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´╗┐Title: Richard Galbraith, Mariner - Life among the Kaffirs
Author: Phillips, Emma Watts
Language: English
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Richard Galbraith, Mariner
Life among the Kaffirs
By Emma Watts Phillips
Illustrations by Vauteille; engraver Delangle
Published by Dean & Son, London.
Richard Galbraith, Mariner, by Emma Watts Phillips.

________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________
RICHARD GALBRAITH, MARINER, BY EMMA WATTS PHILLIPS.


CHAPTER ONE.

A WORD ABOUT MYSELF AND HOME.

I was born, as near as I can calculate, in the year 1801, at the time of
the Equinoctial gales, a fact which made the old fisherwives present at
my birth declare that I was marked out by the finger of Providence for a
sailor.

To confirm them, as it seemed, on this point, when the winds, with a
whirling rush, used to shriek around my parent's cottage, that clung,
limpet like to the face of the rocks which sheltered the little Cornish
fishing village, I, baby as I was, used to shriek in unison, not from
fear or pain, but unmitigated delight at, and sympathy with, its rough,
boisterous turmoil.

Certainly as I look back to my early days and what I have heard related
of them, the Breton saying, which in my voyages I have come across, "_Il
a de l'eau de mer autour du coeur_," appeared most true in my case, for
the rough shingly beach was my home in stormy weather or fine.  [He has
the sea water about his heart.]

During the former I would perch on some rocky crag and, only partly
sheltered from the cutting, drifting rain, cling curlew-fashion to its
rugged surface, and silently, but with infinite enjoyment, watch the
mountain waves, with their white dancing crests flung into myriads of
flashing particles by the wind, break with a roar like thunder on the
beach beneath, adding their contribution of spray to the rain which
drenched me to the skin.

When the weather was fine, especially if it were warm, I used to tumble,
paddle, and roll in the clear pools left by the receding tide, like some
amphibious little imp of creation, often getting within dangerous
proximity to the fingers of death, and being saved by a miracle, till
the inmates of the fishing hamlet had some reason for their reiterated
remark that I assuredly was not born to be drowned.  Assuredly not, nor
to be burned, boiled, nor served up for the supper of some dark-skinned
Indian chief and family neither, though in due course of my adventurous
life I have often fancied myself on the point of one of these pleasant
finales to existence.

It may naturally be thought that I was a constant source of anxiety to
my parents, and no doubt so I should have been, had not, at about the
time I had attained the second year of my life, a sudden squall caught
my father's fishing smack, and, capsizing it before he could luff, sent
him and his two companions into eternity.  The smack was found by some
fishermen much damaged, quite empty, every vestige of tackle gone, its
sails rent, and my father and the others nowhere.  My mother took this
so much to heart that she scarcely survived her husband's death a week,
and by joining him left me an orphan on my own hands.  I say "my own,"
though only two years old, for I had already displayed my wandering
propensities by toddling and scrambling alone among the rocks; and,
notwithstanding the few pounds my parents left would have procured me
the protection of many an honest, good-hearted fisherwife, I scorned all
such control, and resisted every effort to prevent my perambulations
among the rocks and pools, where, not unfrequently when older, and on
warm moonlight evenings, I used to spend even my nights; though, at
other times, I condescended to accept the shelter offered me in Jack
Brunscombe's cottage, for whose little blue-eyed daughter I had early
shown a marked liking, and would speedily have talked her into being the
companion of my idle hours, but for the vigilance of her mother, who
valued her darling's tender little form far too highly to trust it with
so wild, daring, idle a scapegrace as I.

Idleness, however, I soon proved they had no right to lay to my charge.
Hardly had I acquired the great age of five, than the fishermen began to
accept very willingly little Dick Galbraith's services in hanging out
their nets to dry, in swabbing the boats, or in any other minor capacity
to which they found me ever ready to lend a hand, though a baby one.

It is a true saying that "let an energetic nature once get his foot on
the world's ladder, he will never lose it again."  So with me.  The
willing child was found the willing boy, which soon raised me to the
dignity of going on fishing expeditions with the fishermen, who out of
the great kindliness of heart to be found with these people, seemed each
to adopt me--an orphan and a waif--for his own.  The old men, some of
whom had been sailors, were never tired of talking and telling yarns,
while I--as if conscious of the future before me, and of what importance
the information I was drinking in would hereafter be--was never tired of
listening and asking questions.

So had years passed over my head, when, on my eighteenth birthday, as
Jack Brunscombe with his family and I were seated in the little
cabin-like parlour, after a long and thoughtful pause, I suddenly broke
silence upon a subject which for months I had been turning over in my
mind.

"Brunscombe," I said, "you have frequently told me that there is a bit
of money I can lay claim to, when old enough to know what to do with
it."

"Right Dick, my bo'," replied the old man, removing his pipe from one
side of his mouth to the other, having on its passage rubbed his bristly
beard with the stem, "its what yer father's fects realised arter his
death bo', with compund interest."

"But, Brunscombe," I interrupted, "I don't consider that mine at all.
Have I not lived here with you ever since?  That money is fairly yours."

"If yer mean mine, to pay for your board and lodgin' bo', yer had better
take and chuck it to the rocks and pools, for them alone 'as pervided
for yer."

I laughed, but persisted, on which he rejoined.

"No, lad, the money's yours.  Never a penny will Jack Brunscombe touch.
If when a little 'un yer were any expense, you've more than repaid it
now you've growed up, for you've been a mort o' help to me.  But come
bo', let's to the point.  What made yer put that question about the bit
o' money to-night?  You'd some reason--so all fair and above board--fire
your broadside.  I'm prepared.  What is it?"

"Why, Brunscombe, I was thinking," I began, "that if I really had a
little money I would like to carry out a plan I have been turning about
in my head."

"And that?"

"Why, to go over to Liverpool or London, and enter the merchant
service."

"You find this here place then, too circumcised for your talents," he
rejoined, with a wink at Katie.

"I certainly think it too circumscribed for a young man beginning life,"
I replied.  "You, yourself, Brunscombe, did not pass all your existence
here, though _your_ native place as mine."

"Quite right, bo', quite; and joking apart, I think what you propose is
the correct thing to do.  So you may go into the town to-morrow, draw
out the money, and then up to Liverpool.  First of all, my old woman
will write yer a list of things necessary for your kit, and you've been
your own master long enough to know how to lay out the twenty punds, for
that's about the sum it is, judiciously."

Thus things were arranged quite to my satisfaction, and any of my
readers possessed with so eager a desire after adventure as held me
captive, will not wonder that I got little sleep that night.  I tossed
and turned, my brain busy with plans for the future; and no sooner did
the faintest glimmer of light show in at the little dormer window in the
roof, than I was up, dressed, and taking farewell of the dear old beach,
the rugged friendly rocks, and clear silver pools, natural aquaria,
bright with the beautiful delicate green _ulva latissima_ and _Porphyra
laciniata_, whose splendid fronds hanging in graceful festoons, formed
caves and grottos where lurked the sea _anemones_ or _actinias_, with
their tentacles tipped with rosy red--the more splendid crass, the sly
hermit crab in search for periwinkles, and the _uraster rubens_, or
five-fingered fish.

To each and all I bade a fervent, though silent adieu, and then, though
the sun was still not very much above the horizon, turned back to the
cottage, feeling certain that breakfast _must_ be ready, notwithstanding
that it yet wanted over half-an-hour to the time.

On nearing home, as I rounded a sharp angle of the rock, I came suddenly
upon Katie Brunscombe.  She was seated on a large boulder, her small
hands clasped round her knees, a bright handkerchief over her shoulders,
and her little feet just peeping out from beneath her rough blue serge
petticoat.  Her eyes were fixed on the sea, now sparkling like molten
gold, while the breeze off which tossed her yellow curls in sportive
play.

The expression of Katie's face, so sadly thoughtful, with a moisture
glistening on her long lashes, was such a marked contrast to my own
joyous one that involuntarily I stood still in wonder, then advancing, I
placed my arm gently about her waist, for we were as brother and sister
to each other, and said as I sat down by her side, "Why, Katie darling,
what is the reason of so sad a countenance this morning?"

She turned her blue eyes with a start upon me, while a rosy colour
rushed to her pretty cheeks as she strove to speak; but, suddenly,
bending down her head, and trying to free herself from my arm, she burst
into a flood of tears.

"What _is_ the matter, Katie?"  I asked, fairly puzzled at her
behaviour, stupid dolt that I was.  Then as the idea suddenly occurred
to me, I added, "Is it Katie that you would rather I did not go away?"

She was silent, still keeping her face from me, but at last I managed to
turn it round.

As if a veil had fallen both from my eyes and heart I read her secret,
and--my own--she loved me, and, with the knowledge, I became conscious
of my true feelings towards her.

My arm still about her waist, a familiarity she no longer resisted, I
again strolled down to the beach; and this time the visit must have been
far more agreeable than the former one, for I forgot all about my joy at
my departure, and do not know how long our conversation would have
lasted, had it not been interrupted by the voice of old Brunscombe,
hulloaing for me to come in, or I should be too late for breakfast.

So we went back to the cottage, betrothed lovers; the ceremony of
betrothal having taken place over a holey sixpence, which was to be
suspended round Katie's neck, and a tress of gold which reposed very
comfortably in my waistcoat pocket.

One hour after, Brunscombe and I sailed round to the point of land
nearest the town where he had deposited the money.  This I drew out;
made my necessary purchases, including a bright ribbon and work-box, for
Katie.  Then bidding Brunscombe a warm farewell, started for Liverpool.


CHAPTER TWO.

MY ADVENTURES COMMENCE.

On reaching Liverpool, the second port in Britain, the delight with
which I wandered about the vast docks and quays, can be easily imagined.
Here I found splendid ships--ships that were even giants to those I had
so frequently built up in my imagination.  As I gazed at their slender
tapering masts and net-work of cordage, I despaired in my heart of ever
being able to distinguish one of the myriad of ropes from another; but I
did what it is the best to do in all cases--I determined to try.

It so happened that at the time of my arrival there was a demand for
sailors before the mast, and with my knowledge of the sea it was not
difficult for me to procure a berth.  Thus on the third day I found
myself enrolled as one of the crew of a splendid merchant ship--the
_Columbus_, 2,500 tons, bound for Jamaica with full cargo.

So many accounts have been written of sailor's first voyages and
experiences that I shall pass over mine; they proved very uneventful
till seven years had nearly elapsed, during which period I had made many
visits home, bringing numerous curiosities for Katie, who now was my
wife, and had one or two little sailors in embryo to console her during
my absence.

Ten years then do I skip over, and come to the time when I shipped on
board the _Lively Ariel_, merchantman, bound for Madras.

As it was the first time I had been in this part of the globe, I was no
little delighted at the change, and promised Katie many Indian rarities,
such as ivory work-boxes, etc--little dreaming what a long, long voyage
I was about to take, and the vastly different things I should bring her
to those I intended.

But a merciful Providence kindly hides the future from us, for the
knowledge would make cowards of us all; therefore, ignorant of what was
to come, I bade her an affectionate farewell, tossed the crowing babies
in my arms, and started on the longest voyage I ever made.

It was a light favourable breeze with which we cleared out of the
Mersey, and went down Saint George's Channel, all sails set, and the
ship flying, gliding along, over the blue waves, like a perfect beauty
as she was.

With the wind thus in our favour, it was not long before we had lost
sight of Cardigan Bay, passed the Scilly Islands, and entered the ocean,
the broad Atlantic.  We had long passed the Cape Verde Isles, which
derive their names from being covered with quantities of _Adansonia_ or
baobab trees, whose stems are at times 34 feet in circumference, though
they rarely exceed 60 feet in height.  These trees so cover the sandy
plains of the above-mentioned Islands with their umbrella-shaped tops,
that approaching them they present the appearance of one vast field of
green verdure.  We had long passed them I say before the weather at all
changed, then but for a brief space, as we had scarcely crossed the
line, before the wind again chopped round to north, and so continued
till we reached the Cape of Good Hope, sighting the Table Rock, and the
misty cloud hanging above--its tablecloth, as it has been termed--about
six a.m.  Here we stayed to take in water, of which we were growing
scarce, and afterwards proceeded on our course, bringing as it seemed
the wind with us, for it speedily veered due south.

It was about the middle watch, which was mine, of the second night that,
leaning over the side of the ship, I looked into the dark depths of
ocean, and above at the splendid blue sky--a blue only to be seen in the
southern hemisphere--studded with stars like gems of immense magnitude.
I was looking, I repeat, upon these wondrous beauties of nature, and
thinking of Katie and the little ones at home, when my reverie, which
had been running as smoothly as the ship glided over the billows, was
broken by the voice of Tom Grimes, the boatswain, who, coming up, and
leaning over the side like myself, said, as he turned a quid in his
cheek.

"Well, Dick Galbraith, this here's stunning weather, ain't it.  _My_
stars--I mean them at home and not those there big moons up yonder with
which I've nothing to do--but in all my viages, I've never made such a
run as this."

"No, indeed," I rejoined; "it seems almost too good to last."

"Ah, that's it, my boy--that's it," answered the old boatswain.  "That's
it; we ain't in sight of Madras _yet_."

The stress on the last word made me say, "Do you expect any change,
Grimes?  Is bad weather brewing?"

"Rather," he replied; "and when you have been a sailor as long as I
have, and with as grey hair, you'll think so too.  Haven't you noticed
that the wind has slightly veered?"

"No," I said, instinctively putting his words to the test by wetting the
palm of my hand and holding it up to the soft night breeze.  "Yes,
Grimes, you are right," I continued.  "It's Sou'-Sou'-West, and was due
South but half-an-hour ago."

"Yes, it's been varying from South to Sou'-West and Sou'-Sou'-East for
the last hour, and may chop round to East or North-East and send a
perfect hurricane in our teeth.  It's _my_ opinion that that is what it
just will do."

"Why?"  I asked, for old Tom Grimes was an oracle with the crew.

"Why? my lad, why?  Because--there just notice the vibration of the ship
as she bounds over the waves--don't you notice a kind of imperceptible
stress in the movement, and a slight recoil?"

"Well, I certainly do; yet it is so slight."

"Ah!  A hurricane can come from a cloud only the size of a man's hand,
and that vibration shows a cross-sea running.  Mark my words, Galbraith,
we shan't go many days, if one, before there is an unpleasant change of
weather."

"Well, never mind, if we can only _weather_ it," I laughed; and just
then, the watch being changed, I went below and turned into my hammock,
where, falling speedily asleep, I forgot all about old Grimes'
prophecies.

The next morning's dawn, however, proved them only to be too true.  The
blue sky we had enjoyed for so long was overcast with large
ominous-looking clouds, while the wind had already chopped round to
East.  The ship was rigged for hard weather; and just an hour after
sunset, when about latitude 33 degrees 29 minutes South, longitude 42
degrees 12 minutes East, the gale struck us dead in our teeth.  The
heavens had suddenly become of an inky blackness; the sea rushing high,
with that hollow roar as if it rose from vast caverns in its depths,
frequently swept the decks; while the wind increased to such a terrific
pitch that it was with the greatest difficulty we could hold our course.

Scarcely half-an-hour elapsed before we saw that the danger of the ship
was imminent.  In my seven years' experience never had I witnessed such
a storm, nor one which did such speedy execution.  At each succeeding
wave the large ship started and quivered in every one of her timbers,
while sail after sail flew from the bolt ropes, and was lost in a
minute's space in the darkness to leeward.  Each man that night had his
full share of duty; and I noticed the Captain--a noble, brave-hearted
fellow, as he stood issuing his orders, which the gale scarcely
permitted to be heard--looked every moment anxiously at the rigging.
Finally surrendering his speaking trumpet to the mate, he descended
quickly to the cabin.

It was not many moments before he returned, and, hidden by the darkness,
I heard him address the mate in a grave tone.

"Sanders, I fear we are in a bad way."

"Where abouts are we, sir?" responded the other.

"Heaven alone knows; for the electricity in the storm has rendered the
compass almost useless.  But, judging from where we were before the gale
struck us, and from how we have been drifting since, I fancy we are near
the African coast--too near, I fear, for we cannot with certainty make
for any known harbour."

"I reckon," said the mate, "that we are not far from the Mozambique."

"I fancy so too.  Would to Heaven I could get but one glimpse of the
Southern Cross.  We might then with some chance make for Natal or
Delagoa Bay."

And he turned his eyes hopelessly up at the impenetrable blackness--
hopeless indeed, for there was no sign of breaking there.

Hardly had I noted this when a cry of terror escaped from the lips of
the whole crew.  A terrific wind, accompanied by a quick succession of
mountainous waves, had carried away at one sweep the jib-boom,
fore-top-mast, gallant-mast, and royal-mast, leaving them still clinging
to the ship by the stays, so impeding her progress that she rolled in
the deep troughs of the sea as if every moment she would plunge in to
rise no more.  Our peril was not, however, yet at the worst; for hardly
had a little calm succeeded this last damage, and the wreck had been
cleared away--at the expense of two poor fellows' lives--than,
staggering on to the deck with pallid face, came the carpenter, with the
awful announcement that the ship had sprung a leak, and the water was
even then some feet deep in the hold.

The order was given--"All hands to the pumps;" and men wearied beyond
apparent endurance before, at this danger were animated with fresh
strength, and worked like giants.

Worked!--but to what purpose?  Each anxious message sent down to learn
how much the water had decreased, only brought back the desponding reply
of an increase,--first, so many inches; then a foot; then two; then the
terrible truth that, work with the strength of fifty giants, all would
be useless.  The ship was doomed--was sinking, sinking rapidly into the
midst of that black, boiling, awful sea.  If all men's hearts grew faint
at the news, was it a matter of wonder?  Even the Captain's cheek was
pale as he gave the order to lower the boats, a command rapidly obeyed,
but which only disclosed fresh disasters; for it was found that the
starboard lifeboat had gone.  They had therefore to repair to the
starboard cutter, and with difficulty was it lowered to leeward, when it
was speedily filled by some of the crew.

I stood by the captain, determined not to leave him; and cutting away
the ropes, we watched the cutter take its course.  Not for long did it
keep it; for with a terrific cry from its wretched freight, echoed by
all on the doomed ship, it foundered, leaving but a struggling mass of
human beings on the surface, to be quickly engulphed by the mighty
waves.  The captain gave one lingering look, uttered a short prayer for
them and for us, then, turning, wrung my hand, saying, while, I fancy,
tears stood in his eyes--

"Galbraith, my man, our time will come next--our hour is at hand.
Orders, now, in the wreck my poor, my beloved ship have become useless.
We must part.  Her fate is sealed, and so, I believe, is ours.  God help
us!  Let each one now look for what safety he can.  Goodbye--farewell--
my men!  God have mercy upon us!  Should any chance to survive this
terrible night, let him take the last farewells of those less fortunate
to the dear ones left at home."

A sad cheer rose from the poor fellows' throats, and solemnly the
captain, raising his eyes to heaven, uttered a brief appeal to God for
himself and his crew--an appeal fervently repeated by each man.  Then
one and all sought some spar or other to which to attach himself, and
thus await death; for there was little chance that any there would
survive to take home those last solemn farewells.

One by one I saw my companions borne overboard by the giant waves till I
grew sick at the thought that my turn would be the next.  But not yet--
the brave captain went first.  Then, suddenly, death seemed to seize
me--the sea was all about me--its horrible rushing was in my ears, and I
felt sinking--sinking to the very bottom of the ocean.  I believe for
the moment I lost consciousness; but when I came to, I was again on the
surface of the waters, rising like a cork upon the waves.

So I floated here and there for, it appeared to me, hours--though it
could not have been one--alone on the ocean--alone, for all I knew; for,
as far as I could see, when on the top of some great billow, not a
vestige of the fine ship, or her crew, was in sight.

Abruptly, almost as abruptly as it had risen, the hurricane began to
abate.  As it did so, I became aware of the sound, so well known to
sailors, of breakers in the direction to which I was driving head first.
In vain I strove to turn, to ascertain whether the breakers to which I
was evidently hastening were created by rocks above or below the
surface.  If the former, with such a surf running, I must assuredly be
dashed to pieces.  But all I could see was a vast expanse of white
boiling foam, into the midst of which the next wave flung me, to be
tossed among a mass of sharp pointed rocks.  Existence here would have
been of short duration had not another billow, more kind than the first,
raised me in its arms and thrown me over the reef into comparatively
calm water.  A few seconds after I fancied my feet touched land.  I
waited anxiously for the next wave.  Yes--land it was, and oh, thank
Heaven! the tide was running in.

Releasing one of my arms, I strove to aid my progress; but, as if
wearied of its terrible play, the ocean at last cast me, rolling over
and over, on to a sandy beach.  Fearful that it might repent of its
kindness, and drag me back again, I managed to free myself entirely from
the spar.  Then, faint and staggering--for, besides my exertions, the
jagged rocks had inflicted many bruises on my person--I crawled far up
the beach, till my hand, touching some plant that I knew by its fresh
dryness had never been covered by the salt sea, assured me I was safe;
then I sank down insensible, utterly ignorant, nor at the moment caring,
upon what portion of the African coast I had been thrown.


CHAPTER THREE.

COMPANIONS IN TROUBLE--A SURPRISE.

It was, as far as I could calculate, some three hours after sunrise,
before I returned to consciousness, to find myself weak and in some
little pain from the bruises occasioned by the reefs, among which the
sea had so unmercilessly tossed me.

My first glance rested on my clothes, only a pair of duck trousers and a
red shirt, which to my no little vexation, I found had suffered but
slightly better than their master, for they were rent and torn in
various places.

With difficulty, rising partly up, for every limb was stiff, I in some
curiosity and a great deal of anxiety, looked around.

The sea, in wonderful contrast to the phase under which I had last seen
it, now lay forty yards from me beneath the tropical sun; its emerald
green surface broken only by minute waves with their crests of flashing
crystals, which broke with a deceitful murmur like the purring of a
tiger, on the beach.

In its direction I could learn nothing of the locality in which my fate
had thrown me, so turning I looked behind.

I was perfectly ignorant of Southern scenery, and as my eyes rested on
it I was struck with wonder and admiration.  Shelving up, gently here--
with boldness there--was a sweep of land covered by forests of noble
trees, many of a species with which, at that time, I was perfectly
unacquainted.  Beyond were gently undulating hills, clothed by a strange
and splendid vegetation, intermingled--for the view was of some extent--
with the rugged face of rocks, their hardness softened by masses of
clinging plant.

Never had I seen a more beautiful landscape, nor one so eloquent of
repose--though there was an immense drawback to a man in my position.  I
could not perceive a single sign of humanity.  From the appearance, I
might have fancied myself washed upon some terrestrial paradise, yet
untrodden by the foot of man.  I could not remain contemplating this
Southern Eden for long, however, as nature began to assert itself, and I
became aware that I was exceedingly hungry, so staggering to my feet I
determined to go, cautiously, in search of something to stay it, and
also to inspect the country.  First, however, feeling very sorry
respecting my companions, I kneeled down and fervently thanked God who
had preserved me so far, and humbly beseeching Him in His mercy yet to
continue with me in my trouble.  Trouble truly, for I had been traveller
enough in strange lands to know that, especially in this part of the
world, these quiet beautiful spots of nature, not unfrequently made
homes for all manner of wild animals, and tribes of men but little less
savage in their disposition.

Therefore, I regarded the cool shade of the forest trees with distrust,
knowing that, from the luxuriant bushes of the flowering mimosa, even at
that moment the large eyes of some fierce inhabitant of the forest--the
lion, tiger, or leopard, for instance--might be waiting to seize its
prey.  For which reason, though a tropical sun was pouring its intense
rays on my head, I, being so utterly unarmed, merely skirted the forest,
seeking among its numerous and varied vegetation for some kind of fruit
to stay my craving.  One plant I speedily recognised--that was the
banana; the fruit of this tree, now so generally known, is usually from
four to five inches long, shaped something like a cucumber, and grows in
great bunches that weigh twelve pounds and upwards.  Here, however, I
was perfectly astonished at their immense size, doubling, if not
trebling, those in other parts of the world.  With the aid of a stick
and some climbing I succeeded in procuring enough to satisfy my hunger,
and in doing so startled a swarm of birds, which flew so speedily away
that I could but see numerous flashes through the boughs of bright
plumage, while the screaming and jabbering of monkeys in the depths of
the forest assured me of those gentlemen's presence.

My wants respecting breakfast being appeased, I determined to make for a
ridge of rocks that, running into the sea, formed a small promontory,
for the shore was a small secluded bay, which easily accounted for the
calmness of the water when I had passed the reef.  I hoped there to find
shelter from the broiling sun, that was beginning most unpleasantly to
blister my skin where it showed through the tatters in my clothes, while
as to my brain, I believe it would have been scorched up long ago had I
not gathered a small banana leaf--I say _small_, for they grow to two
yards in length--and fastened it over my head with a piece of the stem
of a beautiful parasitical plant which I found growing over nearly all
the forest trees, climbing up to their topmost branches, and from thence
sending a mass of slender threads, from branch to branch, in graceful
festoons to the ground.  The name of this beautiful creeper I learned
later to be _Cynanchum obtusifolium_; the Dutch settlers, however, call
it Bavian-tow, or baboon ropes, because by their aid baboons and monkeys
climb the trees to gather the fruit.  The Kaffirs also use these ropes
to lash together the thatch of their huts.

It may be thought, if these creepers are strong enough to support
baboons, and serve as cordage, how I could break them asunder.  First,
then, the commencement of the filaments are scarcely stronger than
pack-thread, but grow thicker and thicker, till about the size of a
man's arm.  Secondly, by a happy chance, the large clasp-knife--the
sailor's constant companion and friend--which I always carried in my
pocket, yet remained there, despite the buffeting I had received.

While talking of plants, I will here mention one that particularly
attracted my attention, and whose unpleasant nature I was yet to
discover.  It grew along the ground or hang in festoons from bush to
bush, and, at the time I saw it, was one mass of splendid purple bloom;
but what mostly drew my notice, was that all along its branches there
were strong sharp thorns, like hooks, arranged in pairs, looking just as
if they were traps extended by some bunting lion, to catch his victim
and hold it till his majesty chose to dine.  Fortunately for me, despite
its beautiful blossoms, I was too anxious respecting my position to
inspect it more closely, but hurried on eager to get to the rocks, where
I resolved, if I could possibly do so, to remain, that I might ever be
on the watch, and near at hand should any ship pass within sight of the
shore.

On reaching the base, I began cautiously to climb to the summit--no
difficult task, as the face was extremely rugged, being composed of
masses, forming ledges and huge gapping crevices, covered with lichen
mimosas and hard spined cacti.  At the first outset, however, I was much
startled by a sudden rushing among the bushes, as of some animal close
by.  Not knowing what it might be, I quickly drew back, but my fright
speedily subsided, when I saw a little creature, bearing a close
resemblance to the rabbit, dash across my path evidently as much afraid
of me as I had been of him.  Continuing my way, I mentally resolved that
if, by dinner time, I came across another such little gentleman, or even
the same, I would try to catch it for that repast.

I had nearly reached the top of the promontory when my terror was again
renewed.  I fancied I heard the murmur of voices above, coming in my
direction.  Instantly I crouched down among the bushes with suspended
breath.

There were people here then, but the question was, who were they?

From the appearance of the land altogether I felt certain there could be
no English settlers so near--therefore it was evident that the
inhabitants must belong to the savage tribes; whether acquainted with,
and friendly, or otherwise to, the white man, was to me a most
unpleasant doubt.  I therefore resolved, if possible, to avoid being
seen, at any rate till I had inspected them further, as I had no desire
to serve for the dinner of a hungry Kaffir family, or even, if not
cannibals, to be tortured for their amusement.  Hidden from view, I
listened anxiously.  All was silent, not a sound came, though once I
fancied the bushes moved on the rock above, followed by a low
whispering.  Had they discovered my proximity, and were also watching,
preparatory to making a seizure?

I knew that, bold as the Kaffirs are in a body, in a single attack they
are cunning and fond of strategy.  Therefore had I been perceived, they,
not knowing but that others were with me, might be at that very moment
stealthily encircling the bushes where I lay, which the next moment
would perhaps be pierced as well as my body with a hundred arrows or
spears, whichever it was their custom to use.

At this thought I crouched still lower, and cannot divine how long a
time I remained there, my danger and the suspense making it, no doubt,
appear far longer than it really was; when, everything remaining quiet,
I grew nervous at the very silence, and at last determined, though
totally unarmed, to reconnoitre the top of the promontory.  I had
certainly heard voices, but perhaps the speakers had passed on, really
unaware of my presence; if not, it was better for me to brave it out
than to die like a dog without making any resistance.  Besides, if the
natives were so close, the place was no safe retreat for me, unless they
happened to be friendly.

Stealthily quitting the bushes, and softly climbing the intermediate
space, I, reaching my hands to the ledge, pulled myself up to its level
and looked over.  I had hardly done so than I was so startled that I
nearly let go my hold and fell back among the rocks; for the first
object that met my view was a human face looking savagely into mine.  My
exclamation of surprise was echoed by one of no friendly character,
accompanied by a round true English sounding oath, addressed to the
black race in particular, as a heavy stick was poised in the air, and
would have inevitably ended the career of Richard Galbraith, had I not
cried out just in time.

"Good heavens!  Jack Thompson, is that you and alive?"

The stick dropped from his hands, for it was indeed no other than the
third mate of the wrecked ship; and with a second exclamation, seizing
my arms, he pulled me on to the ledge.

"Why, Dick Galbraith!  Spars and rope-yarns, but you only spoke in time.
Lord forgive me! but with that there gigantic cabbage leaf over your
head, I took you for some savage cannibal."

In truth, I must have presented a strange figure, and despite our
position, I could not help indulging in a laugh at Jack Thompson's face
of dismay at what he had been about to-do; but speedily checking it, I
asked with much concern how he had been saved, and whether there were
any others of the crew as fortunate as ourselves.

"Only one more that I know of," replied Jack, "and that's the young
minister chap as was allus reading."

"What, the Reverend Mr Ferguson, the missionary that we were to set
ashore in Madagascar?"

"Yes, that's him, and I must say he improves upon acquaintance.  I
confess I didn't think much of him on board, with his preachifying; but
dash my top-sail if, with all his pale quiet face he ain't a jolly
fellow in the moment of trouble.  Ay, he's as cheerful as a sandboy, and
somehow, his little bit of scriptur now seems rather consoling than
otherwise."

"But how, Jack, in Heaven's name, did you escape from those terrible
waves?"

"Why, much about the same way you did, I guess.  We lashed ourselves to
spars, and after a bit of severe tossing, got pitched up on this here
shore."

"And what made you come to these rocks?"

"Why to seek shelter from that blessed furnace of a sun."

"And," I added eagerly, "have you seen any of the natives?"

"No, but we thought we heard one about half an hour ago," said a voice
behind me.  Looking round, I saw it belonged to the young missionary,
who was standing looking down upon us, for we were seated on the rock.
"However," he continued, "`the native' has turned out to be no other
than a fellow-comrade in distress."

The Reverend Mr Ferguson had a slim, gentlemanly figure, and a pale,
thoughtful, studious face, but one which was frequently lighted up by
the most pleasant, sunshiny, and kindly of smiles.

"Thank God," he added devoutly, as he raised his eyes upward, "that
there is, indeed, another of us saved."

As Jack Thompson had said, Mr Ferguson's "preachifying" no longer
seemed out of place; and for myself, I am sure in my heart I most
devoutly said Amen to the thanksgiving.  Then, getting up, I asked if he
could at all tell in what part of Caffraria we were--for that we were
somewhere on that coast I was certain.

"From the few observations I have been able to make, I fancy this spot
must be between Delagoa Bay and Natal," he replied.

"And the natives, Sir," put in Jack Thompson.

"Of them I know little by recent report, save that some of the tribes
are friendly, while others are very hostile to the white man."

"Pray Heaven," I ejaculated, "that we may signal a ship before there is
time to make their acquaintance."

"If it be Heaven's will, yes," rejoined the missionary, fervently.  "But
who knows, He may have cast us on these shores as a fitting soil to
plant the seeds of His religion, which alone can give eternal
happiness."

Jack and I made no answer, for as yet we were too worldly and weak of
faith to feel as resigned to the ways of Providence as this
self-sacrificing young minister, whose constant study was his Master's
will.

"But come," he added cheerfully, "now we find it is an old comrade that,
for the last half hour has been frightening us, let us continue our
search for shelter and rest."  Instantly concurring in this proposal, we
soon found an overhanging rock, which formed a species of cave, the
inside being well sheltered from the view of anyone on the outside by
thickly tangled _mimosa_, and other bushes.

Into this we crept, I first, with a skill surprising to myself, having,
by the aid of a stick knocked over one of the little animals such as I
had seen, and which Mr Ferguson informed us was called a hyrax, or rock
rabbit, they being very plentiful on this coast.

When we all three were inside the cave, we began to prepare our dinner.
Jack skinned the hyrax, while I looked about for the means to kindle the
dry branches I had collected, to cook it.  I had, I am sorry to say,
never thought much of book-learning, but now I was to discover its
immense value.  While still puzzling my brains as to how to procure a
spark, to no purpose, Mr Ferguson, who had quitted the cave after
borrowing my knife, returned bringing two pieces of wood, one flat, the
other of a different kind, sharpened to a keen point.

"Is that touchwood, Sir," I asked eagerly.

"Well, yes," he replied with a smile.  "I will show you how the natives
of Abyssinia, and I believe in this place also, procure fire when they
want it.  This," he added, meaning the flat piece, "is a soft wood; this
pointed one is of the hard _acacia_.  Now be ready to help when I want
you."

So saying, he sat down, holding the flat piece of wood firmly on the
ground with his feet, then, placing the pointed _acacia_ stick
vertically upon it, began twirling it rapidly between the palms of his
hands.

Jack and I attentively watched the process, and soon saw the hard point
make its way slowly into the other, producing a fine dust, which
presently began to darken in colour, and finally to smoke; upon this, by
Mr Ferguson's orders we blew softly, and speedily after a flame
springing up ignited the wood.

"Well, that's stunning, at any rate!" cried Jack, as the flame began to
kindle the heap of branches.

"Yes; but we must not let the smoke be seen, else it will warn any
keen-eyed Kaffir who may be in the neighbourhood of our whereabouts."

We now all set to work, and in this in voluntary picnic began to forget
the dangers which encompassed us.  A first-rate dinner we made, and, for
my part, it tasted all the better for the short but earnest blessing Mr
Ferguson asked for it.  Afterwards he insisted upon Jack and I taking
some sleep, of which we all stood in great need, saying it was necessary
for one to remain awake, and that he would take the first watch,
arousing one of us when our turn came.

To use an old expression, we were really dog-tired, and notwithstanding
the hardness of our beds, scarcely a minute elapsed before we were
sleeping soundly.  Once, before falling off, I heard Mr Ferguson tell
Jack that if he snored so loud he would arouse all Caffraria.  I am
ashamed to confess it even now, but so tired were we, that Jack and I
never woke for our turn of watch, and the kind-hearted young clergyman
never disturbed us, though he must have been quite as weary as we were.

We had been asleep some hours, for the sun had set, and a large,
glorious-faced moon was shining down full upon this uncultivated but
splendid land, when I was startled broad-awake by a hand being placed on
my shoulder.  At the same moment Mr Ferguson's voice whispered in my
ear--

"Richard--Richard Galbraith, get up; I believe our retreat is
discovered, and the Kaffirs are upon us."


CHAPTER FOUR.

A VISIT FROM A NATIVE--THE MERCY OF PROVIDENCE.

The moon shone in over the tops of the bushes outside the cave, with a
broad flood of splendid silver light, throwing fantastic shadows inside
upon the minister and me, the heap of ashes left from the fire, and on
Jack Thompson, still sleeping in the further corner.

The beams falling at a direct angle, the foot of the bushes, by
contrast, was left in intense darkness, and in this direction it was
that, as the minister aroused me, I caught the sound of a stealthy
movement.  With suspended breath I half raised myself on my elbow.  The
minister knelt by my side, his left hand clutching my arm, his face
turned to the entrance of the cave, with a finger raised to his lip,
commanding silence.

We felt at that moment that our lives trembled in the balance, and,
scarcely permitting a nerve to stir, we watched.

The stealthy rustling among the bushes, continued, evidently coming
nearer.  Once I motioned towards Jack Thompson with a look that I
thought he ought to be awakened, but bending to my ear Mr Ferguson
whispered,--

"I fear to do so.  Our presence may yet be unknown to our enemies, and
Thompson makes such a noise, sleeping or waking, that for his safety, as
well as ours, he had better remain quiet while he is so."

"If not conscious of our presence," I returned in the same low tone,
"why are they here?  Is it for fishing?"

The missionary shook his head, as he replied, "Scarcely.  Why they are
here I cannot tell, but certainly not for fishing, for the Kaffirs never
eat fish; it being such an aversion to them, that they cannot even fancy
other people doing so."

A few minutes passed in silence, while still the cautious sound
approached nearer--yes, up to the very mouth of the cavern in which we
were--when with a great gawp, as I peered into the bushes, I ejaculated,
"Heaven have mercy upon us!"

"What is it, Galbraith?" asked Mr Ferguson eagerly, bending to my
level.

"See," I whispered, "See; the lion."  And there it stood, its two red
eyes of flame glaring in upon us, or rather into the cave.

I felt the tremor in my own frame spread to my companion, and I made an
effort to rise so as to be on my guard, but Mr Ferguson prevented me,
whispering,--

"Make no noise, Galbraith, he may pass on."

I shook my head as I pointed to the fresh skin of the hyrax, the smell
of which had no doubt attracted the animal.  My sign was all eloquent,
and like statues--for we felt how utterly armless, and therefore
powerless, we were--we waited, our eyes fixed on our foe.  Even in this
terrible moment, I could not help thinking how justly the lion had been
termed the king of beasts.  To see him properly, if not comfortably, is
to see him free in his native land.  The grandness of his head, the rich
tawny hue, the eyes bright as fire, the graceful, flowing mane, are
beauties of nature which are lost when the fierce bold spirit is caged.

But I had little time, had I had inclination, to take a longer survey,
for with his flexible yet massive paw he crushed down the remaining
barrier of _mimosa_, then crouching prepared to spring.

As I noted the action, the twisting, quivering movement of the lithe,
cat-like body, all the muscles contracted ready for the jump, the cry of
terror remained frozen on my lips--I seemed, I felt as stone.  The next
moment, however, I was aroused by a sharp ejaculation of horror from the
missionary.  Starting forward he seized the heavy stick I had cut from
the bush.

"Merciful Heaven!  Look there, Galbraith," he cried.  "Jack Thompson!
The terrible brute will have him.  For God's sake, let us save the poor
fellow!"

Before the words could be uttered, the beast with a roar had sprung upon
his victim.  Like a flash of light his heavy body rose through the air,
and the next instant its fearful teeth had fastened upon the poor mate's
shoulder.

He awoke with a terrific scream, then as he saw those fearful,
relentless eyes glaring down upon him, must from fear and pain have
fainted, for he lay like one dead.

In the meanwhile the minister and I were not idle.  Though we felt our
efforts must be futile, we yet could not see our companion thus carried
off without resistance, for the lion had already begun to back out of
the cave, dragging its prey after him.

Opening my knife, I bade the minister stand clear, then prepared to
spring upon the animal and plunge it in his throat; but, as if conscious
of my design, with a low angry growl, it kept its gleaming eyes upon
mine and stopping, seemed to await my attack with disdainful contempt,
never, however, letting go of poor Jack, who now with returning
consciousness began to moan piteously.

"Great Heaven! have mercy on him," I heard Mr Ferguson exclaim.  "You
can never help him, Galbraith; lions are not killed with pen-knives, and
the beast has already read your intent.  It will be your death as well
as Thompson's."

"I will try something," I muttered, never taking my eyes from the
lion's; for I had heard how great the power of the human glance was over
these animals, and, certainly mine seemed to hold him spellbound.
Suddenly, a thought struck me; I remembered the thick bushes that hung
over the top of the cave, and hurriedly said to the minister--

"Our only chance, if we have any, is to make a general attack.  Will
you, by the help of the bushes, climb to the top of the cave--I feel he
will not move yet--while I keep my eyes on his.  Then at a given signal
you drop on him with that pointed stick of hard _acacia_, while I will
spring at his throat with my knife.  We may at least startle him into
making a retreat--only for the love of Heaven be quick! or Thompson will
recover, and, by his struggles, change the animal's position."

In a moment, though the act was so perilous, and indeed, was likely to
end in three lives being sacrificed instead of one, the young minister
was climbing the bushes.

Anxiously I waited, still keeping my eyes on the lion which, at the
sound of the rustling branches, began to beat his tail ominously.

By sense of hearing I tried to divine how Mr Ferguson was progressing,
and was congratulating myself by the certainty that he must be near the
top, when, suddenly letting go Thompson, with a warning roar, I in
horror perceived that the lion intended to make me his victim instead of
the mate.

My fate, I felt was sealed.  Thoughts of home, of Katie, of my little
ones, rushed with the speed of light to my brain, while my heart grew
sick.

A prayer escaped my lips, as I saw the wide, blood-red jaws expand to
seize me, and the body rise with a noiseless spring.  Tottering back, in
imagination I already felt the hot breath of the animal on my face--his
teeth in my flesh, when a crashing noise abruptly rung in my ears,
followed by a cry of fear, and a howl of agony from the lion.  Then a
cloud of blinding dust enveloped me, and I fell back stunned against the
wall of the cave.

It was some seconds before I could clear my eyes sufficiently to look
for the cause of the noise, the dust, and of my yet being untouched by
the lion, whose moans I could still hear.

On looking up, I saw to my surprise that the moonlight now streamed in
at the _top_ of the cave instead of the front which was blockaded by a
great mass of rock, partly covered by which was the lion, writhing in
agony, and utterly powerless--his hind quarters being crushed beneath
the weight.

How the rock had come there, and what was the fate of my companions were
mysteries, and I was striving to get my confused senses together to make
a search when the head, and then the body of Mr Ferguson appeared,
climbing over the fallen rock.

"Galbraith, in mercy speak if you be yet alive!" he cried in accents of
terror.

"I am all right, Sir," I answered, "but for Heaven's sake tell me how
all this happened."

"I scarcely know--I was climbing the rock when, as I neared the top, I
fancied the bush was giving way.  I should have fallen just in front of
the lion's jaws, and before I could reflect on the matter, the instinct
of self-preservation innate in us all, made me spring out among the
bushes beneath.  No sooner had I done so, than I heard a terrific noise
accompanied by a fall, and, turning, perceived there had been a
landslip, the mouth of the cave being barricaded by this rock."

"And it has saved our lives," I ejaculated.  "The hand of Providence is
in it, Sir.  We were helpless, and it has saved us by a miracle, for the
lion is half-crushed and will be dead shortly, while I can hear
Thompson, moaning, not as if in any greater pain than the lion's teeth
must have occasioned.  Come in, Sir, and aid me to look."

Mr Ferguson instantly sprang down, when I with my clasp-knife soon
despatched the now powerless and fainting lion; then we groped about for
Jack.  We quickly discovered him, and found it was the second narrow
escape from death that he had had in the last hour, for the rock was
scarcely an inch from his head.  Drawing him away we bound up his
shoulder as well as we could with our handkerchiefs.  When this was done
and he had recovered consciousness I said--

"I have been thinking, Mr Ferguson, that the unpleasant visit we have
had to-night may be repeated.  So what do you say to trying to get down
to the edge of the sea?  The wild animals will hardly come there."

"You are right, Galbraith; but I doubt if poor Thompson could manage
it."

"Yes, Sir, I think I can," he answered.  "I'm precious weak and faint,
sartinly; that beggar's teeth were rather large skewers and nearly did
for me, so I would sooner try to walk to where we shall be safe than
risk such another rough style of trussing."

This being agreed upon, Mr Ferguson and I lent our aid to get Jack over
the rock, from whence we began to make our way to the shore.  Once the
poor fellow fainted, and I thought we should have to stop where we were,
but he managed to proceed after a while, and on reaching the sea was
much refreshed by having his wounds bathed in the water.  After which,
as neither of us felt inclined to sleep, we sat down to wait for dawn,
though what fresh perils it might bring us was a question we did not
care to contemplate.

We had been lying on the beach for, I should imagine, nearly two hours,
in silence watching the ocean alight in the trough of every wave with
brilliant flashing phosphorescence and silver moonlight, and thinking of
our terrible position, when Mr Ferguson, who had remained so motionless
that I had believed him to be asleep, and naturally after his two
nights' fatigue, spoke--

"Galbraith," he said, "I have been reflecting that our wisest plan after
all will be to make across the country, for, unarmed as we are, we are
like to find the animals about here as dangerous as the natives, who
possibly might be friendly and hospitable should we fall in with them."

I hadn't much trust in the latter hope, for I had heard many travellers'
tales respecting the Kaffirs, but I answered--

"You know best, Sir; and I think you are right."

"At any rate, God will be with us anywhere as He is here," he added.
"We must trust in Him, who has already saved us from one terrible
danger."

"That is true, Sir; when shall we start?"

"Not till dawn," he rejoined.  "I have been looking at the stars, also
at that headland, and recalling all I have read and seen respecting this
coast, and fancy Natal cannot be far off.  Who knows but while we are
endangering our lives here, some English or Dutch settlement may be at
the other side of that headland?"

"You are right, Sir," said Jack, joining in; "I'm blessed if you ain't;
and if the Dutch only have their schnapps with 'em, I shall be
uncommonly glad, for I feel as if I want something to stir me up."

No doubt he did, for his wounds must have sorely troubled him, though he
bore them so patiently.

"I vote," he added, "that we start at once."

"No, Jack," said Mr Ferguson; "there are several reasons for our not
doing so first, a few hours' rest will do us good; secondly, you must
have the handkerchiefs round your shoulder wetted again and again to
keep down the inflammation; and thirdly, as we must pass through the
bush, we had better do so when the beasts of prey have returned to their
lairs, for I suspect the visit of one has been already quite enough for
you."

"Too much, Sir, and your third reason is stronger than all the rest put
together, so for another wash of these kind remembrances left me by his
majesty, the King of the Hanimals, though I could well have excused him
paying the compliment, then to wait for dawn."

Wait for dawn! yes truly; but with what laggard steps it appeared to
come.  As the hours advanced, the beautiful Southern constellations, the
Columba noachi, or Noah's-dove, the Crux Australis, or Southern Cross--
the guiding star of the southern hemisphere, appeared rather to grow
brighter than more faint; and it seemed an age before the first golden
streaks of the sun shot up into the sky.  No sooner had it done so, than
I awoke Jack, who, by our earnest entreaties had taken a little sleep,
then we started for the bush.

On our way we began really to believe that the place was uninhabited by
man, for in the distance we saw nothing to resemble a human being,
either black or white; while our own progress, remaining so
uninterrupted, proved we had not attracted observation, which we could
scarcely have failed to have done, had there been any of the natives
near.

On entering the bush we managed to make a breakfast off some fruits
which the minister, from his book-learning, knew not to be poisonous,
while from the coiled-up leaves of the plantain, we procured sufficient
water to slake our burning thirst.  We had not gone far, before Mr
Ferguson saved me by a quick jerk backwards from the grip of one of
those thorns I have before referred to.  He informed us that it was a
plant very plentiful in the bush, known by the name of _uncaria
procumbens_, from its manner of trailing along the ground; and also
called the hook thorn, being armed, as I had noticed, with strong hooks.
Besides those on the branches, when the seed vessels break, each of the
sides is covered with hooked thorns, which possess such strength and
sharpness, that their grasp is with difficulty avoided by the natives,
while when the unfortunate European once is caught, all his efforts
serve but to fasten him the tighter; for the action of unhooking one
thorn only causes him to be seized by a dozen.  Indeed, without aid it
is almost impossible for him to get away.  There is another kind called
the Karra-dorn or white thorn, found generally on the banks of rivers,
whose thorns are nearly seven inches long, and of such strength and
sharpness that a lion has been known to have been impaled on them, and
died of the wounds inflicted.

Hearing this account of them, I loudly rejoiced at my good fortune which
had kept me from too close a proximity, when first seeing them in the
bush.

Mr Ferguson's anecdotes pleasantly whiled away the time; and to our
relief we came across no more savage animals than monkeys, who, as we
passed, jabbered and chattered in hundreds from the trees above, which
were in general, all festooned with the before-mentioned Baboon ropes.
Frequently, however, the Hook thorn presented impenetrable barriers
across our path, compelling us to turn out of our course; and more than
once, I know the thought occurred to all of the probability of our being
lost in the bush.  But Mr Ferguson kept a constant watch on the sun,
and encouraged Jack with comforting words when, poor fellow, his heart
began to fail, for his wounds had made him weak and hopeless.

We must, I am sure, have been over ten hours in the wood before we began
to find the trees grow less thickly together, when we made more rapid
progress.  In another hour we had got to the outskirts of the forest
when, laying my hand on Jack's arm, I said, pointing with the other to a
beautifully green plain some little distance off, and slightly below our
level.

"Jack, look, we have got to the natives at last.  Do you see them, Mr
Ferguson?"

"_I_ do," responded Jack, "and a rum set of outlandish niggers they are.
Lor, who can expect to be understood, much less receive hospitality
from _them_.  Far more likely to give us a warmer reception than we care
for.  But what on earth are they about?"

"They are evidently performing some native ceremony," said Mr Ferguson.

But the description of the tribe of Kaffirs we had come upon, and the
ceremony in which they were taking part, I shall leave for the
commencement of the next chapter.


CHAPTER FIVE.

JACK AGAIN IN GRIEF--THE KAFFIRS!--CAPTURED.

The stretch of country so suddenly disclosed to our view was one of
surpassing loveliness.  We had much diverged from our path, owing to the
impervious walls of the hook thorn, and the sea was no longer visible,
indeed, it might have been miles away, the country we looked upon had
such an air of inland vegetation.  The vast plain that lay before us
slightly sloped down till near the centre, where it became flat, even,
and, like the sides, covered by grass of a splendid emerald green.
Around this, on our side and to the left, was the bush, the peculiar and
splendid trees, and parasitical plants composing it, lending a powerful
aid to the general picturesqueness of the scene.

Before us, a hill not of much altitude closed in the horizon, while to
the right suddenly rose up a range of rocks, covered with trees of the
cactus species, and others of quaint form, of the names of which we were
ignorant.  Between these, flashing red in the light of the setting sun,
which was now making the blue sky aflame, was a cataract, that must have
bounded from rock to rock with the roar of thunder, but which, owing to
the distance, only came as a pleasant murmur to our ear as it passed
under the trees, that, clinging to the rocks by their roots, seemed, as
they bent over the water, ever about to plunge in, and be carried away
to annihilation.

On a closer acquaintance with this cataract I found it fell into a dark
gloomy ravine, dense with vegetation, whose foliage concealed the wary
paths of the lion, wild cat, and tiger, the sinuous, graceful movements
of the deadly serpent, and other venomous reptiles.

But as dangerous enemies as all these were, in our opinion, still nearer
at hand.

In the centre of the plain were some fifty to a hundred blacks, whom the
missionary instantly declared to be Kaffirs.  We were too far off to
distinguish features, but I know, expecting, as I did, to find the
natives of the same type as the common African, or that of the Guinea
coast, often in our country designated as "niggers," I was infinitely
surprised to see them of a good height, slim, gracefully yet firmly
made, with an erect carriage, and an easy grace in all their movements.
Nevertheless, any man, had he been perfection itself, would scarcely
have looked anything but grotesque and comical when going through the
antics these men were performing, which evidently was intended as a
dance commemorating some triumph.

At the side further from, yet facing us, sat a Kaffir, no doubt a chief,
from the authority he seemed to exercise, though certainly my above
description of the race did not extend to him, for he was of the most
pursy, nay, fat and unwieldy build imaginable.  His dress was apparently
two aprons of fur or feather, fastened round the waist, so as to fall
behind as in front; several bracelets decked his pudgy arms, while his
head appeared perfectly denuded of hair, but ornamented with a hard dark
ring, and a large round tuft of some material fastened to the top of the
forehead like that on a private soldier's hat.  By his side was a
roughly made utensil, evidently containing liquid, for he drank from it
continually; while extended on the ground just before him were the
carcases of several recently slaughtered animals.

In front of his chiefship were nearly all the other Kaffirs, dressed in
a similar fashion, but without the tuft on the forehead, and dancing the
wildest dance I ever saw.  Dance they did like mad, yet evidently
according to some rude idea of figure, the time being perfect.  Each
waved in one hand a kind of spear, ornamented with a bunch of feathers,
and in the other carried a large oval shield.  They stood in lines,
advanced and retired in perfect order, all the while shouting, singing,
and working themselves apparently to the highest pitch of wild frenzy.

"I say, Galbraith," said Thompson, as, concealed in the bush, we watched
their fierce movements and listened to their horrible yelling, "they are
not quite the right sort of customers to which I care to entrust my
life, though I ain't more particular about it than others are of
theirs."

I nodded acquiescence when Mr Ferguson, who had overheard Jack, spoke:

"They certainly do not look very peacefully inclined, yet we ought not
to judge them from what we see of them now."

"I can say, for myself, Sir," put in Jack, "that I don't care to see
them again.  So rather let my verdict stand."

"No doubt," laughed the missionary, "yet the ceremony to me seems a
harmless one.  I fancy it is a rejoicing after a successful hunting
expedition.  Look yonder how thickly the game lies."

"By that little fat man," said Jack.  "Lor'! what a sight of good things
he must have eaten to have reached such a girth."

"What do you say, Thompson," laughed Mr Ferguson, "shall we make a
descent on them, or no?"

There was a most eloquent silence on Jack's part, whereupon the
missionary turned to me--

"Well, Galbraith, what do you say?  With the few resources we have here,
starvation may soon be our lot, if we are not previously devoured by
some of the fierce denizens of the bush."

"That is true, Sir," I replied, "and I have no desire for either one nor
the other.  If I had but a rifle and a few rounds of powder and ball, I
would not fear, Crusoe-like, living on these shores, despite the animals
and those black dancers, till I could hail a ship; but the ocean is not
so kind to us as to him, and has not cast up chests containing just the
things we want.  Still, as to joining those gentlemen in undress below
there, I confess I am rather of Jack's opinion, for those frantic
movements with the spear, and demoniacal yells scarcely look friendly."

"You are probably right, Galbraith; yet were I alone it would be my duty
as a true soldier of my Master's cross to go among them, and try to sow
in these ignorant minds the seeds of His Word, and so I would do, only I
will not lead others into the danger I would run myself, for if I have
not read the disposition of you two wrongly, were I to go you would
follow."

"That we would," echoed Jack, and I also responded in the affirmative.

"But see!" continued Thompson, "what are they after?"

I looked back to the spot from which my attention had been momentarily
withdrawn, and perceived the chief had arisen, and with a waddling gait
was moving to the hill opposite, followed by the other Kaffirs, some of
whom had lifted up and were carrying the slaughtered game.  As quickly
as the slow pace of the fat chief would permit, they crossed the hill
and vanished over the other side.

When the last black fellow had gone, Mr Ferguson said--

"They are returning to their dwellings, called here Kraals, which no
doubt are pretty near at hand."

"Which is sartain," put in Thompson, "or that little fat man of theirs
will have to be carried as well as the game."

"Well, then, let us stay here till the sun sets, and when the night--as
it does in all tropical countries--quickly follows, we will track them
and reconnoitre more closely as to their vicinity."

Agreeing upon this, the minister and I--for Jack's arm having grown
stiff and sore, would not allow him to make himself useful--set about
procuring bananas, nuts, and other edible fruits to stay our hunger.
Even had we come across another rock rabbit I doubt whether we should
have ventured to kill it, being, as we were, in such close quarters with
the natives.

Thompson once or twice argued that we should make again for the shore,
and I half agreed with him till Mr Ferguson, overhearing a few of his
whispered remarks, convinced me to the contrary by asking--

"If we did make directly back, and build a hut of rock as Jack proposed,
how first should we catch the fish he mentions, and how should we obtain
water? without which we must in this hot climate inevitably die of
thirst and madness."

This sensible reasoning convinced Jack and me also, when the minister
continued--

"As certainly we have no chance of sighting a ship here, suppose we make
our course as straight in advance as we can, when we shall assuredly
reach the banks of some river such as the Imfolosi or Umlalaze, along
whose banks we can proceed till we again reach the shore, where then, if
you like, we can build a hut, for we shall have both fish and fresh
water close at hand."

There could not be a better plan proposed, and we were for instantly
putting it into execution.

"We must wait till the sun has set, and then we shall not be able to go
far to-night, for we must traverse the bush, not to be seen by the
Kaffirs.  Indeed, I do not think we shall do more than cross the plain,
and wait for the moon to rise that we may each select the branches of
some tree to rest in till dawn, when we must start instantly, taking the
bush, and working towards the east, for the Kaffirs generally build
their kraals far inland."

Accordingly, directly the night closed in, we set out.  Our "straight
course" led us nearly in the same tracks the Kaffirs had gone, that is
as well as we could judge in the darkness; therefore we had to proceed
with much caution, and hoped to reach the crest of the hill before the
moon rose, least our figures, crouch down as we would, should attract
the keen glance of some Kaffir, whose kraal might be for what we knew,
within a few yards of the other side.

As we went, distant sounds, such as a distant roar and creaking of
branches, told us that the fierce dwellers among its luxuriance were out
in search of food, and we all shuddered at the idea of what our position
would have been at that moment, had we lost ourselves in the terrible
bush.

We had more than half crossed the plain, and were hurrying on in
silence, when my steps were suddenly arrested by a cry, partly of
surprise, partly of terror from Jack Thompson who had been walking by my
side.  I started round, fully expecting to find ourselves once more in
the presence of the King of Beasts or some other animal, though I do not
think its red eyes would have astonished me more than what did indeed
meet my view--which was nothing; yes, nothing.  Jack Thompson had
entirely vanished.

"Good heavens!  Mr Ferguson," I exclaimed, catching his arm, "where is
Thompson; just now he was by my side, and see, he has gone!"

As I spoke, a voice coming up apparently from our feet addressed us--

"Shiver my top-sails, but if I ain't in another cussed fix!  Here,
Galbraith lad, lend a hand to help us out."

Looking down in surprise we discovered that we were on the very edge of
what in the darkness appeared a vast chasm, the depths of which we could
not penetrate.  Instinctively I recoiled from my close proximity; but
the next moment drew near again, for it was from this pit that Jack
Thompson's voice had proceeded.

"Jack!"  I called down; "is it deep?  I can't see you; are you hurt, or
can you reach me your hand?"

"I have fallen on my wounded arm and the pain's awful," he responded;
then as if he had tried, he added, "no, I don't think you can reach me,
for it's precious deep.  But can't you find some way to get me out of
this infernal place?"

"What shall we do?"  I asked, turning to Mr Ferguson, "how ever are we
to help him?"

"The darkness may make him misjudge the depth," he replied.  "Let us try
to reach the poor fellow."

Lying flat on the ground, therefore, I bade him, if possible, seize my
hand, but soon found he was unable to do so--being remarkably short of
stature, besides which his falling on his wounded arm had rendered him
faint and unfit for exertion.

"It is useless," said Mr Ferguson, after he also had tried.  "One of us
must go to the bush, and get some baboon ropes."

I was on my feet in an instant, but the next moment's reflection made me
say--

"That plan would be useless, sir, for in this vast plain, even if I got
the ropes, how could I find you again in the darkness, and to call for
directions would undoubtedly bring the Kaffirs upon us."

"True; you ever have your wits about you, Galbraith, but what are we to
do?"

"Why the moon will be up in less than half an hour, and whatever the
danger, we must wait till then."

Having told Jack what we were compelled to do, and bidding him rest
assured we would not leave him, we took our places at the pit's mouth to
wait.  We did not speak for we had no heart to.  Even at the very
moment, the vast plain was perhaps peopled with beasts in search of
prey, which each instant they might find in our vicinity.  The brave man
may face a danger, however terrible, without the quiver of a nerve when
he _does_ face it; but it would require the bravest, if indeed, the one
ever did exist, who could sit calmly in the midst of a strange country,
which he knows to be inhabited by Kaffirs, lions and tigers, and feels
that any moment the spear of the one, or the fangs of the other might be
quivering in his flesh, without his being able to raise a hand in
self-defence.  I own, for my part it was a time of terror, and my blood
even now runs chill in my veins when I recall the sensations I then
experienced.

Once, Jack broke the silence in a rather loud whisper, saying,--

"I say, Dick Galbraith, old fellow just ask the minister to take a peep
at that book-larning he carries in his head, and see if he can't tell me
why this cussed hole was made--if its natur or Kaffir architecture."

"I believe, my friend," answered the minister, "that you have fallen
into a pit, dug by its depth, to catch giraffes.  Ah! by the way, tell
me, is there not a bank of earth left in the centre?"

"Yes," answered Thompson, "that there is; and but for my arm, I'd climb
it and be out in a jiffy, but this here member burns--saving your
presence, Mr Ferguson--like blazes, and won't move no how."

While he was talking, an idea occurred to me, and I said,--

"If it be as Jack says, about that bank of earth, the mouth of the hole
not being very large, for I have walked round it, do you not think by my
getting down, I might help Thompson up?"

"That is very possible, but you being the strongest, Galbraith I think
had better remain here, so that when I hoist him on to the point of
earth, you can pull him out."

"And you?"  I said.

"Can afterwards very easily climb out with your aid.  What a pity we did
not think of this before.  What time it might have saved.  See yonder,
in the sky is already the reflection of the moon."

I could have said that I was not aware as to the kind of pit-fall it
was, but only remarked--

"Never mind, Sir, let us set to work as quickly as we can now."

Whereupon he, warning Jack of his coming, lowered himself into the pit,
and dropped.

I waited impatiently, and so occupied were we all with our work that I
did not perceive that the moon, rising higher and higher, was disclosing
the outline of many dusky forms which were hovering about me.  It was
just as Mr Ferguson exclaimed, "Now Galbraith, he is getting on my
shoulders, be ready to seize him," that there echoed in my ears a yell
as if arising from the throats of a myriad of fiends.  I sprang to my
feet, and gazed around.

The moon was up--from it a ray of broad silver light fell over the
plain, disclosing to my terrified glance the black forms of some thirty
to fifty Kaffirs ranged in a circle about the pit's mouth, all in
defiant attitudes, their spears upraised.  My wisest plan would have
been, I know, to have thrown myself on the ground, and let them come up
quietly, but in my surprise I made a few steps backward, hastily
whispering to the others to keep still, as any efforts they could make
would be useless against such numbers.  The action was a foolish one,
and might have proved my death-warrant, for the next instant a cloud of
spears whistled around me, one of which, piercing my arm, brought me to
the ground.  At this, with renewed yells of triumph, the Kaffirs came
rushing and capering, jabbering and leaping like fiends incarnate, as if
with the intention to tear my wretched body limb from limb; their eyes,
their teeth gleamed down upon me, and with the belief that my last hour
had indeed come, I fainted.


CHAPTER SIX.

METILULU--I HAVE FAINT HOPES.

I could not have remained unconscious long, indeed it seemed but a
moment's space, when I was brought to by the excruciating pain caused by
the no gentle withdrawal of the spear or assagai, as I found it was
called, out of my arm.  But the "moment's space" had been sufficient for
them to bind my hands firmly with a strip of hide behind my back.  With
as little ceremony as gentleness they pulled me to my feet, when weak
and giddy, for the blood was flowing fast from my shoulder, I examined
my captors.

They were of the true Kaffir type--tall, well-made, noble and graceful
in their bearing, patterns of manly beauty, save the face, and even here
the features were far superior to most of the African dark-skinned
tribes; the cheek bones were not prominent, the lips were not of the
negro class, though thicker than the European.  Quickly I took this
inventory of my captors, and also perceived that my being a white man
had created no little surprise among them--they talked and jabbered
together, ever glancing at me, then turning began to march forward,
myself in the midst.

What Mr Ferguson and Jack were doing I could not tell.  I certainly
could not see them, and therefore hoped, by keeping quiet in the pit,
that they had escaped detection.  I did not for an instant blame them
for not having endeavoured to rescue me, for what could they have done
without arms and pitted against fifteen times their numbers.  It would
have led to the massacre of three instead of one--and one, I felt
certain, unless Providence again aided me, it would be.

Rapidly we moved along towards the hill, too rapidly for my strength.  I
reeled and stumbled as I went, my pain added to by the tightness of the
hide about my wrists.  Each moment I felt that I should fall, for the
loss of blood was growing serious, when a Kaffir, evidently one in
authority, who was walking by my side, seemed to become aware of my
situation, for he spoke to another, who gliding swiftly off returned in
a few moments bringing the leaves of some plant, cool and fresh, which
the one who had sent him bound round my arm.  After this we went on
again, I striving to look my gratitude, hoping in my heart that the
tribe into whose power I had fallen was of those friendly ones of whom
Mr Ferguson had spoken.

On reaching the crest of the hill, which I had been looking forward to
with some curiosity, I perceived in the centre of a plain similar to the
one we had just quitted, the kraal, or home of the Kaffir, which I will
here describe according to how it appeared to me, only, to give
clearness to the description, using the native terms when necessary,
though I did not learn them till afterwards.

The kraal then was made of two circular fences, the outer being about
half-a-mile or more in diameter, the other much smaller, and enclosing
what we should call a meadow, termed here the isibaya, in which are
carefully kept the cows, the pride of the Kaffir.  Between these two
fences formed of poles, whose tops crossing make a protection like a
_cheveux-de-frise_ against an enemy, were numerous huts in the shape of
half a Dutch cheese, the flat part being placed on the ground.  These
were composed of thatch lashed together with baboon ropes.  In respect
to the shape of the huts, I may as well mention here, that the Kaffirs
build everything round, and have no idea of any other form.  I have
heard it said in jest that a tailless cat _must_ walk in a circle--from
whatever point they start from, they _must_ return to the same.  So it
appears with the natives of Caffraria, for however the women, who are
the chief builders, begin, they are sure to bring the construction
finally to a circle.

Near the kraal a little on the outside grew a peculiar tree called the
_Euphorbia_, which grows to forty feet high, is entirely leafless,
prickly, and branches out like a candelabrum; its juice is extremely
acrid and poisonous, indeed the tree is of the same species as the wart
weed which grows, where weeds are permitted, in English gardens.

As we approached, my guards uttered a peculiar cry, upon which the
kraal, a moment before lying so still and peaceful in the clear
moonlight, became animated with numberless black figures, like a swarm
of bees.  Breaking into a quicker step, we soon reached the small
aperture leading into the huts, and were instantly surrounded by a crowd
of Kaffirs dressed similarly to those I had already seen, that is, with
ropes of hides and beads coiled round their waists; the aprons of strips
of fur or animals' tails hanging in front and behind, and bracelets and
anklets of hide, string, or bone round their wrists and legs.  Each also
bore an assagai and shield, giving them a most formidable appearance, as
with much gesticulation they stared at me.

A consultation seemed to be taking place between the head men, during
which the women and children, who also had turned out, took their full
share of inspection, so I, having nothing better to do, returned the
scrutiny, and speedily came to the opinion that, however well the men
might be made, the women when passed maidenhood were positively
disgustingly hideous.

The girls' attire was little more than the men--when women or married
they, on special occasions, wear a petticoat of some material, reaching
to the knee, now this was absent--while their rough woolly hair was
ornamented with bones, beads, and the spines of the white thorn.  As for
the children, they were as devoid of clothes as when they were born.

I had scarcely taken all this in, when a young Kaffir, whom I had seen
sent away, returned; and no sooner had he delivered his message, than
about half-a-dozen of my guards surrounding me, began to move on, the
crowd falling back, yet still following and chattering like so many
monkeys.

Proceeding nearly half round the kraal, we came to a hut of much larger
dimensions than the others, while I observed on the thatch the skulls of
several oxen to be fastened.  The entrance was so low that I had to pass
through on my hands and knees, preceded and followed by my guards.  The
first thing that struck me on putting my head in, was the exceedingly
disgusting odour of the interior, most repulsive to the sensitive organs
of the European.

The anxiety respecting my position, however, made me pay little heed to
this; but rising to my feet I gazed round with some curiosity.

The interior walls were composed of hardened mud, the roof being
supported by pillars, covered, to my surprise, by beads, and from which
were hung shields, assagais, and gourds; while bunches of maize, much
blackened by soot, were suspended from the roof.  Around the sides of
the hut were ranged rudely-made baskets, pitchers, and other culinary
utensils, and on the floor, flattened to a perfect evenness and polish,
were several sleeping-mats, constructed from animals' skins.

On one of the latter, I was not surprised to see the fat Kaffir who had
been present at the dance, and thinking it as well to be polite--even
should they not understand the European fashion of being so--I made a
most profound obeisance.

The chief having looked fixedly at me, addressed my guards who, I could
tell by their manner and actions, were explaining how I had fallen into
their hands.  This coming to an end, with some dignity and much
importance he spoke to me, whereupon, shaking my head, I gave him to
understand that his language was unknown to me.  Metilulu, for that I
afterwards learned was his name, then gave an order to one of the
attendants, who, quitting the hut, speedily returned with a young,
rather good-looking Kaffir, possessing a figure like the marble statues
I had seen in other lands and my own.  He was indeed splendid, and I was
admiringly examining this fine specimen of humanity, when I was startled
by hearing myself addressed in my own tongue, though the pronunciation
was queer.  I found it was the young Kaffir who thus spoke.  He stood
between the chief and me, and said--

"The mighty Elephant, the pride of his tribe, says, are you European?"

"I am," I answered, no little pleased to think that I could explain my
position, and perhaps win their commiseration.  "I am a shipwrecked
sailor, who was cast on your land the evening before last."

"You are not Boer?--you are not spy?" he continued suspiciously, after
repeating my words to the chief.

I speedily answered no, to this dangerous accusation, and pointing to my
tattered clothes explained how the sea had torn me and them.  Then I
begged him to tell the great chief how I threw myself upon his mercy and
hospitality trusting that he would not treat as an enemy a poor
shipwrecked mariner such as I, who really was not one; and that could he
pass me over to an European settlement, I should be sincerely grateful;
but if he kept me prisoner, he must--I would bow to his decree, yet I
hoped he, so brave a warrior, would not think it necessary to take my
life, as my coming on the coast was, no fault of mine, neither was it to
do him wrong.

I made my words and manner as eloquent as I could, and fancied even
before my speech was interpreted to him that I had made an effect.

With much anxiety I listened for the reply.  It came--

"The Great Elephant says he cannot send you to a settlement.  They are
far distance with much bush, much danger between--you must remain his
prisoner.  If you are peaceful, in his great mercy, he gives you your
life; if not, you must die."

Upon this I knelt and bowed low in token of gratitude, then awaited what
was to come next, which was that the following day the chief and his
councillors would hear me give an account of the land I had come from,
meanwhile, my place must be with the "boys," who should be ordered not
to ill-treat me, but who also should receive positive commands to pierce
me with their assagais the instant I showed the least intention of
escaping.  Again I made my obeisance, and rising, prepared to take my
leave with my guards.  I once had it on my lips to mention the close
proximity of my companions, yet, on second thoughts I remained silent,
for despite my present good luck, I felt certain that the least thing
might prove my death-warrant with the great chief, such as a raid of the
Dutch Boers, of whom by their desire to know if I were a spy of theirs,
and the frequent repetition of the name, I fancied they stood in no
small dread.

Therefore I held my tongue, as I certainly did not feel very easy in my
mind in regard to my ultimate fate.

The "boys" I found to be, not boys in years, but the unmarried men of
the tribe, who had separate huts to themselves.  Conducted by my guards
into one of these, I was instantly surrounded by the "boys" who never
seemed as if they could look at me enough.  The inspection was anything
but pleasant; and seeing that the interpreter had accompanied us, I
ventured to say I was suffering both from hunger and thirst, whereupon I
had handed me some sour clotted milk, termed amasi, some maize, and a
liquid which passes there for beer.  Eagerly I drank the latter, then
having eaten the rest, hunger alone making it palatable, I took
possession of the mat allotted me, and feeling from the chief's words,
and curiosity to know more about me, that I should at any rate be safe
till the morning, soon fell into a sound sleep--as sound rather as the
pest of Kaffirland, the fleas which swarm there, would permit--in which
the staring "boys" about me, and my strange and perilous position were
forgotten in dreams of my pleasant Cornish home among the rocks, and of
Katie and my children.


CHAPTER SEVEN.

AN INTERVIEW WITH THE CHIEF--THINGS LOOK BRIGHTER.

I awoke early next morning, earlier even than my companions, who laid
slumbering on their mats, or beds made of stems of grass lashed
together.  So having nothing better to do, I began to inspect them as
they had inspected me, and could not help again admiring the perfect
symmetry of their dark forms, accompanied by the easy grace attendant
upon every movement of limbs which had never been confined or crippled
by clothing.

I have called them, and till that moment believed them to be of negro
blackness, but I now discovered my error--dark almost to black they
were, but through the skin showed the red blood, giving a peculiar tint,
and anything but an unpleasing appearance; it was, however, rather
spoilt in my opinion by the excessive quantity of grease it is the
custom in Caffraria to rub into the skin, till they shine like a
gentleman's patent leather boot.  But on this point, as on many others,
Europeans and Kaffirs differ, for the latter, either male or female,
regard full dress to be the having the body resplendent with grease,
which mode of "dressing" produces, as may be imagined, an exceedingly
disagreeable odour in the close confined spaces of the huts, the only
opening being the low entrance; though in this, as in everything else,
there are few things but have their use--for the oiling the bodies is
absolutely compulsory to prevent the skin cracking under the rays of the
scorching sun.

It was with some little reasoning as to the wherefore that I noticed
that though all were similarly attired in respect to anklets, bracelets,
and aprons, some wore their black woolly hair in its natural state,
while others were shaved entirely, save a ring of matted hair on the top
of their heads.  This I learned on after enquiry was called the
issikoko, or head-ring, an adornment much esteemed and venerated by the
wearer, as it proves his social position in his tribe.  Before a "boy"
can wear it he has to obtain the permission of his chief; this being
obtained, the ceremony commences.  An oval ring is made of some kind of
sinews, which is fitted on the head, and the hair about it rolled round,
being kept thus by the aid of grease and gum, which so mats it together
that it is capable of bearing a polish.  Then the hair dresser takes the
keen edge of the assagai and shaves off all the remaining hair, leaving
only the issikoko; upon which the wearer is made a happy man, it being,
according to the Kaffir mind, the greatest ornament he could possess,
and a warrior would sooner lose his life than his head-ring.  It also
has its uses, for on occasions of ceremony or war expeditions it forms
an excellent place to stick in the feathers which a Kaffir is always
profuse in using for his head-gear, especially those of the peacock when
they can be procured.  Besides this, in domestic life the issikoko
always holds the wearer's snuff spoon, of which I shall speak further
on.

I had barely ended my inspection, and was beginning to think with some
anxiety of what the day would bring forth, when my companions awoke,
and, having no clothes to put on, were not long over their toilet, so
were quickly ready for the first meal, that consisted of amasi and maize
made into a kind of porridge.

This repast made me acquainted with another Kaffir custom, and not a
pleasant one.

The large pot containing the porridge is placed in the centre, the
partakers sitting round it, when, to prevent one getting more than
another, they _all use the same spoon_; thus the first plunges it into
the porridge, brings it out as full as it can be, gulps down the
contents, then passes the spoon to his neighbour.

As I had from a child adapted myself to the rocks, to the sunshine, to
the ocean and to its storms, so did I try to do with these people among
whom fate had cast me, and sitting on the floor making one of the circle
I so strove to imitate them, that I soon might have passed for a Kaffir
myself, save for the colour of my skin and dress.

The sour amasi--the natives never use fresh milk, calling it
indigestible--was at first anything but pleasant; but I determined to
make as good a meal as I could, not knowing when I might get another.

Scarcely had I finished when two or three, evidently Kaffirs of
distinction, appeared, and notified by signs that I was to follow them.
I immediately did so, and crawling out of the hut was again conducted to
the chief Metilulu's presence.

This time, however, the interview was not to take place in the hut, but
an open space, where I found him seated, surrounded by his councillors,
and with the rough jug containing the beloved joila, Kaffir beer, by his
side.  Indeed, it seemed to me that he never moved without it, and so it
proved, eating and drinking being the prerogatives of a Kaffir chief.
Thus they alone of the race are fat.

Metilulu's dress was also different.  No doubt he wished to awe me with
his appearance.  On his head, stuck into the issikoko, were numerous
feathers of brilliant hues, some long and erect, others drooping by the
side of his dusky face.  Fastened round his throat, so as to fall on his
chest, were the tails of wild animals, as the leopard; from his waist
fell others to the knee, so thickly as to answer the purpose of the
Kaffir apron, while hanging from the elbow and the calf of the leg was
the long white silky hair of some kind of goat, finally, a kaross or
cloak of splendid fur fell from his shoulders.

In his hand he carried an assagai, while a young Kaffir standing a
little behind, held his high oval shield.  The councillors' costumes
were something similar, though their head-dresses were rather eccentric,
and they did not possess so many tails, which can only be procured by
killing the animals to whom they belong, and the Kaffir who does _that_,
will seldom be found to part with this trophy of his courage.

Being led up to Metilulu, I was told through the interpreter to sit
down, upon doing which I was ordered to begin my description of my
native land.  They had heard of it--a country over there--pointing
northward; but they would hear more.

I instantly complied, and gave a glowing account of the power of
England, her wealth, and customs.  To all, the chief and his councillors
listened with the greatest attention, and the only time he expressed
incredulity was on my mentioning it to be governed by a Queen.

"A woman!" he ejaculated, "impossible."

I assured him it was not so: that four queens had ruled England at
different periods.

"If so," he rejoined, of course through the interpreter, "how would you
have me believe the nation brave and warlike who could be governed by a
woman?"

Such a speech was not surprising, when it is remembered that the Kaffir
regards himself as a very superior being to a woman, whom, though termed
wife, he knows only as a servant to fulfil his behests, and wait upon
him in all minor offices.  The only things a Kaffir does being to attend
to his beloved cows, which often he values far more highly than his
wives,--for polygamy is practised in Caffraria--to hunt, to smoke, and
to sleep.

In conclusion, I begged him not to regard me as an enemy, assuring him
if he were ever to visit my land that he would be treated as the great
man he was; therefore though only a poor sailor, I hoped he would not
hold me as a prisoner, but let me learn the habits and manners of his
people, in which I took much interest.

I put this half authoritatively as became a native of the great country
I had been describing, and half with suitable reverence for the
mightiness of him I was addressing.

For some little while he talked with his councillors, and by the
constant repetition of the word "Molonga," which I had discovered to
mean "white man," I knew it was about myself.  Then through the
interpreter, he again addressed me, his speech signifying that lately
they had been much troubled by attacks upon their cattle by the Boers,
and had at first taken me for a spy of theirs; but if my words were true
I should be at liberty to go where I liked about the kraal, during his
chiefship's pleasure, and that all they could show me they would; yet
should I prove an enemy a thousand assagais should pierce my body
through and through.  He ended with a request to know if I had saved
anything from the wreck.

I answered I had nothing but the few rags of clothes that covered me,
whereupon I saw his little bead-like eyes fasten on my shirt front with
a most unmistakeable expression.  Glancing down in the same direction, I
perceived it was the large pearl buttons which had attracted his notice;
and having heard something of the cupidity of these tribes for such
articles, I instantly plucked them off--no difficult matter--and with
those at the wrists, presented them to him, saying I had nothing worthy
his acceptance, nor to show the great gratitude I felt for his kind
behaviour to me, than those.

With a pleased smile he took them, evidently much delighted, then
plucking a string or fibre from some part of his dress, he strung the
buttons upon it and suspended them round his neck.  So proud was the
little chief of this new ornament, that I am sure he held his head an
inch higher for a good while after.

Then the interview broke up, and I returned to the "boys'" hut to
partake of some of the game caught the evening before, now rather high.
I was attended by the interpreter by Metilulu's express orders, and he
informed me that an elephant hunt was to take place that afternoon, they
having tracked a splendid one, at which the chief had given permission
for me to attend if I chose.  It may be imagined that I did choose.
Indeed, I was beginning to feel very anxious about my two companions; my
position was looking brighter; and I hoped, if they had not escaped and
were now upon some eligible point of land from whence they might signal
a passing ship, that I might come across them, and, if they liked,
introduce them to Metilulu and Kaffir life.

On entering the hut dinner was ready, to which I was invited, and found
the repast no unsavoury one.  When it was concluded I strolled out to
wait for the hunt to start, too accustomed now to care for the
observation I created.  During my wandering I came across a rather
amusing little scene to an European.

My approach concealed by a hut, it was as I glanced round it to windward
that I was a witness of the following custom:--Leaning against the side,
my white face concealed by the skull of a cow fixed on the thatch--stay,
before going further, let me for a moment digress, and explain why these
skulls, to which I have twice referred, are here.  I have already
remarked upon the great love of the Kaffir for his cows.  All his
ambition is to possess them; dreadful frays take place because of them;
and stealing, or, as the Scotch term it, "cattle lifting," is very
prevalent; yet at some ceremonies, or when vanity, which exists in these
uncivilised regions as elsewhere, steps in, the owner of the kine will
kill a cow to entertain his friends; but to show that he did once
possess, and was rich enough to spare it, he keeps the skull to place
upon the thatch of his hut.  Thus the residence of a chief, who is rich
in cattle, has often several of these--I must say hideous adornments.
But to go back to what I saw.

I had observed two Kaffirs advancing, and had drawn back, not anxious to
meet them, when abruptly they came to a halt, and with all the gravity
imaginable squatted on the ground.  I was turning away, thinking I might
disturb some private conference, when I perceived--for I was on the
watch for everything peculiar--one of the Kaffirs take from his ear a
kind of little bottle, and from his issikoko an ivory spoon with a round
bowl.  This he filled completely with snuff from the bottle, and
afterwards passed it to the other, turning his head away, according to
Kaffir etiquette, so that he might not appear to watch the quantity
taken.  His companion--not sufficiently rich, I suppose, to own a
spoon--poured some on the palm of his hand, which he worked to a conical
shape to fit the nostril, whereupon the two inhaled the luxury without
losing a grain; which no sooner had they done than, not to my surprise,
considering the enormous heap of the pungent powder they had taken,
large tears began to roll down their cheeks.  But this was not all.  As
their eyes overflowed, with their thumb-nails the Kaffirs made a channel
down each cheek for the water to have free course to the corners of
their mouths, and there they sat in solemn state, enjoying, as they
really do, their snuff.

The sight, however, was so ludicrous to my English notions, that I had
to beat a rapid retreat, lest by a burst of uncontrollable laughter I
might betray my presence.  I hurried round the other side of the hut,
and came full upon the interpreter, who announced that the hunting party
was prepared to start.


CHAPTER EIGHT.

A VISIT TO THE CATTLE--A KOODOO HUNT--MY POSITION IS RATHER IMPROVED.

The interpreter, had been coming in search of me, and I was no little
pleased to meet him, for we got on very well together.  Whether
Tugela's--that being his name--stay in the colonies had given him a
liking for white men, or he desired to practice the language, I cannot
tell, but certainly he was unremitting in his attentions, and I have to
confess that I should never have witnessed many of the curious customs
of Caffraria which I have now the pleasure of relating but for his kind
aid; as a proof of this even at the present moment the young fellow had
sought me out, that I might be a witness to the peculiar and cruel--but
of the latter the Kaffir thinks little, being apparently incapable of
understanding the suffering of others--practice of training the horns of
the cattle.

In Tugela's company, therefore, leaving the snuff-takers to enjoy the
powder to their hearts' content, or rather _boxes' contents_, we
proceeded to the isibaya, or enclosure, within the kraal.  The place was
full of the beloved oxen.  The affection experienced for them, however,
as I before remarked, does not keep the poor animals from being cruelly
tortured, as I speedily found, when, from an advantageous position, I
beheld the following scene.

The place was full of cattle, and I had the opportunity of noticing the
peculiarities of these animals.  Smaller than ours, their horns take the
most eccentric shapes, some being bent downwards, curving back even to
the head again; others curled outwards, while some of the cattle
appeared to possess four, nay, eight horns.

I might, and no doubt should, have thought this a natural production,
had I not witnessed the following.  Those creatures which I have
mentioned were browsing at pleasure, but a large number of calves were
collected together, surrounded by "boys" and men; these were armed with
knives and roughly made saws, with which, to my astonishment, they were
cutting and sawing the horns, tender and soft as yet, owing to the age
of the miserable animals.  I could not help showing my surprise, and
questioning Tugela upon it.  He smiled, perhaps at my bad taste in not
admiring the appearance it produced, and most decidedly laughed at my
commiseration of the pain the poor brutes must suffer, he, like all the
Kaffirs, appearing to think nothing of this.  "See," he said, directing
my attention to one group, where a Kaffir was holding the nose of a
calf, while another with a saw was sawing a cross on the top of the
sprouting horns, "now, when they grow there will be four of them at each
side of the head, instead of one."

The Kaffir belief of the beauty this training gave to the animal was
certainly not mine; and, seizing an opportunity, I strolled off to the
other side of the isibaya.  But, it seemed, I had got from the
frying-pan into the fire; for, to my horror, I came upon a group of
natives literally catting strips of hide from the face and neck of the
wretched oxen, so as to hang down before them, bleeding now, but which I
learned would, when dry, become a fringe, enhancing, according to their
idea, the animal's charms.  I have no doubt my young readers will find
it difficult to credit this barbarous custom, as in their case, so
perhaps should I, had I not really witnessed it.  As a mother takes
pleasure in decking out her baby with gay ribbons and fine laces, so
does the Kaffir cut the horns into eccentric shapes, and strip portions
from the hide and dewlap of the animal, both from very love of the
recipient.

I must admit, though not a member of that truly excellent Society for
the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, that I grew rather sick at the
sight, and was not sorry to see Tugela coming towards me--evidently,
from the expression of his features, the bearer of some intelligence.

"Something else to see, perhaps," I thought; "I trust it will be of a
more amusing character than this."

To my joy it proved so, for he came to announce that the hunters were
ready to start for the chase.  This assuredly being more to my taste, I
gladly quitted the isibaya, and, passing from the outer enclosure, found
myself in the midst of a large number of Kaffirs, waiting with
everything prepared.  From the animation of their faces, especially the
excited expression of the "boys," it was very evident that with the
strange race I was among, the chase was a particular feature of delight.

Their dress, if I may be permitted the term, was not in any way
increased; and as I marked the free, easy, graceful manner, in which
they moved, and how impervious their dark, shiny bodies were to the
scorching sun, that was beginning to make even my bronzed countenance
peel, I could not but, in the secret recesses of my heart, envy them.
In respect to my face, however, Tugela speedily gave me relief by
daubing it over with rancid fat.  The operation was slightly disgusting
at first to my European ideas, but this rapidly succumbed under the ease
it occasioned me, and I soon found that to the skin, especially of the
white man, this grease is absolutely necessary.

Three or four elder Kaffirs who, by the respect paid them, and a slight
difference in the adornment of their issikoko, I divined were personages
of importance--no doubt renowned hunters--took the lead; and owing to
the chief's permission, I being permitted to accompany them, we set out.

It was not to be an elephant hunt, it appeared, after all, that having
been deferred for a day or two, as the chief had expressed his intention
to be present at the killing of that animal himself; therefore a koodoo
hunt had been substituted in its place.  I have called it a hunt, but I
might rather use the word "battue," as will be seen, when I proceed with
my recital.

Together we proceeded through the bush, and more splendid scenery it has
never been my lot to look upon.  Mountains rose afar, crowned with
strange foliaged trees, while the land extended before us, undulating
like billows, and covered by the brightest, greenest of vegetation.
These undulations, however, on a nearer approach I found to consist of
vast clefts, or ravines in the earth--called there, kloofs, through some
of which silver streams flowed, while their rough, rugged sides,
composed of masses of rock, trees, and bushes, interlaced together by a
profusion of brilliant and luxuriant parasites, formed the safe home of
numerous beasts of prey which are natives of Africa.  We had proceeded
some distance without anything worthy of mention having taken place,
save that I now and then came across relations of my first Kaffir friend
who had served me for a supper--the hyrat--and also a peculiar animal,
at least, in my eyes, called the meerkat, a long-bodied thing with small
ears, a pointed muzzle, long, tail and thin feet armed with claws.  I
enquired of Tugela respecting it; for I thought if I ever got back to
dear old England again, that I should like to have as much to tell as
possible.  I could learn, however, little of its habits, more than that
its fur was considered valuable owing to its tenacity of life, which
renders it difficult to be captured.

After we had gone on for some time, we came to a halt, and I perceived
the elder hunters were giving orders, which I saw, through their being
obeyed, was that we should separate, for they divided immediately into
parties.

The party I was among instantly set off to one of the kloofs which I
have mentioned, where, separating again, the Kaffirs concealed
themselves, with their assagais and knob-kerries ready to hand, behind
the bushes and rocks.  The other party, it appeared, had by a long
detour encircled a whole herd of koodoos, elands, and others--all of the
antelope species.

These animals are remarkably quick of scent--though, by the way, it does
not require much sensitiveness on that head to detect a Kaffir--
therefore the hunters wisely kept to the windward till they had the herd
between themselves and the kloof; then suddenly they showed them to the
browsing animals, which immediately fled from their pursuers in the
direction of the ravine.  As they would at times swerve from the right
path, concealed Kaffirs started up, and with shouts headed them back.
Apparently one path alone was left free to them, and on they sped till,
with terrified yet graceful bounds, the poor creatures rushed into the
kloof, apparently their only hope of safety.

Then truly an exciting scene commenced; from every rock, from every bush
there seemed, to spring the dusky form of a Kaffir, his shield and
assagais in his left hand, and his right armed with one of the spears,
which he generally sent with unerring aim at the flying antelopes.

By much persuasion, I fancy, and with a great deal of doubt on the
Kaffir's part, Tugela had procured me a shield and a few assagais;
therefore though, when I had seen the graceful animals being driven on
to their death, I had felt some pity, I must confess it vanished under
the excitement of the occasion, and, from my ambush, I, with as good an
aim as my bad knowledge and want of skill permitted, cast my weapons
also into the terrified herd.

Many fell in the death agonies; but the others, with the speed of light,
dashed on to the other end of the ravine; hope, life seemed to be there
for them.  But not so--again they were doomed to disappointment.
Suddenly an array of black figures starting up, barred their exit with
assagais.  Most of them fled wildly back again, while some, with a
reckless bravery produced by fright, broke through the hunters' ranks,
and, gaining the open plain, escaped,--at which my heart felt a
sensation of pleasure; for enough is as good as a feast, all the world
over, and surely there were sufficient of the poor creatures left to
glut the appetite of even a Kaffir.

It was indeed a most animating scene.  The gloomy kloof, with its
tropical vegetation--the dazzlingly blue sky, and intense sun
overhead,--the sides of the ravine presenting, at every available point,
the lithe form of the Kaffir, while beneath dashed the terror-stricken
animals, or rolled here and there in the pangs of death.  It was a
magnificent battue I must own.  During it I quite forgot my own
uncertain position, and the fact that, in reality, I was as much in the
power of the men about me as were the poor koodoos at my feet.

Now, after a brief space, the hunt terminated, and all quitted their
places to collect the game and dine.  The koodoo is much prized by the
Kaffir, owing to the good flavour and tenderness of its flesh; and soon
one was prepared for our eating.  Utensils had been brought with the
party, and, a fire being made, the meat was cast into a pot over it.
Usually the Kaffir lets it boil till it's in rags; but now, before it
was half-done, it was out again, and being eagerly devoured by the
hungry hunters, your humble servant fully doing his part.  One thing,
however, much disgusted me.  On the death of the koodoo they broke the
leg-bones, and ate the marrow warm, but not with cooking, for that is a
preliminary which they entirely dispense with in enjoying this luxury.

After we had regaled ourselves to our hearts' content, and I had learned
through Tugela that my conduct during the day had much surprised and
pleased my companions, who predicted I might become a good hunter, we
prepared to return to the kraal.  The "boys" loaded themselves with the
game, and we marched home.  Home!  I use the word now from habit, yet
how sadly it sounded to me then.  Truly, though no hostility had been
shown to me by the natives, but, on the contrary, rather a friendliness,
so that I felt I had no need to fear respecting my safety; still the
mind of the Englishman, be he in whatever spot of this sphere he may,
when he speaks of home, will revert to the well-known pleasant
chimney-nook and the well-beloved faces of his dear native land.

The sun--ah, and what a sun!--was setting as we came in sight of the
kraal, most of the inhabitants of which flocked out to meet us; for our
load promised food in galore for the morrow.

Abruptly, however, the groups divided, and Metilulu issued forth,
attended by his councillors and joila or beer.  Upon his appearance we
came to a halt on the plain till he had seated himself, when, all the
slaughtered animals having been laid before him, the dance began, which
I and my poor companions--how I longed to know what had become of them--
had witnessed from the bush.  While this ceremony took place, some young
boys laid across the game to prevent their being attacked by evil
spirits.  After this was over, I became aware that my behaviour during
the hunt had been communicated to the chief, and had met with his
approbation.  In Kaffir language he highly complimented me, and I in
English responded in equally flowery terms respecting his nobleness, his
kindness, and hospitality.

I uttered all my palaver, as we would say on board ship, with little
thought of its after consequences.  Indeed I did not know the good the
gods had in store for me, or to what the approbation of the chief would
lead.  I soon found out, however; for when, wearied in every limb, we
returned to the kraal, and I took leave of the mighty Eagle Metilulu,
Tugela conducted me to a different and smaller hut than the one I had
slept in on the previous night with the "boys."  This he gave me to
understand for the future entirely belonged to me, with, thank Heaven!
no Kaffir to share it.

Thanking my companion, and begging him to carry my acknowledgments to
his chief for this great favour, I, with more comfort than I had felt on
the previous night, and breathing a far purer atmosphere, placed the
wicker-door over the entrance of the hut; then unrolling my
sleeping-mat, and using my arm as a pillow (not yet being able to manage
the native wooden ones), I, despite the insects, was soon wrapped in a
sound, refreshing sleep.


CHAPTER NINE.

A KAFFIR WEDDING--THE CHIEF METILULU MAKES ME A PRESENT, WHICH I REFUSE.

The unusual exertions of the previous day had so much fatigued me, that
I did not awaken till my hut was invaded by a Kaffir, bearing a portion
of the game we had killed at the kloof, ready cooked, for my breakfast.
This was an additional proof of the chief's hospitality and friendliness
towards me; and I knew from it that, if I chose to conduct myself
honourably towards them, they would do their best in their way to make
me comfortable.  Before I quitted the kraal, however, I was destined to
learn what a little may change a Kaffir's feelings; but at the time of
which I now write I was quite ignorant of the power of witch-doctors,
droughts, rain-makers, etc, so felt most easy in my mind respecting my
position.

Having rolled up my bed, or mat, as I had seen the "boys" do, I took my
breakfast near to the door; for though no native had slept there, yet
the atmosphere was most close and oppressive.

It was a beautiful morning, and, as I regaled myself upon the portion of
koodoo allotted to my share, I could not help recalling my own dear,
simple, quiet, little nook of a home in Devonshire, and comparing it to
the strange, wild African scenery and people about me.  My appearance
had now grown too familiar to the Kaffirs to be much remarked, so as I
sat they continued their occupations without heeding me.

The time seemed to be that of milking, for several cows stood within a
short distance, going through that operation.  Most took it kindly
enough; but one or two, like our own brindles, which kick over Sukey's
pail, were extremely restive, and no doubt would have given much trouble
but for the method their masters had of quieting them.  A stick placed
through the animals' nostrils was held at each end by a man, who, on the
slightest show of temper on the creatures' part, turned it sharply, thus
occasioning considerable pain, to avoid which the cow wisely lets
herself be milked in peace.  The milker sits on his haunches, his knees
up to his chin, and the roughly-constructed narrow jar pressed between
them.

To an European taste the pure warm fluid would have been thought a
refreshing morning draught; but the Kaffir never takes it fresh,
regarding it as indigestible.  The new milk is poured into large jars
where, perhaps, some sour milk still remains; there it is left to
ferment, when the thick part separates from the whey, and is highly
prized by the natives under the name of amasi, a species of clotted
cream.

My meal being finished, I amused myself by watching a party of women,
all similarly attired--that is, with the short skirt, reaching from the
waist barely to the knee, and most with a child slung on their back,
proceeding with various implements of husbandry to the fields; for all
this kind of labour is performed by the females, who yet have to be home
in time to attend to their lord and master's meals; and woe betide them
if they are not ready, though, perhaps, the men have spent all the day
in idleness, smoking, or sleeping.  No wonder the feminine portion of
these people grow absolutely haggish and hideous when but a few years
over twenty.

I was surmising how my day would be passed, when I was rejoiced to see
Tugela approaching.  Getting up, I went to meet him, and soon asked what
he could propose for me to do; for he and I had grown to be excellent
friends.

He informed me that one of the head men was about to take a wife that
day, and, did I please, I might witness the ceremony.  As I look with
much reverence upon that holy rite, I had a great curiosity to see how
it was conducted here; though from the specimen I had seen of the
married women, and the arduous life theirs was, I wondered to myself how
any Kaffir gentleman could find a lady to have him; but a girl in
Caffraria regards it as the greatest indignity conceivable to remain
single.

It appeared, however, in the present case, that the bridegroom who was
to be, had really had some difficulty to obtain the lady's consent,
having been on view for approval, with doubtful success.

This "view for approval" would rather astonish the young men of my land,
and is vastly different to their pleasant little manoeuvrings to get a
tete-a-tete with the dear one, so as to whisper in her ear their love,
and, perhaps, listen to her charming avowal, given with a rosy blush and
downcast eyes.

Here in Kaffirland, the bridegroom that would be arrays himself in his
best, with leopard-tail isinene and umucha, or front and back aprons,
necklaces on his neck, bracelets on his arms, a multiplicity of feathers
in his head-ring, and then armed with his shield and assagais, his heart
palpitating, according to his confidence, respecting the success of his
visit, he repairs to his beloved one's home, and, sitting down among her
friends, explains his wishes, and enumerates how many cows and skins he
is willing to give for the lady of his choice.  Should his offer suit
the parents, the girl is sent for, who, coming no farther than the door,
stares silently at her suitor.

With the Kaffir about to be married, it seemed that, "when on view," the
lady, through a third party, as they do not address each other, had been
most arbitrary in her demands.  First he had to stand up in that way,
then in this, after which he had to run and leap, to prove his merits;
whereupon the lady left as silently as she had come.  Shortly after,
however, the parents brought the news to the delighted swain that he
might send home the cows, as the girl had consented.  It was this
marriage which was to take place that day.

What Tugela had recounted informed me of one thing of which I was not
previously aware, and certainly should not have imagined, from the
servile way women were treated--that is, that in Kaffirland, save on
rare occasions, the girls can select or reject a suitor as they please.

On walking about the kraal, I soon found that an affair of more than
ordinary importance was going to take place, for all was bustle,--
accounted for, perhaps, by the fact that at marriage feasts, when, as in
the present instance, the parties are rich, much beer is drunk and beef
is eaten.

Telling Tugela that, if it were possible, I should like to see the whole
of the ceremony, he conducted me to a rising ground, where, hidden by
some cacti bushes, he informed me that I could easily watch the approach
of the bride; and I had not long ensconced myself behind the shrubs--
seeking out as shady a spot as I could, for the sun burnt frightfully
through my tattered seaman's dress--when the murmur of voices informed
me of the lady's approach.  Soon she appeared, led by two female
friends, and followed by her family and companions, all in the gayest
attire,--their woolly heads being decked with beads and porcupine
spines, or white thorns; while those who were rich enough had arms and
ankles covered with ornaments.  The bride had evidently put on every
available ornament that she could obtain; and if the Kaffir girl is no
beauty, assuredly, when she is attired in the bridal costume which
denotes her position as a wife, she is, I may say, hideous.  Her hair
had been all shaved off save one tuft at the top, which had been stuck
together, in an erect position, by some red clay or paint, while for the
apron of the virgin had been substituted the skirt of the matron.  She
was guarded by all her male relations, also dressed in their best, and
armed with shields and assagais.

Waiting till the procession had passed, I followed at a short distance
till near the husband's kraal, when the bride sat down on the outside,
while the giving over the cows, which constituted the marriage ceremony,
took place.  First an ox, termed ukutu, was given to the bride's mother,
which was intended to be cooked for the wedding feast.  After this the
male relatives proceeded with a slow, peculiar step, brandishing their
weapons and uttering a monotonous, droning chant, up to the husband's
hut, he being as yet inside, and demanded of him the "father's ox,"
called umquoliswa.  Upon, as a matter of form, his declaring that he had
none to give, the father stated his intention of taking the bride home;
to which the other made no reply till called upon to appear, when he did
so with a rush, as if desiring to escape from the kraal, but the egress
from which was instantly barred by the girls without, who, with much
laughter and many jests, kept him in.  Whereupon he ordered the
umquoliswa to be brought, and, after it had been formally delivered over
to the father, the bride entered the kraal, and the dances commenced.

I have already mentioned these dances as being most wild and grotesque.
First the husband and his friends began, while the others remained
seated; then _vice versa_--each casting their weapons and shields about
in the most reckless fashion, yet keeping time to the songs they sang,
during which beer was drunk _ad libitum_ by the lookers on.

These dances were interspersed by harangues from the elder women and the
father of the bride, giving advice to the girl about to enter upon the
new life, and to the husband to treat her well and be kind; then
followed more dancing, when the last ceremony was performed.

The bridegroom having seated himself on the ground, the bride,
accompanied by two companions, danced up to him, and began most
unceremoniously to kick the dust into his face, load him with abuse, and
disarrange his head-gear,--all of which, perhaps feeling how soon it
would be his turn to act the master in reality, he received with the
greatest good humour.

Another ox was now brought forward, and presented by the bridegroom to
the girl.  This was solemnly slaughtered; and this last ceremony, Tugela
told me, rendered the marriage complete, as, up to that time, either
party could have cried off had they felt disposed.  All the rites,
therefore, being over, the feasting commenced, on the conclusion of
which I learned the husband was permitted to take his wife home.

Having no desire to be more than a spectator, and being much oppressed
by the heat, I managed to return alone to my hut; for I saw Tugela, who
had come to me, was anxious to join the wedding party.  When there, I
threw myself down on my mat, and soon fell fast asleep, and dreamed of
home and the dear ones it contained.

I was just fancying I was once more among them, with my children about
my knees, and darling.  Katie sitting by my side, her loving face either
smiling into mine, or looking up with pretty terror, as I recounted my
adventures and perils, when I awoke.  The sun was sinking, and I had
been aroused by a shadow falling over the entrance to the hut.  Starting
up, I found it was Tugela, who had come with a message from the chief;
and a most surprising one it was, as my readers may imagine.

Metilulu had sent his compliments to the Englishman, and desired to say
that, as I now had a hut of my own, I must require some one to cook my
meals and attend to my wants; therefore he was condescending enough to
wish that I should take a wife.

I regarded Tugela in horror; then concealing the feeling, which it might
be dangerous to display, I, as politely and respectfully as I could,
declined the offer, saying I was extremely conscious of, and grateful
for, the kind intentions of the great chief respecting my comfort, but
that I could cook meals and attend to my wants myself; for, being
already married in my own country, it was against the custom of white
men, as Tugela must know, to marry again.

"Ah," he responded, "but the English wife is far away; she no good--she
no cook--she no work for you."

"Yes she does; she cooks and works for my children, awaiting my return,"
I answered, with a slight tremor in my voice.

This reasoning seemed perfectly incomprehensible to Tugela; and I
thought, with some trepidation, that if it were so with him, who had
lived in white settlements, how might the chief Metilulu take my
rejection of his offer.

"Tugela," I said, "you are aware that it is our custom, our religion, to
marry but one wife; therefore, I pray you, tell your chief how sincerely
I feel his kindness, but how impossible it is for me to obey."

He promised to do so, but added, as if he thought, perhaps, the
information might make me change my mind, "The Great Eagle knows that
you are poor--that you have no cows to give--so says he will purchase
you a wife himself."

This additional generosity quite overpowered me.  Metilulu must be bent
upon the fulfilment of his desire indeed; nevertheless I could only
reiterate my thanks and refusal.

So, finding me in this humour, Tugela left to bear my answer to the
chief, while I, extremely anxious as to the consequences, awaited the
result.

A Kaffir wife!  Oh, horror!  Even if I had been a bachelor, and no dear
Katie was in the way, the thought would have been quite as revolting in
my idea.  I felt that the comforts I thought I might expect during my
compulsory stay in Caffraria were growing beautifully less; indeed, that
at any moment, through such unforeseen causes as the present, the
chief's anger might be drawn upon me, to my ruin.  So I inwardly
resolved, did any danger threaten, to try to escape, though I had again
to take to the bush.

I did not then know half my trouble, and was ignorant that my
unfortunate self had, unknowingly, inspired with the soft passion the
heart of a young Kaffir girl.


CHAPTER TEN.

MY ANXIETY IS CALMED FOR A WHILE--ILLNESS OF THE CHIEF'S WIFE--FINDING
THE WIZARD.

I need scarcely say that I did not stir from my hut that evening, being
doubtful of doing so till I had ascertained how Metilulu had taken my
refusal of his liberal offer; for liberal it was, as any one who is
acquainted with the jealous love of the Kaffir for his cows would
confess.  So endeared, indeed, are these animals to them, that, to take
one and place it in the midst of a strange herd, the owner can yet,
without a moment's hesitation, immediately select his own.  Therefore, I
repeat, the chief's offer was generous, and consequently my refusal
would be the greater insult to his royal desire.  I waited and waited
till the silver moon rose high; yet Tugela did not return.  What was I
to think of it?  I could but read trouble, and my mind grew restless
accordingly.  As yet I had only witnessed the Kaffirs torture their
cattle; how might they torture their victims?  I had read how some of
these wild tribes delighted in such things, and I shivered
involuntarily; but of one thing I was resolved, that I would be true to
Katie; and instinctively clutching an assagai, which had been left me,
no doubt, by accident, I prayed that, if the worst came, it might not be
considered a sin if I took, at one stroke, the life which, perhaps,
these men about me would extract by slow torture.

So the time slipped away, and I was still engaged in painful thought,
when the stillness of the night was abruptly broken by a sudden turmoil.
Curiosity overcoming all other feeling, I crawled on hands and knees to
the entrance of the hut and looked out.  To my surprise, I beheld the
young bride of that day's ceremony in the midst of some three or four,
other women much her elders, who, evidently uttering anything but
complimentary epithets, were pulling and molesting her in a most
extravagant manner, while she stood partly terrified and partly unable
to return the assault upon her.

As an Englishman, I might have flown to the aid of the distressed; but I
was in a strange country, and certainly at that moment in an equivocal
position; therefore I felt I had much to learn of the customs of the
natives before interfering, especially as I observed several Kaffirs
placidly smoking at the entrance of their huts, and apparently enjoying
the scene.

By their actions--for I could not understand a word of their language--I
guessed that the four elder females were the wives of the bridegroom,
and they had seized the first opportunity to show their jealousy of the
new addition to the family.

The rage of the four assailants was increasing momentarily, and I began
to fear the consequences, when there was a cry of terror, a lull, then a
sudden skulking away of the group.  A man--the bridegroom--had appeared
in the midst, grasping a stick, with which he liberally belaboured the
bare shoulders of his first wives, who, with affrighted cries, and amid
the laughter of the spectators, hurried off to their hut, while the
bridegroom followed at a more leisurely pace, accompanied by his new
bride.

The event had made me for a while forget my own trouble; but when all
again had become still, it returned to my mind, and I became more uneasy
than ever at the delay.

I soon, however, felt convinced that Tugela would not come that night,
for everything was growing quiet in the kraal, betokening rest.  The
smokers had crawled into their dwellings, the Southern Cross gleamed
brightly overhead, and the stillness of nature was only broken by the
occasional low of the cattle or the roar of some wild beast in the
adjacent bush.  So, stretching myself upon my mat, I tried to sleep by
banishing my own troubles from my mind, and employing my brain by
surmising what fate could have overtaken Jack Thompson and Mr Ferguson,
the missionary.  By this means I at last fell into an uneasy slumber,
from which I did not awake till early morning, when my first thoughts
naturally recurred to the chief's proposal the day before, and, as I had
waited on the previous evening, I now as anxiously did so for Tugela's
appearance.  I also became aware that I was very hungry, and that no
food had been sent me, which I was attributing to the first signs of
Metilulu's displeasure, when my attention was attracted by a commotion
among the people.  Peering stealthily out, I saw that concern was marked
on the faces of every passer-by, as they went rapidly to and fro,
casting suspicious glances at each other.

It was at this moment that Tugela at last appeared.  I started up to
receive him, and also make room for him to enter.  On his doing so, my
first question was as to how his chief had received my reply.

"Fortunately for you," he answered, "the Great Eagle's attention has
been directed to another event--one which will affect all the kraal."

"That _has_ affected it, I should think," I rejoined.

"You know what it is?" he questioned.

"No, not yet."

"Then the favourite wife of Metilulu has been suddenly taken ill, and
the kraal is all aroused to learn who has made her so.  The chief has
sent to the witch-doctor to find out."

"The witch-doctor!  Why?"

"Because it has been caused by magic."

"What! do you think illness can come but by the influence of that?"

Tugela gravely shook his head.

"Yes; some one has a spite against Anzutu, and has cast the illness upon
her.  You need not now fear for yourself," he added, "your rejection of
the bride Metilulu would have given you is forgotten for the time by
this last event."

When he spoke thus, I was far from conceiving all that this superstition
comprised, though I saw by his manner that it was something exceedingly
serious; consequently, as he assured me that I was safe, I accepted his
invitation to see the ceremony for discovering the wizard.  He warned
me, however, not to join the circle, as sometimes witch-doctors did not
like white men.

Accordingly, having by his help satisfied my hunger, I left the hut with
him, and soon heard that the witch-doctor had declared Anzutu's illness
arose from the hatred of one of the tribe--a wizard,--and that that
person, having possessed himself of some article touched by the
sufferer--a shell, some beads, or tuft of hair,--had buried it, and, by
constantly repeating spells over the place, was occasioning the failing
health of the chief's wife, whose illness would certainly end in death
if the wizard were not detected.

For the latter purpose, orders had been issued that all the Kaffirs
should assemble together--the chief himself being present--at a given
time, though time seems a strange term, for Caffraria knows little about
it.  The natives are aware that they wake in the morning, and, if the
chief wills it, they may be dead before night; for the head man's power
is absolute, and the victim suffers without a murmur.  Therefore with
them time and life are very precarious possessions.

Advantageously placed by Tugela where I could see and not be seen, I
soon beheld the space which had been selected for the trial begin to
fill with Kaffirs, each with a very serious cast of countenance.

My common-sense told me that it was a farce I was about to witness--a
farce which proved to have a terrible conclusion.  I felt that the idea
of these doctors detecting wizards must be an imposture, though the
actors might even deceive themselves; and it seemed strange to me how
the natives could put confidence in the infallibility of these men,
when, by their faces, each dreaded that he would be the one accused,
though knowing himself to be innocent.

Silently they all met; and my fat friend Metilulu, attended by a guard
of "boys," armed with knob-kerries, advanced and took a seat apart,
smoking profoundly.

All, squatting down Kaffir fashion, awaited with evidently breathless
suspense for the witch-doctor's coming.  At last he appeared, and a more
hideous object I never beheld.  He was of a most haggard, cadaverous
aspect, and his lean body attenuated.  In one hand he carried a stick--
his wand,--to the top of which was fastened the tail of some animal.
His garments consisted of the front and back fur aprons.  About his neck
was coiled a dead serpent, numerous tails of wild beasts hung over his
breast and shoulders, while feathers of various hues adorned his
issikoko, from which depended several charms; but the most striking
sight was his face, which, like his body, had been daubed over with
white earth; and the effect of this on the dark skin can be hardly
conceived.

The entrance of this repulsive personage into the circle was received by
a shout of welcome--a compulsory one it must have been, for none could
have cared to have seen him.  _I_ did not, even from my place of
concealment, and often thought that his horrible eyes, made startlingly
apparent by the white earth, glared through the bushes and detected me.

With a slow pace the wizard made his circuit, quickening his speed as he
went till it grew into a wild dance; while all the time he uttered some
native chant, which increased in loudness as his movements did in
rapidity.  That any man could have been able to move his limbs with such
swiftness, or leap so high, I never would have believed.  It was rather
the wild dance--the wild song of insanity.  Song, did I say?  The little
melody it had at first possessed speedily vanished, and was replaced by
frantic shrieks and cries as of a maniac; while tears actually streamed
down his face, doing sad havoc with the white earth.  First he sprang to
this side, then to that--all cowering as he approached,--while he
snuffed up the air, as if discovering the criminal by that means.  I
watched each movement with suspended breath, for I had been told that
his wand would fall upon the victim, or the guilty person, according to
these benighted people's idea.  Once he paused, and I saw those near him
shiver perceptibly; then he fled off with a bound in another direction.

How long the scene lasted I cannot tell; but I know the excitement was
beginning to tell upon me, when, with a sudden swoop, he struck the
shoulder of one of the Kaffirs, then darted away.  In an instant, like a
swarm of locusts, the guard of knob-kerries were upon the unfortunate
victim, preventing any attempt to escape; while I was afterwards told
that the witch-doctor, dashing off, entered each hut he came across,
sniffing violently to discover the spot where the charm was buried, and
followed by a wondering awe-inspired crowd.  Abruptly halting at one
spot, he cast down an assagai, and ordered the people to dig--an
operation which produced, as it generally did, a tuft of fur and some
beads.  This, in the Kaffirs' opinion, proved the truth of the
witch-doctor's accusation; but, in mine, I fully believe that the
articles had been placed there by himself previously.

All praise, say I, to those self-sacrificing men, the missionaries, who
go among these people to improve them.  Surely any one who can turn them
a hair's-breadth from their benighted ignorance is to be applauded.  I
am aware that some men, being utterly unsuited to the task, do more harm
than good; but such men as Dr Livingstone--that truly noble
missionary--we ought to honour with all our heart, as we should any man
who will try to make civilisation take the place of such horrible
barbarity as I have to record in the next chapter.


CHAPTER ELEVEN.

THE FATE OF THE WIZARD--SKIN DRESSING--THE NEW WIFE.

Leaving the witch-doctor to pursue his way and find the charm, I will
return to the poor, wretched victim.

The "boys," armed with the knob-kerries, had seized him, trembling but
silent, in their grasp; while a decided expression of relief broke over
the features of the rest.  _They_, at any rate, were safe.  Yet the
accused must have been a friend of many there; but, strange to say, none
spoke in his favour: on the contrary, all appeared even fearful to come
in contact with him, and drew off to a little distance.

The so-called wizard was now interrogated, and commanded to produce the
charm with which, by the aid of spells, he had brought the present
illness upon Anzutu.  In vain the poor fellow declared his innocence,
protesting his loyalty to his chief and all belonging to him.  It made
little difference.  The question was reiterated, till he exclaimed, "I
have no charm--it is no use asking--I must die."

It was at this moment that the witch-doctor returned, performing many
eccentric bounds of triumph, and holding in his hand a little tuft of
fur and a string of beads, which the chief Metilulu instantly declared
to have belonged to his wife.  This, as may be conceived, sealed the
fate of the poor fellow whom they had so soon created into a wizard.  He
was immediately seized by his tormentors, who, flinging him upon the
ground, began piercing the quivering body in every part with Kaffir
needles.  I put Kaffir; for when I say that they more resemble a skewer
than the pretty little articles which look so well in our countrywomen's
fingers, the awful pain they inflict may be imagined.

I grew sick in watching these brutes, and, but for very fear, could have
shrieked in compassion; though scarcely a groan escaped the victim.  An
European, I am sure, must have fainted over and over again under the
torture; but the Kaffir never once lost consciousness; and in this case,
as in many others I witnessed, I was perfectly assured that, whether
from their hardy mode of life and healthy constitution, or from whatever
other cause, these savage people are not so sensitive to pain as are the
inhabitants of civilised countries.

While some five or six had been probing the miserable man's body till
their hands were tired, others had been kindling a fire, where they were
heating several large stones.  When these were thoroughly heated, the
wizard was borne near, fastened firmly down, and--I shiver as I recall
it--the red-hot stones were placed upon the quivering flesh, which
cracked and shrivelled under the weight and heat.

Sick and dizzy with horror, I could bear it no longer, but fled--fled
till I could get free of the smell and the murmurs of his tormentors--as
to the victim, he bore all stoically,--then flung myself on to the
ground, nearly fainting with disgust.  I grew worse still when I
remembered that, should I offend these people, the fate of this man
might be mine.

My first instinct was to take at once to the bush, and quit the
incarnate fiends; but after reflection told me the absurdity of such an
act.  First, it was broad day, and my figure might easily be
distinguished; secondly, the Kaffirs were scattered everywhere about the
kraal, so that at any time I might encounter one, whose suspicions would
speedily be aroused by seeing me so far from the huts; while, lastly, I
was utterly destitute of provisions or weapons.

Therefore, after a time, I saw the wisest course was for me to return,
and to conform to their customs if necessary--save that of taking unto
myself a wife,--and, by keeping my eyes open, seize the first
opportunity to escape.  So, making a considerable detour, to avoid the
spot where the wretched wizard had suffered, and where, to my renewed
horror, I perceived by the movements of the men in the distance the
torture was still going on--indeed it was some hours before nature
finally succumbed, and the man got rest at last in death--I proceeded
towards the kraal, but changed my intention on coming across a group of
Kaffirs engaged on some work.  As I was now looked upon in the most
neighbourly manner by them, and also myself desiring to appear friendly,
I drew near, and, by signs, entered into conversation.

There were three of them squatting upon the ground, with an eland's skin
between them, which they were scraping with all their might.  Having sat
down, and with much gravity, suitable to the solemnity of the occasion,
accepted snuff from one of the workers, I made them understand that I
should like to know what they were doing.

By signs I managed to make out that they were tanning the skin, and
watched the process with much interest.  They continued to scrape and
scrape the inside till it was perfectly free from grease, all the
while--if not replying to my dumb-show interrogations, or speaking to me
in the same manner--accompanying the operation with songs, snuff-taking,
and smoking.

By Tugela's kindness, I had been presented with a pipe--a most precious
gift, it must be known, in Caffraria, where the natives look upon
smoking as the _ne plus ultra_ of life's luxuries.  A company of them,
when tobacco's scarce, will even smoke in the following original
manner:--One will draw in from the pipe as much as his mouth will
possibly hold, then pass it on to the next, and so on till all the
company have been served; then they retain the fumes so long that all
the vessels of the head grow surcharged with it, when the smoker drops
intoxicated on to the ground--an insensibility from which he is
recovered by the kindness of his friends, who, by buffets, pinches, and
hair-pullings, will restore him at last to consciousness.  However, on
the present occasion each was fortunate enough to possess his own.  Mine
was a long reed, with a clumsy bowl, about four times the size of a
large European pipe; for the Kaffir cannot get too much.  This capacious
hollow was filled with rough, coarse tobacco, which few Englishmen would
smoke could they get better; but when better cannot be procured, I have
no doubt they would do as I did--take what they could get.

So we sat smoking, and they, snuffing and singing, till every morsel of
the hide having been well manipulated, they commenced the next process.
Fastening several of their needles together--the sight of them made me
again grow faint,--they began twirling the bundle between their hands,
so that the sharp points tore the skin till it was roughed in every
part; then taking a powder, made from the rotten root of the acacia
tree, they rubbed it into the hide with all their might; and this, which
answered the same purpose as our tan-pit, they continued to do till the
skin was ready for use.

From these, and numerous other skins, the Kaffir kaross, or cloak, is
made.  That article, fastened round the neck, falls down the back, and,
save in winter, is more for show than use.  Many skins have to be used
in their construction, especially when the hide is that of a small
animal, such as the meerkat; and, in that case, it is most wonderful to
see the neatness with which they are sewn together.  It is truly
surprising, when it is considered that their only implements are the
needles previously mentioned, a stiff fibre for thread, and a stone to
rub smooth the seams.  Yet, despite these disadvantages, when completed,
the kaross might be taken for a whole and perfect skin, did not the
arrangement of the shades prove otherwise.

Having watched all this done, and by that means succeeded in whiling
away the time, I bade farewell to the skin-dressers, and, no little
dejected in spirits, returned to the kraal and to my own hut, where,
finding some dried koodoo flesh and a little amasi left in the gourd
which had been brought me, I stayed my hunger, then sat down on my mat,
feeling sure that Tugela would, after the terrible ceremony of the day
was over, pay me a visit.

I was not wrong; he soon made his appearance, his face bright and
smiling--an expression I had noted on several Kaffir features as they
passed my hut.  This gave me much confidence; for I felt we had become
such good friends that he would not smile did evil threaten me; so, with
a sensation of relief, I bade him welcome, and asked the news.  He
replied upon a subject very different to that I was thinking about.

"The great chief Metilulu," he said, "has ordered the elephant hunt to
take place to-morrow, and I came to tell you."

"To-morrow!"  I exclaimed; "I thought Metilulu intended to be present
himself."

"He will be so."

"But the illness of his wife."

"Why should a woman keep the great chief from his pleasure?" responded
Tugela, in a tone of contempt at the idea; "but Anzutu is better."

"Better!  I am delighted."

"No sooner had the wizard suffered," said Tugela innocently, "than
Anzutu grew better.  Had the charm not been found, she would have died."

He spoke this so seriously that I dared not express my doubt upon the
point; yet I could not refrain from saying--

"But supposing, Tugela, the witch-doctor had selected another as the
wizard."

"He would not, because the one he discovered was the right man."

"Possibly; yet each Kaffir, I fancied, looked as if he feared the
selection might fall upon himself."

"Because they are all aware of the power of the witch-doctor.  He knows
more than we do," said Tugela, with evidently a firm belief in his
words.  "The one he selected was the right one," he added, "for, see,
has not Anzutu recovered?"

I saw no arguments of mine would shake Tugela's faith in the terrible
superstition which gave such an awful power to the ignorant men who
possessed it, so dropped the subject, and began to ask him respecting
the hunt of the next morning.  He told me that the footprint of a
majestic elephant had been discovered some days back, and the Kaffirs
were all eager to track it.

"Some days back," I said; "will they be able to discover it again?"

"Certainly.  We Kaffirs have a way so as never to forget the track of an
elephant."

He had begun to induct me into the method, when he was suddenly
interrupted by a great hubbub without.  He instantly started to the
door, and I followed.

The bridegroom of the previous day stood outside, surrounded by a number
of Kaffirs, to whom he was angrily gesticulating.  Not being able to
understand his harangue, I had to wait till I got it second-hand from
Tugela, who told me that the bridegroom's wives had that afternoon gone
out gathering wood in the bush; but when the husband had returned, he
had found all his wives at home save the youngest, whom he had paid so
many cows for the previous day; while his questions respecting her
whereabouts had elicited no satisfactory answers, though he had had
liberal recourse to stick.

Though these people practice polygamy, giving for a cause, if asked, the
necessity for keeping their huts right, getting their dinners cooked,
and grounds tilled; and though, also, they treat their women not very
much better than the Australian natives who regarded the softer sex but
little above their dogs, yet they are extremely jealous respecting their
wives' fidelity.  The chief has a regular harem, which, like in Turkey,
has a special guard to watch who goes out or in.  Should a wife be found
unfaithful, the punishment is severe, sometimes death even.

I believe that, in the present case, the husband fancied his new wife
had fled to another kraal, for he was extremely irate; but he first
decided to go to the bush where the women had been, so he started off
with several others, Tugela and myself among the number, and led by the
boy--I mean a boy now, who had gone out with the women--not to help, be
it understood, for even at an early age the male sex asserts its
superiority.

Forward we went into the bush, lit up by the red glow of the setting
sun, but not a sign could we discover of the lost wife.  For over an
hour we searched and called in vain, and the husband ordered a return,
stating his resolve to visit the neighbouring kraals next morning, and
demand to have his wife restored, as he felt certain she had fled to one
of them.  It was at this moment that a peculiar cry from one of the
Kaffir's brought all the rest to the spot.

There, on the grass, apparently dead, murdered, laid the body of the
young wife.  The horror I experienced at the sight was not seemingly
felt by my companions, rage being the only feeling they exhibited, as,
taking up the inanimate body, in which we yet detected signs of life, we
bore it back to the kraal.  A large wound was on the skull, while there
were others about the body, such as, with an European, might in all
probability have caused death, but to my surprise Tugela said that he
had no doubt the woman would soon get over it.

"But who could have tried to murder her?"  I asked.

"The other wives," he replied coolly.

"The other wives!  In Heaven's name, why?"

"From jealousy.  Old wives do not like young ones."

"And what will they get for doing it?"

"Stick, a great deal of stick."

Tugela was right; the wives did get stick considerably; while, a few
days after, I saw the young wife working in the kraal as if nothing had
happened.  The tenacity of life in these people, I confessed, was great
indeed.


CHAPTER TWELVE.

THE ELEPHANT HUNT--MY MIND GROWS EASIER.

When morning dawned, and I recollected that it was the day for the
elephant hunt, in which Metilulu was to bear a part, I felt by no means
easy in my mind respecting the meeting; but as it has always been my
nature to put the best face on affairs, however gloomy, and to trust in
that Providence which already had dealt so kindly by me, I placed a
small kaross which had been given me over my shoulders, for my red
seaman's shirt was now absolutely in rags, and, taking my breakfast,
awaited news.

The kraal was full of animation, occasioned, as I afterwards learned, by
the fact that Metilulu had expressed his intention to bivouac out that
night, so as to pay due honour to the elephant when killed.

Tugela had been telling me, when he had been interrupted by the hubbub
outside, that one way in which they entrapped elephants was by means of
a pit-fall, such as that into which poor Grimes had stumbled; but this
did not succeed long together, for these animals have such reasoning
powers that after one or two of the herd have been thus caught, the rest
become most wary, and always place an old, sagacious one in front, which
carefully feels the ground with his foot before advancing, so that
directly it touches the branches laid over to conceal the pit, he
detects the deception and avoids it.  The hunt which was to take place
was to be of a different kind to this.  The footprint of a remarkably
fine elephant had been discovered, the tusks belonging to which
evidently would be a prize to the slayer.

I had already--as perhaps the reader may remember--expressed surprise as
to how a Kaffir, finding these footprints, could find or track the
elephant after some days had intervened.  I now ascertained that the
native, on coming across a foot-mark, took off the impression in soft
clay; and so accurately do they manage this, that, among a hundred other
prints, they can still keep to the one belonging to the animal they wish
to kill.

Tugela having joined me, with the intelligence that the hunters were
about to start, I proceeded to the outside of the kraal, and was no
little pleased to find Metilulu not there.  As, however, I had
understood he was to be present, I could not help making a cautious
inquiry respecting his non-attendance, and heard that it was his royal
pleasure to come on afterwards--meaning thereby, as I divined, before
the day was over,--to be in, according to English fox-hunters'
phraseology, at the death and the sumptuous feast of elephant feet.

Having used my weapons to so good a purpose before, I was again
accommodated with some assagais and a shield; thus, with my trousers
worn down to knee-breeches, my boots long discarded, my browned
stockingless feet, bronzed face, and the fur kaross over my shoulders, I
really began to look very like the Kaffirs about me.

One of the natural proclivities of mankind, I verily believe, is a
decided love for the chase.  Certainly, as I strode along, surrounded by
the lithe, vigorous, armed forms of my companions, with the fresh
morning air blowing on my cheek, the expanse of wondrous scenery
stretching on every side, and my spears grasped in my hand, I felt the
blood begin to beat with renewed energy in my pulses, and the depression
which late events had cast upon me gradually wearing off.

The model of the elephant's foot that we tracked was soon brought into
requisition.  We had scarcely gone half-an-hour's sharp march before we
came across several footprints, in which the one we were after was
apparent.  I did not think that these animals came so near the vicinity
of man as the marks proved; but Tugela said that at times a herd of them
would make a swoop in the night upon the kraal itself, and destroy all
the crops growing near.  The only way they had of scaring them was to
light large fires, make as much noise as they could, and--think of it
fond English mothers--to beat all the children in the community, so that
the addition of their shrill infantine yells might terrify the ponderous
animals.

The track having been discovered, the hunters proceeded with much
caution.  Slowly we advanced, I finding some difficulty in making my way
through the bush like the natives, with their smooth, well-oiled bodies,
though I managed to keep on, carefully avoiding, however, any parasite
at all resembling the _uncaria procumbens_, or hook plant.

About an hour after we had lighted upon the first footprints, we reached
an opening or glade within the bush, where through the tall tree-trunks
we perceived about four or five elephants browsing.  My lack of
knowledge respecting hunting in Caffraria would speedily have finished
me entirely had not Tugela had the forethought to advise me to take to a
tree, and hurl my assagais from thence; for to an European, with a body
not devoid of clothes, neither well oiled nor accustomed to the
exercise, it would be impossible to penetrate the bush rapidly, as it
would soon become necessary to do to avoid the enraged animal, which,
when struck, always took to the forest in the direction of his
assailants.

Accepting his advice, I speedily selected a tall tree, which, thanks to
my nautical experience, I climbed with ease, and from its branches
looked down upon the black, shining bodies of the hunters and the
browsing elephants, as yet unconscious of the danger which was so near
at hand.

Tugela had pointed out to me the beast which was to be the victim--a
fine fellow truly--and I longed for one of our English rifles, when I
could have picked him off in two twos, whereas I soon found the assagai
wounded only to irritation, and finally killed by exhaustion, such as a
man might die from on being pricked to death by large pins.  I have no
doubt this is the reason which makes the Kaffirs, in a herd of these
animals, attack one and one only.  Looking down, I perceived that the
hunters were approaching the edge of the bush, which yet concealed them,
wriggling through it like snakes, with their assagais ready to hand.  As
they neared the open space, I fancied the elephants became aware of our
presence, for the one we had spotted threw up his trunk suddenly,
stamped with its foot, and uttered one of their loud, peculiar,
trumpet-like cries.  The next moment some twenty assagais shot with
unerring aim through the air, and penetrated the animal's thick
leather-like hide.

His cry of fear and rage was terrible to hear.  First he seemed
confounded, then, while the rest fled in terror, conscious, no doubt, by
his cries that danger was in their neighbourhood, he rushed blindly
forward into the bush.

I now recognised the wisdom of Tugela's advice to such an amateur hand
as I; for as the enraged beast dashed on, trampling the underwood
beneath his feet, it was as much as the Kaffirs themselves could do to
avoid being crushed by slipping out of the way.  Like monkeys, they
dodged about him, darting their assagais at every opportunity that
presented itself, while I from my vantage-ground hurled one now and then
with all the force I could command.

I must not forget to mention one very important auxiliary of the
hunters.  This was their dogs.  These little wretches, now let loose,
snapped and barked about the ponderous creature, irritating him to such
a degree as to render him at times quite regardless of the sharp
stings--for they appeared little more--of the spears.

I have said that I cast one of my assagais only occasionally.  I did so
for this reason: I now had always the thought of escape before my eyes,
so I refrained from parting with all my weapons, thinking they might
prove of greater use hereafter; so I merely acted as spectator, and
looked on till I began to fancy the miserable creature--whose
trumpet-like bellowings were growing fainter and fainter--never would
fall.  It truly was a cruel kind of hunting.  His massive body was
covered with blood streaming from the many wounds, and he staggered on
his thick legs; but he yet continued to dash at his assailants, maddened
by rage and pain, and strove to turn sharply upon the snapping, barking
dogs.  At last, however, when his black hide resembled a lady's
pincushion supplied with many pins, he gave a great reel, a final cry,
and sunk slowly upon his knees, apparently dead.

A delighted shout issued from the throats of the hunters, as, swarming
forward, they repossessed themselves of their weapons, then proceeded to
place on the animal's tusks the mark of their owner, who, by hunters'
rules, was the one who had inflicted the first wound, after which they
cut off its tail, that being, like the fox's brush in England,
considered a great trophy.

Seeing no reason why I should remain longer in my private box, as it
were, the drama having come to an end, I made haste to descend; but
whether it was through being incommoded with the spears I carried, or
from some other reason, certain it is that I had not got more than
half-way down, when I fell--fell, as ill luck would have it, right into
the extended branches of a hook plant.  Instantly aware of my danger, I
strove to free myself; but quickly found that what Mr Ferguson had said
was true--that the more one tried to clear themselves, the more
entangled they would get.  The plant seemed endowed with life, and with
its fingers fastened closer and closer about me at the least move;
therefore I wisely remained motionless, only exerting my voice, which I
did to the top of my lungs.

For some while no heed was paid to me, all the Kaffirs being too busily
engaged with their prize; but after about a quarter of an hour, as far
as I could judge, Tugela came to ascertain the cause of my shouting.  On
perceiving the fix I was in, he burst into a fit of laughter, for the
Kaffir dearly loves fun, or anything verging on a joke.  Seeing nothing
I could do better, I joined him, till his face growing rather more
serious, I put the question as to how I was to get free.

There was but one method.  Like the sheep in the fable, which got into a
thorn bush to shelter itself from the storm, to quit it I was compelled
to leave my fleece, or clothes, behind me.  This, considering the state
they were in, I found but little difficulty in doing, and when once
extricated, with Tugela's help, I managed to recover my rags by cutting
them from the thorns.  On donning them, however, I became aware that I
should very speedily have to adopt the native dress entirely unless I
intended to go without any costume, at all.  This was the first time I
had come in close contact with the unfriendly grasp of the hook plant,
but, I am sorry to say, it was not the last.  I shall have to recount a
similar event farther on, when I was not so fortunate in getting so
speedily extricated, but really believed that, after all my hair-breadth
escapes, death had seized me indeed.  But to return to the hunting
party.

Metilulu had by this time arrived, and was waiting in the glade for the
next ceremonies to begin.  I had now of necessity to make my appearance
before him, and did so with some trepidation, but to my great relief
found that he welcomed me with a smile, and by a sign invited me to sit
down by him.  I instantly obeyed, and, as a natural consequence on such
instances, Tugela took his place close at hand.  I knew by his
expression that the first remark the chief made was respecting my torn
garments, the reason for which seemed to amuse him as much as it had the
interpreter, for he laughed heartily; in fact, to my satisfaction, he
appeared in the best of tempers; perhaps it arose from the prospect of
the feast he was going to enjoy, and the joila or beer he had drunk, for
a jar of that much beloved liquor stood within reach, and of which he
condescendingly invited me to partake.  He then, through Tugela, asked
me what I had thought of the hunt, and how it was conducted in our
country.  I replied that we had no such animals in England, or even in
Europe, but when our people settled in or visited Africa, or another
great country called India, they used a rifle which killed the elephants
in a quarter of the time the assagais did.  This seemed much to astonish
him, though he had heard of and even seen guns; the Boers had them, he
said, and some travellers who had once stayed at the kraal a few days
had carried such weapons.

My readers may imagine how my heart leaped at this last news, which
showed that white men did occasionally come there, and were permitted to
leave unmolested.  I drew hope for my own deliverance from it, and the
landscape, with its candelabra-looking _euphorbia_ trees and parasitical
monkey-ropes, seemed to put on a far brighter aspect to my eyes than
they had the moment before.

So elated was I at the intelligence I had just heard, that I determined
to win Metilulu's good opinion as much as I possibly could, for which
purpose I gave Tugela enough to do to interpret the enthusiastic praises
I expressed for everything--omitting the wizard affair, of course--which
I had witnessed in Caffraria; while I also gave the chief long accounts
upon any subject respecting my own land that I thought would amuse him.

During our conversation the hunters had been engaged with the slain
elephant.  Having cut a large hole in its side, they removed the
intestines, which in their opinion is the finest part; then as they were
to camp out, and the feast to be held there, two of the animal's massive
feet were severed, and prepared to be baked with some slices of the
trunk.

The method of baking is as follows:--A large hole is dug in the ground,
which is filled with wood and dry moss; this is ignited, and kept
supplied till the cavity is filled with bright glowing embers; these are
removed by the Kaffirs with large poles--for the heat is intense,--then
the large elephant's foot is rolled into the burning hole, and
immediately covered with fresh branches, which are lighted--a bonfire is
made, indeed, and when it has burnt itself out the cooking is considered
complete.

The foot presents when done a most gelatinous appearance, and, as I was
honoured by dining with the chief, I suppose I was regaled with the best
parts.  I must own, whether it was hunger acting as an excellent sauce
or not, that I thought it extremely good, and enjoyed the repast.

The feasting lasted some time; for when a Kaffir gets an opportunity of
eating flesh _ad libitum_, he makes good use of it, and their capacity
of consumption is _immense_, as will be seen when I state that, on
looking round at the conclusion of the meal, I perceived the skeleton of
the elephant alone remaining.  Save a few strips hung over the branches
of the trees to dry for the morrow--called "biltongue" in the native
language--every atom of the flesh had been consumed.

The hunters, and especially Metilulu, having eaten and drank till nature
could receive no more, rolled themselves in their karosses, and, having
first placed a guard to keep up the fires, so as to scare off the wild
beasts, extended themselves on the ground to seek the sleep which
speedily comes to them.

With a fervent prayer that Metilulu might always keep in the same good
humour that he had been in that day, I thought I could not do better
than follow the excellent example of my companions; and I remember I
fell asleep wondering how it was that the chief had never referred to
the handsome present of a wife which he had wished to make me.


CHAPTER THIRTEEN.

UNPLEASANT NEWS--DEATH OF ANZUTU--FUNEREAL RITES.

The sun had not risen very high before the hunting party was astir and
preparing to return to the kraal.  The head of the elephant was left
where it was to decompose, which, under such a sun, it would not take
long doing, when the tusks could easily be removed.  It may appear
strange that so valuable a portion of the animal should be left
unguarded in the bush; but there is a great amount of honour between
Kaffir hunters, and each strictly respects the mark of the other.  The
Kaffir whose property they had become by right of the first wound--
though the chief being present I found they were to be presented to
him--was a great hunter, as could be seen by the leopard tails which
formed his aprons and the teeth of wild beasts of which his necklaces
and bracelets were composed; for in Caffraria, if a man wants to dress
in these much-prized ornaments, he cannot purchase them, but must first
slay their natural possessors.  So proud is the hunter of these trophies
of his prowess, that he will rarely part with them save to his chief or
the exacting witch-doctor.

On nearing the kraal I remarked a sudden change in my companions'
manner, which I could not but attribute to the appearance of, or signs
made by, some Kaffirs who stood at the entrance to the huts, evidently
watching for our return, for no sooner did we come in sight than they
advanced towards us.  As they approached, I saw that they were divested
of all ornaments, while they wore the oldest aprons and karosses they
possessed.  Guessing there must be some cause for this, I awaited the
result with much curiosity.

The two parties had now advanced near enough to exchange sentences, and
no sooner were the first uttered than a mournfully dolorous cry arose
from the hunters, who frantically began tearing off their ornaments,
even to the Chief Metilulu, who, instantly taking the lead, hurried on
as fast as his obesity would permit.

Remembering how the Jews of old, on the illness or death of those dear
to them, rent their garments and cast dust upon their heads, I could not
help fancying that this removal of all decorations, accompanied by the
cries of sorrow, must be occasioned by the same cause, and making my way
to Tugela, I put the question as to the reason of the sudden change in
the hunters to him.

He answered that during our absence Anzutu had been taken much worse,
and was not expected to recover.  He told me this in a round-about way,
for the Kaffir avoids the word "death" as an Englishman might the
plague, and it is not considered etiquette to mention it ever in a
chief's presence.  Though a Kaffir has no idea of time, and regards his
life as not his own, but his chief's, who may order his execution at,
any moment he please yet they, greatly dread death when it comes
naturally, and would give anything, to conceal those precursors to old
age--grey hairs.

When I heard that Anzutu would probably die after all, I could not help
thinking that the death of the wretched wizard had not done much good.
Whether Tugela had divined my thoughts I do not know, but when he spoke
again he certainly answered them.

"Had Metilulu applied to the witch-doctor sooner," he said, "this might
not have been; the wizard had got too much power before he was stopped."

We had now entered the kraal, where I found both men and women attired
in their oldest aprons, without ornament, and all betraying the deepest
signs of grief.  Metilulu, attended only by his chief warriors, had
hurried to his own hut to await further bulletins, which soon came, for
we had not returned an hour before the news spread through the community
that Anzutu was dead.

Never shall I forget the tremendous noise that then arose.  Shriek after
shriek--howl after howl--groan after groan.  Had Pandemonium broken
loose it could not have been worse.  Work was suspended entirely, and,
stranger still for a Kaffir, eating and drinking also.  There they sat
howling.  Feeling myself, as a spectator, rather out of place in such a
scene, I retired to my hut, and watched proceedings from the entrance.

Soon the news that Metilulu's favourite wife had ceased to exist
travelled to other kraals, and, to my consternation--for I was almost
deafened by the noise already--fresh parties kept arriving all day, and,
taking their places, added their voices to the rest; for it appeared
Metilulu was a powerful chief among the tribes.  The whole day and night
they still kept coming, and the noise continued, while never did I see
one of the people seek refreshment.  Fortunately for myself, I had some
dried eland flesh in my hut, with which I stayed my hunger, and so the
most miserable twenty-four hours I had yet spent in Caffraria.

In the morning the cries had not ceased; but I went forth, feeling sure
that some ceremony--perhaps the burial--would take place after such an
uproar, as they could scarcely support it longer.  I had seen a
wedding--I had seen a Kaffir baby just after birth, and found it to be
almost as white as an European's, the skin darkening rapidly
afterwards,--and now I desired to witness a funeral.

Proceeding towards Metilulu's huts--that is, his own and those of his
wives--I found him outside, dressed in full warrior costume, as were
those who stood about him.  They were engaged in singing a wild native
song; then the chief issued some orders.  I had no need to understand
the language to learn what they were, as they were instantly followed by
the execution of several of the tribe, this evidently being a custom.
The poor fellows received their fate without a murmur; for, as before
stated, in Caffraria the chief's word is law, and one which his people
obey even on some occasions with rejoicing.  Indeed, as the miserable
beings were now being executed, I perceived by the expression of their
faces that they were uttering praises of the fat despot.

Since I saw this, I have read that, upon the death of persons of rank,
frequently a general massacre will take place, not only by the chief's
direct orders, but rather as if by it the people wish to show their
sympathy with him.

When the executions were over, the cries continued, till I beheld many
fall down insensible from exhaustion; and glad enough I was when that
day and night also came to an end, for I hoped it would be the last of
it, as the following morning the remains of Anzutu were to be consigned
to the earth; for it is a singular fact that the custom of burying the
dead is prevalent all over the world, save in India with the Parsees,
where the funeral pyre is raised and the body consumed by fire.

While speaking upon this subject, I may as well say a few words upon the
ordinary rite of burial; for it must be remembered that I am here
recounting the death and interment of a person of rank, and in that case
the show ceremonies are as different in Caffraria as in our own land,
where the plain hearse and mourning coach tell of a poor person's
demise, and waving feathers, velvet trappings, a long string of
carriages, men with gilt-tipped rods, announce that of a rich man, who,
even in death, cannot surrender the pomp and vanities of this world, but
would, as it were, strive to prove the falsity of the saying, "In death
all are equal."  But to return to the Kaffirs.  On the death of a chief,
the people mourn and fast, as above described, till the dead man is
buried in the isibaya, where only the head men are permitted to be
interred, and where women are never permitted to enter, dead or alive.
The commoners are buried in a hole outside the kraal.  A hole too, is
the proper word to use, for it is small and deep, the body not lying
horizontally, but in a sitting position, with the knees close up to the
chin.  By its side are buried the weapons it used in life, the points
being bent to render them useless; while if it be a chief, and rich,
oxen are at times killed at the grave.

The next morning all turned out to attend the funeral, I, of course,
making one of the number, though I did not mingle with the chief
mourners.

A very large hole had been made--about seven feet square,--which caused
me to think, if it were for Anzutu, she must have far exceeded her
husband in bulk; but my horror was again excited when I found that, as
Metilulu desired to show every possible honour to his departed wife, he
had issued an order that half-a-dozen young girls were to be buried
_alive_ with her.

I had often heard of the custom of immolating victims at the grave of a
chief in savage countries, and I had read the adventures of that Marco
Polo of Eastern romance, Sinbad, wherein he had, according to the custom
of the country, been buried with his dead wife; but I had never known
till now that the terrible rite of interring the living with the dead
existed in Caffraria.

As I have, I believe, previously stated, female beauty in that part of
the world where I then was is anything but prepossessing to European
eyes; yet I felt my flesh creep, and my pulses throb with impotent rage,
as any Englishman's would, at the sight of these young girls being,
without the least resistance, buried alive.  The thought was too
horrible, and, starting up, I determined to expostulate with Metilulu,
regardless of the consequences, upon the performance of such a barbarous
rite.

Hastening on, I came across Tugela, to whom, as I should require his
assistance, I naturally confided my intention.  He looked at me first in
surprise; then most earnestly persuaded me, for my own safety, to
refrain from such an absurd proceeding, affirming that, whatever I might
say, Metilulu, in his present state of grief, would not listen, but, on
the contrary, would very likely have me executed too for trying to
insult the memory of his wife.  Despite these assertions, I was yet
persisting in my plan, when Tugela put a stop to it entirely by saying
that if I was resolved, so was he not to interpret correctly a sentence
of my request.

Therefore I had to give up my attempt, consoling myself with the
belief--which was no doubt correct--that my words would have had little
if any effect upon the despotic ruler.  Meanwhile the rites went on, the
awful burial took place, a special guard was placed over the spot to
watch there for one year, and the mourners returned to the kraal, where
another ceremony consequent upon a death took place, which again
reminded me of the Jewish laws regarding cleansing and purification.

The prophets, or doctors, of the kraal, on the people's return, sent
them to bathe in an adjacent stream, and afterwards administered
medicine to each, while those who had actually touched the body had to
undergo this purification twice before they could resume their usual
every-day's labour; for a Kaffir has a great repugnance to touch a
corpse.  It is only their love which will make them do so at all, and
cases are frequent, where the affection has not been great, that the
relations of the dying person, not waiting for their demise, have cast
them into a river, to save the necessity of handling the dead body a few
hours later.

Oxen were now killed and prepared for the funereal feast, during the
preparation of which the company unceasingly bewailed the loss of the
departed; then, having heartily partaken of the meal, all repaired to
their different kraals.

I was no little pleased to see an end of it, and, when all at last
seemed quiet, I set out for a saunter, hoping to come across Tugela.
This I soon did, and, after a little while, put to him the question
which my curiosity--that feeling which, since the time of Mrs
Bluebeard, has so often led both men and women into danger--urged me to.
This was, why Metilulu had taken my refusal so indifferently, never,
indeed, having noticed it.

Tugela explained the mystery in a few words, and to this effect--

"The wife Metilulu has chosen for you," he said, "is the daughter of a
head man, who died some time ago, leaving this only child.  As there
were no relations to take charge of her, Metilulu adopted Zenuta
himself.  When she grew old enough he proposed several suitors to her,
but she refused all.  Now, however, she has fallen in love with you, and
has asked the chief to let you be her husband."

"I feel deeply flattered by the lady's preference," I said, "but, as I
have previously said, Tugela, having a wife already, by the laws of my
religion I should commit a great crime by taking another, therefore must
decline her advances.  But this does not explain your chief's silence."

"That arises because Metilulu does not care about her marriage with a
white man, and also that he has had trouble of his own since.  No doubt
he has forgotten the affair, but he will not for long."

"Why not?"

"Because Zenuta is impetuous.  She will remind him."

"What will he do then?"

"Why, if he accepts your refusal, she will be enraged.  He might offer
you her only to attend upon you--not as a wife in that case."

"If so, what would you advise me to do?"  I asked.

"Take her," he rejoined; "it may preserve you from Metilulu's anger, for
Zenuta makes a dreadful turmoil among the wives, and worries him."

The latter news made me have but a poor opinion of the lady's temper;
yet I thought if I were compelled to accept her as my drudge--for the
Kaffir's wife is little more,--I might at least make the girl's life
happier by making her duties light.

To change the subject, I then told Tugela that, as my European garments
were no longer worthy the name, I should much like to procure some skins
of any kind to make myself others.  He said he would see to it, and the
next day got permission to take me out hunting, when I was fortunate
enough to kill an eland, out of the skin of which I managed, after a
fashion, only having an assagai-head for a knife and fibre for thread,
to construct a garment something similar to that often seen in pictures
upon ancient Britons--that is, a narrow skirt reaching from the waist to
the knee, while a broad strip of the same material came over the right
shoulder, and fastened again to the skirt behind.

Had any one in my native village seen me in that strange costume, with
arms and legs burnt to a dark brown, as was my face and neck, and my
black hair grown till it fell over my shoulders, while my beard and
moustache, all in one, formed a flowing appendage over my breast, they
would never have recognised Richard Galbraith, the once neat, trim,
clean-shaven, but for the framework of short whisker and beard, English
sailor.


CHAPTER FOURTEEN.

A TALK ABOUT MARRIAGE--ZENUTA, MY SERVANT--KAFFIRS AND FISH.

I must now, with the reader's permission, pass over a period of nearly
six months; for to relate minutely my mode of life during that time
would be but an useless recapitulation, interspersed by koodoo and
fan-elephant hunting, which would become monotonous.

In respect to Metilulu's _protegee_, Zenuta, unpleasantly for me, Tugela
had prophesied correctly.  She speedily brought me again to the chief's
remembrance, and this time he spoke to me in _propria persona_, and
desired me to accept her.

Making my reply as respectful as I possibly could, I immediately
answered, as I had to Tugela, that my religion forbade me taking another
wife, as I had one living already in England, and that were I to do so,
I should, in my own eyes and those of my countrymen, commit a great
crime.  The reason of my refusal seemed to create unbounded surprise to
Metilulu, who gave utterance to many Kaffir ejaculations.  Then he said
gravely--

"If you have but one wife, how can she do all the work?  It is
impossible!  She must herself object to such an arrangement; she would
want other wives to help her."

Let me here remark that such is the case in Caffraria, where a wife will
often urge her husband to take more wives, so that her own labour may be
lessened; and this is no wonder, when we consider that the most arduous
and incessant toil falls to the woman's lot, while their lords and
masters idle their time away in sitting and smoking in their hut when
they are not milking their cows or hunting.

In reply to Metilulu, I informed him that women did not work in my
country as they did in his.  There the men performed most of the
out-door labour, while the women attended to the home duties.

The chief smiled derisively as he rejoined that my England must be a
very strange country.  He then was anxious to know who ground the corn
and tilled the fields--whether the men or the women.

"The men cultivate the ground," I replied, "while the corn is made into
flour by machinery."

The last word seemed beyond his comprehension, so I tried to explain my
meaning, aiding the description by tracing a windmill with my finger on
the ground; but I fear when I ended that he had but a poor idea of the
mechanism after all.

"But if the men work, who hunts?" he asked, adding, with a
laugh--"perhaps the women."

"No," I said, "England had never possessed the wild animals Africa had,
and those which were native to the soil--such as wild cats, wolves, and
foxes--had mostly been exterminated, while the forests had been turned
into waving corn-fields; therefore there were no hunters as those he
referred to."

Of course I did not mention our fox-hunters, for he would have thought
little of Englishmen's bravery had he heard that some dozen gentlemen,
with the aid of a pack of hounds, pursued one poor little fox.  As it
was, my last statement seemed to him to put the climax to European
ignorance and stupidity, for I saw he addressed anything but
complimentary remarks respecting our nation to the warriors about him.
Then, returning to the subject of marriage, which I had hoped he had
forgotten, he continued, with a twinkle in his eyes, as if by the next
question he was going to prove me entirely--whether, as men only had one
wife in my country, some, no doubt, never married at all.

I stated that was the case, for some by choice remained single all their
lives.

It was the same in his land sometimes, he laughed, when men were so ugly
that no girl would have them; then they had to remain "boys" all their
lives, without wives or children.

At this I assured him it did not always rest in looks, as, however plain
he might be, a man could generally find a wife; but he might be a
bachelor from inclination.

"Then," he demanded quickly, with a gusto at evidently having at last
entrapped me, "how could the single men get their work done if they had
not a wife?"

I explained at once how in England servants could be hired at a moderate
rate, who would do all the work required.

This puzzled him immensely, for in his mind the duties of servant and
wife appeared synonymous, and, with all my explanation, he could hardly
recognise the difference.  So, after a good deal of palaver, he finally
asked, I fancy owing to a suggestion of Tugela's, whether, as I could
not accept Zenuta for a wife, I would receive her for a servant.

This I agreed to do, as I had previously determined; for at times I had
found it awkward to prepare my own meals, and did not care to join the
"boys," whose cooking I relished as little as I did the odour of their
well-oiled bodies when enclosed in the stifling atmosphere of their
general hut.  So Zenuta--a true type of the Kaffir girl, a perfect form,
and a plain face--agreeing to the arrangement, I became possessed of a
servant, who speedily and with alacrity saw to all my wants.

Poor thing, she seemed absolutely devoted to me, and would have crushed
corn or rolled tobacco all day long if I had permitted her.  This
crushing corn and rolling tobacco are both most arduous processes.  The
former is done between two stones--the under large and shelving, so as
to allow the boiled maize or corn ears to be pushed off when finished;
the upper is a much smaller and round stone, which the worker holds in
her hands, and pounds or presses with all her strength.  The tobacco
rolling is rolling the leaves of the plant between the hand and thigh or
calf of the leg--a work that soon renders the skin remarkably tender
till it has become hardened by use.

I say Zenuta would have gladly done all this, had I required it, but, on
the contrary, I strove to render her life as easy as possible, and, very
much to her surprise, I always took care when I had a good meal that she
should have one too; for the custom among her people was generally to
leave the refuse to the hardworking woman.  Perhaps it would have been
wiser had I done differently, for all this behaviour but served to
increase her affection, which, at times, I confess, grew rather
troublesome; till, I tried, by the power I had over her, to direct her
thoughts into a different channel, with, I flattered myself, some
success.  As well as I could, owing to my imperfect knowledge of the
language, I endeavoured to instruct her and make her comprehend the
forms and pure belief of the Christian religion, and by this means
proved to her that we might always be very dear friends, but that I
could never take her for my wife.  Poor Zenuta!  She looked very sad at
first, but when I said I would always try to make her happy, and she
might remain with me as she was doing then, as long as she pleased, she
brightened up, and a short while after, breaking a slight pause,
besought me to tell her about my English wife and my own land.

I did so, and very frequently afterwards our conversation turned upon
these two topics; till one day, as if carried away by my description,
she threw herself at my feet and begged me, if I should ever go back, to
take her with me.

This question put a sudden idea into my head.  Might it not be likely
that, through this girl, I might ascertain how far the white settlements
were off?  Therefore, giving an evasive reply to the entreaty, I at once
began to interrogate her upon the subject, but soon found my hopes
chimeras; she knew little more than I had already learned from Tugela
and Metilulu.  White traders had passed through the kraal, but beyond
that she knew nothing, save repeating as had the others, that white
people were a long way off.  Consequently I had to console myself at the
ill-success my efforts had met with in the best way I could.  It will be
seen from this that my stay in Caffraria for the six months had not been
so comfortable as to prevent my trying to return home.  On the contrary,
that one thought occupied me constantly, and I certainly should have
endeavoured to have escaped long before, could I have obtained the least
information respecting the direction I ought to take; but, as it was, I
felt I might only brave the dangers of the bush to eventually fall into
worse hands than those I was already in, from whom up to this time I had
received nothing but kindness.

Therefore, till a more favourable opportunity offered, I wisely resolved
to make myself as comfortable as I could where I was.  By attention and
perseverance I had by this time become no longer a drone in the hive,
but an useful member of society.  I could throw the assagai so well that
I need never be without a dinner of meat when I desired it; and by the
same means I speedily procured both skins and teeth, which, as I had no
wish to deck myself out in them as did my savage companions, I exchanged
for two or three cows, and they supplied my servant and me with enough
amasi for more than our wants.  By doing as little work as I could on
Sundays, I had been able to remember and keep that day holy--a
proceeding which had finally attracted the Kaffirs' notice, and on
explaining to them why I did this, I found that they possessed some
vague idea of a Creator, but that it was deprived of all truth by the
heap of ignorant superstitions which surrounded it.  It, however, put
the thought into my head, to try in a small way to act the missionary to
them, and I soon found they would listen attentively enough when I
brought the subject forward before a select few, with the liberty of
argument--a Kaffir's passion--granted to both sides, but that when I
made an attempt to assemble them together to address them, preacher
fashion, I signally failed.  Yet the few seeds I did manage to cast upon
the unpromising soil, I prayed by God's grace might take root and bear
fruit hereafter, and at least slightly prepare the ground for those
brave self-sacrificing men, noble specimens of whom now exist, who make
it their work to bring light into darkness.

I had of course during my long sojourn learned much of the habits of the
Kaffir tribes, and one peculiarity struck me as very surprising.  I
found it out in the following manner.

An expedition, I forget now for what reason, no doubt to collect shells
for ornament, had been made by a party of "boys" to the sea-coast.  I
asked permission to accompany them, for I naturally thought it possible
that I might sight a passing ship and perhaps make my presence known.
For this purpose, on arriving at the shore, I took my place on a rock,
and fastening a hook I had made to some thin but strong fibre, I told
the "boys" I would wait there till they returned.  Having taken for my
bait a portion of the flesh of a hyrax I had knocked over with my
knob-kerrie as I came along, I threw in my line only to appear occupied,
for I never dreamed of getting a bite; but scarcely had I cast my eyes
over the broad expanse of waters, which to my sorrow was not even broken
by a sea bird's wing, than I felt a tug at my line, and with some
difficulty landed a fish of a tolerable size, but the name of which I
did not know.  My first success whetted my appetite for more, and
thinking how pleased the Kaffirs would be at the rare dinner I was
procuring for them, I again threw in my line, and continued to do so,
till, by the time the "boys" returned, I had a pretty considerable heap
of the finny tribe by my side, which, with no little pride, I showed to
my companions, but, what was my astonishment to find that they regarded
them with the greatest disgust, as an Englishman might some loathsome
animal; while I never saw the same feeling more strongly depicted on any
face as on theirs, when I, not to be baulked of my treat, kindled a
fire, and grilling some as well as I could on the glowing embers,
subsequently made a very good meal.

On enquiring afterwards of Zenuta the reason for this peculiar aversion,
she told me she believed it was owing to some superstition--order, she
called it--originating many years previously from the prophets, for
there were other things they would not eat, unless pressed by _extreme_
hunger, besides fish, such, for instance, as eggs, ducks, and bustards.

Having finished my meal, I threw all the remainder of the fish back
again into the sea, as I felt, being their guest, I had no right to take
anything to the kraal which was regarded with such repugnance; and as
they had got all they required, we started off homewards, but had not
got half-way through the bush when we were suddenly set upon by a
buffalo, which is the most terrible foe a Kaffir can encounter, for he
does not wait to be attacked, as is the nature of most animals, but
begins the fray himself, dashing forward at headlong speed through the
bush at its enemy.  Fortunately for us, we all managed to climb into
trees out of his reach, though one of the party narrowly escaped being
trampled and rended to death by the furious brute, but the assagais of
the rest happily turned him from his prey, who the next instant was far
above his reach, and joining with us in taking revenge upon his
would-have-been murderer.

It took some time to kill the brute, whose large beautiful eyes glared
like balls of fire in its huge head under the shaggy mane; but we
succeeded at last, and, descending, soon stripped off the hide, then
leaving the carcase for the hyenas and jackals, as the Kaffirs do not
care for the flesh when they can get anything else, it being very hard,
we continued our road to the kraal, bearing our unexpected trophy with
us.

Now having just touched upon the landmarks of my history during the six
months, I will take up the thread of the story in the next chapter, and
in a few succeeding ones will show how I at last came across my old
friends, and finally started for the white settlements.


CHAPTER FIFTEEN.

A LION HUNT--THE WAR PARTY--WE HUNT THE KOODOO.

One evening, the news ran round the kraal that Metilulu, perhaps being
in want of a lion skin, had issued his royal orders that a hunt of that
animal should take place on the morrow, at which--hearing it was
conducted differently to that of other beasts--I determined to be
present, rather against Tugela's desire, for he assured me it was
sometimes a most dangerous affair, and seldom took place without one or
two hunters being severely wounded, if not killed.  Yet for all this I
resolved to make one of the party, telling Tugela that I did not dream
of joining the hunters, except as a spectator.

So the next morning I was up betimes, and ready to set out with the
Kaffirs, whom I found carried, beside their usual weapons, an assagai
having a bunch of feathers at the top, the purpose of which I could not
divine, but patiently waited, as I often had had to do previously, for
time to show.  I was now, as may be imagined, very familiar with all the
tribe, and, by being able to make myself just understood, could join
them in any affair, though Tugela was not present, as at this hunt.

After our assembling we soon set off, and proceeded in so straight a
direction that I supposed the lair of a lion had already been
ascertained, which surmise proved correct, for we had not gone a very
great distance before we came in sight of the king of the desert, alone
and majestic, having by his side the bare bones of an eland, the flesh
of which animal had just served to stay his royal hunger.  On perceiving
him the Kaffirs, with the greatest caution, separated, and placed
themselves so as entirely to surround the place where he stood, then at
the same time disclosed themselves to his view.  It is the nature of
these animals never to attack a body of men unless urged by extreme
hunger, but usually to retreat before them, thinking, like some
two-legged animals, that discretion is the better part of valour.

It was therefore with the full intention to make a retreat that the
noble beast regarded the human circle, till, by its growing smaller and
smaller, gradually hemming him in, he appeared quickly to guess their
intent, and, with a terrific roar of rage, turned fiercely upon them.
Having excited him up to this point, one of the Kaffirs, advancing
before the rest, shook the plumes on his assagai provokingly in his
face, when, to my terror, he rose suddenly up, and, with the litheness
of a cat, made a wondrous bound at his adversary.  I could have declared
the poor fellow was done for; but with an agility equal to the lion's,
or to a monkey's, the hunter struck the spear of his assagai in the
ground and nimbly leaped aside, so that the powerful paw of the beast
fell with a force upon the feathered head of the weapon, which too well
proved what the fate of the man would have been had he stood in its
place.  At the same moment a shower of spears assailed him from the
rear, hurled by the enemy behind.  Uttering a terrific roar, turning, he
flew savagely at his nearest assailant, who performed the same rapid
feat as the first, while another cloud of weapons shot through the air.

From the distant bush I watched this strange and most dangerous method
of hunting--dangerous truly, for even as I looked I perceived one of the
men, taken off his guard by an abrupt swerve of the lion, fail in
striking his spear and in his leap aside.  The next moment the large paw
had fallen on the hunter's head with so awful a blow that it must
instantly have dislocated the spine, such, they say, being the way these
animals have when seizing their prey.  The poor fellow dropped as if
struck by a thunderbolt, while the strong white teeth of the lion
fastened immediately upon his shoulder.  The rest of the hunters,
quickly seizing the opportunity, sent assagai after assagai, till,
bleeding from numerous wounds, and giving one final roar, the brute sank
dead by the side of his victim.

I ran forward instantly, as did the others, to find life extinct both in
man and beast.  Save the wound of the cruel teeth in the shoulder, the
body of the Kaffir showed no other disfigurement, but looked as calm as
if in sleep.  His death did not seem much to concern his companions.  No
doubt they had expected some such event, and perhaps rejoiced that only
one had fallen under the paw of the kingly brute; for a lion hunt
frequently ends far less fortunately.

Therefore slinging the beast over their shoulders, we returned to the
kraal, where we laid our prize at the chief's feet.

It was a few days after this that, calling an assembly of his head
warriors, Metilulu informed them that it was his will that on the next
day a war party should depart to attack a distant tribe, from whose
chief he affirmed he had received a most grievous insult.

The announcement was received with a shout of joy, for war is the
opportunity which the "boys," or "black shields," have of distinguishing
themselves, and thus acquiring the honourable title of "man" and bearer
of a white shield.  All shields are conferred by the chief alone, who
bestows them on none but those who by daring deeds have proved
themselves worthy to be one of his soldiers.  To the "boys" a black
shield is given till they have distinguished themselves greatly in
battle, when it is changed for a white one.  Both are of a long oblong
shape, covered with cow-hide, and only vary in colour.

Through this war expedition I became a witness of many peculiar
ceremonies attendant thereupon.  First, I learned that by some means
Metilulu had procured a portion of a hide-belt belonging to the other
chief, which, having been scraped into a medicine prepared by the
witch-doctor, he had drank, believing by that he would literally swallow
up his enemy from his path.  After this the warriors' turn came.  All
being assembled, an ox was slaughtered by the witch-doctor, who, having
cut off one of its legs, chopped it in pieces, sprinkled them with a
magic powder, then distributed the morsels to the warriors, who devoured
them with the greatest avidity.  That ended, the whole animal was cooked
for them to feast upon.

This concluded that day's ceremony.  On the next the witch-doctor
administered a medicine which acted as an emetic; then, as a
purification, to which I have previously referred, Metilulu,
approaching, sprinkled those appointed to fight with water.

Strange as it may appear, if these rites were not performed the Kaffir's
heart would fail him in battle, not through want of courage, but merely
through superstition.

The present expedition was under the command of a n'genana, or captain,
whose costume, like those of the other warriors, was very peculiar.
Each one had seemed to adopt his own idea of a strange head-dress,
formed of tall and short feathers; while long goats' hair hung flowing
down their backs, over their chests, and from the knee-joints more than
half-way down the calf.

They drove with them several head of cattle, which I naturally
considered to belong to the commissariat department, but learned they
were taken for a far different purpose.  On attacking an enemy's kraal,
a Kaffir's first thought is to seize the cattle--his dearly-beloved
cows.  These, however, prove rather difficult to manage in a hasty
retreat; but the strangers will speedily follow if headed by oxen who
know the way, for in Caffraria, it seems, these animals are endowed with
the same instinct as dogs possess in our country.  Provisions, however,
were sent with them, but to my idea, knowing the capacity of the Kaffir
appetite, scarcely sufficient for half the time they said the expedition
would take.  Tugela told me that this was owing to a desire not to
encumber the army more than possible; for which same reason the
soldiers, save feathers and ornaments to show their rank, wore little
clothing,--indeed, even in the Kaffir acceptation of the word, I might
say none--not even taking with them the kaross, but sleeping without the
least covering in the open air.

I need hardly state that, as cunning, cruelty, and bloodshed are the
leading points of warfare in Caffraria, I did not join this expedition.
No doubt I should have been refused permission had I asked it.  So,
having watched the warriors off, I returned to the kraal to pass the
time in the ordinary mode--attending to my cows and corn and tobacco
patches, for so had my wealth increased, as I supposed, correctly as it
proved, that little of much interest would transpire during the war
party's absence.

It happened, as I passed to my own hut, and casually looked in at
several others--for I had now become on familiar terms with most of the
families--that, at the principal warrior's dwelling, I found the wives
hanging their husband's sleeping-mat, pillow, and apron upon a certain
part of the wall.  I should not have noticed this had it occurred merely
once; but as I saw it repeated by many, repaired to Zenuta--a common
practice of mine--to ask if there were any reason in what I had seen.

"Oh yes!" she replied, "the wives hang them up so when their husbands
are absent.  They visit them every morning to see if they cast a shadow,
for while they do she knows her husband is safe; but," she added, with a
sudden lowering of her tone and manner, "if they do not, she feels he is
dead--dead! and mourns him as if his companions had really brought the
news.  Oh!" she continued, with a deep sigh, "if you, Gabbrth,"--her
mode of pronunciation--"if you had been a warrior, and had gone with the
others, I should have done the same."

I could not but be touched by this manifestation of womanly feeling,
and, with a pressure of the hand and a smile, tried to show my
gratitude.

Several days elapsed before anything was heard of the war party, and
nothing of any consequence took place at the kraal till it was proposed
that a few of us should make a party to hunt the koodoos.  This animal
is much admired owing to its splendid spiral horns, while its flesh--a
rarity with South African animals--is both tender and of a good flavour.

On setting out, the direction we took was that where, between two
shelving plains, covered with bright green vegetation, a sparkling river
flowed; for the koodoo requires water.  Here we soon came upon several
of them, which, with much caution, we proceeded to slay.  It being a
most wary animal, we, according to the Kaffir method, appearing at some
distance, approached them by large, circles, as if the last thing we saw
were the animals themselves, which proceeding apparently much puzzled
them.  This we continued to do, gradually lessening the distance till
within shooting range, when, wheeling round, we hurled our assagais at
the startled herd, who sprang off at full speed, but not before we had
slain several, among which was a pretty little antelope, called an
ourebi.

Before returning, we stretched ourselves upon the grass to enjoy the
pleasant day and rest a little; but we had not been long in this
position before we suddenly perceived a considerable party of Kaffirs,
in all the native panoply of war, fording the river much higher up than
where we were.  Following the example of my companions, I instantly
seized my shield and spears, and, wriggling like a snake through the
grass, reached some bushes, from which concealment we inspected the
strangers earnestly.  The head man affirmed it must be a regiment of
some hostile tribe, no doubt coming to attack our kraal, and, upon this
surmise, was just sending off a swift messenger to give the alarm at
home, when one of our party, uttering a cry of joy, declared that the
men before us were our own warriors returning from their expedition.
After a few moments' inspection, this really proved to be the fact,
whereupon we immediately quitted the bushes and advanced quickly towards
them.  In doing so, I noted that, while the men rapidly forded the
river, they raised the water in the palms of their hands to their lips,
as if suffering from thirst, and I could not help asking a Kaffir near
me if he thought there was any reason for this haste.

"No doubt," he said, "they are on a forced march, when the men are not
permitted either to stop or leave ranks; though," he added, pointing to
some dead-looking logs, like tree-trunks, which lay here and there on
the muddy banks of the river, "they would not in any case stop now.
See--crocodiles!"

I gave almost a leap at the sound.  Yes! those _logs_ were indeed
crocodiles, as I speedily was made aware, for, on our drawing near the
river, several slipped into the water with a dull lazy splash.  I
remember that at the sight I felt no small amount of satisfaction that I
had not to ford the river; for though they say if you walk straight
forward, splashing the water as you go, these repulsive looking monsters
dare not touch you, I had not the least desire to try the experiment.

We found the warriors much attenuated, having suffered greatly from want
of food, which their hunger-belts drawn very tightly proved.  These
hunger-belts are made of leather, fastened several times round the body,
and are gradually tightened over the stomach to stay the cravings of
hunger.  One or two "boys" of the party had suffered so much from lack
of provisions that they had actually flawed their cow-hide shields.

Such being the state of things, it may be imagined with what alacrity
they fell upon some koodoo flesh we had prepared; in fact I thought they
would never stop.  After a while, however, they left off, more from want
of provender than appetite, and continued their march homeward, we
joining company.  They said they expected to be well received; for,
beside the vengeance they had taken upon the enemy having been severe,
they had also brought away with them numerous heads of cattle, which
they were well aware would be regarded with extreme satisfaction by
their chief, Metilulu.


CHAPTER SIXTEEN.

METILULU REVIEWS HIS TROOPS--I ASSIST AT A HOPO BATTUE.

As the warfare in which Metilulu's warriors had been engaged was looked
upon as very successful, the chief ordered a review to take place on the
ensuing morning, when, as was customary, those who had done brave deeds
were to be rewarded, while those who, on the contrary, had proved
themselves unworthy of being ranked among soldiers, were to receive due
punishment.  This was the first review I had seen, strangers seldom
being allowed to be present at them, but my long sojourn in the kraal
made this rule waved in my case, for I had indeed become almost as one
of themselves, therefore I was permitted to be a spectator.

Like in our own affairs of the same kind, all the warriors assembled,
each taking his right position in the ranks, but here they did so in
perfect silence, while each placing his large shield on the ground
upright before him, only permitted the upper part of his dark body to be
seen.  Thus they remained till it was Metilulu's pleasure to make his
appearance; and--for it seems the etiquette of great people in
Caffraria, as well as in more civilised nations, to keep their inferiors
waiting--fully an hour elapsed--the glaring sun blazing down all the
time upon the poor fellows--before his pudgy majesty waddled upon the
field, followed by his chief counsellor, and servants bearing the
never-failing beer-jar and snuff, while one held a shield, which on such
occasions was converted into a species of umbrella, to be held over the
little man's head to shade him from the sun; and Zenuta told me that woe
would betide the bearer of it if he let a single beam of the luminary of
the day rest upon the chief's black skin, such negligence being severely
punished--even occasionally by death when the royal personage happened
to be in a bad humour.

Metilulu's chair having been placed in an advantageous position, and his
counsellors congregated about him, the august chief was so overcome by
fatigue, owing to his unusual exertion, that he had to have recourse
both to the beer and snuff to recruit his strength before commencing the
review; then, I suppose, feeling stronger, he ordered the cattle taken
from the enemy to be marched before him.  There was a pretty
considerable number, and I watched Metilulu's eyes twinkle with delight
as he beheld them.  Suddenly he pointed to one, then to another, and, as
the sign was made, with the speed of light, a Kaffir had sprung forward,
and, with unerring aim, pierced the animal indicated by the chief to the
heart.

Surprised at this summary destruction of the beloved cattle, I asked
Tugela, who was standing by me, the reason, and learned that these were
to feast Metilulu's guests, for after a fortunate expedition he always
treated the warriors handsomely.  As the eyes of the remainder of the
cattle rested upon their fallen companions, and their nostrils scented
the blood, a panic seemed to seize them, for, lowing wildly, they dashed
forward in all directions, and it was as much as their keepers could do
to head them in, and get them all safely back to the isibaya.

When this was over, and all made ready, the ceremony of pointing out the
"ama-doda," or men and the "boys" who had proved themselves worthy of
their chief's approval, commenced.  This is a trying time for the
regiment, but a proud one to those who are conscious they have fought
well.  Those "boys" who have done their best look eagerly forward to
receive the title of ama-doda, and become the bearer of a white shield;
while those whose courage has failed them in the hour of battle secretly
tremble in their feathers--not having shoes--at the possible, if not
inevitable result.  Stepping forward, the head warrior presented his
report to Metilulu, who, on receiving it, uttered the names of those
worthy of praise aloud.  As each was pronounced, the assembled Kaffirs
repeated it at the top of their voices, while they indicated with
outstretched arm the fortunate soldier.  The latter, to my eyes,
appeared to have gone frantic with joy; for, with leaps only to be seen
in Caffraria or in a circus, he sprang from the ranks and commenced
executing the most peculiar antics, denoting extreme pleasure, I had
ever witnessed.  His springs were wondrous.  He kicked up his heels,
ran, and jumped, all the time flourishing his assagais and shield in
such a manner that I should have felt my head in danger had I been in
close proximity to him.

By this time three or four others had been specified, and were going
through the same feats as the first--doing it with such a power and
energy that the oil actually ran from their dark bodies in little
streams.  After having performed most of their military evolutions, with
a bound the happy warriors leaped back into the ranks, and resumed their
former rigid attitude.

The scene was so eccentric that it occasioned me much amusement, and had
it ended here it would have been well enough; but now, the brave having
been rewarded, the cowards had to be punished.  These were pointed out
without any shouting, and, as each was named, instant execution
followed, without a murmur on the victim's part.  One who, I suppose,
had either been a very great coward, or the head warrior had a spite
against him, was barbarously beaten to death by knob-kerries.  The
bodies of these, not being considered worthy of the rites of sepulture,
were dragged into the bush, and left there to become the meals of hyenas
and jackals, who speedily would leave nothing visible but the bones to
whiten in the sun.

This over, the paid minstrels of the tribes appeared, who, approaching,
sung their great chief's praises, using every title that had been given
him during his life for any prowess, or names he had chosen for
himself,--mostly those of animals.  After which all the warriors defiled
passed Metilulu, who was dressed in his most ceremonious costume of
feathers and leopard tails, etc, no doubt to inspire respect and awe,
each Kaffir as he went by bowing profoundly and lowering his shield and
assagais to the ground.

This completing the review the feast commenced, which I need not
recount, so therefore shall pass it over.  The successful issue of this
raid upon his enemy had so good an effect upon Metilulu, that he
proposed a large slaughter of animals should take place, so as to make a
grand feast--which meant every Kaffir was to have as much as he could
eat, and, if the reader recollects the account I have already given of
their capacity in that line, he will see that the quantity of provisions
necessary to be provided would be great indeed.

It must not be thought that the generous fit of Metilulu extended so far
as to the slaughtering his own cattle for the occasion; on the contrary,
he meant the slaying of a good many head of game.  To render this easy a
large pit or hopo was dug in the neighbourhood of a frequent resort of
the animals we required; from this diverged two strongly made fences,
expanding one to the left the other to the right, till the farther
extremities were nearly a mile apart.

The above method of entrapping animals has, I am aware, been frequently
described before, for it is a custom practised in many parts of Africa;
but having been an actor in this one myself, I should like here to
recount it to my readers.

Most of the kraal joined the hunters, for many were required, and when
we drew near the spot, orders were given to disperse ourselves so as to
enclose a large space of bush.  This being performed, by shouts and
flourishes of our assagais we began to beat up the game, and drive the
startled animals who sprang forth before us in the direction of the
hopo.  Few creatures, as I believe, I have remarked previously, will
attack a party of men unless urged on by extreme hunger, thus even those
of a more ferocious nature than the eland or gemsbok flew before the
shrieking Kaffirs, who appeared like so many fiends broken loose, and
never shall I forget the scene that ensued; the fleet eland, the
gemsbok, the small graceful duiker bok, the gnoos, the zebras, and even
here and there an elephant and a buffalo, all in one pell-mell frighted
herd, fled on, in hope of safety, but, in fact, only hurrying to their
sure destruction.  Occasionally they would attempt to break the fences,
but armed Kaffirs placed behind them would drive them back.  The mouth
of the hopo had been concealed by tree-trunks and branches, so that the
creatures never perceived the trap laid, till, owing to the velocity of
their speed, there was no drawing back, but with a plunge the first
ranks disappeared, and the rest bounded upon the top of them.  So when I
reached the hopo I found it full of miserable, struggling, howling life,
awful to see.  Legs, bodies, and heads were in an inextricable mass, the
pit being so crammed that the remainder of the animals had used it as a
path to pass over and escape again to the cover of the bush.

Then into the heaving mass the hunters began to throw assagai after
assagai, killing the uppermost, and leaving the under ones to be
suffocated by the blood and weight, which speedily must have taken
effect.  When all had been rendered harmless, one by one the slaughtered
beasts were raised by the aid of poles, and with songs of rejoicing--
for, having captured nearly forty head of game, the hopo was considered
most successful--we returned to the kraal, where preparations for a
grand cooking had been made.

After the feasting had abated and much joila had been drunk, I saw one
of the best dances I had yet witnessed in Caffraria--that is, more
persons than usual joined in it, for as to figure one dance resembled
another, each appearing to go through the performance according to his
own taste and with the one idea, to show as much energy and agility as
he possibly had in him.

The dancing girls had porcupine quills or hard thorns from the mimosa
stuck erect in their woolly hair, and about their waists a leather belt
covered in every part with beads, which barely answered the purpose of
an apron, while their necks, arms, and legs were literally hidden by
ornaments, they having apparently attired themselves in anything fine
they possibly could procure--it being a sign of wealth; and there, as in
other countries, the saying truly may be used, that pride is never
pinched, for though the heavy weight of these beads, bones, shells, etc,
must much incommode the dancers' movements, yet not one of them would
think of leaving a single ornament out of their toilette.

The dance commencing, the girls first formed themselves into a circle
and began, only accompanied by the sound of their own voices, then,
after a while, the warriors starting up, clashing their assagais on
their shields--for to create as horrible a hubbub as possible seems the
Kaffir's particular delight--joined in the figure, first whirling round
in an outer circle, then closing in and mingling together, never at any
time ceasing to keep up the accompaniment of their clashing shields and
shrill voices.

As usual their antics grew exceedingly violent, and as the evening was
remarkably warm, the perspiration, I might say oil, rolled in greasy
drops down the dancers' faces, causing them some inconvenience, though
each of the girls was provided with a long narrow piece of wood or bone,
something similar to a blunt knife, with which she scraped the grease
from her person wherever she felt it uncomfortable.  I thought it was
well, too, that the dances took place in the open air, and even then I
was very glad to use my seaman's knowledge, to keep to the windward of
the performers.

Zenuta had once been one of the best dancers in the tribe, but, whether
my words were taking effect in her heart, she now absolutely refused to
join, for which I was not sorry, as I took care to tell her afterwards,
and received a proud, happy smile from the poor girl's eyes, for these
dances do not conduce to the morality of the people, who seem to work
themselves up to a perfectly mad frenzy, when they recognised no bounds
to their desires.

I said "Poor Zenuta," and each day I repeated the phrase with greater
pity, for I had begun to pine for dear England and English faces with a
true home sickness, and looked forward to every succeeding hour, hoping
it might bring some chance to enable me to return, when I should be
compelled to tell her that we must part for ever.  It is true she had
begged me to take her with me, saying she would never vex me, but work
for me night and day; but whatever should I, Dick Galbraith, a poor
seaman, do with a Kaffir girl in England?  I respected the affection she
displayed too much to have her treated with indignity as she might be in
a strange and civilised land, and I could not have taken her home, so in
all ways I saw it was best and kindest to leave her with her tribe,
feeling sure among them she would soon get reconciled to the separation,
and, no doubt, quickly marry after I left, as I intended to give her all
my cows and other effects.  The sequel will prove, however, how little I
knew the really determined nature Zenuta possessed.  That in intellect
and sensibility she was far in advance of her people I had speedily
become aware; but I never dreamed to what lengths her loving, humble
devotion to one, who could only give her a friendly, pitying kindness in
return, would carry her.


CHAPTER SEVENTEEN.

HOME THOUGHTS--THE DROUGHT AND THE RAIN-MAKER--I RECEIVE TERRIBLE NEWS.

It was some time after the above that I sat just outside my hut enjoying
a smoke, or rather I should not say enjoying, for I happened to be
extremely sad at heart.  I had now been nearly a year in Caffraria, and
no doubt had long been supposed dead by my wife and friends, for the
news of the wreck could not fail to have reached them by this time,
accompanied no doubt by the sad intelligence that all the crew had
perished.

I pictured to myself my wife's despair on hearing it; how her pretty
face would be bathed in tears; how she, in her great sorrow, might
earnestly pray for death, till recalled from the wife's grief, by the
mother's duties, she would clasp my children to her bosom, and,
overcoming her heart-broken agony, resolve, if only for my sake, to live
for them.

My little house, with its small comfortable parlour, all rose up clearly
before me.  There on the wall hung the curiosities I had brought from
distant parts to Kate, and which she dusted so carefully every morning,
while here on the mantelpiece stood the old clock, with its wooden case
as black as ebony, supported right and left by a China shepherd and
shepherdess, which were supported in their turn by little China vases
containing spills ready for me, Dick Galbraith, when at home, to light
my pipe as I sat on one side of the pleasant fire-grate, a glass of grog
at my right hand, and Katie busily darning or mending the family linen
opposite, chatting of village gossip--how Dan, the fisherman, had nearly
been capsized in the last squall; or what a great haul he had had, which
had put him into such a good humour that he had actually bought his
missus a new gown; or, when not talking, listening so attentively to my
yarns respecting the places I had visited and the people I had seen.
Strange stories enough I should have to tell her this time!

A sigh escaped my lips as this reminded me how long it would be before I
should smoke my pipe, if I really ever did again, in that comfortable,
snug little parlour, with the smell of the briny sea in the air, and
Katie by my side, while the children slumbered overhead, rocked to
sleep, as their father had been before them, by the soothing lullaby of
the ocean.

Such thoughts, as may be imagined, were not very conducive to the
increase of my comfort where I was, and I felt in a very desponding
mood, when, happening suddenly to raise my eyes, I became aware that
Zenuta, carrying a gourd of corn she had been crushing to mix with amasi
for my dinner, was standing motionless some little distance off, and
gazing steadfastly, sadly upon me.

I somehow felt an unwillingness to meet her glance, so, lowering my
eyes, appeared to be busy refilling my pipe.  But what woman in the
world, even including Kaffirland, will be put off if they have anything
to say?  Thus a moment after, Zenuta approaching placed her gourd upon
the ground, then sitting down said plaintively, "You are thinking of
your home far away, Galbrth.  You are thinking of your wife."

I could not, nor did I wish to deny it, so I said, "Yes, Zenuta, I am.
It is very sad to be separated from all those whom I have loved, and who
have loved me from childhood.  Fancy how you would feel it."

"_I_ would go anywhere with you.  I would leave all," rejoined the girl
earnestly, as she looked into my face.

"My dear Zenuta," I said, taking her hand, "you must not speak thus for
my sake.  You do not know what our land is compared to yours--how
different it is: you would be unhappy there."

"Have you not told me," she answered quickly, "that it is a better
land--that its people know more; that they are kinder; that they are
what you call civilised?"

"Yes, truly, they are all this; but, Zenuta, you would be a stranger
among them--strange to their customs, strange to their language."

"So were you when you came here," she interrupted, "yet we were kind to
you.  You have become a hunter--almost one of us."

I could not deny this, and warmly confessed that I had been most
hospitably treated; "and yet," I had it on my lips to say, "I am not
happy, Zenuta, neither would you be were you in England;" but as I
looked into the poor girl's eager, earnest eyes, I had not the heart to
make the speech, and she continued most touchingly--

"Besides, I should not be alone, Galbrth; you would still be kind to me
would you not?  And your wife, too, I would like her for your sake."

I do not mind owning that tears dimmed my eyes as Zenuta spoke, and,
with some emotion, I pressed her hand, saying--

"You are a good, affectionate girl, Zenuta, and, believe me, I will ever
be a friend to you."

They were simple words, and not much, considering the deep love she
bestowed in return; yet they might have been the most affectionate
expressions lover ever uttered to have seen the light of joy which
quickly lit up her eyes and whole face, then, suddenly seizing my hand,
she raised it to her lips and kissed it passionately; after which,
getting up, without another word, she entered the hut with the crushed
corn for my dinner.

I have forgotten to say that I had once detected Zenuta in administering
a love powder to me, so that she might thus obtain the affection she
felt she could not get otherwise; and it was with some difficulty,
having even to resort to assumed anger, that I prevented her continuing
this unpleasant practice; for I had no desire to swallow some mysterious
compound concocted by a Kaffir witch-doctor.  Afterwards I took an early
opportunity to reason with her upon this foolish superstition, I fancy
with some success, for, either through my arguments or fear of my anger,
she never, to the best of my belief, had recourse to the charms again.
I had reason to imagine, however, that she communicated my opinion
respecting these superstitions to the witch-doctor himself, thereby
making me a most dangerous enemy, and the time was drawing near when
this was to be most disagreeably proved.

Zenuta had scarcely left me than, not feeling disposed to resume my
former reverie, I got up to take a stroll through the kraal.  There had
been few hunting parties lately, owing to the necessity of driving the
cattle every day a great distance to obtain water, as for some time past
the neighbourhood of our dwelling had been suffering from drought--a
terrible affair to both natives and cattle.  No sooner do the signs show
than the dread of famine immediately seizes the people, and not without
reason, for owing to the pasturage growing scarce, being quickly
scorched up by the fierce rays of the tropical sun, many cows perish;
consequently the milk--the staff of life to the Kaffir--considerably
fails in quantity.  Both men and women are in horror, for the rivers
begin to dry, then the wells and springs.

Such had been the state of things for some time with us, and Metilulu at
last had recourse to the power of the prophets, or rain-makers; for they
fully believe that these men are capable of bringing the rain they so
desire.

There is little doubt that these rain-makers can read the nature of the
clouds even better than the majority of the people, though all
understand it pretty well, as most tribes do who live in a wild state
and are much in the open air; yet it is certain that these men are very
often at fault, and the rain will not come for all their arts.  Of
course they must feel aware of this, and, to prevent losing the good
opinion of their devotees, they will demand almost impossible forms to
be gone through, or things given them, to work their charms, averring
that they could never succeed without.

I had had this proved to me by experience, as for the last few days the
rain-maker--his lank, skeleton-like figure clothed in an attire
something similar to the witch-doctors--had from the top of a high hill
been beckoning to the clouds, which did not come.  Sheep, goats, and
other animals, had been sacrificed, but to no effect; the blue sky
remained quite as clear, save where the sun, like a glowing furnace,
shot his beams, of a white-heat intensity, down upon the parched land.

Owing to what I have stated above, the whole tribe were extremely
downcast, while the cattle perished daily.  Famine seemed inevitable.
There yet was one more chance.  The rain-maker had declared the next
morning he would mention what he would require for another sacrifice,
and this time he knew that he should succeed: the clouds would no longer
be able to resist his power, but, on the contrary, would pour their
sweet supply of refreshing life upon the earth, bringing pasturage and
plenty to the tribe.

What the prophet required proved to be the hearts of three koodoos, cut
from the animals while alive.  I felt extremely disgusted and indignant
at this cruel and absurd request, but I was yet to learn that these men
could ask wilder things than this, and get them speedily obeyed by the
miserable, ignorant people over whom they exert such arbitrary power.

This ceremony, the obtaining the koodoo's hearts, had taken place three
days before my talk with Zenuta, yet no rain had fallen, nor did there
seem the least likelihood of its coming, as far as my nautical knowledge
went.  I had made no enquiry that day respecting the rain-maker's
prophecy, nor whether he had made any other requests, as his last had so
signally failed; indeed, I took but little interest in the impostor,
impostor even to himself, but my brain still occupied by those home
thoughts, which I could not banish, I wandered indifferently about the
kraal.  Once or twice, however, I could not help fancying that several
of the Kaffirs whom I passed looked upon me in a strange manner, while
others, at my approach, dropping quickly on their knees, crept into
their huts as if to avoid a meeting.

I was at the time too busy with other things to pay much, if any,
attention to these signs, but having made the circuit of the kraal, came
once more in sight of my own dwelling.  As I did so I perceived Tugela
abruptly issue from it, spring in to an erect position, and hurry off.
Not having seen him all day, I hastened after to overtake him, but his
speed being greater than mine, he soon distanced me, so giving the chase
up, I entered my home with a very good appetite for my dinner.

It being ready, I sat down to it at once, and had somewhat allayed my
hunger when, with a sudden cry, Zenuta cast herself beside me,
apparently in an agony of grief, for looking down I saw tears rolling
down her cheeks.  In much concern I raised her from her kneeling
position, and asked the cause of her emotion.  For a few moments,
however, sobs checked her utterance, then she let fall several brief,
disconnected sentences, which made me sure that some imminent danger was
threatening me.  Earnestly I besought her to speak more clearly, even
having recourse to the infallible reasoning, the love which she had so
often expressed for me.  The latter, as usual, had the effect I so
anxiously desired, and sobbing as if her heart would break, she said how
she had just learned from Tugela--what it now seemed the whole kraal had
known some hours before--that the rain-maker, in an interview with
Metilulu, had declared that the drought was entirely caused by the white
man who was among them, whose disbelief in his (the prophet's) power had
also made his charms fail, and never would they succeed, nor rain come,
till the Englishman had been removed--removed, meant death.

No one but those who had witnessed the barbarous cruelty and ignorance
of these people, combined with their utter regardlessness to the
suffering of others, can imagine the effect this intelligence had upon
me.  The first feeling that seized me was the certainty that after all
my escapes my hour had come at last, and I was really never to see old
England again, and the dear ones it contained.  Zenuta, seeing my horror
and despair, clung entreatingly to me, and with true woman's tenderness,
which is the same in all lands when their hearts are concerned, tried to
calm and soothe me, by saying Tugela had also told her that Metilulu had
seemed most averse to letting me suffer, and had even informed the
prophet that he would defer his answer respecting the subject, and
perhaps would talk to the white man himself, and see what his opinions
really were upon the point.

These words gave me the relief which the affectionate girl desired, for
they were to me what a respite is to a condemned man.--It showed me I
had a few hours to reflect and to determine how to act; so, for the
first time pressing my lips to Zenuta's dusky forehead, for I could not
but be deeply moved by the warm affection which she showed me, I bade
her go about her household duties, and leave me awhile, as I wished to
think how best to answer the Chief Metilulu on the morrow.

With a glow of intense happiness on her face at this token of
friendship, she silently obeyed, while I, throwing myself on the ground,
began to reflect how I could manage to escape from the awful danger
impending over me.


CHAPTER EIGHTEEN.

I PREPARE TO ESCAPE--I LEAVE THE KRAAL, BUT QUICKLY RETURN--THE ENEMY--
THE KRAAL IN FLAMES.

Lying there on my sleeping-mat I contemplated my hazardous position with
feelings better imagined than described.  My flesh crept as I recalled
the horrible torture I had seen practiced on the wretched wizard, and
felt how in a few days, if fortune did not favour me, I too might
undergo the same.

I tried to draw consolation from the fact, that Metilulu--for a great
wonder--had shown much repugnance in accepting the rain-maker's
statement, and had declared he would reserve his decision, respecting
the white man's removal, till the morrow; but I could abstract but
little comfort from this, feeling assured that if the drought continued
the land would be brought into such a terrible state of famine, that, if
not from his own will, Metilulu, to save himself from the fury of the
people, would be compelled to give, me over into the merciless grasp of
the enraged prophet.  No; there was only one way left to me.  I felt my
life was no longer safe there--if reprieved by Metilulu's friendship
until the next day, it was but deferring my ultimate fate; therefore I
resolved, if possible, to escape that very night, and take to the bush,
being more willing to trust to its perils than those I knew I ran with
the witch-doctors.

Having come to this resolve, I thought the best way to avoid creating
any suspicions of my intent was to go about as usual; so, rising, I
repaired to my cows to see if they required any care, then went to my
small patch of tobacco land, where, collecting many leaves, and rolling
them fit for use, I wrapped each separate parcel in reeds, according to
the custom of the Kaffirs, who place them in their huts, where they can
be seen by all, for the possession of a large store of tobacco is a
great pride to the natives, as they reckon their superiority over their
fellows by it.

As may be easily conceived, _I_ did not do it for this purpose, but
prepared them in these small portions so that I could easily carry them
about my person in my intended flight; for I perfectly well knew the
value of the plant in the bush, not only as a comfort to its possessor,
but because it is equivalent to the use of money in England when you
require services rendered, for a Kaffir will do anything to possess some
of the much-prized weed.

Frequently, while so engaged, I cast anxious glances to windward to note
if there was the least sign of rain clouds appearing, but from north to
south, from east to west all continued to be one clear, blue, unbroken
expanse.  Once, noticing a slight mist on the horizon, I wetted the palm
of my hand and held it up in that direction, when I fancied I could
detect the faint touch of a cooler breeze.  If so, there might really be
rain before morning, but certainly not earlier; therefore, it made no
change in my resolve to be off that night, if possible.

Having done all I could to my patch of land, which I mentally hoped
never to see again, I took my packets of tobacco and turned homewards.
The men having little to do, and no heart to do that, were mostly seated
about the kraal, smoking or talking respecting the drought and the
deaths of their cows.  As well as I could, without making it
perceptible, I avoided these groups, for the fear displayed on my
approach--some retreating altogether, while all regarded me with a
strange look of covert suspicion--was now fully explained, the truth
being that they each regarded me as the wilful cause of their present
dire suffering.

I wisely took no heed of their manner, pretending not to perceive it,
though in truth it made me most uncomfortable, for I fancied it likely
these men, urged to frenzy by reflecting on the approaching famine,
might rise up at any moment, surround my hut, demand me of Metilulu,
make me a prisoner, and torture me to their hearts' content--a deed for
which they would afterwards rejoice, and no doubt receive the praises of
the Prophets and Metilulu himself, for, as far as I could judge, even as
I had returned to the kraal, the wind had slightly shifted, and rain
might not be two days off, when its subsequent arrival would of course
be attributed to my death.  No pleasant reflection; and I could have
regarded the men about me with the same horror as did the poor
mis-called wizard when the witch-doctor, after his farcical snuffing the
air, suddenly, as if he had smelt him out, dropped upon the wretched
victim; but, conquering any outward sign of uneasiness, I exchanged a
few casual remarks with those I met, taking no note at their not always
being returned.

On reaching my hut I found Zenuta still there, so, as I wished to be
alone to make some little preparation for the night, I sent her out on
an errand; then, placing the wicker-door before the entrance, that the
interior could not be easily seen, I took two hard stones which I had
brought in with me, and cautiously began rubbing up the heads of the few
assagais I had managed to retain to as sharp a point as I could make
them.

The work took me some little time, and had the effect of engaging my
thoughts and preventing me dwelling too much upon my perilous position.
I then selected the best skins I possessed, placing them ready to put
on, with my kaross, which I intended to make serve for a sleeping-mat,
as I should, no doubt, have to camp out for many nights in the bush;
afterwards putting the rolls of tobacco in a piece of hide, I stowed it
away with the rest, to be ready to hand when I started.

I had scarcely ended, and the hour was, as far as I could judge, about
six o'clock European time, when a shadow fell over the doorway, and the
next moment a "boy," slim and handsome in figure, as Kaffirs all are in
youth, crept in on hands and knees.  I recognised him as one of those
who attended on Metilulu, and my heart fell, fearing that the chief had
changed his mind, and determined to surrender me to the rain-doctor even
then; for when he had honoured me with any message before, it had
usually come through Tugela.  But the messenger's first words allayed my
fears at once on this point.

After the ordinary every-day salutations, the "boy" stated that Metilulu
had sent to say he desired me not to take my cows out the next day, but
entrust them to another, for he wished me to wait upon him, as he had
something of much importance to communicate.

I answered directly that the noble Metilulu had ever shown me--a
stranger--so much kindness, that his will was as law to me, even as to
his own people; therefore I should certainly not take my cows out the
next day, but would attend upon him as he desired.  "I should like
also," I added, "if the chief would permit me to inform him that, as far
as my knowledge as a sailor went, I hoped and believed we should have
rain before two days were over."

The messenger seemed much pleased at my reply, feeling, perhaps, that I
was safe in their clutches, and started off to bear it immediately to
Metilulu.

I had purposely made my answer touch upon the kindness of the chief,
with the hope that the little praise might act in my favour, and I had
also mentioned the coming rain, thinking it possible that it might
excite Metilulu's curiosity, so, if I did not effect my escape, that he
would defer my execution, to see if the "white man's" prophecy was
correct.  I knew my reply would be delivered _verbatim_; for these
Kaffir messengers can carry them for miles, but never vary in a
syllable.

Zenuta returning, I informed her of Metilulu's wish.  She displayed much
concern on hearing it, and finally declared that she felt sure he meant
mischief.

"Do you think so, Zenuta?"  I said very indifferently, for I could not
even trust her with the fact that I was about to escape; for I should
have had to add that I must leave her behind, and we never again should
meet.  Poor girl!  But what _could_ I do?  "I do _not_ think so," I
continued; "he has proved himself so hospitable to me up to this time,
that I do not believe he would change.  At any rate, he will assuredly
listen to my arguments; and finally, Zenuta, you are aware," I added
solemnly, pointing upward, "that my faith rests in One above, who has
power to save me if He please, had all the chiefs in Caffraria willed my
death."

She looked doubtfully and with awe at me, then said, with touching
earnestness, "May He, then, save you, Galbrth, if He really can, my
beloved!"

Despite my apparent indifference, Zenuta's behaviour naturally made me
more certain than ever that to stay till the morrow would be like
signing my own death-warrant; therefore, for all Metilulu's peaceful
message, I determined to be gone that night.

How long the time appeared before it came.  When it did, however, it
could not have been more kind to me, for the moon did not rise till late
and the night was very dark.  So, anxiously waiting alone in my hut, I
listened till all grew silent in the kraal, and I felt sure its inmates
were wrapped in sleep.  Then I glided out, my kaross tied up, the
tobacco strung round my shoulders, and my shield and assagais in my
hand.  Fearing to quit the place by the usual egress, lest the dogs
should create a disturbance and alarm the sleepers, I stealthily skirted
my hut till I reached the fence, where, with a strength made great by
the imminence of my danger, I forced the poles asunder and squeezed
myself through.  When I was outside, I gave a long sigh of relief for I
felt free, safe, but not quite safe enough.  On the contrary, I was very
anxious to put as great a distance between the kraal and myself as
possible before my absence could be discovered.  So quickly I hurried
on, keeping a sharp look-out around and breathing many blessings upon
the darkness; but I had not gone far when the moon, showing the tip of
its broad disc over the hills, east a silver ray of light on the
opposite horizon, warning me of its approach, and I glanced keenly on
each side for some bushes to conceal my figure from view.

As I did so I came to a most abrupt halt, for among the trees some
distance off, where the moonbeams fell, I could swear I saw the dusky
forms of Kaffirs gliding in and out about the trunks.  A moment's
careful inspection proved to me that they did not belong to the tribe I
had just left, but were advancing apparently with the extremest caution.
What could it mean?  There was but one answer.  Some Chief was
retaliating upon Metilulu the attack he had not many days ago made upon
him.  But what was I to do?  Make use of the confusion that must ensue
to favour my escape!  No; I could not do it; for I recalled the kindness
I had experienced from these people, and thought of the helpless women,
Zenuta above all, and children who lay sleeping, unconscious of the
approaching enemy who, in a brief space, would massacre them with the
most barbaric cruelty.

My resolve was instantly taken.  With the greatest speed I could muster,
I swiftly returned to the kraal, entering by the same way I had left.
Then having flung my kaross and tobacco back into the hut, I ran first
to the "boys'" huts, they being the nearest, afterwards to the men's,
whispering the word of alarm--"The enemy is upon us."

Quickly the whole kraal was astir, and, hastily arming themselves with
shields and assagais, commenced as quietly as possible driving the
cattle to the bush, for the first thought of the besieger is to seize
the cows, while that of the besieged is to prevent his doing so.

Through the enemy advancing at the back of the kraal, we were able to
quit it unperceived with the oxen, women, and children, for the latter
also were to take refuge in the bush till the fight was over.  We were
but just in time, for scarcely had all been safely placed than, ere we
could get back, with yells like an army of fiends, the place was
surrounded by the enemy, who scaled the fence like a swarm of black
beetles, flourishing their weapons, and proving by their behaviour how
little mercy the sleeping inmates would have obtained had they been
there.

Speedily, however, they discovered that the kraal was empty, and their
howls of baffled rage was only excelled by those they uttered when a
shower of assagais from our party showed that they were expected and
prepared for.  Then for the first time I witnessed a Kaffir method of
warfare.  Each man crouched behind his shield, or held it so as to
protect his head, only glancing out when he cast his weapon with
unerring aim at his enemy.

The moon was now fully up, lighting the entire scene, which was both
picturesque and animated.  The air at first seemed darkened by the
flying assagais, and I, forgetful of the danger I had so lately and
perhaps still did run, threw mine with as good a will as any of them.

Many of our men fell; but I soon perceived that our numbers far exceeded
the enemy, who no doubt had reckoned on a surprise for success.  They
began visibly to give way, and shortly after, forming into a compact
body, the shields held in front like a wall, as against them the native
spears are useless, they commenced a slow retreat, for they had speedily
taken to the open field when the fight began.  Slowly we followed,
casting our spears as they did as we proceeded, when, suddenly, over the
fence surrounding the huts, several black forms were seen to leap, and
the next moment sharp pointed tongues of flame shot up from numerous
parts into the air.

They had fired the kraal!

The yells of rage now came from our party, as frantic for revenge they
made a furious charge on the enemy, who fled with all haste to the bush,
leaving many wounded behind them, who were pitilessly slaughtered by the
infuriated pursuers.  But the bush once gained, it became useless to
follow further, therefore the order was given to return and collect the
cattle, which were becoming restive and ungovernable at the sight of the
flames.

To have saved the kraal, I need not say, would have been impossible,
constructed as it was of wood and thatch, so, having got the oxen safe,
we encamped on the hillside, where--the Kaffirs breathing vows of a
terrible vengeance--we sat to watch it burn out; and a fine sight truly
it was, forming a grand picture, for the spiral masses of flame rushing
with a roar upward, lighted for some distance around the strangely grand
African scenery, while the broad faced moon, with her attendant stars,
shone placidly down from above.


CHAPTER NINETEEN.

METILULU EXPRESSES HIS GRATITUDE--HIS REVENGE--THE LOST FOUND.

Scarcely had morning dawned, than Metilulu, surrounded by his
counsellors, coming up, warmly thanked me in words full of the sincerest
gratitude for having saved the lives of his tribe, as assuredly, but for
my warning, they would all have been massacred before the men could have
even had time to seize their weapons in defence.  The little Chief
seemed indeed so vastly pleased that I thought his praises would never
cease, and I began to be rather tired of listening, when he suddenly put
to me a question, which I had expected he would from the first.  This
was, "How it happened that I had been so lucky to see the enemy's
approach at so late an hour?"  Of course, I dared not give the right
reason; but, on the contrary, seized the opportunity this occasion
offered to improve my position and consequence in Metilulu's eyes by
saying,--

"That I had been much concerned respecting the drought, which threatened
such great suffering to his people and cattle, particularly after
sending the message to him regarding the coming rain.  The thought that
he would fancy I only intended to deceive him made it impossible for me
to sleep; therefore, I had walked outside the huts to note what aspect
the moon would possess on rising, feeling sure, if she displayed the
slightest mistiness on her disc, that rain could not be far off.  It was
at the time when so engaged that, happening to glance through an opening
in the fence towards the bush, I had become conscious of dark, moving
figures in the distance, and, guessing foul play, had immediately given
the alarm to the kraal."

Metilulu listened very attentively, as did his counsellors, and, when I
had finished, asked with much anxiety,--

"Did you see the moon rise?  If so, what was its appearance?"

"It appeared with a slight halo about it," I rejoined.

"We shall have rain, then?" he said interrogatively.

To answer this in the affirmative, I had only to look up to the heavens,
without any aid from my previous knowledge of the halo, and I told him
that I believed rain would fall very shortly, perhaps even before night.

He smiled with great satisfaction at this, saying, if it proved true, I
should be his rain-maker for the future.  Then taking his leave, I saw
him proceed direct to the prophet and address that withered, sour
specimen of humanity.

I learned afterwards, from Tugela, that Metilulu had accused him of
wishing to destroy the man who had turned out to be the best friend the
tribe had, while he ended by asserting, on the strength of my word
alone, that the rain was coming, and very speedily too, though the white
man yet lived.  The rain-maker, perceiving the champion I had in the
Chief, had muttered out something about a mistake; it must have been
some one of their own people, whose evil spirit had caused his spells to
fail till now.  I rather admired that "till now," the conceit was so
extremely cool.

Such a flagrant act of imposture as this in our country would have
speedily ruined all the prestige of a conjuror, much less a prophet; but
there it had not the least effect, and if the rain had not come as I had
predicted, no doubt the prophet would have triumphed enormously, and
again been set to work to smell out another unfortunate victim, if he
had not still persisted--as very likely he might--that the worker of all
this evil was myself.

As it was, however, plenteous and refreshing rains fell that day; the
rivers again began to flow, and the springs and wells to fill--all of
which had an effect wonderful to behold upon the natives.  They danced,
they shouted, they sang, and fairly embraced each other and their dear
cattle, the destruction of their kraal appearing to sink into quite a
minor affair.  It was far from doing so with Metilulu, a brave little
fellow, despite his obesity.  Before the day was out, he had called his
chief warriors together, to arrange with them how and when to take dire
vengeance upon his enemy.  Not one of the tribe was loathe to do this;
therefore, it was determined that, directly they could erect a kraal
sufficiently large to keep the cattle and women in safety, the whole
body of Kaffirs, with Metilulu himself at their head, should, leaving
only enough behind to protect the women and cows, depart for the enemy's
dwellings, upon whom they swore to have a terrible retribution.

Consequently three days after, when an isibaya had been hurriedly
constructed for the cattle and huts for the females, children, and those
who were to remain as their guards, the war party set out, I among their
number, by permission of the chief, who now seemed ready to grant
anything I desired--a willingness on his Majesty's part which I hoped
soon to put to a great test, by stating my earnest desire to return to
my own people and land.

We set forth after sun-down, so as to reach the enemy's quarters in the
middle of the night, which we succeeded in doing, for after having
marched for nearly four hours, we came abruptly on the kraal, laying,
bathed in moonlight, all silent and still just at the foot of a slight
incline.

I think it need not be stated that I had no intention to play any part
in the affair about to take place, for the men I was with were acting no
better than had those who had attacked them, while from experience I
knew they could be quite, as cruel.  But aware my presence or absence
could do neither harm nor good, I had really come hoping thereby to gain
still further Metilulu's friendship, so that perhaps he might the more
readily grant my request to be passed on to a white settlement.

Falling back, therefore, to the rear as the Kaffirs advanced, I
manoeuvred to remain in the shadow of the bush while they went on.  In
the kraal before me there was, unfortunately, no wakeful eye to warn the
sleepers of their danger, and the Kaffirs, approaching silently with the
stealthy tread of a cat, had even scaled the fences before a sound was
heard.  Then the dogs began to bark and the cows to low, for in
Caffraria cattle can at times be made to serve in place of the watchful
canine animals themselves; but, before their masters could be aroused by
the warning, they were startled into consciousness of their peril by
their huts being pierced by the assagais of the enemy, whose loud yells
of triumph rang awfully through the still air.

A terrible scene ensued--warriors who had had only time to seize their
weapons issued forth but to be slaughtered, while women and children
mostly shared the same fate.  Some of the fragile huts were crushed down
altogether--the inmates under them--into which heaps the enemy
frequently thrust their spears to destroy the miserable beings beneath.

I waited impatiently for an end to this frightful scene of bloodshed,
and each moment expected to see the cattle drawn out to a place of
safety and the kraal set on fire as ours had been; but there appeared no
signs of this.  Owing to the unfairness of the fight, it speedily began
to subside; yet the cattle remained in the isibaya.  Had the enemy been
exterminated, or had they yielded?

I waited yet a little longer, then became certain one or other was the
case, for the fight seemed over, while Metilulu's regiment were already
forming into order.  Consequently, thinking it as well now to join them,
I hastened from the bush and entered the kraal.  It presented a horrible
sight to one who, like myself, was unused to bloodshed and battlefields,
though no doubt it was not so ghastly as that presented by one of our
civilised engagements; for here were no shattered limbs, no torn gaping
wounds, no headless trunks, and bodies rent in twain by cannon shot.
The assagai, or, occasionally, the knob-kerrie, had alone been used; and
strewn over the ground were the dead forms of the Kaffirs, the spears
which had caused their deaths yet remaining buried deep up the shaft in
the victims, the victors not having had time to collect them.  In some
parts, where the fight had been the thickest, they laid in heaps; yet,
with but few exceptions, the positions of all retained a look of
graceful, easy repose.  Notwithstanding, to me, it was a sickening sight
to behold so many who, but an hour before, had been full of healthful
life, now lying there extended on the plain--dead.

On going a little further I perceived Metilulu standing in the isibaya,
inspecting the numbering the cattle by some of his men, while others
were forming the survivors into their proper regiments, to discover
which of the tribe had fallen.  Having no wish to join either I strolled
on, wondering in my own mind as to what they intended to do with the
slain, for to leave them where they were under the tropical sun of day
would soon render the spot unbearable and detrimental to the existence
of the survivors.

Just at this moment I chanced to come across Tugela, bearing a message
from Metilulu to one of his warriors, and, as I was going his way, I
asked him with some curiosity, "How the fight had terminated."

"All those who had not been slain," he said, "had finally yielded and
consented to submit to Metilulu, accepting him for their chief.
Therefore, as the kraal was ready for immediate occupation, and stood in
a much better situation regarding vegetation and water than his, the
little Chief had issued orders for all the huts to be taken care of, as
he intended at once to make the place his own abode, while the
vanquished were to build themselves a kraal a little distance off."

"But what will you do with these heaps of slain?"  I asked.  "If they
remain here long the air will be full of pestilential vapours."

"Those who like to bury their friends have permission to do so,"
rejoined Tugela, "The others will be dragged far into the bush for the
wild beasts to devour, or thrown into the rivers for the crocodiles.  We
never bury them as you English do."

Saying which he hurried on with his message; and, even as he went, I
perceived numerous parties of "boys" removing the fallen men for the
purpose Tugela had stated.  Whether they ascertained if all they took
were really dead, particularly when the bodies were those of the enemy,
I cannot tell, but I rather think not.

On being once more alone I continued my walk, and had the satisfaction
of relieving from under the debris of a fallen hut a poor woman with an
assagai wound in her side, who immediately, with much chattering,
scurried off to the bush, clasping a baby in her arms, and leaving me no
time to tell her that she would be quite safe if she liked to remain at
the kraal.

It was soon after this that I came to a second demolished dwelling, from
whence I fancied there issued murmuring sounds of life.  Thinking I
might be so fortunate as to rescue another unfortunate being, I listened
attentively, and speedily, by the slight upheaving of the rubbish, was
convinced some person was beneath--whereupon I set to work as fast as I
could to clear away the heap so as to make an opening, all the while
assuring those inside that there was no cause for fear, the fight was
over, and peace concluded.  I had nearly effected my purpose, when
suddenly a grizzled head was thrust up into the moonlight--the ruined
hut looking something like a hencoop fastened about the neck.  After
glancing quickly round, the possessor of the head exclaimed, to my utter
amazement, "Well, jib-booms and top-sails, but this is a queer scene,
this is."

I reeled back mute with astonishment at the words, which recalled to me
the apparition's attention, and he continued--

"Well, you black nigger, how long are you going to stand there?  Why
don't you help a fellow out, instead of jabbering your confounded lingo,
which I don't understand a word of, though I've heerd nothin' but it for
nigh a year, and what's more, I _won't_ understand it if I stay another;
for it's the devil's own tongue itself, that it are."

By this time I had recovered myself, and, dashing forward, tore away the
remains of the ruins; then, as the other started up, I threw myself on
his neck overcome with emotion.

"Now, I say, you nigger, what are you up to?" he exclaimed.

"Oh, Thompson.  Dear old Jack.  My old, old companion," I cried, while
actual tears rolled from my eyes, "don't you know me--me, Dick
Galbraith?"

"Dick Galbraith! and alive!  By the Lord, is it possible; but how--how
_could_ I know you, dear Dick, my boy, with your face like a nigger's,
and rigged out in those queer togs.  Oh, lor'!  I'm glad of this
indeed," exclaimed the old fellow, laughing and crying at the same time
as he hugged me and I hugged him, while both of us sobbed like very
children for joy at once more looking into the face of a white man--and
a friend.


CHAPTER TWENTY.

WE GO IN SEARCH OF MR FERGUSON--METILULU'S RECEPTION OF MY FRIENDS--
THEIR STORY.

No one but those who have lived nearly twelve months with a savage tribe
can at all imagine the joy I experienced at once more looking upon the
face of a white man and a fellow-countryman.  It was some moments even
before I could speak my delight, my voice being stifled by rising sobs,
while Jack was no better than myself.  When, however, we at last drew a
few paces off to again look upon each other, I could not help bursting
into a laugh as I beheld my companion and recalled his complimentary
remarks respecting my personal appearance, for he was as eccentrically
attired as myself.

His skin, already bronzed by many years at sea, had become nearly of a
true Kaffir hue, while his fur clothing very much resembled a herald's
tabard, only it was longer to the knee, not so high at the throat, and
was joined at each side; from this garment emerged his brown muscular
bare legs and arms, while it was surmounted by his weather-beaten face,
topped by grizzled hair, and covered half-way up by a large, unkempt,
iron grey beard.

"Well, Jack," I exclaimed, my own language sounding strangely in my
ears, "'pon my life I don't see what you had to laugh at in me, for your
toggery is no better."

"No, my stars, it ain't; but who'd ever have believed to have seen
another Christian dressed out like myself?  But it's all compulsion,
Dick--it's all compulsion; and if heaven wills it to be so, as the young
minister says, I oughtn't to have any objection."

"Ah, that reminds me," I interrupted quickly; "where is Mr Ferguson?  I
hope that he, like us, is safe.  You can't tell, Jack, how often I have
thought, during the last twelve months, about his words, even to trying
a little bit of his business myself."

"What; preachifying!  You don't mean to say you've turned missionary?"

"Not quite," I laughed; "but any man with religion in his heart would
try, I am sure, to cast some seeds among these benighted people, hoping
that they might take root.  But where is Mr Ferguson--I am so anxious
to see him; you can't tell how anxious?  Remember you have always had a
companion to talk to, while I have been alone."

"True, Jack, true," responded Thompson, again affectionately wringing my
hand.  "Come along; I'll lead you to his hut, where I trust to find he's
come safely out of the dangers of this terrible night.  Why, how did
those black fiends manage so to surprise us?"

"About the same way," I said, "that the tribe you are with would have
managed it the other night, if, fortunately through my means, we had not
been prepared for them.  But do come along and I'll tell all about this
afterwards, for I want to know if Mr Ferguson is safe; you cannot
imagine how I have grown to like him."

"Yes, I can, for I feel the same, Dick; that young missionary can do
what he likes with me, else I think I should have long ago given some of
these black fellows such a drubbing that I shouldn't have been permitted
to live many minutes afterwards.  I should have sought him out directly
I could have got rid of the ruins of the hut, had it not been for my joy
at seeing you."

Thompson now moved quickly on, and proceeded to a small hut a little way
off, which he entered, but instantly re-appeared, his face indicating
much alarm--for he had found the place empty.

"I can't tell where he's gone," he said, "but he's not there.  We must
seek him.  If none of those bloodthirsty fiends you brought--"

"_I_ brought, Jack!"

"Well, who brought you; if they haven't hurt him, none of our tribe
would I am sure, for they respect him too much."

Anxiously we now searched among the slain for the young minister, whom
it appeared even the Kaffirs had liked, and no one can tell with what
relief we passed from heap to heap and found him not among the dead.  We
had proceeded some little way outside the kraal, our quest as yet in
vain, when with a cry Jack hurried forward towards the figure of a man
kneeling by the side of another either dying or dead.

We had found Mr Ferguson at last, and, like a true soldier of heaven as
he was, at his post; for, on Thompson approaching, he arose, with, as I
perceived, his well-remembered prayer-book in his hand.

"Ah, Jack," he exclaimed joyfully; "thank heaven you are safe.  I was
about to seek you, when--"

"Never mind me, sir, please now," interrupted Thompson excitedly, "for
I've brought an old friend to see you--one you will rejoice as much to
look upon as he rejoices to look upon you, sir."

"A friend!  Thompson--and here?"

"Yes, here sir, if you can reckernise in this noble Kaffir warrior, with
his shield and assagais, our old mate in trouble--Dick Galbraith!"

"Dick Galbraith here! alive?" exclaimed Mr Ferguson.  "Now, heaven be
praised indeed, for this is good news.  My heart is truly delighted--it
has been much cast down at the thought of what might have been your
fate."

I seized his extended hand tremulously, but that greeting was too cold,
and he too embraced me as a Frenchman might have embraced his brother.
I need not recapitulate the sundry questions we put to each other, they
surely may easily be imagined; suffice it that we kept on talking till
we were interrupted by the approach of Tugela, who, by Metilulu's
orders, had come to find out where I had got to.

He looked with great surprise at seeing us three together, clothed very
nearly alike, only the minister's complexion was much fairer, and stared
yet more at hearing us all talking the same language; but I had already
told him about my lost companions, therefore a few words were now
sufficient to explain the present state of affairs, and I frankly asked
him the best way for me to act respecting them and Metilulu?

He advised me to take my friends to the Chief at once, and tell him
everything; how we had been separated, and how we had again met.  He
also assured us that we need have little fear, for, as Metilulu had
proved in my case, he leaned much towards white men when they, on their
part, showed a disposition to be friendly.  "But," he added, "let alone
this, he will no doubt treat your two friends hospitably for your sake,
as he feels really deeply grateful for the service you so lately
rendered the tribe.  No time would be better than the present to make
the introduction, as Metilulu is in the best of humours owing to his
great success over his enemy, and is regaling in copious draughts of
beer and supplies of snuff."

I hope I have shown, as I have desired to, that Tugela's stay in the
English settlements, where he had obtained the language, had not only
improved his own ideas, but had also caused him not to be blind to some
of the peculiar manners of his tribe, though he yet preferred living
among them to dwelling with white men.  With Tugela one of our party, my
two companions having consented to the introduction, we at once
proceeded to the isibaya where Metilulu still remained.

He was now seated with some of his warriors in attendance, and, of
course, a jar of the enemy's beer in close proximity to his hand.  As I
approached slightly in advance of the others, he bade me come and sit
near him, as he desired to know my opinion upon the style of revenge he
had that night taken upon the hostile tribe.

Making a low inclination, I replied that I thought it as terrible and as
complete as only such a powerful and skilful Chief as he could have
accomplished; then added that, "even as it had brought desolation on his
enemies, it had brought the greatest happiness to me, his friend, not
only at having seen him victorious, but because it had also enabled me
to find two dear companions who had been wrecked in the same ship that I
had been, and washed on to the same shore, but through circumstances I
would explain to him, had been separated from me just before I had
fallen so fortunately into his hands."

He listened very attentively, then in the most friendly manner bade us
all three sit down, and inform him at once how we had been divided.
Instantly obeying, I soon ran through my account, when I turned to Mr
Ferguson, who could speak, the language even better than I, and
requested him to relate to the Chief what had been his and Thompson's
fate after I had quitted them with Metilulu's soldiers.

Clearly and in a manner that proved he had well studied the best method
to address and win the confidence of these people, he recounted their
story to Metilulu, which I will give briefly as follows:--

When from the pit they had heard the fray above, Mr Ferguson, guessing
I must be surrounded by the natives, consequently in danger, instantly
endeavoured to get out and hasten to my help; for this purpose he had
made Thompson kneel on hands and knees, then standing upon his
shoulders, had nearly grasped the top of the pit, when Jack, weak from
pain and exertion, sunk down, causing Mr Ferguson to fall heavily to
the ground.  A few moments after, recovering himself, he had with much
difficulty succeeded in clambering out; but then he found the place
deserted, for, as it may be remembered, I had been instantly wounded by
a spear and at once marched off to the kraal.  He was, however, without
one thought of himself, about to pursue and assist me if possible, when
a moan of pain from poor Thompson reached him, and reminded him how
helpless he was, wounded and insensible at the bottom of the giraffe
trap.  Therefore, wisely considering that among so large a body of men,
as by their yells he knew them to be, he could at the present moment be
but of little service to myself, he determined to remain with the one he
could aid; and running to the bush, for he no longer cared about being
seen, he procured some strong monkey-ropes, then returning dropped once
more into the pit.  There he fastened them as well as he could round
Thompson, who had now recovered his senses, climbed out again, and, Jack
helping himself as well as he was able with his hands, managed to draw
him out.

When this was done, having sat down a while for Thompson to recover
himself a little, they commented sadly upon what they thought my
misfortune.  Afterwards they started off, if possible to track me; but
this they failed to do, owing to their having taken a wrong direction,
and, morning shortly breaking, were again compelled to hide in the bush.
There they wandered about till nearly the close of day, when they were
startled by perceiving the dark face of a Kaffir carefully inspecting
their movements from among the trees.  On finding he was seen, he
disappeared, apparently as frightened of them as they were of him;
whereupon, rejoicing, they had hurried off in a contrary direction, but,
ten minutes after, the Kaffir yells again rang in their ears, and the
next instant they found themselves surrounded by some twenty or thirty
of the natives, armed with assagais.

Seeing it was useless to resist, Mr Ferguson with difficulty restrained
Jack's fierce British ebullition of defiance and rage, advising him to
follow his example and quietly surrender themselves, as by that means
they might win kindness instead of ill treatment from their assailants.

"And," added the minister, when he had come to this part, bowing
respectfully to Metilulu, "in that we were not deceived, for the tribe
which you, most noble Chief, have just conquered, treated us most
hospitably, and we have lived in peace among them up to this moment."

I had noticed that, owing to fatigue, or perhaps joila, Metilulu had
become exceedingly drowsy towards the end of the minister's story.  He
roused up, however, at the close, and, catching the words respecting the
tribe's hospitality, said that they also should receive the same from
his hands, as he liked white men much when they did not wish to be his
enemies, but friends, like Galbratha, indicating me; then, growing
silent, Metilulu partly averted his head.  Taking this for a form of
dismissal, we rose, made our obeisances, and, having asked his
permission to retire, withdrew to a quiet secluded part of the kraal,
where, wrapping our karosses around us, we laid ourselves down, first to
have a chat, then to sleep.

I need not recount Mr Ferguson and Thompson's history while in the
Kaffir kraal, for it was much about the same as my own, only the
minister had never ceased to fulfil his duties, working so untiringly,
and with such success, that Jack--gruff and most British in his contempt
of the natives--had often owed his safety to the missionary's influence
with them.  Our lives differed also in the fact that Kabela, the chief
of their tribe, had not desired them to take unto themselves wives,
neither had a Kaffir girl done either of them the honour of falling in
love with their white faces.

Poor Zenuta!


CHAPTER TWENTY ONE.

STAYING A KAFFIR EXECUTION--I ASK METILULU'S PERMISSION TO LEAVE--THE
BOOMSLANGE--THE CHIEF'S ANSWER.

As may be easily conceived, the talk of our past lives, and our delight
at once more being in each other's company, carried us far into the
night before we would surrender ourselves to sleep; yet we were up
nearly as early as any in the kraal the next morning, and gladly fell to
upon some biltongue and amasi which had been found in the huts; then,
hearing that Metilulu was inspecting his regiments, we thought it but
politeness to be present.  On arriving at the place, however, the review
had nearly finished, the brave had been rewarded, and only the unworthy
remained to be punished.  Of the latter it happened that there was but
one, and he had not been guilty of cowardice, but of a crime punishable
by death in Caffraria.

The criminal was one of the finest specimens of the race I had ever
seen, being tall, exquisitely formed, graceful, and majestic.  Silently
he knelt before Metilulu, his head bent submissively, awaiting the
sentence.  From a little distance, but within hearing range, we stood to
learn what that would be.  It came very speedily: the prisoner had
already pleaded guilty, and the verdict was that he should be cast alive
to the crocodiles, who on the river banks, not far off, gnashed their
terrible jaws, apparently conscious of the prey destined for them.

Scarcely had the sentence been uttered, and the Kaffir had arisen,
without a murmur, for it to be put into execution, than Mr Ferguson,
suddenly quitting my side, walked, erect and unhesitatingly, up to
Metilulu.  Guessing his intent, and fearful of the consequences, I,
beseeching hot-brained Jack to keep back, hurried after him.  On drawing
near I found I was correct in my surmise.  The young missionary, in
earnest, eloquent terms, was pleading the prisoner's cause, and praying
for a commutation of the sentence.

Metilulu looked and listened in silent astonishment; but, as I anxiously
marked his features, I fancied they gradually assumed a pleased,
friendly expression, quite the reverse of anger at being interfered
with.  As I came up Mr Ferguson was saying--

"You, Metilulu the great!--you, the recognised mighty Chief of the
numerous tribes dwelling in this vast and beautiful land of Caffraria--
has not your victory been complete?  Has not but a few hours back
triumph been given you over those who but lately would have made you
captive?  Why, then, should one so favoured stain the day of rejoicing
by condemning to a horrible death, for a slight offence, one of those
warriors to whose bravery, to whose devotion, he partly owes that
triumph?  Truly you are strong, you are courageous, but one arm alone
could not have crushed the tribe of Kabela.  You had need of warriors,
and you found them, brave, willing, and submissive.  Surely, then, noble
Metilulu, you will let your hand dispense mercy as well as justice.
This is no time to speak of the power of Heaven and the Rewarder of all
great deeds, for the ground of your heart has as yet been prepared by no
refreshing dews; but all grand souls must recognise the mighty power of
mercy, and surely you will forgive this man in honour of the day of
victory, if for nothing else."

Mr Ferguson finishing, earnestly, respectfully waited a reply, when,
thinking my turn had come to put in a word for the poor fellow, I
hurried forward, and kneeling, according to Kaffir custom, said--

"Noble Metilulu, if my friend's prayers to save this warrior have not
had sufficient weight with you, then let mine be added to his.  Let him
be spared; extend your hand in mercy towards him.  It is the white men
who beseech your clemency; for their sakes grant it."

Metilulu was silent a moment; then replied, "You white men are a strange
people, yet I have listened to your words with pleasure; you are
soft-hearted, but you are friends to the Kaffir.  Umatula," he added,
turning to the warrior, "I reverse your sentence--you may live.  These,
my friends, have interceded for you; thank them, not me, as it is
because of them that I pardon you.  Live, and show by future deeds your
sorrow for your past crime."

His dusky face beaming with delight, Umatula bowed low till his forehead
touched the ground before Metilulu--afterwards to us--then, starting up,
proudly grasped his shield and assagais, exclaiming--

That, to show his gratitude for the Chief's gracious pardon, no warrior
in Metilulu's regiments should ever outrival him in warlike deeds, while
he reckoned his life to belong to the noble-hearted white faces.  They
had but to ask him for it, and it was theirs to do with it as they
would.

This over, Metilulu, dismissing the troops, bade us sit down, he
evidently being inclined for a chat.  I was no little pleased that it
should be so, for during our long talk the previous night it had been
arranged that I should try to obtain leave for myself and Thompson to
make our way to a white settlement, which Mr Ferguson said he knew was
not very far off, and might be easily attained with a native guide.
Both Jack and I had earnestly besought the minister to accompany us, but
he firmly refused, saying he believed Providence had had a purpose in
casting him on that shore, where he had already found that his words had
not fallen entirely on stony places; therefore he should be but a poor
soldier of heaven, indeed, did he leave so fair and promising a work
uncompleted.

No moment, it appeared, could have been more opportune than that I had
chosen to speak about my departure, for the Chief was in the most
obliging of humours.  When, however, after a long talk respecting Kaffir
affairs, I managed, by Mr Ferguson's aid, to bring the subject round to
our own land and my strong desire to visit it--ending by stating how I
had heard from my friends that a white settlement was not far off--if he
would but grant me a guide and his royal permission to return, his face
grew grave and my heart sunk.

Neither, however, refusing nor acquiescing, he asked why it was I could
not be happy there.  To which I answered, "that all who were dear to me,
all who made life worth living, in my eyes, were in England, and my
heart was pining for them.  Indeed, I felt I could not exist, but must
die, if kept longer in uncertainty of their fate."

I spoke as eloquently as I could, and Mr Ferguson also did what he was
able, but Metilulu seemed in no way ready to grant the request.  He said
he liked me, that he had proved this even more than I knew--of course he
referred to the rain-maker's evil prophecy--and he thought I was so
happy that I would never have wished to leave the tribe.

In return to this really kind speech, I warmly acknowledged the extreme
kindness and hospitality which had been shown me, and confessed that I
had not expected it, adding how great would be my pride when in England,
if he would permit me to return there, to recount to my countrymen his
noble behaviour to a poor shipwrecked sailor.

This appeared rather to please him, and after a pause he said,--

"Then you all wish to leave me?"

"Not so," broke in Mr Ferguson, "if you will grant me permission, I
would desire yet to remain with your tribe."

Metilulu, who had, I fancied, already taken a liking to the minister, as
he frequently addressed himself to him, nodded approval; then saying he
could not give his decision at that moment, he gave us permission to
withdraw, appearing no longer desirous to continue a conversation which
had taken so unpleasant a turn.

I could not help feeling rather flattered by the decided aversion
Metilulu showed to part with me, and yet also I was grieved at causing
him any regret, after the real friendship and generosity I had
experienced at his hands, and tried to show these feelings as plainly as
I could, both in speech and expression, when I arose with Mr Ferguson
and Thompson to take our leave.

On retiring, instead of returning to the kraal, we went towards the
bush, and there, under the shadow of the trees, sat down to talk of our
own affairs, and what was the likely answer Metilulu would give.  Mr
Ferguson said he believed it would be in the affirmative, though he did
not like my going.

"If it be so," I rejoined, "how would you counsel us to proceed?"

"Why, to make your way as fast as you can to the white settlement; then
to the coast--to Cape Town if possible, for there it will be more
probable to get a ship back to England."

"Ah! a ship, bless her," broke in Thompson.  "When I feel the deck once
more beneath my feet, and see the well-remembered, tapering spars
running up with their net-work of rigging into the blue sky, then I
shall begin to feel once more like a Christian--a Christian escaped from
purgatory--especially if I can get another suit of togs in place of
these outlandish garments."

"It was of those I meant to speak," I said.  "How can we change them
without a farthing in our pockets?"

"I believe I can aid you there," rejoined Mr Ferguson.  "I think in the
settlement you will pass through, just about where the Bechuana tribes
are located, a kind of missionary station is established--if so, I know
there you can obtain both help and clothes.  I will give you a message
in case, for I would also like them to send to me some articles, with
which I may be able to win my way with, and instruct these people, for
even in heavenly matters we must sometimes call in the aid of earth, to
touch the hearts of man."

We had been chatting thus respecting our proceedings for some little
while, the interchange of thought with civilised humanity being far too
agreeable for either of the three to bring it to a close, when, uttering
a sharp cry, I sprang erect and seized my knob-kerrie.

"What on earth's the matter?" exclaimed Jack, following my example;
while Mr Ferguson also rose to his feet.

"See," I exclaimed: "look along the branch of that tree just above our
heads, that olive coloured snake.  If there be one thing I have a
downright horror of, it is a snake, so pray let us leave the reptile to
itself, for I am not sure enough with my knob-kerrie to knock it over."

"Stay," said Mr Ferguson, placing his hand upon my shoulder; "there is
no fear, Dick."

"No fear!"  I ejaculated in surprise.  "Why, the natives affirm that
sort of snake is very poisonous!"

"Then, Dick, they are wrong," he answered quietly.  "The posterior teeth
certainly resemble fangs, but they are perfectly harmless, and are
merely used to seize their prey.  Yes," he added, after a closer
inspection, "it is the Bucephalus Capensis, or, as these people call it,
the Boomslange.  It is generally found upon trees, where it goes in
search of food.  Here, draw back awhile and watch; you may perhaps see a
proof of that fascination which has so often been spoken about,
respecting these reptiles' eyes."

As he spoke our attention was attracted by the piercing cries of several
birds which were flying as if in abject terror about the tree, while the
Boomslange coiled about the branch, its head raised about ten inches,
its mouth open, its throat inflated, fixed its full large eyes upon the
poor little trembling victims.  Fascinated ourselves by the sight, we
watched anxiously the result.

Round and round the poor flutterers went, each time, I perceived,
drawing nearer the cruel mouth, till I shuddered as one, with a sweep,
almost touched the reptile's lips--the next moment, drawn by that
wonderful and inexplicable fascination, it was in its terrible jaws;
and, unable to bear it longer, I let fly my knob-kerrie, striking the
snake from the tree, but I did not hurt him much, for, with the speed of
light, he had wriggled into the bush, carrying its miserable prey in its
mouth.

The sight made us loth to sit down near the spot again, so we returned
to the kraal, Mr Ferguson telling us on the way, that a few days back,
he, with a party of Kaffirs, had come across a python; but the natives
would not touch it, owing to a superstition they have, that misfortune
would be sure to overtake any one who injured these monstrous reptiles.

On reaching the huts, we found the Kaffirs busily engaged in restoring
the ruined ones, so we lent them our aid, and thus managed both to win
their favour and while away the time, which, owing to my anxiety
respecting Metilulu's answer, I found hang heavily on my hands.  At the
dinner hour, however, we went to the minister's hut, which had still
been left him, where, after refreshing ourselves, we remained talking of
that never-tiring subject, home, and waiting the chief's reply.

It was quite sunset before the latter arrived, then Tugela brought it.

Metilulu had sent me permission to leave for the white settlement when I
pleased, and also gave for a guide the warrior whose life he had that
day spared because of our prayers.

"Did he grant this willingly, Tugela?"  I asked.

"Not at all; he seems much vexed."

"I am sorry," I said, "for I must go.  Well, Tugela, express my sincere
thanks to Metilulu, and say that I have no means now of showing my
gratitude, but, if he will allow me, I should like to send him back by
the guide some presents, if he would honour me by their acceptance."

Tugela, replying he had no doubt this would much please the chief,
willingly took the message; and no sooner had he gone than, casting
myself on the ground, I actually cried for joy at the thought of the
possibility of once again embracing my dear wife and little ones; while
even Jack's eyes grew dim though, as he said, he had nothing else but
his country and his ship to love and care for; and, he added, "by jingo,
I'll be true to 'em, that I will, or I'm a black nigger of a Kaffir."

Poor Zenuta; at that moment I did not even give her a single thought.


CHAPTER TWENTY TWO.

MY LAST INTERVIEW WITH METILULU--FAREWELL TO THE KRAAL--THE HONEY
GUIDE--THE BUSH ON FIRE.

The next morning we three were early astir; indeed, as may be imagined,
I nor Thompson had not slept much all that night, through thinking of
our speedy return.  Even the few preparations we had to make were soon
completed in our hurry, then we sat down to see if Metilulu, to whom I
had communicated my intention of leaving, by his kind permission, that
day, would send any farewell message or adieu.  I fancied he would not,
for from what I could gather he apparently had taken my desire to quit
his tribe as a great piece of ingratitude.  I was exceedingly sorry that
we should part thus, but how could I help it?  How could I make it
otherwise?

It was while thus waiting that I began to think of Zenuta--poor,
affectionate Zenuta!  My heart blamed me bitterly for leaving her
without a word, without again seeing her--as I intended to do--for I
dreaded the parting scene, more as may be supposed for her sake than my
own, for all my affections were centred upon the dear ones at home,
while hers, I knew too well, were fixed with a grasp like that of iron
upon my unworthy self.

I pictured her eager inquiry of the warriors who were to fetch the
residue of the tribe to their new dwelling as to where I was, and her
surprised despair when they said that I had gone--gone for ever--leaving
but a kind message for her, and endowing her with all my household
goods.  How little would she regard the latter?  How poignant would be
her grief?  How would she bear my cruel desertion?  I asked myself.
With rage? with passionate indignation? or with deep hopeless despair
and prostrate heart-broken sorrow?  The thought was too painful, even in
the surmise--I felt my lip tremble and my eyes grow misty.  Poor girl!
I would have done as much for her as I would for a dear sister; but
neither sister, father, nor mother, could have made me renounce the
chance of once more joining my wife and children.

It was just as I had ended giving Mr Ferguson numerous messages for
Zenuta, and earnestly entreating him to be as kind as I knew he could be
to her, adding that he would find the first seeds of our pure faith
deeply implanted in her heart, that Tugela appeared outside the hut,
where we instantly joined him.  Accompanying him was the warrior whose
life we had saved, and who now bore across his shoulders several
valuable skins, which Tugela informed me were mine, Metilulu having sent
them as presents.  The chief apparently had become far more reconciled
to my leaving after the message that I would send him presents from the
white settlements, and even now requested that I would come to his hut
to take farewell.

Accordingly I at once proceeded thither, and found him in a very amiable
mood.  After a little conversation, he hinted at what kind of presents
he should like, especially one of those guns of which I had spoken.  I
promised I would not forget, and neither did I, but sent him a pretty
large parcel of English articles, that I knew he would greatly value.
Finding him in so different a humour to what I had expected, I ventured
to mention Zenuta, saying I hoped, though I regarded all my property in
Caffraria as his, that he would yet permit me to bestow it as a dowry on
the poor girl.  He immediately consented, no doubt having a dread of
taking her back into his harem, and said that, possessing the cows, she
would assuredly soon find a husband.  This settled, I arose and took my
leave, my last words being a reiteration of my promise not to forget the
gun among the other presents I intended to send.

I then proceeded to say farewell to those among the tribe with whom I
was on friendly terms, and lastly with Tugela, whom I felt much regret
in leaving never to meet again, for he had been a kind friend and a most
intelligent companion.  Afterwards, having warmly embraced Mr Ferguson,
and received his final messages to his friends in England, I and
Thompson, accompanied by Umatula, started for the bush, or, as we said,
though so many miles of danger yet laid between us and it--home.  Ah,
how sweet the word sounded!

We got on extremely well that day, for Jack and I were in the best of
spirits, and could look upon most hardships as trifles, while our Kaffir
companion, possessing an amount of intelligence more than usual with his
tribe, kept us amused by recounting numerous hunting and lifting parties
in which he had borne a part.

It was during our first morning's march that Umatula called our
attention to a bird perched on a bush in front of us, who by his
cherr-cherring cry seemed to be trying to attract our notice.  Such
evidently was the case, for no sooner did he find he was seen than he
began hopping further on, stopping and looking back to see if we were
following.

This immediately we did, for I now recognised it to be a bird I had
often heard about but never seen, called the Honey Guide, from the fact
that he will lead man, of whom he appears to have no fear, to where the
bees have constructed their hive, so that they may gather the sweet
contents, of which the Kaffir is exceedingly fond.  Therefore, from bush
to bush we followed, the little creature keeping up its cherring cry
till, finally, it came to a halt upon a tree, in a hollow of which we
descried the comb.

Umatula speedily extracted the treasure, for the natives are most
skilful in this performance, and we all willingly partook of it, taking
care to leave a plentiful supply for our little friend the Honey Guide,
who, from a neighbouring branch, waited impatiently for his share or
reward.

When we were once more on our way Umatula told us that not only did the
Kaffir make use of this little bird, but the Honey Ratel also availed
itself of its services.  This animal--a species of the weasel tribe--
would, he said, follow the bird like we had to the treasure, tear it
from the tree with its sharp claws, its thick coat being impervious to
the enraged insects' stings, devour its share, and leave a sufficient
quantity as remuneration to its guide.

With the help of our assagais and knob-kerries we had killed enough game
to make us a first-rate repast, and as night drew on, when it had been
agreed we should bivouac, we lighted a large fire, both to cook our
provisions and to scare any wild beasts that might be near, for we could
hear their different roars and howls deeper in the bush.  It was while
attending to the culinary preparations that Thompson, with a round oath,
suddenly sprang from the fire as if it had burned him--a movement
speedily explained by the sudden apparition of a large snake within the
circle of light.  Without taking any notice of Jack or either of us, the
creature moved rapidly along to the fire, being attracted by the warmth.
We watched it curiously, as swiftly it went so close to the embers that
it must have burnt itself severely, yet it only drew back again to
approach till, I am sure, it would have ended by killing itself, as I
have heard many do, had not Umatula destroyed it by striking it on the
head with his knob-kerrie.  Whereupon Thompson, seeing that, should any
more snakes come, it would be because of the fire, not him, after a
space proceeded with his cooking, upon which, when completed, we made a
hearty meal; then, Umatula taking the first watch upon himself, we
rolled ourselves each in our own kaross and speedily slept the sleep of
the fatigued, for we had made a great way in our journey that day.

At an agreed time Umatula awoke me to take his turn of rest, while I
watched--an employment I scarcely felt up to, being so extremely drowsy
that, fearing to fall off in slumber, I got up, and drawing the fire
together supplied it with fresh fuel; then sitting down, I tried to keep
myself awake by imagining the surprise my return would create, and how
all the papers would be full of the history of the two shipwrecked
mariners who had spent over a year among the almost unknown tribes of
Caffraria.

But all these manoeuvres could not prevent my heavy eyelids from
closing, and I fancy I must have actually dozed off, when I was suddenly
aroused by vague consciousness that the place was growing much lighter.
We had encamped upon a hillside, and on looking up I perceived the sky,
over the tree tops in the direction of the plains, to be of a light
yellow glow.

My first movement was to arouse my companions, but recollecting how
tired they must be, I determined before doing so to enquire a little
further into the cause, as it might be some celestial phenomenon which
in a moment would disappear, though to me it had the same appearance as
a large fire would have in England.  For this purpose I quickly mounted
higher up the hill, and scaling a rocky projection turned and gazed
back.

Heavens! what a sight met my view--grandly beautiful, but how awful!
Some distance off the whole plain before me was covered by a vast sheet
of fire, which leaped and lapped with its forked tongues as it rushed
onward.  The entire distance appeared in flames--as if the end of the
world had come.

With the speed of consternation I dashed back to my companions, and
shouted in their ears, "Up, up! for heaven's sake; be quick!  The bush
is on fire, and the flames are coming in our direction."

The words acted like magic; both were instantly on their feet, and
following me to my previous post of inspection.

No sooner had Umatula discovered the direction of the fire, which each
moment was increasing in rapidity, than shouldering the skins, he bade
us follow him; for we laid right in the fierce element's track, and did
it reach us it would be certain death.

"We must get to yonder rock," he said, pointing to one some distance
off, "on the top of it we may perhaps be safe."

With as much speed as we could muster we instantly followed the swift
Kaffir, and with hands and legs torn by the strong thorns of the cacti
bushes succeeded in reaching the summit of the rock where, throwing
ourselves down, breathless with our haste, we contemplated the spreading
conflagration.

If it was grand before, it was terribly so now, for it covered the whole
plain and was rushing up the hillside, the flames curling into the air
like things of life, leaping from bush to bush, springing up in spiral
columns to the skies, and destroying all signs of vegetation in its
path.

As it reached the hill and bush, roars and howls of terror suddenly
arose from all the affrighted dwellers in its shades.  The most fierce
as the weakest fled before this pitiless, unconquerable enemy, which
seemed to leap and laugh rejoicing in the pursuit.  Then with an awful
howl the bush disgorged its inmates.  Antelopes, tigers, jackals,
hyaenas, elephants, and even here and there a large snake, came rushing
forth in one confused herd--no longer thinking of preying on each other,
though the gembok fled shoulder to shoulder with the lion--all being
possessed with but one idea in that terrible moment, to escape from the
frightful enemy behind them.

I have never beheld such a sight, and never shall again.  No scene I am
sure in all the world could surpass the grandeur of that--fire in the
bush.

Thank heaven, the rock Umatula had selected was slightly out of the
track of the flames, and to our relief we saw them sweep past, their
heated breath scorching our cheeks, leaving first red embers, then a
vast extent of burnt charred vegetation in their tract.

"However could this have occurred," I exclaimed to Umatula when all
danger was over, "such an accident is most dangerous."

"Not at all; this is no accident," he laughed.  "The Kaffirs have done
it to improve the grass for the cattle."

"Done it!"  I repeated in surprise.

"Yes; directly the oxen have eaten a patch of grass to the stubble and
it gets coarse, my countrymen set fire to it when the cows are safe in
the isibaya and the wind does not lay that way but towards the bush."

"But they ruin the land for miles," said Thompson gruffly.

"No, they improve it; the charred wood and stubble serve for manure, and
if rain come the land is speedily recovered by a fresh vegetation."

This was perfectly true.  The scorched blackened soil which we now
looked upon from our height of rock would in a brief period send forth
sweet green young shoots, forming an excellent food for cattle.

Certainly the plan might be very good, but I hoped within myself, while
Thompson expressed the same wish aloud in English, that when the natives
had recourse to this method of strengthening the ground, there might not
be any unfortunate travellers like ourselves in the neighbourhood.  Then
with a prayer of thanks for our preservation from both of us, we once
more laid down, now on the top of the rock, and feeling ourselves safe
owing to the exterminating fire from any unpleasant intrusion, were all
three in a short time sleeping soundly.


CHAPTER TWENTY THREE.

IN WANT OF WATER--THE HONEY GUIDE PLAYS ME A TRICK--HOW I AM SAVED--
ZENUTA.

On rising the next morning, and disposing of some biltongue, we again
started on our journey, and got through many hours of the day with but
little incident to recount, save that we were consumed by a terrific
thirst, having, since the previous evening, been unable to procure
water.  The rain which had fallen in the neighbourhood of the kraal
appeared never to have reached this spot, for the bed of a small stream
we had passed was perfectly cracked and arid from want of moisture.  So,
while a tropical sun was shining down upon our heads, we had to proceed
without being able to procure a drop of water to cool our parched lips,
only finding relief in sucking or chewing different fruits and leaves of
a watery nature, which Umatula pointed out to us.

Having heard our guide once or twice exclaim, "If I had but a chacma
here," I at last asked him what a chacma was, and why he wanted one at
that particular moment.

"The chacma," he answered, "is a baboon, one of the most destructive of
the whole species to our crops, for he knows where to find the best as
well as we do."

"By old Davy Jones himself," ejaculated Thompson in English to me, "but
what good would a blessed ape, with these propensities, serve us here?"

The question was answered immediately by Umatula, who had stopped on
observing Jack was speaking, and now continued--

"Though our enemy in this, we make him a friend sometimes by taming him;
for the chacma is passionately fond of a root called babiana, which is
always full of a watery juice; so, when lacking water in dry weather
like the present, we lead these creatures by a piece of hide, and they
will direct us to these roots, from which, on digging them up, we
extract the fluid."

After this explanation, Jack, as well as I, desired the presence of the
chacma as much as Umatula did, but the three wishes were no better than
the one--we were quite as destitute of water as ever, and proceeded with
our spirits slightly depressed in consequence.  To make matters worse, I
had happened to tread upon a thorn, which had so pierced my foot as to
create a slight lameness, so that I could not walk at the same rate
which I had done on the day previously.

It was within two or three hours of nighttime--and here that period
succeeds quickly to day--when, by sundry signs and a change in the genus
of the vegetation, Umatula said he felt sure that a stream, perhaps a
river, must be close at hand, and proposed that, as I was so crippled,
he and Jack should, diverging a little from the right track, climb a
small eminence some little distance off and ascertain if his surmises
were correct.

Willing to save myself from more exertion than was absolutely necessary,
I gladly agreed to the plan, and, casting myself at the foot of a tree,
watched them depart.  They had not long disappeared, however, before the
now easily recognised cherr of the Honey Bird attracted my attention.
Looking up, I saw the little feathered biped, perched on a bush close
by, his head on one side as if making a minute inspection of my person.
Fancying a few honey-combs would be a pleasant addition to our late
meal, if we could but find water, I scrambled on to my feet and began to
follow my small guide.  The sweet treasure was evidently not far off,
for the bird went slowly, and, after a few yards, stopped by a tangled
fence of parasites.

Seeing no place for the bees' store, I approached and drew aside the
tangled mass, believing I should find some felled tree or shattered
trunk, which the insects had converted into a hive; but, with a chilling
horror, I stood transfixed to the spot, as my eyes encountered those,
red as blood, of a leopard that was crouching behind.

How long we remained gazing into each others eyes I do not know--it
seemed an hour, but could only have been a few seconds--when a stealthy
movement of the animal, as it apparently began to contract its muscles
for a spring, recalled me to a sense of my danger, and instinctively I
raised an assagai and flung it at the creature; it pierced him in the
shoulder, and with a roar of pain he rose, but failed in his bound.
Instantly I sprang back, then a cry of horror escaped my lips, for I
felt as if a companion of the fierce beast in front had seized me both
with claws and teeth from behind.  The next instant, however, I had
learned the terrible truth.  I was once more in the tenacious grasp of
another of those awful species of the acacia tribe--the acacia detinens.
Yes, there I was, held firmly, confident that the least struggle would
but make me a greater prisoner; while the leopard, as if conscious of my
helpless position, was slowly dragging itself through the bushes, never
once, however, taking its red fiery eyes from my face.  I tried to raise
my arm with an assagai, but it was useless; the thorns penetrated my
flesh, while I felt I had no power to aim the weapon, or, if I did so,
the blow would be so light that it would only further irritate without
harming the brute in front.  I even now shudder at the remembrance of
that awful moment.  No savage of the most fiendish nature could have
gloated over his intended victim more than the leopard seemed to.  He
drew himself along on his stomach as I have seen a dog do.  The wound I
had given him I fancied had made him weak, for apparently he was unable
to spring, and, though dreading each moment that he would do so, I grew
sick and dizzy at the terrible suspense.

All at once I read in the creature's eyes his intent to put an end to
the affair.  His tail began slowly to lash backwards and forwards,
beating the ground fiercely; then I saw the haunches of the lithe body
crouch up, the shoulders draw back.  I could bear it no longer.  I felt
my brain turning, and, uttering cry after cry, called aloud for help,
addressing both Umatula and Jack, yet feeling despairingly aware that,
even did they hear my cries, they never could arrive in time to aid me.
A prayer rose to my lips.  I gave one gigantic, mad struggle as I saw
the leopard rise quickly into the air; then shrieked wildly as its
horrid face, with its eyes aflame--its terrible mouth agape and
glistening with strong white teeth--glared into mine, while its breath,
like a simoom, stirred my very hair.  Madly I flung up my arms, then
sunk back insensible.

When I came to--for of course I did, else this history would never have
been written--I believed I had been killed, and, having passed through
the darkness of the grave, had awakened in the other world; but a few
instants after my eyes recognised the African foliage about me, and I
felt I was lying on the ground, my body painful with pricks and tears,
and my head supported on somebody's knees.

"Is that you, Jack, old fellow?"  I asked faintly.

"Ah, you speak! you live!" exclaimed a well-remembered voice in the
Kaffir tongue, and Zenuta's face was bent over mine.

Faint and sore as I was, I started up in my surprise,
ejaculating--"Zenuta! you here?  How can it be possible?"

"Possible!  Oh, Galbrth, do you think I could have ever lived without
you?  You went--oh, cruel, cruel!--but I followed--pardon me."

"What! followed, Zenuta?  Have you braved the dangers of the bush alone,
and for my sake?"  I said, in much astonishment and emotion.

"Dangers!" she repeated, smiling, "I did not think of them.  What were
they to me when I knew by surmounting them I should again see you; and
if I did not," she added seriously, "I thought we might meet again
_there_,"--pointing upward--"as you have so often told me we should."

The tears started to my eyes at the affection of this poor girl, and,
taking her hand, I said, "Heaven bless you, Zenuta!  I shall never be
able to repay you--never, indeed, for it must be to you that I owe my
life."

"Yes, yes! to me, Galbrth, to me!" she cried, a bright joy radiating her
features, as she clapped her hands with delight; "you owe your life to
me, poor Zenuta!  Oh, I am glad--so glad!"

"But tell me how, dear Zenuta.  I really thought my hour had at last
come."

As she was about to commence her story we were interrupted by the return
of Umatula and Jack, whose surprise at the appearance of Zenuta was
equally as great as mine had been.  The Kaffir, I fancied, regarded her
angrily, and I secretly resolved that, if he expressed his disapproval
in words, the affectionate girl should find a powerful protector in me;
but as he remained quiet, and the first vexed expression died out of his
features, I explained to them the danger I had run, and learned from
Umatula that it was no uncommon thing for the honey guide to lead
persons occasionally to the lair of some fierce beast of the forest
instead of to the bees' treasure, which unpleasant propensity makes the
natives very cautious when they follow the bird.

"But how, Zenuta," I added, turning again to her, "were you able so soon
to follow us and thus become my protector, my preserver?"

"At the same time that you left the kraal," she said, "it seems that a
party of warriors was sent to bring us, the women, and cattle to their
new home.  My people travel faster than white men, and a few hours after
I heard--oh, Galbrth!  I heard that you had gone--gone for ever to the
white settlement.  I threw myself in agony on the ground; but I could
not weep.  My head felt on fire, and at last, starting up, I resolved to
follow you.  Creeping, in the confusion, out of the kraal, I fled to the
bush.  I did not care if I died there: I only felt I could no longer
live with my people when you were away."

"And the fire last night, Zenuta?"  I asked anxiously.

"It nearly caught me," she answered, laughing gleefully, "but I ran--I
ran till I could escape it.  Then I went on: I could not sleep, for I
could find no trace of the path you had taken.  It made me mad.  I ran
on and on--I felt no fatigue--I had no fear--when suddenly a cry, a
shout of terror, reached me.  It was your voice, Galbrth.  I rushed
forward: I saw the leopard just rising into the air.  I saw your danger.
The next moment, with a leap, I had flung my arms tightly about the
creature, and we both together fell struggling to the ground, when,
feeling one of your assagais touch my hand, I seized it, and plunged it
again and again into the leopard's body, till I felt his claws relax on
my arms, when I knew he was dead and I was safe."

"What!"  I cried, in much concern, "did the frightful animal harm you,
my noble Zenuta?"

"A little," she replied, smiling, as she turned to me her arm, on the
back of which I perceived the flesh to be torn and bleeding.

"My poor, my brave girl!"  I exclaimed tremulously.

"It is nothing--I like it," she laughed softly, "because did I not save
you, my Galbrth?"

I pressed her hand affectionately in mine, and, before anything else was
said or done, persisted that her shoulder should be attended to.  Then,
being consumed with a terrible thirst, I asked Umatula whether he had
prophesied rightly respecting water being near.

"Yes," he replied with an amused smile, "there is plenty at a little
distance off, as I should have known," he added, "had your accident
occurred before we started, for the plant which held you prisoner always
grows near water."

"If that be so," I exclaimed, getting up, "for heaven's sake let us go
there, for I am perishing of thirst!  Let us get to this stream which
you have discovered."


CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR.

OVERTAKEN BY A STORM--POOR ZENUTA--WE START FOR DEAR OLD ENGLAND--MY
NATIVE VILLAGE.

Umatula leading the way, and Jack giving me the support of his arm--for
what with my lame foot and the thorns having unmercifully torn my flesh,
I felt weak--we all four proceeded to the stream, that was a little more
than a hundred yards distant, and which proved to be a small tributary
of the river Umooli.  Here, slaking our thirst, we bivouacked and
enjoyed as good a dinner as we could procure, of which Zenuta stood in
much need; then we forded the stream, dashing the water and shouting as
we went to scare the crocodiles that congregated in rather large numbers
on the banks.

When on the other side, while preparing to continue our journey, my
attention was drawn to the sky, where vast masses of dark clouds were
collecting in black mountainous heaps, at the same time that a hot air,
as from a furnace, made the atmosphere oppressive to the lungs.

Turning, I was about to point out these ominous signs to Umatula, when I
perceived by his awe-struck face that he too had seen there was a storm
of no common character threatening.  The Kaffir, it appears, has a great
fear of thunder-storms, and will give the witch-doctors high prices for
charms to preserve them from danger during these periods.  Zenuta, like
Umatula, had several, and eagerly she implored me to wear one, which, to
please her, I certainly would have done, had I not felt it against my
religion to do so.  Would that these charms had indeed been efficacious.
Anxiously Umatula glanced up and about him; then indicating a hillside
at a very few yards off, warned us to seek shelter there, and as quickly
as possible, for perhaps the storm would be down before we could even
reach it.

Dashing forward, however, we arrived in safety, and found there a cave
formed by nature.  Into this we huddled to escape the floods of rain
which Umatula prophesied would be sure to come.

Scarcely had we fairly ensconced ourselves than the heavens grew as
black as night; then the dark clouds were rent asunder by a vivid, an
awful flash of lightning.  All around seemed ablaze, as if fire had
rained on the earth, while overhead the thunder began to roll--not clap
after clap, but in one continuous roar, like the succession of thousands
of cannon, which shook the ground beneath us as if an earthquake were
taking place.

Never have I seen anything so stupendously awful--too awful even to be
grand; for all nature was of one pitchy hue, only illumined at brief
intervals by the white blinding lightning.  Then down came the rain in
sheets, as if the floodgates of some hundreds of Niagaras had been
suddenly removed, changing the plain we had so lately traversed in a few
seconds into an enormous lake.

The Kaffir sat, his face hidden as much as possible to avoid the glaring
light.  Zenuta crouched in a corner, while Jack and I, save an
occasional exclamation of wonder or awe, also remained silent, feeling
it was no time to talk.

Thus we remained until the storm seemed abating: the lightning had grown
rarer, while the thunder was less loud, and we were beginning to
congratulate ourselves upon its so speedily passing over, when, as if
for a finale, a more awful flash than any of the previous ones again lit
up the sky.  So dazzling was the glare that, with an involuntary cry
from all, we fell prostrate on our faces.  The next instant a deafening
uproar arose--no longer in the air, but about our ears.  I believed the
hill had been shaken to its base, and was sliding, rolling, crushing
upon top of us, burying us alive.

The sound lasted many minutes--to us it appeared hours; then suddenly a
perfect stillness fell over everything, and after a while, recovering
our breath and senses, we slowly raised our eyes and looked around.

The sky was clear, the moon even at intervals shining forth; but how
changed was the landscape it lighted up!  The whole country was flooded
with broad sheets of water, dotted near at hand by immense boulders,
which had been rent from the hills around and above us.  As I gazed I
thought how easily such a rain, did it continue forty days and nights,
might flood two worlds instead of one.  Slowly, grasping his charm,
Umatula now arose, seeing all danger past, and we followed his example.
As I did so, however, I became aware that the tight grasp which Zenuta
had taken of my hand did not relax, neither did she attempt to rise.

With a vague terror I bent over her, trying to lift her up, and calling
her by name.  She did not move--she did not answer.  I believed she had
fainted, and eagerly bade Umatula and Jack come to my assistance, as,
turning the poor girl on her side, I rested her head against my
shoulder.  Just then the moon shone out between two clouds, and its
beams rested upon Zenuta's face.  A cry of horror, of grief, escaped my
lips, for, as I beheld the features plainly, I instantly read the fatal
truth.  She appeared but in a sleep; yet the half-closed mouth and eyes,
the peculiar bluish hue of the dark skin, told too well the tale.  Poor
Zenuta was dead!  Whether she had been struck by the last awful flash,
or it had occurred through terror, her heart had ceased to beat in this
world for ever.

As this fact darted through my brain I bent over the remains of the
affectionate girl, and, pressing my lips to her cold forehead, wept like
a child, or like a brother for a beloved sister.  Here, in the wilds of
uncivilised Caffraria, I had truly found one sincerely pure, loving
heart.  How many a man goes through life in our land without the same
blessing!  Poor Zenuta! you held, and do still hold, a firm place in my
bosom, from which you never can be removed, and I believe, as, thank
Heaven, _you_ too believed, that we shall meet again hereafter.

When I rose up I found that neither Jack nor Umatula's eyes were free
from tears; but, as Jack said truly, but most kindly, it was no time for
outward grief: we might and should sorrow in our hearts for the poor
girl, yet it would not help her now, and we must not sit down to
despond, for there were other duties to be performed.  I understood his
meaning, and, with their aid, immediately set to work.

By the moon's light I laid Zenuta in the cave, breathed a few fervent
heartfelt prayers over her; then together we collected the largest
boulders we could carry, and piled them firmly before the opening,
making so impregnable a wall that no animal could possibly remove it to
disturb her final resting-place.

This finished, with saddened hearts--very sad on my part I know--we
clambered up to the summit of the hill--for the plains were as yet
impassable--and went on our way, neither of the three feeling desirous
to sleep after the melancholy occurrence of that evening.

Poor Zenuta!  Yes, for the last time I must refer to her in this
history.  My heart felt pained, crushed at her fate; yet I believed that
she was far happier where she was than she would have been in a strange
land; for I had resolved to take her to England, as I could not have
found it in my heart to have deserted her again.  But Heaven had willed
it otherwise, and it was better for both.

Umatula soon after this informed us that we were very near the white
settlements, and before the close of the ensuing day we arrived there,
no other adventure having happened worth mentioning.  I for my part
think we had had our full share.

Our entrance into the settlement created little attention at first, so
like had Jack and I become to the natives; but when it got to be known
that two of the three strangers were Englishmen, who had spent over a
year with the Kaffir tribes, the interest grew immense, and we were
speedily visited by a curious crowd--curious yet hospitable--for we got
offers of assistance--food and shelter--from over a dozen of the
inhabitants, while all urged us to recount our history.

As well as we could we obliged them in everything, and, after having
refreshed ourselves, related just the landmarks of our adventures.  The
next morning, after enjoying a good night's rest, I proceeded to the
mission house, where I executed Mr Ferguson's commissions, and procured
the aid which he had assured us we should.  By the means of this, and
the help of the rich Boers, we were soon able to attire ourselves in
more civilised garments; while I also made numerous purchases, not
forgetting the gun, for presents to Metilulu.

Having loaded an ox with these, we placed it under the care of Umatula,
to whom, to his unbounded delight, we gave several gifts for his having
been our guide, then saw him start on his way with a party of natives
who were going very nearly in his direction.

As may be imagined, we lingered no longer than was compulsory at the
settlement, but, after one more day's rest, set out with a fresh guide
to the nearest seaport--Port Natal.

Here we arrived without incident of any kind, and so opportunely that we
were just in time for a large ship--the Polyphemus--which in a few hours
was about to start for England.  We speedily got permission to work our
passage over in her, and so, on a bright morning, when the sky overhead
was of the deepest blue, and the waves danced like things of life in the
golden sunlight under our bows, Jack and I, leaning over the bulwarks,
bade adieu to Caffraria for ever, and sang out, with our hearts in our
voices, "Hey for dear old England once again!" while Jack fairly hugged
the tarry shrouds to his breast, as I would have hugged Katie, and wept
with very joy at once more feeling the bounding ocean beneath him.

We encountered rather rough, squally weather while rounding the Cape,
but afterwards got some fair sailing, and made a quick and pleasant
voyage home--pleasant, indeed, for the yarns we could spin about the
Kaffirs made us ever welcome companions to all of the crew; and, my
stars, what yarns Jack did pull!  He never seemed to tire of talking,
and though the Kaffirs were a curious and strange race, both in their
manners and appearance--what I knew them to be in reality, was nothing
to what Jack made them in fiction.  But like the old woman who would not
believe her sailor son's account of flying fish, but took it as a
probable and gospel truth, when he told her that they had fished up from
the bottom of the Red Sea one of the wheels of Pharaoh's chariot, I
daresay they all believed Jack quite as much as they did me, who really
kept to real facts.

No sooner did we reach London than, bidding good-bye to Thompson, who
anchored somewhere near Liverpool, and making him promise that, if he
should ever come near Devon, he would pay me, his old shipmate in
trouble and good fortune, a visit, I took the earliest train I could get
that was going near my home, for, now I was so close to my destination,
every minute seemed lengthened into an hour's delay.

On arriving at the station, I had over a mile to walk to the little
fishing village where I had been born, and never did a mile appear so
long to me.  I know I began first to run, then to walk very slowly; for
the thought came across me that many things might have happened during
the two years I had been absent.  How did I know but that one of my
children--perhaps, oh heaven, Katie--might be dead!  That maddening
thought put quicksilver in my heels, and I hastened on till near my
destination, when I again slackened my steps to a more respectable pace.

The sun was just setting, casting a last red fiery kiss upon the crests
of the waves, breaking gently on the shore, and on the rocks and humble
tiled roofs, as, with a beating heart, I went down the one long
straggling street of the village ending on the beach.  It was the hour
of the evening meal, and few of the inmates were about; yet here and
there two or three groups of fishermen were standing talking and
smoking, or mending their nets--they and the whole scene seeming strange
to me after my fifteen months' sojourn among the Kaffirs.

Most of the men comprising these groups were old acquaintances; yet they
regarded me curiously as a stranger, so disguised was I by my long thick
beard and bronzed face.

I had thus passed along without attracting much notice until, as I
reached about the centre of the street, a man--a thoroughly
weather-beaten grizzled old fisherman, with a grey eye as keen as an
eagle's--suddenly starting from a group to waylay me, exclaimed with a
shout--

"My eyes and marlin-spikes, but its Dick Galbraith or his ghost!"

The words were like a spark to a barrel of gunpowder--the news flew
through the village--so, warmly grasping the old seaman's hand, I said
hurriedly--

"Not his ghost, Parker, but himself: come down this evening, and bring
two or three of the old acquaintances with you, and I'll tell you all
about it; but I'm now anxious to see my wife, and break the news of my
return to her myself."

"That's right.  She's still in the same cottage on the rock side, Dick,
my hearty, and my eyes, won't she just be ready to jump out of her skin
for joy at seeing you."

With a happy smile and nod, I ran hastily on, for I feared the news
might reach my wife before I could get there.  The next moment the
well-known cottage, so often recalled in Caffraria, rose up before me in
reality.  Yes, there was its weather-beaten old shingle front, there
were the little loop-hole windows, and there was the small white swing
gate leading into the patch of garden ground.  Breathlessly I passed
through the latter and peeped in at the cottage door, which stood ajar.

At the table, on which the tea things were laid, sat Katie, as pretty,
neat, and tidy as ever, but a shade sadder looking, while by her side
were our children, little specimens of healthy humanity, which it did a
father's heart good to look upon.  Controlling my emotion as much as I
could, and assuming a very doleful tone and expression, I said,
disguising my voice--

"Please, missus, have you got a ha'penny or crust for a poor shipwrecked
mariner, who's been nigh a year or more among the savidges, and lost all
his kit."

"Yes, come in, my good man," responded Katie's gentle tones.  "No
shipwrecked sailor," she added sadly, "shall ever be turned from my
threshold.  Enter and partake of our simple meal."

Pushing open the door, I went in trembling in every limb.  As I
appeared, my youngest, a stout pudgy little fellow of nearly three,
suddenly slipped off his chair, and toddling towards me, his bread and
butter extended, lisped,--

"Here, dood man, Dick not hungry; take this."

I could control my feelings no longer, but throwing my arms out, I
caught the boy to my heart, weeping and laughing at the same time, as I
pressed kiss after kiss upon his chubby face.

Katie, surprised at this behaviour, looked up, then, as if a veil had
fallen from her eyes, divined the truth.  With a cry of joy she rushed
forward, exclaiming hysterically as she flung her arms about me.

"Oh, Richard, my husband, my beloved!  Is it possible!  Do I really see
you again?"

I clasped her to me, and for a while we cried and laughed together, then
I led her to a chair, for she was rather overcome by the sudden
surprise, and hugged and kissed my little ones, who had almost forgotten
their father.

After another kissing match all round, I drew my chair up to the
familiar chimney corner, and taking some tea, with Katie opposite me,
and my children about my knees, began to recount my adventures to my
wife, who, bless her heart, almost wept her pretty eyes out at poor
Zenuta's sad story.

Many years have elapsed since that happy evening, and I am now captain
of my own ship, but my native place is as dear to me as ever.  As my
riches increased, I had our cottage turned into a large commodious
house, sufficient for my increasing family.  And it was here, in a small
gabled room hanging right over the sea, that while gazing out at the
wild expanse of waters during a terrific storm, the thought occurred to
me to write my adventures.  So sitting down, pen in hand, I immediately
began this history of my life, thinking it likely that there might be
many who would find amusement in reading the recital of "Richard
Galbraith, Mariner, when wrecked on Caffraria."

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

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