the frowning
looks cast upon him, the great Zulu thus commenced his stirring tale:--

"Hear my words, O ye ancient ones, and let the message of the child of
the Zulu sink down into your ears; for his words are heavy words to
hear, yet come they from a straight and friendly tongue."

Then addressing himself to Grenville, "Yesternight, my father," he
began, speaking rapidly and forcibly in Zulu--"yesternight I had it in
my mind that Zero, the Black One, would escape and break his bonds, and
in the same mind was also the Chieftain of the Stick; he knew no speech
of mine, nor knew I aught of his, my father, yet eye looked into eye,
and each knew well the secret thought of each.

"We soon slipped past the sleepy guards and out into the night, but
naught had we in our hands, my father, and so we left behind the ruined
kraals, and hid us in the bushes by the well.

"Long did we wait, but yet we had no doubt, and, so when half the night
was gone, there came to us the ghost of him, the ancient one, who dwells
in yon lonely grave upon the northern hills--alas! my father, that I let
him pass me by, but empty hands are evil things wherewith to face a
well-armed spook, and in his grasp he swung a mighty axe, dripping with
human blood.

"And so we waited, and when the Father of the Spooks had left us
half-an-hour, then my thought changed, and I knew it was no spook that
passed us by, but the black one, Zero himself, escaped in Muzi Zimba's
dress, and so I beckoned to Barad, my father, and down the well we went
to follow on his trail; but when we reached the narrow mountain pass, we
found it all blocked up with mighty rocks rolled from above, so that we
could not move them.  Then climbed we forth again, and, skirting round
the mountain, we filled our ready hands with arms from the dead who lie
out yonder; and so sped we onwards through the night running our utmost
speed, but naught did we see, my father, until at dawn we struck the
Black One's footsteps crossing the western veldt, and these we followed
till the sun grew hot at noon, and so we tracked him to the thorn-girt
kraal of a mighty host of low black fellows; those men, they were, my
father, whose king was here when first we hither came.

"Lying hid, O chief, we watched, as well we might, and when the sun went
down, the host set out, led forward by the Black One, and the track they
took, my father, was the track of the women and the children who have
gone towards the sea.

"And then, my father, did I leave the Chieftain of the Stick to mark the
trail, and follow on their rear, whilst I returned at speed to tell thee
all.

"And now, O chiefs, think wisely and think quickly what ye do.  There is
no time to waste--your army, split in twain by thrice a thousand men,
must travel like the wind if ye would happen on the spot, ere Zero eats
your friends and stamps them flat."

Briefly and succinctly, Grenville gave the Mormons the substance of the
Zulu's thrilling news, adding that, from his own knowledge, he could
tell them that this king was a very great warrior and the most notorious
slave-dealer in all the country side, with a fighting band of quite
three thousand men, who were experts in the use of both bow and spear.

Replying, the old Prophet said that he and his colleagues freely
pardoned the Zulu and his sable friend, and also thanked them for their
zeal, and would now ask further what course Grenville, who knew the
country so well, would advise them all to follow.  Knowing, however,
that Amaxosa must have fully thought out his plan of action, Grenville
informed him that the ancient ones had pardoned his escape, and that of
Barad, and would wish to hear his plan for eating up the foe.

The great Zulu had quietly sat him down, and taken snuff to his heart's
content, but now he rose to his feet, and drawing himself up to his full
height, addressed himself to Grenville.

"O my father," said he, "think ye these people here can fight, think ye
that they can travel on a long, weary road?  For thus shall the matter
go:--Seest thou, my father, that yonder comes the dawn.  At dawn, next
day but one, will the evil Black One, backed by all his wicked host,
fall on the white men as they sleep close by the burning mountain; and
it shall be, my father, that while the Black One sets a snare for the
white men, we ourselves will set a snare for him.  Thus, when he rises
to fire upon our friends, will we fire on him and his, and take him by
surprise.  Then will our friends upon the mountain wake and shoot their
shots.  So shall the Black One find himself between two heavy fires.
But think upon the weary way, my father, for much I doubt that few will
win it, and therein lies my fear; for, spread out wide upon the veldt
and weakened, Zero will eat us up, and stamp us flat for ever.  Well,
even so, my father, we can but try, and if we die 'twill be a brave
man's death, facing a savage foe."

Grenville detailed the whole scheme to the Mormons, urging its adoption
without a moment's delay, in view of the tremendous journey--quite a
hundred English miles--which must be accomplished at high pressure if
they would save the first detachment, and, indeed, themselves; for, if
Zero once disposed of half their army, with the enormous force at his
back, he would very soon render an account of the remainder.

Our friend recommended that the entire band should start at once, and
push on at top speed until the sun was too hot to allow of further
progress; then, after resting in the heat of the day--the moon being,
fortunately, at the full--they must go for their lives throughout the
summer night, until the advent of the sun again drove them from the
road, resuming their journey with the cool of evening, and so go ever
forward, and hope to be in time.  Clearly, there was nothing else for
it, and the Mormons rapidly assented to the plan, and all filed out of
the room, leaving the Zulu where he sat, for exhausted nature had
asserted her rights, and the man was fast asleep.

The Mormon force could not leave the place under an hour, and from long
experience of the ways of these active children of the veldt, Grenville
well knew that that precious hour would give back to the great Zulu all
his magnificent powers, and enable him to lead the party until noon,
faster than most of them would care to go.

The sun was already high in the heavens by the time that Grenville and
Kenyon had succeeded in getting the Mormons under weigh, and their own
breakfast being then ready, Grenville waked Amaxosa, and all three
partook of a hearty meal, feeling quite sure that they would soon
overtake the main body.

Leigh, with his wife and child, all the wounded, and a guard, which
consisted of the few remaining "People of the Stick," were left behind
in Equatoria, there being no other course open to our friends, as it was
obviously impossible to carry the sick and wounded with them on a forced
march, and probably into the very teeth of a desperate and extremely
doubtful battle.

Grenville, however, took two carrier pigeons with him, telling Dora that
if the fight was going against their party he would send her word by one
of these, when she must depart at once from Equatoria with her party,
cross the chasm by means of the traversing cage, must cut the rope
behind her, and by causing her men to again turn the course of the
mountain stream into the northern marsh, lay bare the rocky pathway down
the kloof.

When her party reached the veldt it would at once strike out due east
and travel night and day until some of the wandering Arab slavers were
met with, when Grenville considered it likely that the promise of large
rewards would induce these men to afford her safe escort to some seaport
town.  The plan did not, of course, promise particularly well; but, on
the other hand, it was infinitely better than sitting still and waiting
for Zero to return and torture everyone to death, and Grenville well
knew that the gallant "warriors of the Stick" would fight for "their
sister," if need arose, as long as they had a leg left to stand on.

And so the trio bade farewell to the tearful Dora, begging her to be of
good comfort, as if they could but arrive in time there would be little
fear of the result; and so they passed away and left her once again,
alone in this hated Mormon town--yet not alone, for she had now her
husband and her child, and these two needed all her loving care.



CHAPTER TWENTY.

THE HAND OF GOD.

As our friends had anticipated, they found little difficulty in
overtaking the Mormon crowd, and, at once going to the front, they set
the rescue-party a very different pace to that hitherto travelled by
them, and keeping them at the work, despite their murmurs and protests,
had knocked off fully twenty miles by noon, and at four o'clock insisted
upon a fresh start being made, keeping the pace easier, however, until
evening came on.

The three aged Mormons were carried by the Zanzibaris in hammocks, so
that these formed no obstacle whatever to their forced marching.

Soon the moon came up in all her radiant loveliness, casting a weird and
silvery glamour over the wide expanse of veldt on every side, and on the
distant horizon there ever hung the blazing, star-like cone of the
distant mountain-peak, for which the leaders steered.  And so forward
through the livelong night they pressed, faint yet pursuing, and when at
dawn of day all crept into cover, and threw their wearied bodies on the
ground, Amaxosa, who had been acting as whipper-in, brought up to the
front the glad news that only twenty men had so far fallen by the way.

The mountain was distant now but twenty miles, and all felt relatively
happy, for it was a shrewd count that three thousand naked savages, even
though led by Zero, would not make very much of a figure when they found
themselves between two bands, each of five hundred desperate whites,
armed for the most part, with quick-firing rifles.

Grenville, Kenyon, and Amaxosa had watched and slept by turns, the last
watch before night being the Zulu's, and when his friends woke up they
found the chief excessively uneasy in his mind regarding the weather,
which looked to him like storm.

However, the party set out as soon as the moon began to rise, and had
arrived within a mile of the mountain, and had despatched the great Zulu
on ahead to scout, before the storm broke upon them.

The heavens by this time were transformed into an enormous mass of
dense, black, lowering clouds, which had sunk until they almost shrouded
the waning moon herself, which as yet, however, sailed along in a narrow
glorious belt of glittering azure, looking far more lovely from contrast
with the frowning bank of clouds which hung above her, and which
stretched away in every direction ominous in their sullen death-like
quietude.

The Zulu had not left the main body above five minutes when the
inky-looking vault right over head was suddenly rent in twain as if some
giant hand had ripped the veil of clouds, and heaven and earth seemed
fairly to meet for one brief instant in a dazzling, blazing glare of
lurid light, which flooded veldt and mountain, rock and river, for miles
around the spot, and was instantly succeeded by an unremitting roll of
thunder, which seemed to shake all nature to her utmost depths, and
threaten earth with chaos worse confounded.

Hardly had the mighty echoes died away than the report of firearms could
be heard, in scattered shots, away under the mountain side.  The reason
was evident: the Mormons had been on the alert, and the terrific blaze
of lightning had, no doubt, revealed to their watchful sentinels, the
ambush of the hidden savage foe.  Sure enough, next minute there came
the steady rolling echoes as the Winchesters opened fire in ringing
volleys, upon the mass of men before them.

Speeding across the veldt, Grenville and his band endeavoured to take up
a flank position where they would run no danger from the bullets of
their friends, and, aided by another blazing flash, were almost within
range of Zero's troops, which were represented by a dark moving mass
upon the veldt, when suddenly and without an instant's warning, a most
awful thing happened.

The moon was waning fast and the light was growing dim, when the
countryside for miles and miles was all at once illuminated with a
brightness vivid as the glory of the noonday sun himself.  This was no
passing flash of lightning; but there, right above the blazing peak
itself, hung a mighty zone of dazzling, blinding fire; for one brief
instant thus it stayed, then, with a mighty roar, which rent the earth
and quaked the giant rocks, and dwarfed out of recognition the thunders
of the sky, the volcano all at once blew up, driving its shattered
fragments to the winds of heaven.

Almost at Grenville's feet the earth yawned wildly, and where one moment
before had been lovely veldt and sparkling river, there appeared only a
mighty chasm, from whose abysmal depths rose fearsome sounds and pungent
scalding vapours.

For an instant, all was inky blackness and the quietude of death; then,
the storm-clouds driven wildly in every direction by the might of the
explosion, the moon shone out once more, and revealed an awful sight.

The mountain-peak was gone--gone, for ever, its fragments scattered wide
across the veldt, whilst between the foot of the mountain and the
position of our friends lay a gulf two hundred feet across, unbroken,
save by a tiny island of rock--measuring, perhaps, twenty square yards--
which still stood in its very centre.  All round the rock--and, perhaps,
a hundred feet from its upper edge--there washed a sea of boiling,
bubbling water, lashed to frenzy, and heated red-hot, by the streams of
burning lava which, all the time poured themselves into the chasm.  In
every direction this yawning abyss spread itself out, far as the eye
could see, and the effect of its presence was to practically divide the
land in two.

Of the Mormons who had held the mountain, and of their savage native
foes, not a vestige could be seen.  The earth had simply opened her
mouth upon them, and down alive into the pit had gone thousands of men,
women, and children, both white and black, young and old, friend and
foe, consigned, in one dread prayerless instant, to an eternal stygian
grave.

But stop!  The moonlight grows, the light increases as the clouds clear
off.  And what moves on yonder pinnacle of rock?  Two human forms, they
seem--they are.  And now, 'fore God, see how they fight--fight wildly,
furiously, for life!  Life!  Life on such an awful place as this!
Better, far better, certain sudden death!

One moment Grenville watched, then springing to his feet, he sent a wild
cry of encouragement across the chasm; and in proud and instant answer,
pealing across the vast abyss, and waking every sleeping echo in the
mighty rocks, came the defiant Zulu war-song, and in one moment more,
every child of the Undi within that band was on his feet, ranging up and
down the chasm's edge, shouting the war-cry of his famous chief, and
seeking means to aid him.

Little help did the Lion of the Zulu require from mortal hands; unarmed
he was, but, dashing upon his single foe, he dexterously avoided a
swinging blow from the ready axe, and seized him by the throat.  Down
went the pair, and over and over they rolled, fighting the while like
cats, whilst our friends watched, with parted lips and straining, eager
gaze, expecting each instant that both combatants would shoot into the
abyss of fire beneath.  All at once the struggle ceased, for the Zulu
had dashed his opponent's head upon the rocks and stunned him.
Springing to his feet he sent a cry of victory pealing across the chasm;
there was an upward whirl of the foeman's shining axe, and next instant,
with a mighty effort, he cast a bleeding human head across the space
between.

The ghastly trophy fell at Grenville's feet, _and the head was the head
of Zero, the slaver-fiend_.  Then lifting in his powerful arms the
headless trunk, the Zulu cast it into the wild abyss beneath his feet,
and thus revenged himself for all the wrongs suffered by his proud
spirit, and all the tears and blood of countless slaves, both black and
white, shed by this curse of Equatorial Africa.

The victory was complete, and their object was accomplished, yet all
forgot it in the awful gloom of the moment, cast heavily upon them by
the recollection that they stood upon the graves of thousands, who but a
few moments ago had walked the world in health and life--thousands
brought to a swift and awful end in one brief instant of time; and each
man felt that _the hand which slew them was the hand of God_.

Clearly, however, something must be done to relieve Amaxosa; for he
shouted to them that the rock was fast becoming red-hot, and would
shortly scorch his feet beyond endurance.

Fortunately the party had brought Leigh's rocket apparatus with them,
and soon succeeded in firing a line across the rock, and hauling upon
this, the Zulu quickly received a one-inch rope, which he fastened to
the rock by driving Zero's axe firmly into a crevice, and attaching the
rope to its haft, and then, the line being drawn taut, hung fearlessly
by his hands over the literally boiling flood, and coolly commenced to
work his way across.  When about twenty feet from the edge, where his
friends stood ready to welcome him, a shriek of horror went up as the
axe gave way, the line slipped, and his giant form was heard to strike
with a sickening blow against the face of the cliff.

The anxious watchers held their breath, expecting to hear the final
splash as his senseless body plunged into the awful seething horror far
below; but Amaxosa had fortunately kept his head, and in spite of the
wrench received, and of the fearful blow, he hung on like a leech, and
was soon drawn into safety and tended anxiously by friendly hands, and
none too soon, for but one pace away from the abyss his senses left him,
and he fell prone upon the earth, but was soon brought back again to
life and health.

Silently the dawn of another lovely day came gliding over the earth, but
our friends saw it not, for all slept a troubled and unhappy sleep until
wakened by the fiery sun himself, when they hasted to put some miles
between themselves and the site of the abysmal grave below the mountain;
Grenville first despatching a pigeon to Equatoria, carrying glad
tidings, as follows: "Victory! all well--Zero dead.--

"Dick."

Slowly the party took their journey back, for all were more or less
knocked up with the heavy outward march, and it was the evening of the
fifth day when, carrying the head of Zero, they reached Equatoria.  No
amount of persuasion would induce the old Mormon to part with this
ghastly trophy, which he declared he would carry back to Salt Lake City
to the Holy Three, in order that no doubt might arise as to the
successful accomplishment of his mission.



CHAPTER TWENTY ONE.

LOST AND FOUND.

The victorious band marched triumphantly into Equatoria as the shades of
night were falling; but their joy, alas! was quickly changed to wailing.

Nowhere was there a soul to be seen in or about the town.  Leigh was
missing, with his wife and child, the Atagbondo guards, and the whole of
Zero's plunder divisible amongst the three bands--all, everything was
gone.

On carefully searching the public building, however, the whole of the
"People of the Stick" were found tightly bound in the condemned cell,
which was fastened from outside.  The poor creatures were almost dead
with thirst and starvation, having been locked up for over four days.
They soon, however, revived under friendly treatment, and then, calling
up the interpreter, our anxious friends listened to their moving tale.

As a matter of fact, however, these men had very little to tell beyond
saying that the very night the main body had left Equatoria they had
been visited by an ancient man, the biggest Forest Fetish in those
parts, and called by him to a "great dance" in the common hall, which
was well lighted by priests holding torches in their hands.

He had delivered a long harangue to the "People of the Stick" regarding
the gifts they were to send him from their own country, and after this
the unfortunate audience heard no more, their senses gradually leaving
them under the subtle influence of the smoke from the torches, which
made the air heavy with a curious pungent odour.  But though the men
could neither move nor exercise the faculties of sight or hearing, each
realised that he was being fettered and carried away, whilst he
gradually yielded to an overpowering desire to sleep.  Naught knew they
of the Fetish beyond the fact that his habitation was somewhere in the
dense and tangled forest of the east, into whose dark avenues no mortal
man dare venture, for they were the home of ghosts and spirits, and the
haunts of snakes, and wolves, and many evil things.

It was, of course, too late to make any move that night; so, after
roundly cursing the ill-luck which had brought this latest misfortune
upon them, the tired wayfarers ate their supper, set a watch, and then
lay down to snatch a few hours' rest before the dawn.

The earliest gleam of daylight saw Grenville afoot, and with Kenyon, the
Zulus, and a couple of hundred Mormons, he commenced to quarter the
forest in every direction.  Fearful work this was, for the place was
simply a tangled and practically impenetrable jungle, upon which even
the axes of the party made little impression.  For three whole days did
the little band prosecute their arduous search, returning to Equatoria
each night utterly worn out with their fruitless and cruel labour.

On the third night, when Grenville, thinking sadly upon the unknown fate
of his much-loved cousin, supposed his friend Kenyon to be asleep, to
his utter astonishment that worthy suddenly shot up to his feet.

"Gods!" he yelled, fairly trembling with excitement.  "Gods!  I have it.
Dick, what cursed fools we've been--how could those priests have taken
bound and stupefied people through these thickets, beyond which our axes
cannot carry us.  Ten to one in sovereigns, I take you straight to their
lair at dawn, old man;" and so he did, never making a single mistake,
and a mighty queer place they found it, _up amongst the tree-tops_.

Entering confidently a great hollow tree which stood about a mile from
the town, and on the outskirts of the impenetrable bush, Kenyon
triumphantly pointed to _a strong rough ladder run up the inside of the
giant trunk_, and mounting this for near a hundred feet, all found
themselves in a fair way to enter the abode of the famous Forest Fetish
who dominated the timid natives in those parts, and was had--as is
always the case--in even more repute amongst them, on account of his
abominable extortions and deeds of violence, than was Muzi Zimba, the
Ancient Fetish of the Hills, in consideration of his uniform kindness of
soul.

High up upon the interlaced branches of the trees were fastened rough
boards, thickly covered with grass matting, and on these, from tree to
tree, our adventurers followed _for upwards of two miles_, a perfectly
safe and absolutely silent road, of a uniform width of perhaps five
feet, until they penetrated into the sacred presence of the arch-humbug
himself.  A mighty uproar there was, and a great seizing and brandishing
of sacrificial knives and swords, as the first of our friends entered
the roomy tree-top, boarded throughout, in which the priests had their
semi-aerial domicile.  But when these rascals, perhaps thirty or forty
in number, saw the whole rescue-party file in, and the grim row of
frowning muzzles opening in line with their wretched carcases, the
entire band simply flopped down upon their knees, and howled for mercy,
the "big man fetish" himself making more noise than anyone.

By great good fortune, poor Leigh, with his wife and child, had been
preserved for the occasion of a great fetish dance at next new moon, and
were soon found and released, and, as restitution was quickly made of
all the plunder stolen from Equatoria, our friends contented themselves
with giving the rascals what Kenyon called "a jolly good hiding all
round," and then drove them out of the forest altogether, and set fire
to their abominable nest, the dry matting making a fine blaze amongst
the tree-tops, out of which it scared the monkeys, parrots, and other
legitimate denizens in very large numbers.  The simple "People of the
Stick" were astonished at the discovery made by their white associates;
for the poor fetish-ridden creatures of these parts had been almost
harried out of their lives by the priests, who were supposed to dwell
invisibly under a tree, in whose upper branches, however, was located
their real abode.  Under this tree, which could be reached only by a
bridle-path from the rear of the belt of forest, the miserable negro
would devoutly deposit his offering, and when returning upon his way to
Equatoria, and passing near the hollow tree, _two miles off_, he would
probably find the gift which, not unfrequently, comprised his little
all, thrown contemptuously in his path, whilst hidden voices admonished
the terror-stricken wretch to hurry off, and bring a better offering,
unless he wished to have his heart torn out of his body.  This, of
course, was "very big fetish" to such a superstitious people, and they
would do almost anything to propitiate the awful Spirit of the Air.  Not
content with these thievish tricks, however, the priests slew very many
men, stole the women, and generally played the "hanky-panky
spiritualist" game to their hearts' content.

Before liberating the "big man fetish" himself, Kenyon closely
questioned him, through the interpreter, regarding the drug which he had
used for the purpose of stupefying the "People of the Stick," and found
that the feat was accomplished by steeping torches of fibrous bark in a
compound made from bruised herbs, and which closely resembled chloroform
in its effect, and of which, he added, he had often made quantities for
Zero.

Asked if he knew how Zero used the drug, this man at once fully
explained the whole "death," stupefaction, and abduction of Lady
Drelincourt and her child--a miserable aboriginal savage thus calmly
elucidating a mystery which had proved altogether too much for the
wisest doctors and keenest detectives in far-away and enlightened
England.

Upon Kenyon, however, expressing the most utter disbelief of his
statement, the "Fetish" boldly offered to exhibit the result of the
experiment in his own proper person, provided the white men would give
him some powder and a gun before they went away; and Kenyon having
undertaken to make him happy with a flint-lock and six feet of superior
English tower-marked "gas-pipe," the man forthwith proceeded to
demonstrate the truth of his curious tale.

First obtaining a small gourd of the drug referred to, he then took from
a pouch at his side a beautiful _little tame white monkey_.  Next
picking a sharp thorn, he coated the point well with the nameless
compound, and, giving the instrument to the monkey, pointed to himself.
The little animal cunningly concealed the thorn within its palm, and
then offered to shake hands with its master, and this ceremony having
been performed, the old man held up his hand and exhibited a small red
mark in the palm.  He then explained that the properties of the drug
were distinctly anaesthetic, and that he could not feel the puncture,
which was painlessly made; but he would nevertheless shortly go to sleep
for three or four days, and then wake up again, being quite recovered,
and none the worse for the experiment.

The drug had no perceptible effect upon the man for several hours, but
towards evening he began palpably to get very drowsy, and no power on
earth could keep him awake.  The suspicious Kenyon, however, was not to
be "done," and punched and kicked the old man unmercifully--an operation
in which he was most ably seconded by Amaxosa, who beat the "cunning man
of the witch-finders black and blue" with the handle of his spear,
pausing only now and then to take a pinch of snuff.  "Ow! my father," he
said at last, throwing down the spear in disgust--"Ow, my father, who
can beat the life into a dead dog like this?  What is gone is gone for
ever, and the breath will never come again, so we had best throw this
low fellow to the jackals; he is far too cunning to live with men."

Kenyon, however, kept his man safely and watched him keenly; he found
that during the continuance of the trance there was no perceptible
pulse, nor was there any movement of the heart or respiratory organs; it
was, in point of fact, an astonishing case of absolutely suspended
animation.  Everyone who examined the man insisted that he was an
undoubted corpse, and ridiculed the very idea of his returning to life;
and, to all appearance, he certainly was stone dead, and even Kenyon
began to fear that the old fellow, in his eagerness to vindicate his
reputation as a witch-doctor, had overdone the thing and settled himself
once for all.

On the fifth night, however, the "fetish man" awoke, sat up, coolly
asked for his powder and gun, and got both and a double allowance in
exchange for his wonderful secret, which he imparted to the delighted
Kenyon.

Lady Drelincourt confirmed all that the man had said.  She perfectly
remembered the pretty pet monkey, which had been brought round by Zero,
who was himself disguised as an organ-grinder, and both she and her
child had shaken hands with the little creature, and all the rest, of
course, was simple to a man of Zero's capabilities, to whom the work of
a resurrectionist was an unconsidered trifle, and whose devilish cunning
had rightly calculated that the old family doctor would say anything, or
sign anything, to protect his friend from the grisly horrors attendant
upon a post-mortem examination.

Of her removal by sea poor Dora knew nothing, and her first
recollections were upon a steamer bound for Madagascar, some days out
from France; and whenever she began to come out of her trance, Madame
Zero would promptly renew the dose, and effectually prevent the poor
girl from getting loose or making mischief, whilst she was given out on
board as being a delicate lady with an extremely feeble mind.

Zero's original intention had been to hold her for ransom, and apply to
Leigh for an enormous sum of money; but his "wife" stopped this, feeling
sure that it would bring upon the community the vengeance of the
outraged English law.

As soon, however, as the slaver knew of Leigh's arrival in his vicinity,
he determined upon the devilish plan of forcing Dora to marry one of his
own men, and then promised himself the hellish satisfaction of
_presenting her to her own husband as the wife of another man, and that
man, a Mormon_.

Having once disposed of the "fetish palaver," Kenyon became more eager
than anyone to turn his face homewards, and two days afterwards the
whole party accordingly left Equatoria, and after destroying the Bridge
of Rope, firing the public building, and razing to the ground the last
stronghold of Zero the slaver, his conquerors steered a straight course
for the south-western seaboard.



CHAPTER TWENTY TWO.

FAREWELL.

Months later the whole band reached safely a small Portuguese haven on
the south-west coast, in which there lay at anchor the Mormon's own
steam-vessel, the _Brigham Young_, and all going on board of her, the
old Prophet, who had now become excellent friends with Grenville and his
party, ordered steam to be got up, and, running comfortably down the
coast, soon landed our friends at Cape Town to wait for the English
mail-boat, whilst he himself, after revictualling his ship, set sail for
home with the remnant of his victorious army of the "Elect."

Bitter was the final parting between Grenville and Amaxosa, though the
great Zulu to some extent concealed his true feelings under the mask of
his accustomed stoicism.

"The light has gone out of my sun, my father," he said; "the
storm-clouds are very heavy, and my heart is split in twain.  What can
the chieftain of the Undi say more?  Yet, my father, if aught of evil
comes upon thee, then, out of the trackless deserts of the unknown land
beyond, call thou aloud for Amaxosa, thy true and only son, and thy
faithful war-dog will answer, `Here am I, my father!' and will
straightway follow on along the narrow, bloodstained path, even through
the darksome shadows of the dead, and into the glorious land of the
great hereafter.

"Fare ye well, Inkoosis, wise and mighty chiefs!

"Adieu, my little sister, who from the shadows of the cruel past hast
come to bless us!

"And to thee, my father--to thee, with whom the spirit of thy son is
bound in the bundle of life here and hereafter, to thee the Lion of the
Zulu gives his greeting last and best.  Greeting to thee, bravest of the
brave!

"Greeting and farewell!"





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