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´╗┐Title: Perils in the Transvaal and Zululand
Author: Adams, H.C.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Perils in the Transvaal and Zululand" ***

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Perils in the Transvaal and Zululand
By Rev. H.C. Adams
Illustrations by J. Greenaway
Published by Griffith, Farran, Okeden and Welsh, London.
This edition dated 1887.

Perils in the Transvaal and Zululand, by Rev H.C. Adams.

________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________
PERILS IN THE TRANSVAAL AND ZULULAND, BY REV H.C. ADAMS.

CHAPTER ONE.

School was just over.  The boys belonging to Arlingford College poured
out into the playing fields, the juniors tumbling over one another in
haste and confusion, as though the premises were on fire behind them;
the seniors strolling leisurely out, or gathering in small groups near
the school door, to arrange their plans for the afternoon.  Dr
Stansfield, the headmaster, still remained, in conversation with
Reginald Margetts, a connection of his wife's, a young man of
two-and-twenty, who was passing the Oxford long vacation at his house,
and had come in with a message from Mrs Stansfield.  One of the
assistant masters also, George Rivers by name, sat at his desk, looking
over some exercises of which he had not completed the revision.  He was
near about Margetts' age, a well-built young fellow with an intelligent
and pleasant face.

"Well, that will do, Redgy," said the Doctor.  "You may tell Mrs
Stansfield that I do not know, and cannot conjecture who her visitor may
have been; but if he is to return in half an hour, I shall be in the
library ready to receive him.  At present I must have a little talk with
George Rivers here, before I leave the school."

"I am going to walk with Rivers presently, sir," said Margetts.  "Shall
you be long?"

"A quarter of an hour, I daresay.  George will join you when we have
done.  George," he continued, as Margetts left the room, "I have looked
over the papers you have sent me.  I intended to have had this
conversation, even if you had not invited it.  It is time that some
conclusion was come to.  You have not, I fear, received any fresh
information?"

"I am sorry to say I have not."

"I am sorry too; but I hardly expected anything else.  You are, I think,
more than one-and-twenty?"

"Two-and-twenty in a few months, sir."

"Indeed.  Well, there ought to be no further delay in the arrangement of
your plans for the future.  Do you not think so?"

"Yes, sir; and I believe I have made up my mind."

"What have you resolved to do?"

"Before I go into that, Dr Stansfield, I ought to thank you for the
great kindness you have shown me.  I should be a pauper, or something
like it, but for you."

"We need not speak of that.  Go on."

"Well, sir, I feel that I ought not to remain longer in England.  I have
already trespassed too long on your bounty."

"If that is your reason for leaving England, you had better reconsider
it.  Whatever might have been the case three years and a half ago, you
are not costing me anything now.  Your assistant-mastership, small as
the salary is, with what you have of your own, is enough to keep you,
and you fully earn it.  You have, I believe, once or twice expressed a
wish to enter holy orders?"

"It has been my wish for some time past, sir."

"Very well.  You could not be ordained for more than a year.  Before
that I think I could arrange with the Bishop for you to be ordained on
your mastership here.  There is not so much difficulty made about a
title as used to be the case."

"You are most kind, sir.  I hope you will not think me ungrateful; but I
feel it to be my first duty to find my mother and sister, if I can."

"I cannot blame you.  But I should like to know what steps you mean to
take.  I understood you to say you had obtained no further information."

"No; and I do not expect to obtain any information, so long as I am in
England.  But if I were out in Australia, it might be different."

"What do you propose to do, then?"

"Well, in the first place, to work my passage out to Australia--to Swan
River, you know."

"Ay, to Dalby's Plot, to which it was ascertained that your mother went
when she landed in Australia.  But you doubtless remember that we
ascertained, two years and a half ago, that she had left the colony, and
had gone--some said to Tasmania, and others to Cape Town; but no one has
ever given us a clue, by which we might discover the place to which she
had really removed."

"That is so.  But if I were on the spot I think I might be able to hunt
out information, which no one, who was not as deeply interested as I am,
would be able to obtain."

"You may be right in that.  Well, suppose you went out, and succeeded in
finding Mrs Rivers--what then?"

"Then I should like to buy land--a small farm.  A little money goes a
long way out there, you know, sir.  Then, when I was getting on pretty
well, I might be ordained by one of the colonial bishops, and do
clerical work combined with farming.  It isn't the same kind of thing
out there, I am told, that it is in England.  There are no large
populations--except, of course, in the towns--which take up a man's
whole time."

"You are right, I believe.  A number of educated and zealous men
supporting themselves by their own industry, and yet having the power of
ministering to their neighbours, would be a great boon in the colonies.
I would willingly lend you all the assistance in my power towards
carrying out your scheme; but, as I have already said, I am afraid I see
but little hope of learning what has become of your mother and sister."

"I do not see much more; but I think it my duty to make the trial."

"Be it so then.  What money have you?"

"Enough to pay my passage to Australia, sir,--that is, as a third-class
passenger, if I should prefer that to serving as a sailor on board one
of the steamers,--and perhaps 100 pounds over."

"I think you must go as a passenger.  It might prejudice your errand,
when you get there, if you had been before the mast.  We must contrive
to get you a letter of introduction to one of the Australian bishops."

"I'll give him one!" exclaimed a voice.  "I know two or three of them as
well as I know my own brother."

Dr Stansfield started up in great surprise.  "What, Rogers!" he
exclaimed.  "Are you the visitor whom Mrs Stansfield told me to expect?
I knew you were coming to England, but not so soon as this."

"To be sure I am.  I was told you would be out of school by a quarter
past twelve at latest, and now it is half-past, and you are still
there!"

"We had forgotten the lapse of time," said the Doctor.  "But tell me
what has brought you to England so much earlier than was expected."

"The rows with the Boers and the Zulus," said Mr Rogers.  "I have come
home--partly at the request of many of the leading men in Natal, partly
because my own interests were deeply concerned--to try and induce the
Government to put matters on some satisfactory footing."

"I had better leave you, sir, had I not?" said George, rising.  "You can
speak to me further at another time."

Both the gentlemen turned and looked at the speaker, whose presence
perhaps they had forgotten.

"Oh yes," said Dr Stansfield; "I will bear what you have told me in
mind, and speak to you about it in a day or two."

George bowed, and left the room.

"Who is that lad?" inquired Mr Rogers.  "I don't suppose I can have
seen him before; but his face seems strangely familiar to me."

"No; you can't have seen him before," rejoined the Doctor, smiling,
"unless it was in a dream.  He has never been in South Africa, and you,
I think, have never left it since he was a child."

"No; I have never left the Transvaal, unless to visit Cape Town, or
Zululand, or Natal, for twenty years.  I wonder you knew me, Stansfield;
but, to be sure, you were expecting me before long.  But as regards this
lad--has he any relatives in the Transvaal?"

"His mother and sister may be in the Transvaal for all I can tell.  They
left England some years ago, and the place where they are living is
quite unknown."

"What is his name?" asked Mr Rogers.

"Rivers," answered the headmaster,--"George Rivers."  Mr Rogers shook
his head.  "I know no person of that name," he said.  "It must be a mere
chance resemblance.  But I should like to know his history; for some
reason or other he interests me."

"Well, I can tell it you now," said the Doctor.  "Sophia will not expect
us until luncheon-time, and that is not for another half-hour yet.  Sit
down in that chair, and you shall hear it.

"George's father was a country doctor; he lived in this neighbourhood,
and was a very estimable man, and skilful in his profession, but very
poor.  He married Farmer Wylie's daughter, a well-to-do man, and able to
give his daughter Agnes a very comfortable portion, particularly as she
was his only child.  But he set himself against the marriage, forbade it
for several years, and at last only agreed because he saw nothing could
change his daughter's mind.  But he would give her nothing more than a
hundred pounds, to buy her wedding clothes and help furnish the house.
A country doctor's practice is not very profitable, and Mr Rivers,
though not an extravagant, was not a saving man.  They found it hard
work to live, still harder when their children began to grow up.  George
was born to them two years after their marriage, and Thyrza two years
after that."

"Thyrza, did you say?" interposed Mr Rogers suddenly.

"Yes, Thyrza," said the Doctor.  "It was an unusual name, but I believe
it was her father's fancy.  Well, Mr and Mrs Rivers got poorer and
poorer.  He had sent George to the college here.  The lad was clever and
hard-working, and he obtained a scholarship, which went a long way
towards paying his schooling.  But Mr Rivers called upon me one day,
when George was between sixteen and seventeen, and told me that he could
not longer afford to pay even the slight cost of his son's education.
He had had an interview with his son, he said, and had told him the
truth.  I was interested in the lad, and told Mr Rivers that whatever
school fees there were would be remitted in the case of his son.  The
poor man was very grateful; but when he reached home with the good news,
he found it had come too late.  The boy had disappeared, no one knew
whither.  It was not for nearly a month afterwards that a letter
arrived, saying that he had resolved he would no longer be a charge upon
his parents' scanty means.  He had therefore gone on board a ship bound
for Australia.  He meant to work his passage out there before the mast,
and when out there hoped to be able to find employment enough to keep
himself.  As soon as he reached his destination, they should hear from
him again.  Mrs Rivers brought me this letter, in the hope that I might
be able to assist her.  She was wrapt up in this boy, and his departure
had nearly broken her heart.

"`We could bear anything,' she said to me, `if he was only with us.'

"I promised that I would write to the owners of the ship in which he had
sailed, and make arrangements for his return to England on the earliest
opportunity.  But a series of misfortunes ensued, which I have often
wondered that she survived.  First of all, there was a terrible fire, by
which Mr Rivers' house was burnt to the ground.  No life was lost, but
there was heavy loss, and, what was worse, Mrs Rivers was severely
burned.  One arm was so much injured that it was thought for a long time
she would lose the use of it, and the scars on her wrist and thumb will
never be erased."

Mr Rogers again started, and was on the point of speaking.  But he
checked himself, and allowed the Doctor to go on.

"Before she had recovered from her wounds came the news that the
_Boomerang_, in which George had sailed, had been wrecked.  The crew had
taken to the boats, some of which had landed safe on the Australian
coast; but others, it was feared, were lost.  Mr Rivers could not bear
up against this continual current of misfortune.  He took to his bed,
lingered some weeks, and then died.  That his widow did not speedily
follow him has, as I have already intimated, always been a matter of
wonder to me.  I think the necessity of living for the sake of her
daughter was the only thing that bore her up.  She was left, of course,
quite penniless.  I had the not very pleasant task of calling upon old
Farmer Wylie to inform him of his daughter's destitute condition.  The
old man had turned more and more against the match, as it became evident
that the Riverses were not thriving in the world.  Mr Rivers had felt
hurt and affronted at the language used by his father-in-law; and for
the last few years all intercourse had been broken off.  But it was now
necessary to apply to him.  I rode over accordingly, but found I had
gone on a bootless errand.  Old Wylie himself was dangerously ill, and
died within a few days, never having recovered consciousness.  When his
will was opened, it was found that his whole property had been
bequeathed to the county hospital.  There was a small sum which had
belonged to his wife, which it was agreed might be made over to his
daughter.  It was enough to pay her husband's debts, and leave her about
a couple of hundred pounds.  She resolved with this to emigrate to
Australia."

"That was a strange resolution, was it not, under the circumstances?"
remarked Mr Rogers.

"I think it was, but she had a reason for it.  She fancied that her
uncle Christopher, who had gone thither many years before, might still
be living there.  I believe, too, that the sight of the familiar scenes
around her, associated as they were in her mind with her husband and
son, were more than she could endure.  At all events she went, and
arrived safely in the colony.  She wrote to apprise me of it, but I
never heard from her again.  Nor have I ever been able to discover what
became of her, except that she left Australia soon afterwards."

"And what of George, then?" asked Mr Rogers, who had become interested
in the narrative.

"He returned to England about six months after his mother's departure.
The boat in which he had left the _Boomerang_ had been driven out of its
course, and had at last reached the Island of Timor.  Thence George had
obtained a passage to Singapore, and thence again home.  He came to me
in great distress.  His father's death and his mother's departure from
England had been terrible shocks to him.  His first thought, of course,
was of immediately joining his mother, wherever she might be.  But I
pointed out to him that it would be better for him to wait until we
could learn more of her movements.  All that I had heard at that time
was that she had left Australia soon after her arrival there, her uncle,
Mr Christopher Wylie, having gone somewhere else, though no one seemed
to know where.  Probably, however, she would write home again.
Meanwhile, inquiry might continue to be made.  George, who was now
nearly eighteen, had better re-enter the college for a year.  A small
legacy left him by a relative would enable him to pay for his board, and
the school fees we remitted.  He agreed to this, and continued in the
school for a year and a half, after which I found him some employment as
an extra junior master.  He has continued his studies, and is now a very
tolerable scholar."

"And he has never discovered his mother's present residence?"

"Never.  A friend in Swan River, to whom I wrote, made every inquiry,
but could only learn what I have already told you, that Mrs Rivers went
away soon after her arrival.  She had discovered some clue, it was
thought, to her uncle's new place of abode.  But even that is
conjecture."

"And what does the lad propose to do with himself?" asked Mr Rogers.
"He will not, I suppose, remain here much longer."

"No.  He will go away at midsummer.  He wanted to go at once, but I
urged his remaining until the end of the half-year.  Indeed, there are
preparations which must be made before undertaking a long voyage."

"He is going to Australia, then?"

"Yes.  He thinks that, although Mr Welstead's inquiries failed to
elicit the required information, he himself might be more successful.  I
don't agree with him; but it would be hard to discourage him."

"And if he finds his mother and sister?"

"Then he would buy a little land with what remains of his cousin's
legacy, and settle in the colony with his relatives, combining farming
with a clergyman's work."

"A clergyman's work?  Has he any fancy for that?"

"Yes, a very decided one.  He is one of those who are anxious to do
good, but who combine with it an impatience of settled habits of life,
and a thirst for novelty and adventure.  I do not know how to blame him.
He has all the qualities that would fit him for the course on which he
desires to enter.  He is resolute, intelligent, and ready; capital at
all field sports and outdoor exercises; capable of bearing considerable
fatigue and hardships without murmuring; and withal extremely
affectionate and right-minded.  Whatever purpose he might conceive, he
would be pretty sure to carry out, and, unless under very exceptional
circumstances, successfully."

"Indeed!" said Mr Rogers.  "Then he is certainly the man for the
colonies.  Well, Stansfield, I have not interrupted you, because I
wanted particularly to hear the whole of this story; but you will be
surprised, I think, to hear that I not only know the place where young
Rivers' mother and sister are living, but am myself personally
acquainted with them."

"With Mrs Rivers and her daughter!" exclaimed the headmaster in
surprise.  "I thought you said just now that you knew no one of that
name?"

"Nor do I," said Mr Rogers; "but I do know a Mrs Mansen, the wife of a
Dutch farmer, who lives at one of my farms, only a short distance from
my station.  She has a daughter named Thyrza Rivers, whose age
corresponds nearly with that of the Thyrza of your story."

"It is an uncommon name," said the headmaster.  "Still there might be
two persons so called."

"No doubt.  But you said the mother had been disfigured in the hand by a
severe burn.  Mrs Mansen is a handsome woman past forty; but she has
just such a scar as you describe on her wrist.  But did I understand you
to say her Christian name was Agnes?"

"Yes," said Dr Stansfield; "I am pretty sure it is.  But anyway it will
be in the School Register.  Yes," he added, taking a book down; "here it
is: `September 24, 18--.  George, son of George and Agnes Rivers,
admitted.'"

"Then I think there can be no doubt of the identity," said Mr Rogers.
"Mrs Mansen's name is certainly Agnes.  She had occasion to sign her
name before me, as a magistrate, a twelvemonth ago, and I remember it
perfectly.  Mrs Mansen, too, had lost, or rather, believed she had lost
her only son, at sea.  Well, this simplifies matters, I think,
considerably.  I conclude this young fellow will give up all idea of
proceeding to Australia, and betake himself to Mansen's
place--`Spielman's Vley,' as it is called--instead?"

"Spielman's Vley," repeated the Doctor.  "Is that in Natal or in
Zululand?"

"It is in neither.  My station--Umvalosa--is just on the very borders of
the three countries, Zululand, Natal, and the Transvaal; and Spielman's
Vley lies a short distance only to the north-west, in the Transvaal.  It
is one of the places which my chaplain,--as I call him,--Lambert,
continually visits."

"Ay; his visitations are rather different, I expect, from those of our
parochial clergy?"

"Very different.  There are at least a dozen places round Umvalosa,
which, but for him, would be wholly without spiritual care.  He visits
these in regular order, as well as he can; but some of them only get a
service once in two months or so.  Unless there is some special reason,
such as some one on his deathbed wanting him, he is unable to visit them
oftener."

"That must cause a good deal of spiritual deadness," observed Dr
Stansfield.  "They must soon forget all about his visits."

"Ah, so you in England fancy; but nothing can be further from the fact.
If the parson's visits were looked for in England as they are in my
neighbourhood, the English Church would be in a very different position.
Our people never forget the day when Mr Lambert is due.  They will
come a long distance, and in all weathers, to be present at the
services.  But that is human nature after all.  What a man can have for
the asking, he cares little about, let it be ever so valuable; what he
can only get by taking much trouble and incurring great risk, that he
appreciates.  But this has nothing to do with young Rivers.  I think I
ought to see him, and tell him my conjectures--or rather, I think I may
say, my decided convictions--as to the identity of his mother with Mrs
Mansen."

"Of course," returned the Doctor.  "He must judge for himself; but it
appears to me to be a clear case."

"Well, but there is something further.  If he is convinced that I am
right, he will, I conclude, set out shortly--not for Australia, but for
South Africa."

"No doubt of that," assented the headmaster.

"In that case I shall make him an offer, which I hope he will accept.  I
told you it was the political aspect of things that had brought me home
a month or two sooner than I had originally intended; but I had other
reasons besides.  I wanted to get one or two young men, who would take
situations as schoolmasters and readers, and who might ultimately be
ordained, and serve churches out there, which I believe I can contrive
to get built.  Now this lad seems to be the very person I am looking
after.  I could put him into a small farm, which he could cultivate with
the help of some natives, and there would be a salary enough to keep him
until the farm began to pay.  That it would soon do if he was capable
and painstaking, as by your account he is."

"He is all that, I can answer for it.  If any young fellow is more
likely than another to succeed in such a position, it is George Rivers."

"Very good.  If he engages with me, I shall undertake to provide his
outfit, and pay his passage to Durban and from thence to Umvalosa.  But
he must make up his mind at once.  I must leave this place for London
to-morrow."

"You had better see him without loss of time.  He was to go out for a
short walk with his friend, Reginald Margetts; but he will be back by
dinner-time.  I think he will probably accept your offer.  I should
certainly advise him to do so."

Dr Stansfield proved to be right in his anticipations.  George was at
first inclined to be somewhat sceptical as to the identity of his mother
with Mrs Mansen, and also made many inquiries as to the man who,
according to Mr Rogers' theory, was her second husband.  He was told
that Ludwig Mansen was a very worthy man, well educated, and much
respected.  George would find him a very desirable relative.  He was not
rich, but in good circumstances.  He and Mrs Mansen were generally
thought to live very happily together.  As regards himself, Mr Rogers
knew that his mother had never ceased to deplore his death, which she
supposed had certainly occurred, and that his reappearance would be like
new life to her.  If George had had no other reason for accepting Mr
Rogers' offer, this would have been sufficient to induce him to do so;
in fact, the desire of meeting her again grew so greatly on him, that it
was with difficulty that he could bring himself to consent to the delay
of five or six weeks, which Mr Rogers had declared to be necessary for
making the required arrangements.  His passage was taken in the _Zulu
Queen_,--Captain Ranken, commander,--a large vessel carrying a cargo to
Durban, and taking a few first-class passengers at a lower rate than was
usually charged by the great steam companies.

About a week after Mr Rogers' departure for London, Redgy Margetts came
to Rivers with a letter, which he had that morning received from his
father.

"All right," he said, "old fellow!  The governor has given his consent,
like a brick, as he is!"

"Given his consent to what, Redgy?" inquired George with surprise.

"To my sailing with you for Durban in the _Zulu Queen_" answered
Margetts.  "I hoped from the first that he would; but I said nothing
about it till I was sure."

"You go to the Transvaal, Redgy!" exclaimed Rivers.  "What should take
you there?"

"Oh, I have always intended to go out to one of the colonies.  There is
nothing for any one to do in England, you know; and it will be very
jolly having you for my messmate and fellow-settler."

"It will be very jolly for _me_ anyway," said Rivers, shaking him
heartily by the hand.  "I really think the thing is quite perfect now."

CHAPTER TWO.

The _Zulu Queen_ had cleared the Channel and the Bay of Biscay, and was
somewhere about abreast of Lisbon, when Redgy Margetts came on deck to
join his friend Rivers.  The latter was a good sailor, and had some
considerable experience of the sea.  Even the Channel and the Bay,
though they had been more than usually rough, had not discomposed him.
But the other passengers, of whom there were not more than seven or
eight on board, had had a bad time of it.  Two Dutch gentlemen, whose
names he had discovered to be Vander Heyden and Moritz, had not left
their cabin, and Rivers had heard their groans very distinctly through
the thin partition of the cabin.  Redgy, whose berth was immediately
under his own, had been almost as bad, and had only been comforted by
George's assurances that when they were well south of Cape Finisterre,
his troubles would be at an end.

The prophecy seemed likely now to be fulfilled.  The ship had ceased to
pitch and roll, and the bright sky and warm sun were delightful after
the confined gloom of the cabin.  It was a grand sight indeed that met
Redgy's eyes as he stepped on deck.  There was the vast blue dome above,
hardly flecked by a single cloud.  There was the illimitable ocean
below, the waves dancing gaily in the sunshine, and in the distance the
coast of Portugal, lying like a soft cloud, through which some shadowy
outlines of the mountains were visible.

"Well, this is jolly enough!" exclaimed Margetts, as he seated himself
by his friend's side.  "If the voyage is going to be like this, there
won't be so much to complain of."

"It _will_ be like this, only a little warmer--a good deal warmer--when
we get in the tropics," said Rivers.  "But otherwise the appearance of
things won't be greatly different from this for a good many weeks to
come.  How are the Dutchmen, Redgy?  Have they ceased groaning?"

"I haven't heard them this morning," returned Margetts.  "I fancy they
are getting up.  The lady has been the worst, I believe."

"Lady!  I didn't know there was a lady on board.  What, is she the big
Dutchman's wife?"

"No, sister.  I heard the second biggest Dutchman call to the other, and
tell him his sister wanted him!"

"Do you know their names, Redgy?  I only saw them for a few minutes when
they came aboard at Plymouth.  I didn't see the lady at all.  I suppose
she must have gone straight down into her cabin."

"I know nothing but their Christian names," returned Redgy.  "The big
one is called Henryk, and the other Frank, or, as they pronounced it,
Vrank.  The lady, I think, is Annchen.  That's their way of pronouncing
the name."

"Well, I hope they'll make themselves agreeable.  As they are to be our
companions for four or five weeks at least, it will make a considerable
difference to us whether they are pleasant or not."

"I too should like to know something about them," said Margetts.
"Here's the skipper.  Perhaps he'll be able to tell us something.  Good
morning, Captain Ranken," he added, as the captain came up.

"Good morning, gentlemen.  Good morning, Mr Margetts," said the
skipper; "glad to see you've got over it.  Mr Rivers here is an old
salt, and doesn't mind even the Bay of Biscay."

"We want you to tell us something about our fellow-passengers," said
George.

"Fellow-passengers!  We've very few--two Englishmen, besides yourselves.
One is Mr Whittaker, a clerk in a house at Pieter Maritzburg, the
other Mr Walters, who has some Government appointment in the colony.
There's a Portuguese too.  He's in the wine trade, I fancy, but he goes
no farther than Madeira.  And there's a Dutch officer and his sister--
Mynheer Vander Heyden and his friend Moritz.  They all three hail from
the Transvaal.  I never had so few passengers on board before."

"Well, you know the old proverb," said Margetts: "the fewer the better
cheer.  We must try to make that good."

"All right, Mr Margetts!  Nothing is pleasanter than these voyages,
when the passengers are on good terms with one another.  I will do my
best, I promise you, to make things pleasant.  Here they come," he added
a moment afterwards, as the head and shoulders of a tall man came up the
hatchway.  "Come with me, and I will introduce you."

The two Dutchmen looked round them as they mounted the companion ladder,
with the air of persons who were familiar with what they saw.  They were
both somewhat heavily built, but rather fine-looking men.  The taller of
the two might be eight or nine-and-twenty.  His figure showed great
muscular strength, and there was an alacrity in his movements which
betokened one well accustomed to bodily exertion.  His features were
rather handsome, though there was an expression to be traced on them
which indicated an imperious, and somewhat irascible, temper.  His
friend Moritz was of a slighter build, but still wiry and strong.  His
features were not so regular, but he looked more good-natured than his
companion.  It may be added that their demeanour accorded with these
impressions.

"Mynheer Vander Heyden, Mynheer Moritz, let me introduce you to Mr
Rivers and Mr Margetts.  You will have much in common with them, I
fancy, as their destination is only a few hundred miles short of your
own."

Vander Heyden bowed distantly.  "English settlers, I suppose," he said.
"Do you propose to establish yourselves, gentlemen, in Natal, or
Zululand?"

"In neither," replied Rivers a little stiffly, for he did not like the
tone in which Vander Heyden spoke.  "The place to which I am proceeding
is in the Transvaal."

"I thought as much," muttered Vander Heyden.  Rivers only half caught
the words, but there could be no mistake as to Vander Heyden's
demeanour.  Some unpleasant altercation might have ensued, if Moritz had
not stept forward and said pleasantly, "The Transvaal! that is our
country, and it is a very fine one to settle in.  May I ask what is the
name of your station?"

"Dykeman's Hollow," replied Rivers.  "It lies, I am told, some twenty
miles from the Zulu frontier."

"Yes, at Umvalosa," assented Moritz.  "I know where it is, and have
often been by it, though I have never visited there.  I believe the land
is very good in that neighbourhood."

"Is the hunting good there?" asked Redgy; "are there plenty of wild
animals about there?"

"More than perhaps you would desire," returned Moritz, smiling.  "The
lions and the elephants are not often to be seen; they never continue
long in any neighbourhood in which Europeans have settled.  Still, in
the northern parts of the Transvaal you will meet with them--
occasionally, at all events.  But of the tigers--or rather the leopards,
for that is what they really are--and of the hyenas, there are plenty.
There is also no lack of snakes--cobras, ondaras, and puff-adders; there
is no dearth of any of them."

"I shall enjoy the lion-hunting, at all events," said Redgy.

"I hardly think you will," observed Vander Heyden with something of a
sneer.  "You will find that a different matter from what you in England
are pleased to call sport--hunting a hare or a fox, or shooting at a
bird.  Hunting in the Transvaal requires both skill and courage."

"No doubt, Mr Vander Heyden," said George shortly; "but there is no
reason, I suppose, why an Englishman may not possess both."

"It is possible that he may," returned the Dutchman coldly.

Captain Ranken looked uncomfortable.  He foresaw altercations in the
distance, if not open quarrels, and these on board ship were especially
to be deprecated.  He saw that though George apparently was
good-tempered, he was not disposed to submit to insolence; and Vander
Heyden evidently entertained the strong dislike to the English for which
so many of his countrymen were notorious.  Nothing, however, had been
said as yet which required his interference.  He was looking about for
some means of diverting the conversation into another channel, when the
arrival of a new person on the scene effected his purpose for him.  A
delicate white hand appeared on the top of the companion, and
immediately after a female figure issued forth.  The captain stepped
forward to offer his hand.

"I am rejoiced, Miss Vander Heyden, to welcome you on deck.  This is a
charming morning for your first appearance.  It is quite warm, though
there is a pleasant breeze."

The young lady untied the woollen scarf she had wrapped round her head,
and requited the captain's civility by a bow.  The latter would have
proceeded to present her to the two Englishmen, but her brother stepped
stiffly forward, and, offering his arm, led her to a seat near the
taffrail Moritz followed, and the captain turned off to give some
directions to the mate.

"I don't like that fellow, George," said Margetts.  "He seems inclined
to be insolent.  I'm afraid we shall have a row with him before long."

"I don't know about a row, Redgy," said Rivers; "that is, if you mean an
open quarrel.  I don't mean to quarrel with him, or with any one else.
But he must be more civil, if we are to be on friendly terms.  The other
seems inclined to be more sociable."

"And his sister too," observed Redgy.  "She looks good-natured enough,
and only look how handsome she is!  Don't you think so, George?"

"She is not bad-looking," assented Rivers; "I shouldn't call her
regularly handsome, but she is certainly both pretty and sweet-looking."

"Her society will make the voyage pleasanter," said Redgy.

"I should doubt that," returned George.  "If I don't mistake, this
Dutchman doesn't mean us to make her acquaintance."

"She may have something to say to that," observed Margetts.  "He isn't
either her father or her husband, you know."

"No," said Rivers; "he couldn't prevent our knowing her, if she desired
it herself.  But I shall take my cue from him, and stand aloof if he
shows that he wishes it.  But here come two more--and Englishmen
evidently.  I don't think the Portuguese will show on deck to-day, from
what the steward told me.  I suppose we needn't stand on ceremony here.
Mr Whittaker and Mr Walters, I believe," he added, taking off his hat.
"My name is Rivers, and my friend's here is Margetts.  As we are to be
fellow-voyagers for some weeks, we had better make acquaintance."

"My name is Whittaker," said the elder of the two travellers, a
pleasant-looking man of about thirty, "and I am happy to be introduced
to you, Mr Rivers.  This is Mr Walters.  He lands at East London, but
all the rest of us, I believe, are going on to Durban."

"I believe so," assented Rivers.  "Do you reside in Durban, may I ask?"

"No.  I am the chief clerk in the Colonial Bank at Pieter Maritzburg.  I
have been home on business connected with the bank, and am now
returning."

"Do you know these Dutchmen?" asked Margetts, looking as he spoke at the
group of three who were still seated by the taffrail.

Mr Whittaker looked in the direction indicated.

"Yes," he said, "I do know them; and I am not particularly glad to have
them for my fellow-passengers.  I have seen them once or twice in Natal,
and I met them at the house of one of our correspondents a week or two
ago in London."

"What do you know about them?" inquired Redgy.  "I know that they have
an especial dislike to Englishmen," said Whittaker; "that is, Vander
Heyden has; I don't know about the other.  If you knew the colony as
well as I do, Mr Rivers, you would be aware that there is a great
difference observable among the Dutch settlers.  Some of them are kind
and friendly enough with all white men--"

"All _white_ men?" interposed Redgy.  "Not with blacks, then?"

"No, Mr Margetts," returned the other gravely.  "A man can know very
little about the colony not to be aware that every Dutchman regards the
natives as being of little more account than dogs or horses--of a good
deal less account than many horses."

"So I have heard.  But what about their relationship with other whites?"

"As I was saying, some of them will receive kindly and hospitably all
Europeans; but others entertain a rooted dislike to all but their own
countrymen.  Englishmen in particular they regard as their natural
enemies.  They will not do them the slightest service, or exchange the
most ordinary civilities with them.  I have known some Boers refuse even
a glass of cold water to an Englishman when he was almost perishing with
thirst."

"And this Vander Heyden is one of that sort, hey?" asked Margetts.  "By
the way, did not Captain Ranken say he was an officer?"

"He has been some years in the Dutch service.  He left the Transvaal
when his father died; but he is now returning to marry, and live on his
property with his wife and sister.  Some years ago, when visiting a
friend at Maritzburg who is a merchant there, there was a quarrel with
an English officer, which attracted a good deal of attention, and made
Vander Heyden, for the time at all events, very notorious.  That was
caused by his manner of dealing with the natives."

"What were the particulars?" asked Mr Walters.

"He was on his way to Maritzburg," said Whittaker, "and on the road he
met a servant of Captain Tarleton's, who was taking two horses belonging
to his master to Rorke's Drift.  The spot where they met was at a small
spring in the middle of a long dry tract of country.  They arrived
nearly about the same time; but Tarleton's servant got there first, and
was proceeding to water the horses, when Vander Heyden ordered him
imperiously to desist, and wait until his party had watered their
cattle.  He took the captain's servant for a native,--a Kaffir or Zulu;
but the man really was a Sikh, and as bold and fierce as Vander Heyden
himself.  He angrily refused; and, when the Dutchman thrust him
violently on one side, he drew his knife, and would have stabbed his
assailant, if the others of the party had not seized him.  While the
altercation was going on, Captain Tarleton himself rode up, and, having
heard the particulars from the bystanders, took up the quarrel.  The
result was a challenge; and there would have been a duel in Maritzburg a
day or two afterwards, if the matter had not reached the ears of one of
the local magistrates.  He sent for the parties, convicted Vander Heyden
of an assault, and required him to find securities to keep the peace, or
leave the colony.  The Dutchman chose the latter course.  But the
affair, I take it, has not increased his affection for us English."

"Well, he must keep the peace here," remarked the captain, who had again
joined them; "and I shall take care that he does.  But I agree with Mr
Whittaker that he is not very likely to be over cordial with us English.
I have already seen some indications of his feelings towards us."

"The other man--Moritz his name is, I think," observed Redgy--"appears
to be more amiably disposed."

"The young lady too seems pleasant," said Mr Whittaker; "but I suppose
she will be in a great measure under her brother's orders."

"No doubt," said Rivers.  "Well, of course, it rests with herself
whether we are to be friendly with her or not."

Several days passed on.  Madeira was reached; and then the ship's course
was set for Saint Helena, where there was to be a delay of at least
twenty-four hours.  The anticipations expressed as to Vander Heyden's
demeanour were fully verified.  He stood aloof himself from all the
passengers except Moritz and the Portuguese, Martinez; and it was
tolerably plain that he only sought his society as a means of keeping
the others at a distance.  At the meals, which took place in the
principal cabin, he seated his sister at the end of the table, on the
captain's right.  He himself sat next to her, with Moritz immediately
opposite, and Martinez next to him.  As he never addressed a single word
to the Englishmen, and the Portuguese could not speak English, all
conversation with Annchen became almost impossible; indeed, as none of
them had been introduced to her, they could hardly under such
circumstances presume to address her.  Indeed, they felt too much
offended at the haughty dislike which Vander Heyden made no show of
concealing, to have any desire to do so; and the voyage to the Cape
might have been accomplished without the interchange of a word between
the young lady and her English fellow-passengers, if it had not been for
an occurrence which took place when they were some days' voyage south of
Madeira, and approaching the equator.

All the party were on deck.  Annchen, dressed entirely in white, and
wearing a large hat of the same colour,--the crown being thickened as a
defence against the sun,--was sitting on a low stool under the shade of
the companion.  Rivers, Redgy, and Mr Walters were lying on the deck
under an awning which they had constructed with the help of an old sail.
A sharp wind had been blowing since daybreak, which threatened to rise
to a gale at sundown.  Presently one of the sailors, carrying a load of
potatoes to the coop, came up the hatchway.  He had evidently been
drinking, and was extremely unsteady on his legs.  A gust of wind caught
him as he stepped on deck.  He reeled, and struck against Vander Heyden,
upsetting him, and knocking him against Annchen, who was standing close
by.  She lost her balance, and the wind, catching her hat, swept it
across the deck.  It would have been carried into the sea, if it had not
been caught in the rigging.  Rivers started up, skimmed nimbly up the
ropes, recovered the hat, and, descending, presented it to its owner.
Annchen coloured, and glanced hurriedly round at her brother, expecting
him to acknowledge the civility.

But Vander Heyden was differently employed.  He had regained his feet,
and was on the point of angrily reproving the sailor for his clumsiness,
when he suddenly exclaimed,--

"Ha! you here, you English scoundrel!  What has brought you into this
ship?  How dare you intrude yourself on me?"

"I want to have nothing to do with you," retorted the man sullenly.  "I
couldn't help the wind blowing, could I?  As for my being an English
scoundrel, a Dutch coward is worse any day!"

"Insolent hound!" cried Vander Heyden, striking him a heavy blow as he
spoke; "I will teach you to insult a Hollander."

The man reeled and fell on the deck, knocking over another sailor, named
Van Ryk, who was passing at the moment.  Their dislike of the Boer
seemed to be as great as his of them.  They leaped up and rushed
together on Vander Heyden, and an angry fray would have ensued, if
Wyndham, the first mate, had not interfered.  He had seen what had
occurred, and desired the combatants to desist.

"Mr Vander Heyden," he said, "this cannot be allowed.  Bostock has had
more than his allowance of grog, and I shall see that he is punished for
that; but I am pretty sure he did not mean to annoy you--"

"Whom do you call Bostock?" interrupted the Dutchman,--"that schelm,
Cargill?  I know him better than you do, I fancy."

"I know him by the name in which he entered this ship," returned the
mate.  "But it does not matter what his name is.  You had no right to
strike him, and should beg his pardon."

"Beg his pardon!" exclaimed the other haughtily; "you do not think I
shall do that!  He has hurt me a good deal.  I believe I have sprained
my ankle badly.  But, anyway, I am not to be subjected to his drunken
insolence.  If he intrudes himself on me again, he will suffer sharply
for it.  Help me down below, Frank," he continued; "I must get my shoe
off, and bandage my ankle.  The surgeon had better come to me."

"Stop, sir," said the mate.  "I shall send for the captain, and inform
him of what has passed.  You will be pleased to wait till he comes on
deck."

Captain Ranken accordingly was summoned, and, having heard Wyndham's
statement, asked Vander Heyden whether the matter had been correctly
reported; but the latter made no reply.

"I must assume, then, that the thing really occurred as reported.  I beg
to tell you, sir, that I command this ship; and any one who interferes
with its discipline is accountable to me.  You will beg this man's
pardon, as the mate has most properly required, and give your
undertaking not to repeat your violence, or I shall confine you to your
cabin.  Any repetition of your offence will be punished by your being
put into irons."

"I shall give no promise," said Vander Heyden angrily.  "Frank, help me
to my cabin, and send the surgeon to me.  I suppose he will not be
forbidden to attend me."

"Certainly not, sir," said Captain Ranken; "I did not know that you had
been hurt.  Perhaps when below you will think better of this, and give
the promise I require.  I hope you will forgive me, Miss Vander Heyden,"
he continued, as the Dutchman was helped down the companion.  "I am
extremely sorry for what has occurred; but it is necessary for the
comfort of the whole ship, that I should maintain strict discipline."

Annchen bowed silently, and, taking her hat from George, who was still
standing by, holding it in his hand, thanked him very civilly.  She then
expressed her intention of going down to her brother, to see if she
could render him any help.

"I think you had better not," said George.  "The surgeon has just gone
to him, and will do all that is necessary.  Mr Moritz, too, is with
him, and there is hardly room for more in the cabin.  But I will go down
and inquire."

He went below accordingly, and presently returned with the information
that the surgeon said there was a severe sprain.  But he had bandaged
and fomented the ankle, and it would be better for the patient to remain
for the present quite quiet.  Moritz also returned on deck with the same
report, at the same time thanking Rivers with much courtesy for his
services.  George replied; and a conversation ensued, which altogether
dispelled the awkwardness which had hitherto prevailed.  Vander Heyden's
sprain was found to be worse than it was at first apprehended.  It
became evident that for a week at least he would be a prisoner in his
cabin, thus rendering the captain's sentence altogether needless.  His
absence from the deck and the daily meals, made an entire alteration in
the relation of the passengers to one another.  Annchen passed a
considerable part of her time in her brother's cabin, but she was still
frequently on deck, and when there showed no disposition to repel the
civilities of her fellow-passengers, and the whole party soon became
extremely friendly with one another.

One evening Captain Ranken announced that they were now within a day's
sail of Saint Helena, and that he intended to make up a party, which he
hoped all the passengers would join, to visit Longwood and Napoleon's
grave.

"I am afraid your brother will still be a prisoner, Miss Annchen," he
said.  "But that need not deprive us of your and Mr Moritz's company."

Annchen made no reply, unless a slight tinge of colour which overspread
her cheek might be regarded as one.  She knew that her brother would in
all likelihood insist on her remaining in the ship; but that she was
very unwilling to do.  She was very fond of him, and always sided with
him, so far as she was able; but she was not blind to his faults, and
knew that in the quarrel which had recently taken place he was almost
entirely to blame.  She had saved him from the indignity of giving the
promise required by Captain Ranken, by assuring the captain privately
that her brother would not repeat the offence, though he was too proud
to say so; and Captain Ranken, taking into consideration the confinement
which Vander Heyden had already undergone, and influenced doubtless, as
all men are apt to be, by appeals from bright eyes and arguments from
rosy lips, had agreed to make no further mention of the matter.  But she
was not disposed to submit to her brother's dictation respecting her
fellow-passengers, whom she had found extremely agreeable and friendly;
against whom, too, there seemed to be no other objection than that they
were Englishmen.  George Rivers in particular was a very agreeable
companion, and she was greatly diverted with the humorous sallies of
Redgy Margetts and young Walters, who kept the whole party in a state of
continual amusement.  Mr Whittaker, again, was an agreeable
fellow-passenger, though graver and less communicative than the others.
She was more frank and easy with the young men, because it was generally
known that there was an engagement between her and Mynheer Moritz,--one
of those family compacts, with which both parties seemed to be
satisfied, though there was no display of ardent affection on either
side.  On the whole, the party in the cabin and on the deck was a
pleasant one, Moritz appearing to enjoy it as well as herself.  But
Annchen felt sure that if her brother should be told of the proposed
expedition to visit the interior of Saint Helena, he would object to her
joining it; and she was not disposed to forego the pleasure she promised
herself, to gratify his fancy.  She therefore said nothing on the
subject until the captain's boat, which was to convey the party on
shore, had been made ready.  Then she told Captain Ranken that she had
resolved to go on the party with the others.

"Delighted to hear it, Miss Vander Heyden?" answered the captain; "and I
think I can promise you that you will not regret your determination.  I
have already sent a message on shore to order a carriage, which will
take us to Longwood.  Now then for the detested residence, and the empty
grave, of the _ci-devant_ conqueror of Europe!"

CHAPTER THREE.

"Nature must have intended this island for a prison," remarked Miss
Vander Heyden, as she looked up at the inaccessible precipices by which
Saint Helena is environed.  "Nothing but a bird could make its way into
the interior, except by the landing-places, and the narrow paths which
lead up the mountain-sides from them."

"True," asserted the captain; "and there are only four landing-places
which it is possible for a boat to approach, and three of them are more
or less dangerous.  This one which we are now drawing near to is the
only one in the island which deserves the name of a landing-place."

"And it would be difficult for an enemy to assail that," remarked
Rivers, as he glanced at the fortified lines, bristling with cannon,
which commanded the quay.  "It would take a great many ships of the line
to silence those batteries.  Even then, from the tops of those cliffs,
any force that attempted a landing might be destroyed without the
possibility of retaliation.  Yes, I agree with you, Miss Vander Heyden;
Napoleon's heart, if he ever really contemplated an escape from his
captivity, must have died within him when he came within sight of these
precipices."

"You are right, sir," said Captain Ranken.  "That was his real ground of
complaint against Saint Helena.  He talked of the unhealthiness of the
climate, and the badness of his accommodation, and the rudeness of the
officials in charge of him.  But the true grievance was that escape was
impossible."

"Ay," said Mr Moritz; "your countrymen made better jailors than those
who had charge of him at Elba.  Small blame to you, too.  If he had been
shut up in any place, which he could have got out of, he would have
lived long enough to turn Europe upside down once more."

"Is the climate unhealthy?" inquired Mr Walters.

"Unhealthy! no, not a bit of it," replied the captain.  "I resided here
once for two years, as one of the Company's agents.  I should say it was
a particularly healthy country for Europeans.  It is both mild and
uniform in its temperature, never excessively hot, and never very cold.
An English August and an English January would both of them astonish the
natives of Saint Helena.  The trade wind gives a succession of steady
and equable breezes, and tropical storms are almost unknown."

"It is very bare and ungenial in its appearance, any way," remarked
Annchen.

"Ah, Miss Annchen, that comes of trusting to first appearances," said
Captain Ranken.  "You will find it greatly improve on nearer
acquaintance.  But here we are, and here are our conveyances waiting for
us."

They landed accordingly, and, after crossing the drawbridge, passed
under the arched gateway, and entered the principal street of the town.
This was not very long, not containing more than fifty or sixty houses,
but these were mostly of a handsome appearance, resembling English
houses for the most part, two storeys in height, and whitewashed.  The
population seemed to be almost entirely negro; but a bronzed old
soldier, who told them that he had in his youth kept guard at Napoleon's
grave, offered himself as their guide, and his services were accepted.
Under his guidance they began their ascent, which had been constructed
with enormous labour along the side of the almost perpendicular
precipices, and which tried the nerves of some of the party, who were
not accustomed to climbing.  For a long way the ascent exhibited nothing
but the spectacle of naked and barren rocks, but after the first two
miles were passed, the eyes of the travellers were relieved by the
sudden sight of wooded heights, diversified by picturesque villas and
cultivated gardens.  Trees which were quite new to some of the party
grew on either side of the pathway.  The Indian banyan and bamboo, the
mimosa, the aloe, and the prickly pear of Southern Africa, were to be
found side by side with Australian gum trees, and the mulberries of
Southern Europe.  There appeared also to be a variety of tropical
fruits; figs, limes, mangoes, guavas, citrons, bananas, and pomegranates
grew and throve, apparently, in the gardens which they passed.  The
temperature altered sensibly as they approached Longwood, which indeed
is nearly eighteen hundred feet above the level of the sea.

"This seems a comfortable house enough," remarked Redgy, as they entered
the grounds,--"not an imperial palace, to be sure, but that was hardly
to be expected."

"He was comfortable enough, I expect," said Captain Ranken,--"as
comfortable as he would have been anywhere.  Indeed, he wouldn't go into
the big house which the English Ministry had built for him.  No, it was
the being shut up at all that he didn't like."

"You are right, sir," remarked the old sergeant with a smile.  "If they
had taken the palace of Versailles over for him, he wouldn't have liked
it any better."

"Did you ever see him?" inquired Rivers.

"No, sir; I didn't come to the island till just before his death; but my
father-in-law, who died a few years ago, was a soldier under Sir Hudson
Lowe's command; and he told me that he had often been set as one of the
sentries round Longwood, and had seen Buonaparte again and again.  It
was a troublesome duty keeping guard on him."

"How so?" asked Walters.

"Why, sir, they were obliged--one of them, that is, was obliged--to see
Bony with his own eyes once in every twenty-four hours--to make sure of
him, you see, sir.  There was always a fancy that he was trying to make
his escape to America."

"There was some ground for that, if what I have read is true," remarked
Rivers.

"Maybe, sir," said Sergeant Thorpe.  "Anyhow, Sir Hudson always acted as
though he believed it; and he insisted that one of the men should see
Bony every day, and make sure he was there; and nothing that he did made
Bony so angry.  He would take every means of preventing it that he
could.  He would shut himself up sometimes for a whole day, and allow no
one to enter his room but his own servants.  They were all in the same
mind as himself about it; and even if they hadn't been, they durstn't
for the life of them let any one go into the room where he was.  Some of
our chaps hung about the entrance for an hour or two, or longer than
that, before they could get a sight of him.  My father-in-law told me
that one day, when he had waited for ever so long without being able to
see Buonaparte, he hid himself behind one of the curtains in the hall
and stayed there till bed-time.  About ten o'clock Bony came out on his
way to bed.  My father-in-law got a clear sight of him, but Bony caught
a glimpse of the end of his shoe sticking out from under the curtain.
My father-in-law was hauled out, and had to explain what brought him
there.  A complaint was sent to Sir Hudson--and to the Government, I
believe, too--that an attempt had been made to assassinate him!  But
there were so many stories of the same kind, none of which had any
foundation, that very little attention was paid to it."

"No," said Captain Ranken.  "The Government would have had little else
to do, if they had attended to all his complaints.  So this is the house
where the great emperor lived, is it?"

"Lived and died, sir," said Sergeant Thorpe.  "This is the room where he
used to sit and dictate, and this the bedroom where he died.  There was
a terrible storm on the day of his death, the 4th of May 1821.  I can
just remember it, having come here when I was a young boy, a few weeks
before.  The people in the island say there has never been such a storm
known before or since.  All the trees about the place were torn up, and
among them the willow, under which was his favourite seat."

"Were you present at his burial?" inquired Margetts.

"No, sir, I was too young to be taken.  I was left at home with my nurse
and little sister, but almost every one in the island was there.  We
will go down and look at it now, if you please.  It lies in a small
valley.  The spot was a favourite resort of his, and there he had asked
to be buried."

The party accordingly quitted Longwood, and followed the sergeant down
to the spot he indicated.  It was a lovely place, but very little
attempt had been made further to beautify it.  A mound of about three
hundred feet in circumference, overgrown with grass, had been surrounded
with a simple palisade.  About the middle of this there was a tomb
constructed of stone enclosed by an iron railing.  There was neither
inscription nor monument, the coffin having been deposited in a vault
beneath, and the roof cemented over.

"I have stood here sentinel many a day, gentlemen," said the sergeant,
"when I was a young man.  There used to be a many visitors who came to
see it--mostly old soldiers who had fought under him."

"Do you remember the removal of the body to France?" inquired Rivers.

"Yes, sir, I saw that myself," replied Thorpe; "it was nearly twenty
years after his burial.  The son of the king of France, that then was,
came to take the body to Europe.  It was a grand sight.  I was one of
the soldiers on duty that day.  The earth was dug away until they came
to the vault, which had been overlaid with cement, but this was found to
be so hard that the workmen's tools broke one after another, and it was
a long time before they could make the slightest impression upon it.  At
last they did make their way through it, and lifted up the large white
stone, and exposed the coffin.  When the lid was taken off there lay the
great emperor, not the least changed, it appeared, by all the twenty
years he had lain there.  The features were not even shrunk, and there
were the orders on his breast, and the cocked hat by his side, scarcely
tarnished.  After the coffin had been removed they replaced the stones
as they were before.  A good many people still visit this place, but not
nearly so many, of course, as formerly."

The party now took leave of Sergeant Thorpe, and returned to Jamestown.

"Why didn't Whittaker make one of our party?" asked Margetts of Walters,
as they rode side by side down the precipitous path.

"I don't quite know," said Walters.  "For some reason or other, he is
very unwilling to be absent from his cabin for any long time together.
I have noticed that almost every hour he goes down to it.  I suppose he
has something valuable there, which he thinks it necessary to keep an
eye upon."

"I don't know but what he's right," remarked Rivers.  "One or two of the
crew strike me as being by no means the most desirable shipmates.  That
fellow Bostock, and Van Ryk, the boatswain's mate, and one or two
others, if they are honest fellows, don't look it.  I spoke to the
captain about it a day or two ago, and he agreed with what I said.  But
he told me that he and Wyndham kept a sharp look-out upon them, and when
the ship reached Port Elizabeth, he meant to get rid of them.  It is
only a few of whom he has any suspicion; the rest are all right."

The next day the voyage was resumed, and after rather more than a week's
run, Cape Town was reached.  Here there was a delay of several days.
Vander Heyden went ashore with his sister to the house of a friend, with
whom he resided during the whole of the ship's stay in harbour.

He had been very angry with his friend and sister for joining the
English party to Longwood, and would have broken off all acquaintance
with Rivers and his friend, if Moritz and Annchen would have allowed it.
But though he succeeded so far to prevent anything like close intimacy,
he could not prevent civilities from being offered and accepted; and
Vander Heyden had seen too much of Captain Ranken, to venture upon any
repetition of the conduct which had brought about the collision between
them a fortnight before.

During the stay at Cape Town an unfortunate incident occurred, which
caused the captain much greater vexation than the misconduct of his
Dutch passenger.  Nearly a dozen of his best men, who had been allowed
by the second mate, in the absence of his superior officers, to go on
shore, were reported missing, and all inquiries after them proved vain.
Either they had been bribed to serve on board some foreign ship, or to
join some party to the interior.  Captain Ranken was obliged to supply
their place, as well as he could, with some men whom he had picked up at
Cape Town, but whose appearance he by no means liked.

"We must keep a sharp look-out upon them, Wyndham," he said on the
morning of the day after that on which they had resumed their voyage.
"If it wasn't that it would be impossible to navigate the ship without
them, there's hardly one of these fellows with whom I would like to
sail.  I shall send them adrift at Port Elizabeth, along with Bostock
and Van Ryk and Sherwin.  I expect there will be no lack of good hands
there."

"Well, it won't be very long, sir," said Wyndham,--"not above three or
four days at the outside, and there are enough of us to put down any
disturbance during that time.  I'll speak to Mr Rivers and Mr
Whittaker, and the others.  They'd be very useful if any disturbance
occurs."

"I will speak to Mr Whittaker myself," said the captain.  "He told me
something yesterday, an hour or two after we left the harbour, which if
he had mentioned before, I should have taken certain steps, which it
would be too late to take now.  I gave him my mind on the subject,
though there was no great use in doing that."

"What, he has something valuable on board, I suppose?" observed Wyndham;
"I have suspected as much for a long time.  That was why he would not go
ashore at Saint Helena, then?"

"Yes," said the captain; "I think under the circumstances it is quite as
well you should know, Wyndham.  He has got 5000 pounds in specie, which
he is taking out to the bank at Maritzburg.  Of course he was bound to
tell me--to give it into my custody, in fact--before we sailed.  He
declares he did not know that.  That may be true, though it seems
strange he should be ignorant of it.  But, any way, it is no use
discussing that matter any further."

"No, sir.  I suppose you have it in your charge now?"

"Yes, of course.  I have put it away in the strong cupboard, and will
not deliver it up till we reach Durban."

"And what made Mr Whittaker tell you about it this morning, more than
on any other day?" asked Wyndham.

"That is one of the most unpleasant features in the matter," rejoined
the captain.  "Mr Whittaker has always kept his cabin locked throughout
the voyage, and has never been absent from it for any considerable time.
Until this morning, he had no suspicion but what everything was
perfectly safe.  But last night, after the passengers had gone to bed,
he fancied he heard a noise in the passage, and caught a glimpse of some
one hurrying away.  This morning, on going into his cabin, he found
Bostock there; and on his inquiring what business the man had in his
cabin, Bostock muttered something about having gone in to clean it out.
But it is not Bostock's business to clean the cabins.  Mr Whittaker was
alarmed, and came to me immediately afterwards."

"Indeed, sir!  That looks ugly, certainly.  You must get rid of Bostock
when we get to Port Elizabeth."

"I have already said that I meant to do so.  Indeed, I would have
dismissed him at Cape Town, if Mr Whittaker had spoken to me in time.
All that we can now do is to keep a bright look-out.  Mr Whittaker and
I are alternately to keep watch in my cabin, until we drop anchor in
Algoa Bay.  You had better keep an eye on Bostock; and it would be as
well if you asked Mr Rivers to help you in doing so.  Mr Rivers is, to
my mind, as stout-hearted and cool-headed a fellow as any we have on
board."

"I agree with you in that, sir, and will see Mr Rivers at once.  But I
don't apprehend much mischief from John Bostock.  The man seems to me as
if he had lost his head."

If Mr Wyndham could have been present at a conversation which had taken
place an hour or two before between Bostock, Van Ryk, Andersen, the
captain's servant, and a sailor named Sherwin, he would hardly have
expressed this opinion.  John Bostock, little as Wyndham suspected it,
was by birth a gentleman.  He was the son of a Lincolnshire squire of
ancient family, but very reduced means.  His father was the last of a
long series of spendthrifts, who had gradually reduced a noble
inheritance to a heap of encumbrances.  Langley Cargill, or, as he now
called himself, John Bostock, was one of his younger sons.  He followed
in his father's steps, and was soon hopelessly involved in debt.  He
tried to live by successful betting and gambling, but failed here also,
and was reduced to extreme straits, when a boon companion, a man of some
influence, obtained for him a commission in a Dutch regiment quartered
at the Hague.  Here he was safe from creditors, and had an income upon
which it would have been possible to live decently, if strict economy
had been observed.  But to Cargill economy had become impossible.  He
fell into his old courses, and would probably have soon been expelled
from the Dutch service, if his ruin had not been precipitated by an
outrage which drew on him the punishment of the law.

In the second year of his residence he was attracted by the grace and
beauty of a young girl, who had just made her first appearance in
public.  Langley contrived to obtain an introduction, which he tried for
several months to improve into an acquaintance.  The lady's friends, who
were aware of his character, interfered to prevent this.  Her brother,
in particular, a haughty young officer, had forbidden all intercourse;
and on the occasion of a public ball, when Cargill was more than usually
importunate, had insisted on his leaving the room.  Cargill replied by
drawing his sword on Vander Heyden.  The police interfered, and Cargill
was insane enough to resist, wounding several men, and one severely.  He
would have received a heavy sentence, if he had not contrived to escape
from prison, and enlist as a sailor in a ship just leaving the harbour.
After several voyages he found himself in London, and in the autumn of
1879 engaged himself, under the name of Bostock, as an A.B. on board the
_Zulu Queen_, about to sail for Durban.  Here he found Jans Van Ryk,
Amos Sherwin, and Eric Andersen, old companions of his coarse debauches.
A day or two after leaving harbour, he also recognised Annchen Vander
Heyden and her brother, as the reader has heard in the previous chapter.
Annchen had no suspicion that she had even seen him before; but her
brother's memory was better, though with the scornful hauteur of his
character he paid no further heed to Bostock's presence.

It will readily be believed that Bostock was not so indifferent to their
former relations.  He had devised a scheme by which he was to revenge
himself on Vander Heyden, during the ship's stay at Cape Town.  He had
resolved to follow him on shore, force him to a personal encounter, in
which, being himself a first-rate swordsman, he expected to get the
better of his antagonist, and, in event of his wounding or killing him,
make his escape to the Transvaal, which was at the time full of lawless
characters.  He had been baffled by Wyndham, who had refused him
permission to leave the ship during the stay at Cape Town.  Provoked to
fury by this failure, he had resolved to enter Vander Heyden's cabin on
the night of his return to the _Zulu Queen_, kill him, or be killed;
and, if he should prove the survivor, throw himself into the sea and
swim ashore.  His purpose was a second time defeated--in this instance
by Mr Whittaker, who occupied the next cabin to Vander Heyden, and who,
as Bostock could see through the glass in his door, was awake and
completely dressed.  Surprised as well as disconcerted, he looked
through the square of glass, and saw Whittaker engaged in counting a
number of packages, which he perceived to be rouleaus of gold.  The
strong iron-bound chest was evidently full of them; in which case, he
must have a very large sum of money with him.  This discovery turned his
thoughts into a different channel.  He took an opportunity the next day
of visiting Mr Whittaker's cabin, to make some examination of the
chest, but was surprised by the sadden entrance of its owner.  Mr
Whittaker threatened to complain to the captain, and Bostock had no
doubt he had carried out his threat.  He felt at once that if he was to
execute his designs either on Vander Heyden or the chest of specie, it
must be done before the ship reached Algoa Bay.  He had therefore
invited his three mates in evil to a conference in the hold of the
vessel.  At this he imparted to them the discovery he had made, and the
three worthies between them had hatched a plot, which was that very
night to be put into execution.

When Wyndham left Captain Ranken, he went immediately to George Rivers'
cabin, to whom he imparted the information received from the captain.
George at once agreed to do all that lay in his power, and promised to
join the first mate on deck, after he had taken a few hours' sleep.
Wyndham, on his part, went to take his supper, which was brought him by
Amos Sherwin, one of the quartermasters, his own servant, it appeared,
being ill.

The night came on suddenly, as is usual in those latitudes, and the moon
was obscured by clouds.  About ten o'clock the first mate came on deck
to take his watch.  He complained of feeling drowsy and heavy; but was
nevertheless quite able to take his work.  A steady hand was placed at
the wheel, and everything was quiet on deck.  Walters and Margetts, who
had not been disposed to turn in, were seated near the taffrail,
smoking.  Notwithstanding the darkness, the night was pleasant, and it
was possible occasionally to discern the coast-line,--which was distant
two or three miles,--though very indistinctly.  The first mate seated
himself near them, leaning his head on his hand.  A few minutes
afterwards, some one came up with a message to the steersman, and the
latter, surrendering the wheel to the newcomer, went below.  The night
wore on, and after a while the moon, forcing its way through the clouds,
lit up the scene.  The two young men now noticed that the ship appeared
to be a good deal nearer to the coast than it had been all day.  Walters
called out to the first mate to point out the fact to him.  He hailed
him once or twice, but received no answer.

"I say," he exclaimed, "Wyndham must be asleep.  Oughtn't we to wake
him, Redgy?"

"He can hardly be asleep," returned Margetts,--"a smart hand such as he
is.  But I'll go and speak to him."

He stepped up to Mr Wyndham's side, and, finding he still took no
notice, shook him.  But the mate did not bestir himself, and the two
young men perceived that he was either seriously ill, or intoxicated.

"I say, this is serious," said Redgy; "we had better go down and bring
the captain, hadn't we?  Look here, if you'll take charge of him, I'll
go to the skipper's cabin."

He hurried to the companion accordingly, and on his way encountered
George Rivers, who was coming up, according to promise, to join the
first mate.  He hastily informed him of what was going on up above; and
George, a good deal startled, hastened to the place where Wyndham was
still sitting, with Walters leaning over him.  But, while crossing the
deck, he caught sight of an object which filled him with astonishment
and alarm.  This was the coast-line, which was now clearly visible in
the broad moonlight.

"What can you be about?" he shouted to the man at the wheel.  "We are
more than half a mile nearer shore than we ought to be.  If our course
is not immediately changed, we shall run upon a reef; and, by Heaven!"
he added, a moment afterwards, "there _is_ a reef just ahead of us!
Starboard hard!--starboard, I say!  Are you drunk, or mad, that you
don't see where you are taking us?" he continued, as the man, paying no
heed to his warnings, allowed the ship to drive on straight towards the
reef.

George rushed up, and endeavoured to wrest the helm from his grasp; but
it was too late.  The next moment a grinding noise was heard, as the
ship's keel grated over a sunk rock.  Then came a tremendous crash,
which shook her from stem to stern, and the _Zulu Queen_ was lodged hard
and fast on the reef.  George collared the steersman; but he was a
powerful man, and shook off his assailant's hold.  Pulling his cap
farther over his face, he ran down the hatchway, but not before Rivers
had recognised Jans Van Ryk, a Dutch sailor, against whom Wyndham had
warned him as one of Bostock's intimate companions.

It was no use following the man.  Indeed it would have been impossible
to do so; for in another minute the hatchway was crowded with men, who
rushed up, half-dressed and in deadly terror, to know what had happened.

"Where is Mr Wyndham?" shouted the captain.  "How can he have allowed
the ship to run on a rock after this fashion, in a light where
everything is as clear as noonday?"

"Mr Wyndham is in a kind of fit, sir," said Margetts.  "He has been
sitting there without moving for the last hour or two.  You had better
go to him yourself."

The captain stepped across the deck, and took a look at the first mate's
face.

"Come here, McCarthy!" he cried to the surgeon.  "He has been drugged,
hasn't he?"

The surgeon put his hand to Wyndham's pulse, and, bending down, inhaled
his breath.

"Yes, sir; he has been drugged with opium.  This has been a preconcerted
thing!"

CHAPTER FOUR.

There was an uneasy silence for a minute or two, and then the captain
spoke again.

"There cannot be a doubt of it," he said.  "My lads," he continued,
advancing towards a number of men who were gathered in a confused huddle
on the forecastle, "I have a few words to say to you.  We have traitors
on board.  The ship has been run intentionally on the reef.  By and by a
searching inquiry will have to be made respecting it; meanwhile I shall
take the necessary steps for preserving discipline, and I call upon all
here to help me in doing so.  Let those who are willing to support me
come forward and say so."

The men looked doubtfully at one another; and presently the greater part
of them slunk off and went below.  About a dozen of the best hands
remained, and, going up to the captain, declared their resolution of
standing by him whatever might happen.

"Thank you, my hearts," said the captain; "that's cheery!  There is
nearly a dozen of you, I see.  There's Radburn, Marks, Coxwell, Daley,
Rutley, Wall, Bateman, Hurd, Hooper, and Cookesley.  I am obliged to you
all, and I hope your example may help to keep the others right.  But we
must guard against a possible outbreak.  The first thing will be to
bring out some of the arms and distribute them.  I had them all stowed
away in my cabin yesterday, half expecting something of this kind.  Come
with me, Mr Rivers, and we'll hand them up."

This was soon done, and it was found that enough had been brought up to
make an ample supply for all the party.  Besides the carbines,
revolvers, and cutlasses, there were several rifles belonging to the
officers and passengers.  The captain had two, the surgeon and first
mate one each, Vander Heyden and Moritz, George and Margetts, also had
one each; and all these gentlemen were well acquainted with the use of
their weapons.  They were a formidable party.  Even supposing that all
the crew, excepting those on deck, joined the mutineers,--as the captain
evidently feared they would,--they might well hesitate to attack so
well-armed and determined a company.  At all events, it looked as if
such was the case.

"I wonder where Bostock and the others can be," remarked Walters, when
half an hour had passed, and everything remained quiet below.

"I have no doubt where they are," said Captain Ranken.  "They are
ransacking Mr Whittaker's cabin, fancying that what they want is there,
though cleverly hidden away.  It is fortunate that they made that
mistake, as it has allowed us time to make our preparations.  Now the
next thing is to send a boat to Mossel Bay--which is the nearest place
where any ships are likely to be found--and request that something may
be sent to fetch the crew and cargo off this reef."

The pinnace--the most suitable boat for the purpose--was accordingly got
ready; and by the time this had been done, and the men chosen who were
to go in her, the first mate had recovered sufficiently to take charge
of her.  When he was informed of what had happened, he said he had no
doubt that the opium must have been given him in a glass of grog, which
he had taken before going on deck.  He had poured it out, he said, and
mixed it, when he unexpectedly received a message that the captain
wanted to speak with him immediately in the cabin.  He had hastened
thither, but found the door locked.  Supposing that the captain had gone
on deck, he had hurriedly drunk off the grog, and followed him.  The
opium must have been put in while he was out of the cabin.  He
remembered that there had been something strange in the taste; but he
was thinking of important matters, and did not notice trifles, he
supposed.

"Do you remember who it was that brought you the message?" asked Captain
Ranken.

"Not very clearly," replied Mr Wyndham; "but I fancy it was Sherwin."

"Likely enough," remarked the captain.  "He and Van Ryk are this man
Bostock's bosom friends.  Well, all this must be gone into at a later
time.  What we have to do now is to get away as quick as we can."

"There isn't any hope of getting the ship off the reef, is there?" asked
Redgy.

"Not the slightest.  She can never swim again.  But we must remember
that our chief danger is from these mutinous scoundrels.  I am convinced
this plot has been hatched since we left Cape Town.  I understand that
all you gentlemen are prepared to stand by me?" he continued, addressing
himself more particularly to Vander Heyden and Moritz, who had hitherto
said very little.

"I am prepared to take my part," answered Vander Heyden, bowing somewhat
haughtily.  "If we are attacked, I shall, of course, protect my sister
and property.  I have no doubt Mynheer Moritz will do the same."

"Certainly," said Moritz in a more friendly tone; "I am prepared to
stand by the captain, whatever may happen."

"I thank you," said the captain.  "Then we have twenty men on whom we
can rely.  I am afraid I must reduce the number to sixteen, as I cannot
send less than three men with Wyndham in the pinnace; but sixteen will,
I hope, be sufficient for our purpose.  We must keep an armed watch,--
four of us in my cabin, and four on deck,--relieving every four hours.
I will take charge of one party; Mr Rolfe, the second mate, had better
take the other.  Remember the spirit-room must be carefully watched, and
any one fired on who tries to force it."

The dawn had broken before the work was half done, and it was morning
when the pinnace, with the first mate and his men on board, took its
departure.  There was a favourable breeze inshore; and to Mossel Bay it
was only an hour or two's sail.  But it was quite uncertain how long it
might be before she could return, or rather how long it might be before
another vessel could be sent, large enough to carry off the crew and
cargo.  There might not be any such vessel in the bay, and Mr Wyndham
might have to go overland to Cape Town, before the required assistance
could be procured.  In this event, of course, there would be a much
longer delay--several days, perhaps.  If this should prove to be the
case, their situation would be far from agreeable.  To say nothing of
the danger from the mutinous sailors, if a storm should come on, the
ship might go to pieces, and their only hope then would be to get on the
reef itself, and shelter themselves as well as they could until help
came.  Vander Heyden suggested that such as chose it might be allowed to
get on board the three remaining boats, and make their way to Mossel
Bay, from whence they might get across the country to their destination
at Natal.  But the captain would not agree to this.  He pointed out that
of the three remaining boats, the launch had been so damaged when the
ship ran on the reef, that it could not swim, another--the long-boat--
was in such a position that it could not be got at, unless with the
consent of the party below, and the remaining one would not hold more
than four or five with safety.  They were but just enough as it was to
resist an attack.  If they should be further reduced in numbers, the
safety of those who remained behind would be seriously imperilled.

"And what is to become of my sister?" exclaimed Vander Heyden, "if these
scoundrels do attack us?"

"We will all die in her defence, will we not, lads?" exclaimed Captain
Ranken, looking round him.  He was answered by a cheer.

"Nay, do not think of me," said Annchen; "I am not afraid.  Any way, I
cannot allow the safety of the others to be endangered, in order to
preserve me from harm."  There was a second cry of approval.

"None of us will allow a hair of your head to be hurt," cried Margetts.

"No," said Rivers, "you may be sure of that.  But I would nevertheless
suggest that the boat should be launched, and kept in readiness for an
emergency.  If we should be attacked and overpowered, that might enable
some of us at the last moment to escape.  In any case, if a skirmish
appears imminent, Miss Vander Heyden and her brother might be put on
board, and lie off the reef until the result of the encounter is known."

"Why do you propose that, sir?" exclaimed Vander Heyden angrily.  "Do
you suppose I am a coward, that I should shrink from an encounter with
these scoundrels?"

"I implied nothing of the kind, sir," returned Rivers.  "I was only
carrying out your own suggestion.  I suppose Miss Vander Heyden could
not be put into the boat with no one to take care of her?"

Vander Heyden would have made an angry answer, but the captain
interposed.

"You are quite wrong, Mr Vander Heyden, and, I must add, ungrateful
too.  Mr Rivers merits our thanks for his suggestion, which I shall at
once put in force.  We had better launch the boat at once, while the
deck is in our possession.  As soon as she is in the water, we can put a
few provisions in her, and then she can lie off at a little distance.
We had better set to work upon that at once."

All hands went to work accordingly with a will, and presently the gig
was lowered, and got ready for sailing.  Then dinner was served, and the
afternoon passed quietly away.  Bostock and his companions, if they had
intended any violence, appeared to have abandoned the idea.  Probably
the captain's promptitude had disheartened them,--so it was thought,--
and as they knew the pinnace had been sent off to Mossel Bay, they were
aware that assistance would probably come from the shore in a few hours'
time.

Late in the afternoon the captain, who was very tired, went down to get
a few hours' sleep.  He was aroused not long afterwards by Rivers.

"Captain," said the latter, "I fear mischief is brewing."

"What makes you suppose that?" said the captain, who had roused himself
on the instant.

"There are two things I don't like.  In the first place, the men must
have got into the spirit-room--"

"Hasn't careful watch been kept upon it?" asked the captain.

"Yes," said George, "most careful watch.  No one has approached the door
the whole day.  They must have broken into the room another way.  Any
way, there is furious drinking going on on the lower deck.  I clambered
round on the outside, and could see what was passing.  Bostock, Van Ryk,
and Sherwin are inciting the men to drink.  Half of them, indeed, are
drunk already."

"Could you hear what they are saying?" asked the captain.

"Not very distinctly; there was too much shouting and yelling.  But I
could make out that they were inciting the men to attack us."

"They would hardly do that," answered the captain.  "They know that we
are armed, and on our guard."

"No doubt, but they are armed too."

"Armed? are you sure?  I myself conveyed all the arms in the ship into
the cabin, on the night after we left Cape Town."

"In that case, there is either a traitor among the men who have access
to your cabin, or they have brought their own arms on board.  All the
fellows we suspect are provided with cutlasses and revolvers, and I
could see more lying about on the tables and benches."

"Was Andersen, my servant, among them?"

"Yes, he was one of the most forward, apparently, of any."

"He is the traitor, then.  But that is of little consequence now.  Do
you think they will make their attack soon?"

"Not for another hour or two, I should say.  They may ultimately succeed
in getting the men to join them; but they are not ripe for it yet."

"An hour or two may be time enough.  Come with me, Rivers; I shall want
your help."

The captain went on deck, and, calling three or four of his best hands
together, told them what he had learned.  By his instructions, they
provided eight or ten stout spars, which they carried down below and
placed as a barricade, at the distance of about eight or ten feet from
the captain's cabin, lashing the ends of the spars, so as to make it
impossible for any one to pass.  Then the other hatchways were secured,
and a man set to guard each.  The captain next went down, accompanied by
Rivers and Vander Heyden, taking with him the second mate, Rolfe, as
well as Marks, Daley, Wall, and Bateman, four of the stoutest and most
trustworthy of the sailors.  He placed these in positions which would
command the barricade, some inside the cabin, some in the passage.  The
strictest silence was to be observed, and no one was to fire until the
word was given.  The captain then lighted his dark lantern, obscuring
the light until the moment of action should arrive.  Annchen had been
sent on deck under the charge of Moritz, Vander Heyden having insisted
on remaining below.  But Whittaker, Margetts, and Walters had
constituted themselves her special bodyguard.

When all had taken their places, a long silence ensued.  The shouts of
the men below were now more plainly heard.  It was evident that they
were fast becoming drunk, and at any moment the expected attack might be
made.  Presently the noise below ceased.

"They are getting ready," whispered the captain to George; "we shall
have them up in another moment."

His words had hardly been uttered, before they were made good by the
sound of feet stealthily ascending the stairs.

"They think to take us unawares," continued the captain.  "They don't
suspect anything about the barricade."

Presently there was a cry of surprise, followed by a volley of oaths.
Then a light was struck, and the mutineers were seen trying to tear down
the spars which blocked their passage.

"You had better leave off that, and go below!" shouted Captain Ranken.
"We are prepared for you.  If you attempt to remove those spars, you
will take the consequences."

"Let fly at them," said a voice, which the captain recognised as that of
Bostock,--"let fly at them, and particularly at that Dutchman."

Half a dozen pistols were discharged, three of them directly levelled at
Vander Heyden, who was standing close to the captain.  He had a narrow
escape.  One of the bullets would have struck him in the heart if
Captain Ranken had not at the moment changed his position, and it struck
his epaulet.  A second grazed his temple, the third was lodged in the
partition behind him.

"Your blood be on your own heads!" cried the skipper.  "Fire on them!"
A general discharge followed, by which it was evident considerable
execution was done.  Several were seen to fall, and among them Bostock
and Van Ryk; but whether these were killed or dangerously wounded did
not appear.  They were either able, however, to crawl down below, or
were carried off by their companions.

"They got that hot and strong, sir," remarked Rolfe; "I don't think
they'll try it again."

"It depends a good deal on whether the leaders are killed or severely
wounded," returned the captain.  "As for Bostock, you hit him fairly,
Mr Vander Heyden.  The bullet struck him below the hip.  But whether it
was a slight or a severe wound, I can't say."

"I think it was only a flesh wound," rejoined the Dutchman.  "The other
fellow--Van Ryk, his name is, I believe--was more seriously hurt, I
fancy."

"I hope he is.  If those two men should be silenced, we needn't be
afraid of the others.  Well, we are safe for the night, I think, and we
must hope that help will come to-morrow."

The captain's words were so far made good, that the rest of the night
passed in quiet.  The forenoon of the next day was a time of great
anxiety, which no one felt so keenly as the captain.  He knew that if
Wyndham did not return, it could be only because some accident had
happened to his boat, or because he had been unable to obtain any help
in Mossel Bay, and had been compelled to go overland to Cape Town.  The
distance thither from Mossel Bay was more than two hundred miles, and
the means of getting there not easy to procure.  Even if he could find
horses to carry him the whole distance, it would probably take him a day
or two to reach the town.  Then, no doubt, a vessel would be fitted with
as little delay as possible.  But probably two or three days more must
elapse before it could reach the reef.

Altogether, it was not unlikely that a full week would pass, during
which they would have to remain in their present situation, unless,
indeed, they could attract the attention of some passing vessel.  As the
hours went by, the captain grew more and more despondent; and at last it
became only too evident that Wyndham's speedy return could not be looked
for.

"We are in for this, Rivers," he said, as they stood together on deck,
looking anxiously toward shore, half an hour or so before sunset;
"unless we are picked up by some ship, we may have to stay a week on
this reef, and there is no disguising that, if it should be so, our
lives are in the greatest danger."

"Do you apprehend a storm coming on, sir?" asked Rivers.

"I see no signs of that, though in this climate the changes of weather
are so rapid that one is never secure for six hours together; but that
is not what I am afraid of.  These men will get desperate--the
ringleaders, that is.  They know there is a rope round their necks in
consequence of last night's work, and they will get away from the reef
at all hazards before Wyndham's return, if by possibility they can."

"I don't see how they can force their way on deck in the face of our
fire, any more than they did last night, sir; I don't see how they could
remove the barricade either."

"They might contrive to cut the ropes which hold one of the spars," said
the captain,--"that is, if they could work in the dark.  But I shall
take care that the passage is kept lighted all night, so they won't
attempt that I think they will try to blow up the hatchways.  They have
got plenty of powder, and it would not be a difficult thing to do.  They
would lose some men in forcing their way up; but their numbers so
greatly exceed ours, that, once on deck, we should have no chance with
them."

"You think all the ship's company will go along with Bostock and Van
Ryk, then?"

"I am a good deal afraid of it.  I don't think they'd have done this of
their own heads.  But these two rascals are exceedingly clever, and
will, I have no doubt, make out a plausible story.  They will persuade
the poor fellows that, if they are caught, they will be charged with
mutiny for what has been done already.  They'll tell them it is their
only hope to get off the reef before help comes, and they must cut all
our throats to accomplish that."

"And we can't take to the boats, and be gone ourselves?"

"That is what the Dutchman proposed yesterday.  But I then pointed out
that we cannot get at the long-boat without exposing ourselves to the
fire of the mutineers.  Nor would they, of course, let us repair the
other boat, even if she could be repaired.  I only guessed then that
they would attack us.  It is unfortunately only too certain now.  We
should simply be playing their game.  If they could overpower us, or, in
plain English, murder us, they would no doubt go off in the three boats,
or make a raft, if the boats would not hold them all.  But while we
remain here, that would be impossible.

"No," resumed the captain presently; "we must go on as we have begun.
It really looks as though the men were unable to devise any plan of
attacking us; in which case it is most probable that they will submit,
and throw themselves upon my mercy.  It is only against a few, you see,
that direct mutiny can be proved.  Nor have I quite given up the hope
that Wyndham may have found a ship at Mossel Bay, though her sailing may
have been delayed.  Perhaps the men also are reckoning on the
possibility of that, and will not commit themselves further, until they
feel sure that he will have to go on to Cape Town for help.  But all
that we can do is to keep a bright look-out, and be ready for action at
a moment's notice.  I shall go and lie down now for two or three hours,
as I feel quite worn out; but I shall trust to you, Rivers, to rouse me
if there should be the slightest necessity.  You are the only man on
board I can thoroughly trust, for, though Rolfe and McCarthy are good
fellows, they are not equal to an emergency.  But you know what you are
about."

They parted.  George took a turn or two up and down the deck, apparently
buried in thought.  Then he laid aside his cutlass and pistols, put on a
sailor's jacket that was lying on the deck, and tied a handkerchief
round his head.  Having completed these preparations without attracting
notice, he disappeared below.

It was about three hours afterwards that the captain was a second time
roused from his sleep by a hand laid on his chest.  He started up
instantly, and was about to speak, when George Rivers, who was his
visitor, stopped him.

"Don't wake the others, sir," he said.  "If you will come on deck, I
have something important to tell you.  I wish to say, sir," he continued
when they were seated out of the sight and hearing of any of their
companions, "that I have been down among the men, and have learned
pretty accurately what they mean to do."

"Down among the men--among the mutineers?" exclaimed the captain.  "How
did you manage that?"

"Well, it was not so very difficult, sir.  Several of the men had left
their jackets on deck, as well as a handkerchief or two.  I put two of
these on, pulling the handkerchief well over my forehead, so that by the
dim light on the lower deck it was hardly possible that I could be
recognised, even if any one noticed me, which was hardly likely.  Then I
untied one of the ropes, and so got through the barricade.  I went to
the head of the ladder and listened.  There was loud and angry talk
going on, and several of the speakers seemed to be more than half drunk.
I crept cautiously down, ready to make a bolt up again if any one
hailed me, but they were all too busy to notice me.  I crept into a
corner and lay down, as if asleep, drawing a sailcloth half over me.  I
lay there for a couple of hours, I should think, and learned all I
wanted to know.  After that I took advantage of a violent quarrel which
broke out among them, to creep up-stairs in the same way as I had crept
down, and then secured the spar."

"You have done nobly?" exclaimed the skipper.  "And what have you
learned?"

"I learned, first of all, that nothing will be attempted to-night,
though an attempt will be made to-morrow.  In the first place, it
appears that Sherwin was one of those killed in the skirmish, though
they contrived to carry him off.  Van Ryk and Bostock were wounded,
though not severely.  Bostock was hit in the right leg, and is unable to
use it, though the wound is already greatly better.  They won't stir
unless he leads them, and that he can't do this evening."

"That is fortunate.  They are not afraid of Wyndham's return, then?"

"No; they seem to feel sure that he has failed to find a ship in Mossel
Bay.  Indeed, one of the men said he had gone over to the bay from Cape
Town, only a day or two before the _Zulu Queen_ sailed, and there was no
ship there, and none expected."

"I feared as much," said the captain.  "Well, then, what are the men's
intentions?  Do they all go along with Bostock?"

"I am afraid they do," returned George.  "Bostock has persuaded them
that there is an enormous sum of money in gold stowed away in the
cabin--enough, as he told them, to make them all rich for life.  If it
hadn't been for the barricade, he said, of which no one had any idea,
this would have been in their possession already.  But as it is, it is
theirs as soon as they choose to seize it.  They evidently believe they
can get on deck whenever they please--"

"Did you ascertain how?" interrupted the captain eagerly.  "Not exactly,
sir, but I fancy they mean to blow a hole in the ship's side, and so get
down on to the reef, which at low water extends for several feet beyond
the ship--"

"Yes, yes," said the captain, "I was afraid so; no doubt they could do
that.  Go on."

"Well, I expect they will make their way out in that manner, and,
although we may be able to kill half a dozen of them before they knock
us on the head, they would certainly do so, sooner or later.  None of
our party are to be spared, except, I am sorry to say, Miss Vander
Heyden.  Bostock means to carry her off with him."

"The brute!" exclaimed the captain.  "He shan't do that, Rivers."

"No, sir.  I would blow out her brains with my own hand sooner than
allow it?"

"And so, to do him justice, would her brother, or Mr Moritz either--
nay, I am persuaded she would do it herself!  Well, Rivers, we are in
for this, and we must get out of it the best way we can.  But I must own
I am at my wits' end.  Can you suggest anything?"

"It has occurred to me, captain, that we might possibly, if we were hard
driven, get on to the other part of the reef yonder, and take provisions
with us enough to last two or three days.  They couldn't get at us
there, I imagine."

The captain looked in the direction to which George pointed.  There was
another reef, or, more properly, another part of the same reef, divided
from that on which the ship was lying by a deep channel some twenty or
thirty yards wide.  It rose a good deal higher out of the water, and was
so plainly visible at all states of the tide that nothing but design, or
the most culpable carelessness, could have caused the disaster.

"That is a good thought," he said.  "If ever I command a ship again, I
must make you my first mate.  That reef will be our salvation.  We must
not lose a moment in getting across, and taking all we want with us.  Go
and wake all the hands, and bring them on deck at once.  If we wait for
the moon, the rascals may see us.  It is lucky that we have Marks and
Cookesley, the ship's carpenters, among our party."

CHAPTER FIVE.

The sailors who had remained loyal to Captain Ranken obeyed his summons
with prompt alacrity.  They were reduced to seven, three having gone
with the first mate in the pinnace.  The captain gave them their orders,
which they proceeded to put into execution as rapidly and with as little
noise as possible.  The boat was brought immediately under the ship's
side, and a number of articles put into it, the first being the
carpenter's chests, and a load of spars and planks from the workshop.
Then the boat returned for boxes and barrels, containing provisions to
last for a fortnight, together with all the firearms and cutlasses on
deck.  Then a quantity of bedding, knives, forks, and crockery, and a
large tarpaulin which had been used to form a shelter from the heat for
the passengers.  A number of empty boxes and barrels were also lowered
into the sea, which, as the tide was then running, would be washed up on
the further reef.  There was a great deal to be done, but the hands were
all active and willing; and by the time when the moon rose all the most
necessary articles had been ferried over.

As soon as the light permitted, the men, under the direction of the
carpenters, began putting up a hut at the spot indicated by the captain.
They fortunately found one or two crevices in the rock, in which
uprights could be fixed.  A long spar was run across from two of these,
and the tarpaulin stretched over it.  Then four shorter posts were
placed at the corners, but at two of these points there were no
crevices, and the spars had to be placed in tall barrels filled with
stones.  The sides were next filled in with planks, with a door and an
opening to serve as a window at the end farthest from the wreck.  The
gig continued her voyages under the conduct of Captain Ranken, George,
and the second mate, and almost everything that would be required was
brought over.  Mr Whittaker's chest had been one of the first things
cared for.

By daybreak a very tolerable hut had been constructed; and the captain
directed them, as the next job, to put up a barricade extending the
whole length of the hut on the side facing the ship.  This was formed of
barrels and chests containing large stones, of which there was abundance
on the reef, the spaces between them being similarly filled.  When this
had been completed, it was broad day, and it was impossible to expect
that the crew, who by this time must have slept off their drunken
debauch, could be kept any longer in ignorance of their officers'
proceedings.  The second mate was sent, therefore, to inform the
passengers of the removal to the further reef, and convey them over to
it as quickly as possible.  They were taken by surprise, but complied
readily enough; only Vander Heyden making some complaint that the cabin
party had been kept in ignorance of what they ought to have been told.

While they were being ferried across in the boat, the captain and George
returned for the last time to the deck.

"We are well out of this, sir," remarked George; "we shall be safe over
there."

"Yes, unless they come across to attack us."

"Come across? what, in the long-boat?"

"Yes, in the long-boat.  They can't launch it while we have possession
of the deck.  But as the ship is left to them, there will be nothing to
prevent their doing it."

"It would be a desperate thing to attempt, landing on the reef under
such a fire as we could open on them."

"No doubt, if they attempted it by day.  But in the dark they could get
ashore unseen by us, and perhaps make one or two voyages before we found
it out.  Besides, the long-boat will hold a great number of men.  We
must not risk it."

"What do you propose then, sir?"

"To destroy the boat," answered the captain.  "It is easily enough done,
if you will lend a hand.  But first, are all the others safely landed on
the reef?"

"Yes.  The boat, with Mr Rolfe in her, is just coming back for us."

"Very good.  Then we will go to work."

He went below and fetched two iron pots, in each of which he placed a
heavy charge of powder, rolling a piece of rag round it to prevent its
escape.  Then, motioning to George to pick up some heavy blocks of wood,
he moved noiselessly across the deck, and laid the pots in the bottom of
the boat, one at each end, with the blocks to keep them down.  Next he
laid a train of powder with a slow match, the end of which he ignited.

They now crept down to the boat, and put off.  They had almost got
across, when a loud explosion, followed almost simultaneously by a
second, was heard.  Immediately afterwards the men poured up on deck,
having evidently contrived some way for themselves of getting up there.
Some of them carried carbines, and they might have fired on the captain
and his two companions, if these had not hastily drawn up the boat and
made for the shelter of the shed.

"Safe now, sir," remarked Rolfe, "unless they swim across to us."

"They'll hardly try that on," rejoined the captain.  "They would be an
easy mark for our rifles, and they know we have several and can use
them.  We roust put a man to watch their movements; but I think that is
all that will be needed.  If breakfast is ready, we may go to it with an
appetite."

This had hardly been completed, when Hooper, the man set to watch, came
in with the information that a flag of truce had been hoisted on the
vessel, and three men, Gott, Shirley, and Sullivan had come down to the
edge of the water to parley with the captain.

"Are they unarmed?" asked the second mate.

"Yes, sir," answered Hooper.

"Can you see anything of the other men?" inquired the doctor.

"There are none on the reef, sir, but I thought I saw one or two peeping
over the ship's bulwarks."

"I guessed as much," said McCarthy.  "You ought to think twice, sir,
before you go to meet these men.  You would be an easy mark for any one
hiding in the forecastle; and they may think that, if they once got you
out of the way, they could do anything they pleased."

"That's possible," said Captain Ranken.  "But I can't help that.  There
is a chance of avoiding bloodshed, and it is my duty to go."

"Well, any way, let us take any precautions we can," urged Rolfe.  "Five
or six of us can take our rifles, and show ourselves over the top of the
barricade.  They will see that if they have you at their mercy, we have
Gott and Shirley and Sullivan at ours."

"You may do that, if you like," said the skipper.  "There is never any
harm in showing that one is prepared."

The mate's suggestion was acted on.  Half a dozen marksmen, including
the two Dutchmen, Rivers, Margetts, Whittaker, and the mate, took their
guns, climbed on to the top of the barricade, and then stationed
themselves behind it, the muzzles of their rifles projecting from
between the stones.  Then the captain, accompanied by McCarthy, went
down to the edge of the reef, and, hailing the three men opposite, asked
what they had to say.

"We're very sorry," said Gott,--"sorry as you're displeased, sir.  But
the most of us don't know what we've done."

"Do you call running the ship on a reef, and then trying to plunder her,
and after that attempting to murder us, nothing?"

"It was only one or two as did that; we didn't wreck the ship, or join
in the attack as was made on you, sir," said Sullivan.

"I am glad to hear it.  What do you want now?"

"We want you and the others to come over here again, and we'll go back
to our duty," answered Gott.

"And what about the mutineers?" asked the captain.

"There was but a few of they, and they was mostly killed in the
scrimmage."

"Indeed! were Bostock and Van Ryk killed, may I ask?"

There was no answer.  The skipper repeated his question, and then
Shirley said sullenly, "I don't know as they was."

"Very good.  Van Ryk was the man who ran the ship on the reef; Mr
Rivers saw him do it.  Bostock fired deliberately at Mr Vander Heyden;
_I_ saw him do it.  I don't want to inquire too closely what others may
have done, but these two are clearly guilty.  If they are put into irons
and brought over here, together with all the arms in your possession, we
will return to the ship, and when help comes, no proceedings will be
taken against anybody, except the two prisoners.  These are the only
terms I shall offer you.  I shall expect to receive an answer in an hour
or two."

The men, after exchanging a few words, sullenly withdrew.  The captain,
and McCarthy, who had been chosen to accompany the skipper, because the
men are always unwilling to hurt the doctor, also beat a hasty retreat,
and informed their companions what had passed.

"Do you think they will give in, sir?" asked Whittaker.

"No," replied the captain.  "I fear Van Ryk and Bostock have too much
weight with them.  Besides, sailors on these occasions are apt to stick
together.  If we don't get an answer within the hour, we must look for
broken heads."

The hour passed, and then another hour or two.  The after noon slipped
away, and there was no return of the deputies.  The men kept quite out
of sight.  But the sound of hammering and sawing and the buzz of voices
were plainly audible.

"They are up to something, sir," said Rolfe; "making a raft, most
likely, by which they hope to reach the shore.  They've plenty of
materials, and some smart hands among them.  Don't you think that is
likely, sir?"

"I think it very likely," answered the skipper; "only I am afraid they
are more likely to use it to make an attack on us than to reach the
shore--or rather, they will attempt the latter, but only when they have
carried out the former.  They won't go without the money if they can
help it.  But the first thing for us will be to ascertain what they are
really about, and we can do that, though not without some risk.  The
boat is still lying off at the place where we moored her when we came
across for the last time.  If we got aboard her we might row out to the
other side of the reef, keeping at a safe distance, and then we should
find out what they are doing."

"No doubt, sir," rejoined Rolfe; "but would they let us do it?  I am
pretty sure there are one or two fellows lying under the bulwarks,
watching us from the deck.  They could pick off any one who tried that."

"I am afraid that is only too likely," said Captain Ranken; "but it is
so important to us to know what they are up to, that I think we must
attempt it.  Who will volunteer for the service?"

He was answered by half a dozen eager voices, declaring each man's
readiness to make the adventure.

"Very good, gentlemen; I thank you heartily," said the skipper.  "The
men I want must be good divers, if possible, but certainly good
swimmers.  They must also, of course, understand the management of a
boat."

"I can't swim, I am sorry to say," cried Walters.

"I can swim, but I am no diver," said Rolfe.

"And I can swim and dive, but I am a poor hand at managing a boat,"
added Margetts.  "But look here, captain, here's your man--George
Rivers.  He swims like a fish, and dives like a cormorant, and can
manage a boat first-rate."

"He will do for one, no doubt," said the captain.  "And I think, Mynheer
Moritz, you offered, did you not?  You, I know, can both swim and dive,
and, I believe, understand managing a boat?"

"Yes, sir," returned Moritz, "I believe, without vanity, I can say I do.
I shall be pleased to undertake this in company with Mr Rivers."

"Very good," said the skipper.  "That is settled, then.  Now, gentlemen,
this is what you have to do.  You must get into the water here, out of
the sight of the ship, and swim round, keeping under water as much as
possible.  Then get under the lee of the boat, and bring her round,
sheltering yourselves under the cover of her side.  Of course our fears
may be groundless.  There may be no one lying in wait.  But I fancy I
have seen heads looking from time to time over the ship's sides, and it
is best to take every precaution.  Now be off as quick as possible, for
the daylight is dying out."

George and Moritz complied.  Going to the farther point of the reef,
they stripped, and, slipping silently into the water, began swimming
round the reef.  When they got to the point where their heads would be
visible from the ship, they dived, and swam under water, neither of them
reappearing until their heads came to the surface close under the bows
of the boat.

"Capitally managed!" cried the captain.  "If they get her out from
shore, all will be safe.  I really hope our apprehensions were
unfounded."

But at this moment two or three guns were fired from the ship, and
several bullets spattered in the water.  Moritz, who had incautiously
raised his head, had a narrow escape.  George seized and dragged him
down, himself only just escaping a bullet which whistled over his head.
The boat, however, was by this time in motion, and they were enabled to
drag it along with them, without again exposing themselves until they
were out of shot.  Then they climbed in and rowed to the place whence
they had started.  Here the captain received them with many
commendations and thanks; and, while the two adventurers were resuming
their clothes, went off in the boat with two of the men to the other
side of the wreck, taking care to keep at a safe distance.  He returned
in half an hour with a very uncomfortable report.

"Have you found out what they are about, sir?" asked Margetts.

"I am sorry to say I have.  They mean mischief, and, I fear, will be
only too likely to be able to work it.  They are putting together a
raft, and are getting on fast with it."

"But may not that be only to enable them to make their escape to the
shore?" suggested Walters.

"If that had been their intention, they would not have fired on Rivers
and Mr Moritz.  There is no use in disguising facts.  They mean to
attack us."

"But how can they contrive, sir?" asked the second mate.  "Neither wind
nor tide is favourable to them.  A raft is a very difficult thing to
manage at all times, and they would have to approach this part of the
reef under the fire of all our guns."

"You are right, Rolfe," replied the captain; "but unfortunately the raft
is not the only work they are engaged on.  Somehow it appears that the
launch was not so much injured as I had supposed.  Two or three smart
hands have been employed on it, and it looked as though it had been made
all right again.  What they mean to do, I expect, is to launch both raft
and boat at nightfall, and the one will tow the other till our reef is
reached.  Then they will land in the dark, and then either take up a
position behind our barricade, from which they can fire upon us whenever
we go in or out of our hut, or else make an assault upon us as soon as
the moon rises, and overpower us by superior numbers.  The first would
be the surest plan for themselves, but their dread of Wyndham's return
may induce them to adopt the other.  They outnumber us, remember, at
least six to one."

"It is only too likely that you are right," said George; "but what do
you advise?"

"I think, in the first place, we must complete the barricade round the
hut.  At present we are open on two sides to a sudden rush, which would
overpower us by force of numbers.  Behind, the rise of the rock is so
precipitous that they could only climb it with great difficulty, one by
one.  We must place our best marksmen up there, and the others behind
our barricades down below.  We must put a man, when the darkness comes
on, at the very extremity of the reef, nearest to the wreck.  He will be
able to distinguish what they are doing sufficiently well to tell us
when they are launching their raft.  It cannot, I know, be completed for
many hours yet.  As soon as it does put off, we can burn a blue light,--
I took care last night to bring some with me,--and that will enable us
to fire on them, while approaching and landing, with effect.  We may be
fortunate enough to kill their leaders, in which case the others will
submit at once."

"If I catch sight of that Cargill," exclaimed Vander Heyden, "he will
not trouble us any more!  Ha, Vrank?"

"No," responded Moritz; "he doesn't deserve much mercy, and I don't
imagine he would show us much."

"None at all, I fear," assented the captain.  "But I don't desire his
death on that account, but because he is leading these poor misguided
fellows into crime and ruin.  But no more of him.  If we mean to put up
our barricades, we must go to work at once."

"All right, captain!" said Rolfe; "we will not delay a minute."

A quantity of barrels and boxes, with which the reef was still strewn,
were brought up, and filled with stones, as well as some heaps of
wreck-wood, which had been thrown up above high-water mark.  In two
hours' time a barricade had been erected sufficiently strong to repel
any sudden assault.  Then attention was turned to the high ground behind
the hut.  Large stones and pieces of wood were laid along the highest
ridge, behind which the riflemen might fire in safety.  This party
consisted of McCarthy, Rolfe, George Rivers, Margetts, Whittaker, and
Walters, together with Vander Heyden and Moritz.  The captain took the
command of the party below, which consisted of the seven sailors.  Here
also Miss Vander Heyden was placed, under the captain's special
protection.  When the hut was first erected, a space had been
partitioned off to serve as Annchen's sleeping-place, and George, during
the captain's absence in the boat, had employed his time in doubling
this partition, and filling up the space between the boards with stones,
so that even if all the other defences were carried, she would still
have a last place of shelter.

When the job was done, the whole party sat down to rest and take some
refreshment.  The evening came on before they had finished their meal,
and in a short time it was quite dark.

"If they mean to come," remarked the captain, "it will be pretty soon
now.  The noise of hammering has ceased for the last half-hour; they
must have completed their job; and now it will be seen whether they are
going to make for the shore, or attack us."

It was an anxious moment.  The whole party sat in front of their
barricade, on the stones or logs of which it was composed, listening
intently to catch any sound which might determine the momentous question
at issue.  Presently the silence was broken by Coxwell, the sailor whom
the captain had stationed at the farthest point of the reef.  He came up
with the information that the boat and raft were both afloat, and by the
lanterns they had lighted he could see the men getting on board.

"We must all take our places," said the captain.  "I will go down to the
water's edge and listen.  Mr Rivers, be ready to put a match to the
blue lights as soon as I call to you."

All obeyed in silence.  Annchen took leave of her brother and Moritz,
and bade also a general farewell to the others; her eye, as George could
not help fancying, lighting with special kindness on him.  When they had
all taken up their stations, there was a silence of some minutes, and
then the voice of the captain was heard,--"Light up!  I hear them
coming!"  Rivers obeyed; and a lurid flame suddenly sprang forth, by the
light of which the boat and raft were both distinctly visible, the
former with only five or six rowers aboard, the other following in tow,
and crowded with armed men.

"The party on the rocks fire on the boat?" shouted Captain Ranken;
"those in the shed on the raft!"

He was obeyed on the instant.  Eight rifles cracked almost at the same
moment from the rocks.  The steersman and two of the rowers dropped dead
in their places.  The other two flung themselves into the bottom of the
boat, wounded, but not killed.  Several also on board the raft fell into
the sea, or into their companions' arms, and a cry for quarter was
raised.  But the next moment the voice of Bostock sounded loud and
clear.

"Step into the water!" he cried.  "We are already on the reef; it is not
above our knees."

He sprang out himself as he spoke, and began wading ashore, followed,
after a moment's pause, by the other men.  Several volleys were
discharged from the barricade and rocks, not without their effect,
though the mark was now more difficult to hit.  In a few minutes the
mutineers had found refuge, as the captain had anticipated, on the outer
side of the barricade, which the besieged, if they may so be called, had
run up for their own protection.

The riflemen were now called down from the rocks, and joined their
companions in the shed.  The fire not having been returned from either
the boat or the raft, no injuries had been sustained.  But the situation
of Captain Ranken and his companions still appeared to be almost
hopeless; as the fight would now be carried on on almost equal terms,
and the mutineers still outnumbered them in the proportion of four to
one.  It seemed most likely now that they would try to surround the shed
on all four sides, firing through the crevices, which were as available
to them as to those within, and so soon pick off all the defenders.  But
for this light was necessary, and they were therefore waiting for the
moon to rise.

While they were still waiting in anxious suspense, a stone with a paper
wrapped round it was thrown through the open window.  The captain picked
it up and read it.  It had no name attached to it, but professed to come
from the whole of the crew, except those with Captain Ranken.  It stated
that the hut was completely surrounded, and that the assailants had the
lives of all those within at their mercy.  But they wished to avoid
further bloodshed.  If the five thousand pounds which had been removed
from Mr Whittaker's cabin should be given up, together with all the
arms in the possession of the besieged party, they would go quietly away
without hurting any one.  But if this was refused, an attack would be
made as soon as the moon rose, and no man's life would be spared.  It
was added, that if no answer was sent before moonrise, that would be
regarded as a refusal.

When the captain had finished reading, no one spoke for a while.  At
last McCarthy broke the silence,--

"Have you any idea, sir, of complying with their demand?  You see they
do not ask--what we could not have agreed to--the surrender of Miss
Vander Heyden."

"No," said Mr Whittaker; "and I do not think my employers would blame
you, if you did comply.  I daresay we should all agree to bear some
portion of the ransom."

Several of the others broke in together, declaring their willingness to
pay any portion in their power.

"What do you say, Mr Rivers?" asked the captain, observing that he had
not spoken.

"I would pay my share, sir," answered George; "anything that is in my
power.  But I fear it would be useless.  The best hope these men have in
escaping the penalty of their mutiny lies in our death.  If we were to
surrender ourselves to them, as this letter proposes, I think they would
murder us in cold blood--all except--"

"You need not mention her name, sir," interposed Vander Heyden.  "But
you say well.  I know the villain who leads these men; he is quite
capable of that, or any other atrocity.  We had better die sword in
hand, like men, than be stabbed like sheep."

"You speak only too truly, sir," said the captain.  "Our choice lies
between one kind of death or another; and I, for one, choose that of a
brave man, who will have no trafficking with villains."

He looked round him, and read approval in every eye.  "You are right,
sir," said McCarthy briefly, and the others echoed the sentiment.

No one spoke for the next ten minutes.  Each was busy with his own
thoughts; such as are likely to fill men's minds when on the verge of
eternity.  The time seemed painfully protracted, and all wished that the
trial was over.  Suspense was worse than death itself.  At last a sudden
burst of yellow light streaming through the window warned them that
their time had come.  The next moment the door was burst in, and a crowd
of men, armed with cutlasses and pistols, endeavoured to force an
entrance.  They were met by a general volley, which killed or wounded
nearly all the foremost assailants.  But the rush from behind was kept
up.  Several forced themselves into the hut, and a hand-to-hand struggle
ensued.  Miss Vander Heyden had been placed behind the screen which
Rivers had strengthened for her; and he shouted to her, when the attack
began, to throw herself on the ground, as the best chance there was of
her escaping injury.  The screen caught the eye of Bostock as he entered
in the rush, and he and Van Ryk instantly made for it.  Vander Heyden
threw himself in Bostock's way, and a fierce encounter began between
them; while, George in like manner interposing between Van Ryk and the
screen, they were soon engaged in deadly combat.

By this time the hut was nearly filled with the mutineers.  The captain,
with McCarthy on one side of him and Redgy on the other, was desperately
defending himself against two or three assailants.  The third mate,
Whittaker, and Walters, had been all struck down, and several of the men
were mortally wounded, when suddenly there came from the sea a strange
and unexpected sound--the boom of a cannon!

The strife was instantly suspended.  Each man looked in doubt and wonder
upon his opponent's face.  Then the captain's voice was once more
heard,--

"Throw down your arms, you mutinous dogs, and yield yourselves
prisoners, or every man among you shall swing at the yard-arm before
another hour has passed!"

CHAPTER SIX.

About a week had elapsed.  George and Redgy were standing on the deck of
the Government steamer Wasp, leaning over the bulwarks and contemplating
the appearance of the harbour of Port Natal; which lay immediately in
front of them, with the town of Durban in the middle distance, and the
Natal country in the background.  The ship could proceed no farther.
The bar across the harbour mouth, on which seething masses of foam were
breaking, presented an insuperable obstacle.

"How are we ever to get in, George?" asked Redgy.  "I suppose ships _do_
get in somehow.  Indeed it is plain they do, for there is a lot of them
lying off the quays yonder.  But how they surmounted that bar, it is
beyond me to imagine.  I should think even the Yankee captain, who
declared he could run his ship anywhere where there had been a heavy
dew, would be puzzled here."

"I don't suppose Captain Deedes will take his ship in," answered George.
"He has only to deliver and take back despatches to Cape Town, and
these can be brought to him out here."

"What, in a boat, I suppose?" suggested Margetts; "and that is the way
we shall go in, then?  Well, every man knows his own business best; but
I should have thought there was a very comfortable chance of any boat
being swamped!"

"Wait, and you'll see, Redgy.  Captain Deedes told me we should be safe
ashore before twelve o'clock."

"Did he tell you anything about what is going on at Mossel Bay?" asked
Margetts.  "I know he has had letters from thence.  I saw them brought
aboard half an hour ago."

"Yes, a good deal.  I am sorry to say Rolfe is dead; that is the fifth
of our party that was killed.  Walters and three of the sailors were
dead before we sailed, you know."

"I am sorry for Rolfe.  How are McCarthy and the captain and Whittaker?"

"They are all doing well.  The captain's was only a slight cut across
the hand.  He was much more hurt by Bostock's and Van Ryk's escape than
by that wound."

"I don't wonder.  It is certainly a pity that they were not run up to
the yard-arm, as half a dozen others may be, who were less guilty than
they were.  I can't think how they managed to get off."

"Well, I can understand it.  Van Ryk and I were having a desperate
tussle, and we had been driven close to the door of the shed.  When I
heard the gun from the _Wasp_, our encounter was broken off, and I
thought nothing more of my antagonist for the next ten minutes.  As for
Bostock, who was, I noticed, a first-rate swordsman, he had disarmed
Vander Heyden, and would, I daresay, have run him through, if the cannon
hadn't been fired at that moment.  I judge both he and Van Ryk, who had
their wits well about them, made off as fast as they could to the place
where the gig had been left, when Moritz and I landed from her."

"Ay, just at the farthest point behind the ridge, I remember," said
Margetts.  "She was almost out of sight."

"Exactly.  Well, they fell in with Sullivan and one or two other
fellows, got aboard, and rowed straight off for land.  I daresay they
had reached it, before their absence was discovered."

"Very likely.  What do you think they will do, then?"

"Most likely land on some solitary spot, scuttle their boat, and make
their way into the interior.  They have their carbines, and will have no
difficulty in providing themselves with food.  Perhaps they will make
their way to the diamond fields, and there change their names, and make
a pot of money; or perhaps they'll take to hunting or farming, and
you'll meet them some years hence, driving bullock waggons, or taking
flocks of sheep to the market--thriving men and respectable--at least
according to their ideas of respectability; or perhaps, once more,
they'll come across a band of criminals, who have escaped from prison,
and go about robbing and murdering travellers."

"Nothing more likely, I should say.  And what will become of the
others?"

"Well, as you suggested, half a dozen or so are safe to be hanged--
Shirley and Andersen, for example, who were among the leaders, though
not the main movers, of the outbreak.  As for the others, the captain is
mercifully disposed.  You see, the whole thing (as has been proved now)
was got up by those three villains, Bostock, Van Ryk, and Sherwin, after
the ship had left Cape Town.  They persuaded the new men--Shirley and
Sullivan among them--to enlist.  Only three or four in the first
instance were told about Whittaker's money.  They expected to find that
in his cabin, and they would then have launched one of the boats and
gone off, leaving us on the reef.  When they learned, as they did from
Andersen, that it had been locked up in the captain's cabin, they told
half a dozen more about the money, and persuaded them to join in the
attack on the officers and passengers.  Then they induced the rest of
the crew to believe that their only hope of escaping hanging lay in
silencing the captain and his men, and getting away from the reef.  The
men have been the victims of several clever scoundrels, and I hope the
law won't be put in force too severely against them."

An hour or two afterwards, the bar having become practicable, the
steam-tug arrived which was to convey such of the party as desired it to
the shore.  But the surf dashing over the bar was still so formidable,
that it was judged necessary to secure the passengers against damage,
after the very curious fashion resorted to on such occasions.  They were
sent down below, in what would have been total darkness, if it had not
been for the glimmering light of a lantern.  Then the hatches were
covered over, and the passage accomplished, with an amount of shaking
and rolling which was considerably worse than a stiff gale at sea.  As
Redgy afterwards described it, it was like as though they had been a lot
of marbles thrown into a bag, and then shaken up.  Happily, however, it
did not last very long; and they were presently safely landed on the
quay, and free to examine the prospect before them.  Land is said always
to look attractive in the eyes of those who have just accomplished a
long sea voyage, but the scene which George and his companions beheld,
when they emerged from the cabin of the steam-tug, did not need this
consideration to enhance its beauties.

It was indeed a lovely sight which met their eyes.  The streets of the
town were spacious, and built at right angles to one another,--most of
them of a dark stone, which is said to harden by exposure to the air,--
but some of them of brick, or wattle covered with plaster; many of them
having deep verandahs, with rows of trees in front.  Along the quays,
which exhibited a busy scene of cargoes in the course of landing or
shipping, a mass of vessels bearing the flags of all nations were lying;
and on either side of the town rich forests bordered the whole coast.  A
little inland were seen pastures, and plantations of sugar-cane.  The
monotonous appearance which this kind of landscape usually presents was
varied by high hills, and valleys here and there intervening.  The
wonderful blue of both sky and sea, which only those who have beheld it
can realise to themselves, formed a glorious background to the picture.
George and Margetts, accompanied by the other passengers, made their way
to a hotel in one corner of the principal street, and partook of a
luxurious repast, which to be duly appreciated ought to be eaten by
persons who had just landed after many weeks at sea.

This over, they had next to obtain a conveyance to Umvalosa; and for
help in providing this they applied to Mynheer Moritz, who had always
been friendly, and more especially since the memorable day of the battle
on the reef.

"I will help you as well as I can," he said.  "I wish I could ask you to
join our party, which will pass Umvalosa on our way to Vander Heyden's
place, `Bushman's Drift.'  Henryk, his sister, and myself mean to ride,
and the luggage will be conveyed in his bullock waggon, which is one of
the best in Natal.  But it would be no use for me to propose that."

"None at all," assented George drily.

"Well, I don't defend him.  He might, and ought to be, more courteous to
you.  But you mustn't be too hard on him.  He has his good qualities.
He is brave, and honourable, and high-minded, and capable of very warm
and strong affection.  He is very fond of his sister, and there is a
lady, Lisa Van Courtland, his cousin, to whom he is almost romantically
attached, and whom he is soon to marry.  As for you, it is not _you_ he
dislikes, but your country, and that feeling, I am afraid, is not
peculiar to him.  A great many of our people believe that they have been
hardly used by the English.  You see, the whole country once belonged to
us--was our undisputed possession for more than a century.  We had done
nothing to forfeit it--so we feel, because we had nothing to do with the
quarrels of the governments in Europe; which were the only grounds on
which it was taken from us.  Then, when we couldn't live under English
rule, and left the Cape to settle elsewhere, giving up the homes to
which we were so long used, in order that we might live undisturbed, the
English followed us to Natal, and we were again obliged to move
elsewhere.  And now, since this annexation, many of us fear that we
shall not be left alone even in the Transvaal, and may be obliged to
break up our homes for the third time, to go to some new country; where,
even then, we may not be secure from interference.  Henryk is one of
those who feel this keenly, and he's apt to show his feelings rather too
plainly."

"No doubt of that," said George, smiling.  "However, I am disposed to
make all possible allowance for him under the circumstances you have
mentioned; which are, I ought to add, but very imperfectly known to me.
I suppose, as is generally the case, there are two versions of the
story."

"Probably there are," said Mr Moritz, returning his smile, "and perhaps
it is too much to expect that you should credit my version.  However,
whatever may come of it, I hope you and I will remain friends.  I could
never forget the service you have rendered me, and, indeed, Annchen
also: for she tells me that she believes she is indebted to you for
saving her life on the night of the attack."

"I don't know how that may be," said George.  "I did my best to protect
her, certainly.  But as you and her brother were not so close at hand as
I was, to defend her, I do not know how I could possibly have done less.
I hope we shall be allowed to take leave of her."

"She will wish that too," said Moritz, "but I am afraid her brother will
not permit it.  She has, indeed, charged me to give you her adieux,
together with her regrets that she cannot speak them in person.  But now
you want my assistance in getting to your destination.  Your best
course, I think, will be to make the acquaintance of a Natal farmer,
named Baylen; who, I have learned, means to set out in a few days for
Horner's Kraal, and will therefore pass very near, if he does not stop
at, Umvalosa.  He is a thriving man, and knows the country well.  He is
neither wholly English nor Dutch, his father having been an Englishman
and his grandfather a Hollander, but his sympathies are mainly English.
I will give you a letter to him.  I would go with you to his son's
house, `Hakkluyt's Kloof,' where he now is, but time will not allow it,
as Vander Heyden sets out in a few hours."

George thanked him, and they cordially shook hands and parted.  The two
friends then walked out to Hakkluyt's Kloof, and delivered Moritz's
letter; which at once secured a hearty welcome from the old man.  He was
a fine specimen of a colonial farmer, standing more than six feet high,
and strongly, if somewhat heavily built.  He introduced the young men
first to his wife, a still comely matron of fifty, and his daughter
Clara, a handsome girl of twenty, then to his sons, Stephen, the eldest,
and owner of the Kloof, Walter, Wilhelm, and Ernest.  They were all
stout and sturdily-built young men, though hardly equalling their
father's height or breadth of shoulder.  He readily agreed to convey the
Englishmen and their baggage to Umvalosa, naming a very reasonable sum
as their passage-money.  He also invited them to take up their quarters
at his farmhouse until the day of his departure came, an offer which the
two lads were thankful to accept.  George then went out to look at the
waggons in which the journey was to be made--each of which, he found,
would be drawn by no less than sixteen oxen.  They were in construction
not unlike an English waggon, only a good deal stronger and more solid.
They were arranged not only for the conveyance of goods, but for the
accommodation of travellers.  At one end there were seats arranged on
either side, and from the roof hammocks might be suspended, in which the
females of the party might sleep; the men usually making their beds
either under the waggons, or at the farther end.  Two entire days were
consumed in loading them.  As George and Redgy were not to go the whole
distance, their boxes were put in last, and then one day more was passed
in careful examination of the cattle, to make sure they were all in
sound condition.  On the morning of the fourth day, however, they set
out; the party consisting of the farmer, his wife and daughter and his
three sons, three native servants, a boy, and the two young Englishmen.
The first thing was to harness, or, as it is termed in that country, to
inspan the cattle.  This is a curious process for a stranger to witness.
The oxen, which in a well-trained team are fully as well experienced in
the operation as their masters, are driven close up to the wheel of the
waggon, with their heads towards it.  Then the waggon driver calls each
ox by its name, which it knows as well as any English dog knows his, and
the animal bends forward to allow the yoke to be put upon its neck.
Then they are arranged in a double line--eight couple, one behind the
other, a Kaffir lad, called the fore-louper, leading the way.  He
brandishes in his hand a huge whip of cameleopard's hide, which he
delivers with terrific effect on the shoulders or back of the unhappy
animals, generally towards the close of the journey, when the team are
becoming weary, or, at all events, lazy.

The farmer and one of his sons accompanied the waggon on horseback,
while the rest of the party walked by the side, or took a few hours'
siesta in the waggons.  Farmer Baylen proposed to George to ride the
first part of the journey in his and his son's company, and the latter
gladly accepted the offer.  He was greatly struck with the beauty of the
scenery in the neighbourhood of Durban.  The journey for the first two
days lay over Cowie's Hill, which rises to a considerable height,
affording a wide prospect of the sea-coast, with its rich line of woods;
while inland, the country for a considerable distance presents a
succession of elevated ridges, extending as far as the Umkomanzi river.
The road itself was in the highest degree picturesque.  It was November,
the May of the Southern Hemisphere.  Every now and then the waggons
would enter upon a thick undergrowth of shrubs, ploughing their way, as
it were, through an inland sea; the fragrance and beauty of the shrubs
far exceeding anything that an English landscape presents.  When a few
miles had been accomplished, the oxen were outspanned, and allowed to
graze, while the men took their mid-day meal, and afterwards smoked
their pipes, under the shelter of some fragrant shrubs.  Just as they
reached the first halting-place, George discerned in the distance some
singular-looking circular erections, which, the farmer informed him,
were a native village; and finding that George was anxious to see it,
offered to ride up and make an examination of it.  The offer was gladly
accepted, and after a short canter the kraal was reached.  It was
situated on one of the slopes above a rapid stream, and was built after
the design usual among the Kaffirs.  There were two circular enclosures,
one inside the other, the whole being protected by a strong palisade.
The outer circle is for the Kaffirs themselves, the inner one for the
cattle.  As these latter constitute the wealth of the villagers, they
are careful to secure them against theft or violence, and by this
arrangement they could only be seized after all the resistance the men
could offer had been overcome.  Each hut is circular in shape, and
consists of a framework, constructed of long poles, driven into the
ground, and bent towards the top, so as to meet at one point in the
centre.  Similar poles are laid horizontally at intervals one above
another, and secured to the uprights by strips of fibre, so that the
whole structure resembles a huge circular crate.  The portion which
forms the roof is covered with grass pegged down and secured to the
poles, something after the way in which ricks are thatched in England.
The floor usually consists of clay, when it can be found in the
neighbourhood, levelled and beaten hard.  It is sometimes even polished,
by being rubbed over with a flat stone.  There is a circular elevation
in the centre of the hut similarly formed, which serves as a fireplace,
but there is nothing resembling a chimney, the smoke escaping, as used
to be the case in the dwellings of the ancient Britons, through the
framework above.  There is generally a door formed of wattle-work, which
can be closed in inclement weather, and sometimes a kind of screen of
similar material can be placed to windward of the fire, when the weather
is unusually severe.  George was struck with the fine proportions and
intelligent faces of the men, many of them exhibiting muscular, stalwart
frames and expressive features, which a Greek sculptor might not have
disdained to copy.  The women, though some of them were not ungraceful
in figure, were not nearly equal, either in personal beauty or
intelligence, to their male companions.  Their features were, indeed,
altogether too flat to satisfy the European idea of beauty, a fault
which was not observable among the men.  On George's remarking this
disparity of the sexes to the farmer, he answered it was no doubt caused
by the severe and incessant labour imposed upon the women, for which
nature had not designed them.

"They are required," said he, "to perform the entire manual labour of
the kraal--all the digging, planting, and reaping, which in other lands
is performed by the men; while the men themselves sit at home, engaged
in sewing their karosses, in which they display great dexterity, and by
which they realise considerable sums.  There is, however, no lack of
manhood among them.  Their bravery in the chase and in war is not
inferior to that of civilised nations."

"If ever they should learn from us how to fight," said old Baylen to
George, "and possess themselves of the Gatling gun and Martini rifle, it
would be a bad day for the whites.  They outnumber us ten to one, and
are as fearless and resolute as any European race."

"But if they are converted to Christianity," said George, "they would
hardly rise against their benefactors, would they?"

"Ay," said the old farmer, "so many think.  But to my mind that is a
rotten reed to lean on.  The nations of Europe have been Christianised
many centuries ago, but that does not prevent their going to war with
one another, when they think themselves wronged, or even when they
imagine some advantage is to be gained.  How mistaken the idea is, was
to be seen in Sandilli's war, only a little time ago.  Some of the
chiefs, and some of their men too, who had been baptised in their
infancy, and had lived as Christians all their lives, nevertheless took
part with their heathen countrymen in the struggle with the English.
Several of the chiefs--Dukwana among others, who had been a very zealous
proselyte--hesitated for some time as to what course they should pursue,
and did not renounce their Christianity.  But they took part with
Sandilli, nevertheless; and if they could have succeeded in
exterminating the whites, and regaining possession of Southern Africa,
would not have hesitated to do so."

"That is a very serious consideration," said George.  "You say they are
greatly more numerous than the whites, do you not?"

"There is no proportion between the two," said the farmer.  "Our
European population in Natal--English, Dutch, German, and all others--is
considerably under twenty thousand; the Kaffirs number not less than
three hundred and fifty thousand; and, what is more serious still, the
Zulu kingdom, which immediately adjoins ours, is governed by a native
king, the most powerful that has ever reigned in South Africa.  His army
alone contains four times as many men as our whole white population, and
every man among them is a trained warrior, as fearless of wounds and
death, as any man in your English regiments."

"How is it they do not attack you?" asked George.

"There are several reasons," answered Baylen.  "In the first place, the
native races are not at unity among themselves.  They hate one another
even more bitterly than they hate the white man, and thus the English
are enabled to array one tribe against another.  The Basutos and the
Fingos will help you to put down the Gaikas and the Galekas; and these,
when reduced to obedience, would very possibly aid you against the
Zulus, if you were indeed going to war with them.  That is one reason.
Another is, that so far, whenever your English troops have come into
collision with the natives, they have always had the better of them, and
there is a very general idea that the English cannot be conquered.  If
any one race should ever succeed in any campaign against your troops,
the consequences would be very grave indeed.  Indeed, I believe that the
general opinion entertained respecting the Zulu king, and his
irresistible military power, has already done enormous mischief; and he
will have to be put down before English supremacy in South Africa can be
effectually secured.  But here we are back again, and it is time to
resume our journey."

About nightfall they reached their halting-place, a small village about
ten miles distant from Durban, where they obtained a supply of fresh
milk and mealies, resuming their journey on the following day.

For several hours they proceeded without any unusual occurrence; but
about noon Matamo, as the principal driver was called, came up to Mr
Baylen and exchanged a few words with him, pointing in the direction of
a small knoll, which lay at a distance of a few hundred yards.  The
farmer, who had been on the point of dismounting, put his horse in
motion, and rode in company with the driver to the spot indicated.  He
returned in a few minutes, and ordered the cattle to be outspanned and
carefully secured inside a small thicket which lay close at hand.

"Have you ever seen one of our South African storms?" he asked of
George, when he had finished these preparations.

"No," was the answer.  "But surely you cannot apprehend a storm now, Mr
Baylen!  It is one of the most calm and beautiful days I ever remember
to have witnessed."

"Ay, I daresay you think so," returned the farmer.  "But nevertheless we
are going to have it sharp and strong, as the saying is, and that within
a quarter of an hour.  The suddenness with which storms come on, and
pass away again, is one of the peculiar features of Southern Africa.
You had better get inside the waggon, and that without loss of time.
The women have been wise enough to take shelter already."

While the farmer was speaking, he had been engaged in carefully securing
his horse by a strong rheim, and then, climbing up after Redgy and
George into the waggon, drew down and fastened the curtain in front.
While this conversation was going on, the air had perceptibly darkened,
and there came a rush of cold wind from the north, the precursor
apparently of the hurricane.  Then the storm broke out with a suddenness
and violence which fairly took George's breath away.  The wind swept
down with such force that, but for the shelter of the trees, neither man
nor horse could have stood against it.  The air grew so dark that they
could hardly discern each other's faces; and the hail, or rather the
blocks of ice, poured down from the skies, beating against the covering
of the cart with such violence, that George expected every moment to see
it driven in.  Presently the hail ceased and a deluge of rain followed.
The men had been careful to place the waggon on a piece of ground which
was slightly raised above the rest.  But for this the water would have
risen almost to the level of the floor of the waggon; and the ground on
both sides of them was soon converted into a small river, which poured
along with the fury of a mountain torrent, sweeping away shrubs and
small trees, and even large stones, as though they had been so many
straws.  It was two hours good before the storm was over.  Then the
clouds dispersed, the sun came out again, and no other trace of the fury
of the elements was left, but what was supplied by the uprooted shrubs
and the streams of water which continued to pour along with unabated
force.

"We shan't be able to proceed any farther to-day," remarked the farmer.
"The ground will be too soft to travel upon for ten or twelve hours,
even under this hot sun.  We must make ourselves as comfortable as we
can for the night."

The necessary arrangements were accordingly made.  The horses were
hobbled, and turned out to graze.  A fire was lighted, at which supper
was cooked; and after the meal the males of the party sat down to smoke
their pipes by it, for the night air after the rain was chilly.  Mrs
Baylen and Clara retired to rest in their waggon.

"I should like to hear the history of your life in South Africa," said
George, as he threw another log on the fire.  "I think you said you came
into these parts when you were quite a lad, and that, I judge, cannot be
less than fifty years ago.  You must remember a great many changes, and
probably have gone through some strange adventures.  If you don't feel
disposed for sleep just yet, I wish you would give us the benefit of
your experiences.  Redgy and I would be greatly interested to hear
them."

"Father won't object to that," said Wilhelm with a smile.  "Nothing
pleases him better than to tell us stories about his young days."

"And they're worth hearing too," added Ernest.  "I suppose I've heard
most of 'em more than once, but I always like to hear them again.  I
only wish Clarchen were with us.  She enjoys them even more than I do."

CHAPTER SEVEN.

"Well, Mr Rivers," began Farmer Baylen, "I don't know why I shouldn't
gratify your fancy.  It is certain that I and mine have been a long time
in the colony, and know pretty well all that has happened in it during
this century.  And what has happened there during this century is pretty
nearly all the history it has.  Between the time when my mother's
ancestors first settled at the Cape, and the time when the English
captured it, it can hardly be said to have had any history at all."

"It was a period of a hundred and fifty years, though, wasn't it?"
suggested George.

"Yes, but one day was just like another day, and one year like another
year, and one generation like another generation all that time.  The
Dutch occupied the land, and made the natives work for them; and when
more land was wanted, they took more land, and enslaved more natives.
So they went on, spreading farther into the country, until the English
came.

"My father--I believe his name was Andrew Bailey--was a ship's carpenter
on board one of the line-of-battle ships in Sir Home Popham's fleet.
There was very little resistance offered to the English.  It was
generally believed that when the European wars came to an end the colony
would be restored to Holland, as it had been before.  Consequently the
Dutch regarded the English as visitors, rather than masters.

"A good many men got their discharge after the fighting was over, and
among them my father.  He liked the country, and found plenty of
employment, and higher wages than he could get at home.  He was a
skilled workman, particularly clever at house-building.  An English
settler wanted a house built at Stellenbosch, and my father undertook
the job.  He lodged, while employed in the work, in the house of a Dutch
farmer named Van Schuylen, and there he soon became very intimate.  The
farmer was a kind and hospitable old man, as the old Hollanders for the
most part were."

"Kind to the whites, that is," interpolated Redgy.

"Ay, Mr Margetts, I understand what you mean, and I am afraid there is
too much truth in it.  There is a prejudice against `black blood,'
which, with all the years that I've lived in this land, I cannot
understand.  `Black blood!' the very words to me seem to be a denial of
what the Bible says, that `God has made of _one_ blood all the nations
of the earth.'  Yes, you are right about Farmer Van Schuylen.  He'd make
no more of putting a native to do the most unwholesome work, that might
kill him outright, than he would of pitching a stone into a pond.  And
if they were fractious or lazy, he'd stand by and see them flogged with
the jamboks--the rhinoceros whips, that is--till their backs were cut to
ribbons.  But my father was a free man and an Englishman, and Van
Schuylen had none but friendly words for him.

"Well, as I've said, my father became intimate with his family, and by
and by fell in love with Rose, the only daughter, and she with him.  The
old man did not object, but Cornelius Van Schuylen, her brother, did not
like the match.  He was an out-and-out Hollander.  He thought the
English had no business in the colony.  They were interlopers, he said,
and jeered at our ways.  He and my father had had some high words, I
fancy, about the natives, very soon after they came to Stellenbosch.
But Rose, though she was very fond of her brother, took my father's
part.  He was a handsome and well-made man of five-and-twenty, and she
would have had him, I believe, even if her father had objected.
Fortunately Cornelius lived ten or twelve miles away.  I say
fortunately, for there certainly would have been a hot quarrel between
him and his brother-in-law, if he had had any share in the business.  My
father became a great favourite with the old man, and in a few years
nearly the whole management of the farm was left to his son-in-law, who
persisted in showing favour to the blacks.  He wouldn't overwork them,
and wouldn't allow them to be flogged.  What was worse, he allowed them
to attend the church services, and to have their children baptised."

"That was no offence, I suppose, sir," said Redgy.

"On the contrary, it was one of the greatest he could commit," said
Baylen.  "By the Dutch law, all baptised Christians were free.
Therefore baptising a native was the same thing as setting him free, and
the presence of free blacks in the colony was what they could not
endure.  There had been differences with the English authorities on this
subject; but little had come of them, because the English were only
holding the colony for a time.  Two or three years after my father's
marriage, however, there came the downfall of Napoleon, and a general
peace.  To the surprise and indignation of the Dutch, the colony was not
restored to Holland, but given permanently over to the English."

"Well," said George, "I must say they had some right to complain of
that.  I heard what Moritz said about it, and I couldn't help agreeing
with him."

"I think the English would have acted more wisely if they had retained
simply a naval station, with a fort or two to guard it," said the
farmer.  "Well, when it was seen that the occupation of the English was
to be permanent, and that the English discouraged slavery, and allowed
the baptism of the natives, there was great discontent, which
occasionally broke out into rebellion.  Cornelius was among those who
were hottest against the English.  It was with the greatest difficulty
he was kept from joining the rebels.  But his father sent for him, and
threatened him with his curse if he did, and the Dutch mind what their
fathers say, more than any people I know.  In 1834, however, when the
English Government made a proclamation absolutely forbidding slavery, he
could bear it no longer."

"1834," repeated George.  "That was the year, was not it, when they put
down slavery in the West Indies?"

"Yes, and it lowered the value of the property there as well as here.  I
don't say the English Government oughtn't to have done it.  Slavery is
wrong, beginning, middle, and end, in my eyes.  But it might have been
done gradually, instead of all at once.  Any way, the Dutch wouldn't
have it, and they resolved to leave the country rather than submit.
Great numbers emigrated: some northwards, into what is now the Orange
Free State, and the Transvaal, but more into Natal.  Cornelius was one
of those who removed to Natal, and my father went there too.  He didn't
want to go, but my mother had been always so attached to Cornelius, that
he saw it would break her heart if they were parted.  So, like a good
husband, he went too."

"Wasn't it rather rash, sir?" suggested George.  "Why, to say nothing of
the loss of money, Natal must be a good seven hundred miles from
Stellenbosch, and it was at that time quite a new country."

"It is more than eight hundred, I believe, for the matter of that, and
there were very few whites in it; but the state of things wasn't so bad
as you suppose.  In the first place, my father took his time in selling
his land.  As he wasn't a Dutchman, people knew that he wasn't one of
those who were mad to go, and would take anything that was offered for
it.  He got a very good price for it.  Then, again, he knew a great deal
about Natal.  Lieutenant Farewell, who had obtained a large grant of
land from King Chaka, came to Stellenbosch, and made large offers to the
farmers there.  My father closed with him, and got a large farm, and
very good land, where my son is now living, for very little money."

"Who was Lieutenant Farewell?" asked Margetts.

"I believe he was an English officer, who had been sent to survey the
country, and had a fancy for founding a colony at Natal.  He had been
murdered by the natives before we went there; but my father had got all
his information from him the previous year.  Then, again, his move to
Natal was well managed.  His farm lay on the south side of Stellenbosch,
only a short distance from Simon's Bay.  A large vessel was lent him by
one of his friends, which took him and his family, his waggons, his
household furniture, and such of his stock as he wished to take with
him, to Natal, at a small cost, and in a few days."

"Your father knew what he was about, Mr Baylen."

"I think he did, sir.  I remember well our arrival at Hakkluyt's Kloof.
We lived in the waggons till he and his men had run up the house and
farm buildings.  We soon found we had made a very good bargain."

"That was in King Chaka's time, wasn't it, father?" asked Walter Baylen.

"No, Walter.  It was Chaka who granted the land, or rather, leave to
settle on the land, to Lieutenant Farewell.  But he had been dead a year
or two, and his brother Dingaan was king when we arrived there."

"I have heard a good deal about Chaka," observed Margetts, "and I should
like to hear more.  I suppose you know all about him, Mr Baylen?"

"More than I can tell you to-night, sir," answered the farmer with a
smile.  "You shall hear all about it another time if you like it.  But
it's getting late.  We must go to sleep now, as we shall be stirring
early to-morrow."

At daybreak the journey was resumed.  The ground was still soft from the
heavy rain in some places, but a few hours' hot sun dried it.  The air
was fresh and balmy.  It was with a sense of exhilaration that George
and Redgy mounted their horses, and scented the fresh morning air.
Nothing could be more delicious than their journey in the early hours of
the day.  Aromatic shrubs, graceful sugar bushes, delicate heaths,
wild-flowers of every imaginable colour, such as in England would be
accounted the rare beauties of the conservatory, grew in profusion on
either side of the track they followed.  The air was rich with a
thousand fragrant scents.  In the middle distance, Kaffir hovels or
white-gabled farmhouses occasionally presented themselves, each
surrounded by orange or palm groves; and the white-peaked mountains, set
in their frame of the richest blue, formed a perfect background to the
lovely picture.

Notwithstanding the heat, several casualties occurred, in consequence of
the recent rains.  Sometimes they descended into dongas, where the sun's
rays had not penetrated, and there the wheels would sink several inches
into the ground, and it needed all the strength of the party to
extricate them.  Levers had to be applied on both sides, and the unlucky
oxen were lashed with rhinoceros whips, until they presented a pitiable
spectacle.  On one occasion, as they were passing along a gully between
two steep rocky banks, they came upon another ox-waggon journeying in
the opposite direction.  There was not room to pass by two or three
feet.  At first it seemed as if there was no mode of overcoming the
difficulty, except by taking one waggon to pieces.  But at this juncture
they were met by a man, who came up riding a stout Cape horse, and who
seemed to be well known to the farmer and his sons.

"Ah, Hardy," exclaimed Baylen, "you have come just in time to help us!
We've neglected to keep a bright look-out, and have got into this mess."

The newcomer dismounted, and, joining the rest of the party, made a
careful examination of the banks on both sides of the pathway.
Presently Hardy's voice was heard.

"Here you are!" he cried.  "Here, Baylen, Matamo, here's a soft place in
the bank which we can dig out, and it will be deep enough to hold the
waggon.  Bring the picks and spades here."

All the party, more than a dozen in number, went to work with a will,
and presently a hollow place of three or four feet deep was dug out,
into which Baylen's waggon was drawn, just sufficient room being
obtained in this manner to allow the other waggon to go by.  This
_contretemps_ caused a delay of several hours, and instead of
outspanning on the bank of the Mooi river, as they had intended, they
were obliged to stop some miles short of it.

It was not a bad place, though, for a halt.  The oxen were outspanned,
and turned out to graze on the veldt, care being taken to prevent their
straying.  The fires were lighted and supper for nine got ready, Hardy
having agreed to join the party.

As they sat down, George took a good view of the newcomer.  He was a
strong, weather-beaten fellow, not much short of fifty, but still in the
full vigour of life, with a face expressing sense and resolution.  He
had a good deal of the soldier in his appearance and demeanour; and
George learned from Ernest Baylen that he had served in India, and under
Lord Napier and Sir Garnet Wolseley.  He had settled in South Africa as
a land-surveyor and architect, though he combined some farming with it.
He was a friend and frequent visitor of the Baylens, who were evidently
pleased at his arrival.  As soon as the supper was finished, and the
pipes lighted, Margetts asked the farmer to give him the promised
account of King Chaka.

"I want to learn all I can about him," he said; "I have heard some
strange stories of him."

"I don't know what the stories may have been, Mr Margetts," rejoined
Baylen, "but certainly enough might be told about him to startle any
one.  He was the first person who brought the Zulus into notice.  I
don't know whose son he was, or who was king before him; nobody does
seem to know.  But it was about the year 1820 that he first began to
attract attention.  The Zulus had been an insignificant tribe before
that.  But soon after the beginning of his reign, he set about forming a
large army, which he developed and disciplined in a manner that had been
quite unknown to African chiefs before his time.  There is a strange
story as to what put this fancy into his head.  If I don't mistake,
Hardy, it was you who told it to me."

"Very likely," said Hardy.  "I know what I heard from some French
soldiers in India.  They had been in Africa, and had known Chaka."

"What was it, Mr Hardy, if I might ask?" inquired Margetts.

"Why, these men told me they had been the servants of some French
officers, who, after the close of Napoleon's wars, travelled in South
Africa, and became King Chaka's guests.  Chaka was fond of inquiring
about what had happened in Europe.  One of the officers told him a good
deal about the Emperor Napoleon--his splendid army, the vast number of
men he had collected under his standard, the perfect discipline to which
he had reduced them, and their unbounded devotion to his service.  By
their help, Napoleon had conquered nation after nation, until nearly the
whole of Europe had been subjected by him.  `That was something like a
king,' Chaka had remarked, and from that day he began forming his famous
army."

"Well, I can believe that," observed Baylen, "because his action
corresponded very accurately to it.  He got together a force of nearly a
hundred thousand men, of whom fifteen thousand were always at his
immediate command.  He subjected his soldiers to severe and continual
discipline.  He built large barracks, in which they lived quite by
themselves, not being allowed to marry until they were elderly men.  The
least hesitation in obeying his orders was instantly punished by the
most cruel of all deaths, impalement.  With this army he attacked and
conquered his neighbours in all directions, until he became an object of
universal terror."

"A black Napoleon, in fact," returned Redgy,--"what he wanted to be."

"He was curiously like him," remarked Baylen, "allowing for the
differences of race.  I have heard that Napoleon never spared any
soldier who showed want of courage in carrying out an order.  That was
Chaka's policy certainly, though he pursued it after a somewhat
different fashion.  After one of his campaigns, he would assemble his
soldiers, and cause every regiment to pass before him.  As it halted in
front of his seat, he would call out, `Bring out the cowards,' and any
man who had not been as forward as the others was straightway dragged
out and killed.  The shrub, under which he usually sat in this manner to
review his soldiers, was known as the `coward's bush.'"

"Didn't he overrun Natal, father?" asked Wilhelm Baylen.

"Yes, and made it a desert for the time.  Before his invasion it was
densely populated, and in a most thriving condition.  But the carnage
caused by his troops was so great, that the population was reduced, I
believe, to a few hundreds.  That was one reason, probably, why he was
willing for the English to settle there."

"But he was dead before you arrived in Natal, wasn't he?" asked Ernest.

"Yes.  I told you he had been dead some years, and his brother Dingaan
was on the throne.  Dingaan, who was quite as bloody, and even more
treacherous than Chaka, caused him to be assassinated while he was
sitting in his kraal, and then was made king in his place.  But Dingaan
was not his brother's equal in ability or force of character, and he
lost a great deal of the power which Chaka had acquired."

"Did you ever come into contact with him, sir?" asked Wilhelm.

"He never sent his soldiers to attack us, but he was continually
threatening us with his displeasure, and making demands, which we were
obliged to comply with as well as we could.  A Zulu Impi would have been
no joke to encounter.  We must have all fled for our lives, and our
houses would have been burnt and our cattle driven off at the least."

"How long did he reign?" asked Redgy.

"About twelve years.  In the year 1836 the discontent of the Boers at
Cape Town grew so great, that they too moved off to Natal--some five or
six thousand of them.  That, of course, made a great difference to our
position.  We could only have mustered a few hundreds to oppose Dingaan,
if we had gone to war with him.  But now it would be a few thousands."

"And men who knew how to fight the Zulus, too," remarked Walter.

"Yes.  Dingaan found that out in 1837, when a war broke out between him
and the Boers.  Then the Zulus suffered for the first time a disastrous
defeat.  They rushed upon the Boers with their assegays, but the moment
they came within range they were shot down like a flight of birds.  They
hardly got within hurling distance, and the stout leathern doublets of
the Dutch repelled such assegays as did reach them.  Not a single man, I
believe, was so much as wounded.  But it was an unfortunate victory in
some ways.  It caused Dingaan, instead of using force, to resort to
treachery--treachery which was very nearly being the death of me, though
in the end things turned out well."

"Ah, now you are going to tell us the story of how you first got
acquainted with mother," said Wilhelm, laughing.

"Well, I daresay it will interest Mr Rivers to hear it," said Baylen.
"But, to be sure, it is a shocking history.  It happened forty years
ago, or one couldn't speak so coolly of it.

"I daresay, Mr Rivers, you have heard of Peter Retieff--any way you
have, Hardy--the man, I mean, who founded Maritzburg.  I knew him well.
He was a brave, honest, kindly man--kindly even to the natives, which is
not a common feature in a Dutchman's character.  There was a treaty with
Dingaan which obliged us to send back to him all the natives, who had
fled into Natal from his tyranny.  There were great numbers that did
this; and all who were so returned were instantly put to death with most
barbarous cruelty.  Peter Retieff would not consent to carry this out,
and paid a visit to Dingaan, to try to get him to cede Natal to the
Dutch as an independent kingdom.  He knew the danger of such an attempt;
but he was a brave man, and trusted to the justice of his cause.  He
invited several of his neighbours to take part in his mission.  Among
others, my father and myself agreed to go.  I was a lad between
seventeen and eighteen at the time.

"We were received with unexpected civility, and my father and myself
lodged at the house of Emilius Scheren, a Dutch missionary, whom Dingaan
allowed to live at his kraal, but over whom he kept a very jealous
watch--regarding him half as a spy on his actions, and half as a hostage
for the good behaviour of his countrymen.  He was a widower with one
little girl, about twelve years old, named Wilhelmine.  Mr Scheren told
me some terrible stories of Dingaan's cruelty and rapacity.  He had
himself, he said, long been anxious to escape from the country.  But he
was most closely watched, and were he to attempt flight, would most
certainly be caught and put to death.  He would not mind it so much if
it were not for his motherless little girl."

"`No one would hurt her surely,' my father said.

"`Dingaan would hurt any one,' Mr Scheren answered.  But he was more
afraid of his kindness than his cruelty.  He feared that Wilhelmine's
beauty had attracted Dingaan's notice, and before long he would insist
on having her for one of his wives.

"`Why, she cannot be thirteen years old,' my father observed.

"`No, she is little more than twelve.  But they marry young in this
country, and in another year or so she will be thought old enough.'

"We comforted Mr Scheren as well as we could, promising him Dutch
protection, if Retieff succeeded in his design.  The next day we had our
interview with Dingaan.  He was extremely friendly, and complained of
nothing but the theft of his cattle.  `If these were restored,' he said,
`he would be willing to leave the Dutch settlers in possession of Natal,
provided they did not interfere with him.  But if they stole his cattle,
and would not restore them, it was impossible for him to regard them as
friends.'

"This sounded reasonable enough, and good Peter Retieff was quite taken
in by it.  He agreed to recover the cattle, and we all went off with
him, nearly two hundred in number, and soon succeeded in tracing the
oxen, and obliging those who had stolen them to give them up.  We
returned in a kind of triumphal procession, driving the cattle before
us.  We were received with the greatest friendliness; all Retieff's
demands were conceded, and we were invited to a royal feast, to be given
on the following day to the king's Dutch allies."

"I think I have heard what was the issue of that feast," remarked
George.  "But I had thought that all who attended it."--He paused.

"That all had been murdered, I suppose," supplemented Baylen.  "You
heard right: all who attended that horrible feast _were_ murdered.  But
I and my father did not go.  We were just setting out when Mr Scheren
stopped us.  He told us that throughout he had suspected treachery was
intended.  But half an hour ago one of his converts had warned him that
all the white men would be shot or stabbed.  He had returned in all
haste; but it was too late to warn Retieff and his friends, who were
already in the royal kraal.  All he could do was to save us.  To
convince us of the truth of his story, he pointed out to us a large
force of armed Zulus, creeping stealthily up and surrounding the kraal.
There was nothing to be done but to escape.  We went into his stable,--
where most fortunately we had kept our horses, instead of the place
provided by the king for Retieff's train,--saddling and mounting with
all possible expedition.  We rode off without a moment's pause, but had
not cleared the village, when we heard yells and screams which made our
blood run cold."

"None of Retieff's party escaped, did they?" asked Hardy.

"Not one, unless you count my father and myself, and we had the
narrowest of narrow escapes.  We were seen by an Induna, who was late in
attending the feast, and he instantly told Dingaan.  He at once sent
half a dozen of his fleetest men after us.  They were on foot, and our
horses, though cumbered with two riders, at first left them a long way
behind.  But the Zulus are wonderfully swift of foot, and their powers
of endurance are still more surprising.  When we reached the Tugela,
they were not a hundred yards behind us.  The river was not high, but it
was with the greatest difficulty that our jaded horses could cross it.
The Zulus came up before we had reached the bank, and hurled their
weapons at us.  One of the assegays struck Mr Scheren, who was sitting
behind my father, and he fell dead into the river.  Another grazed my
horse's flank, while a third stuck in the saddle, nailing Wilhelmine's
gown to it.  Fortunately for us, Dingaan's order forbade any Zulu to
pass into Natal, for we could have gone no farther, and could have
offered no effectual resistance."

CHAPTER EIGHT.

"What is to be our next halting-place?" asked George of Ernest Baylen,
as they rode out in the rear of the party on the following morning,
having waited behind to see that none of the articles removed from the
waggons on the previous day had been forgotten.  "We have a long day's
journey before us, I expect."

"We shall stop at Colenso," replied Ernest, "rather a neat little town,
and growing fast in size and importance.  It stands near the Little
Tugela.  After that our next halting-places will be Helpmakaar, then
Dundee, and lastly Newcastle.  We might go farther to-day, but I expect
we shall have some trouble in passing the Mooi.  It is a good deal
swollen by the heavy rain and the overflow of the Tugela.  The flood, as
yet, has fallen but very little."

He pointed as he spoke to the river, which lay at the distance of a mile
or two.  George drew his rein for a moment, quite entranced by the
varied features of the landscape before him.  There was a stretch of
green veldt, reaching almost from the point where they had bivouacked to
the river's banks, which were densely fringed with mimosas and
willow-trees, through which its waters glanced, here and there, bright
in the sunshine.  To the right and left the ground was broken into
declivities, clothed in many places with brushwood, in others presenting
picturesque outlines of rock and shrub, while in the far distance
towered the range of the Drakenbergs, the grandest mountains of Southern
Africa.

"What are those dark objects I see floating about in the water?"
inquired George, pointing with his whip to a broad bend in the river,
which for some distance in both directions was free from wood on either
side.

"Sea-cows! what you call hippopotamuses, I declare!" cried Ernest in
some surprise.  "They are not often to be seen in the Mooi; but I
suppose they have come down from the Tugela.  Yes, they are
hippopotamuses; I can see them clearly now.  If we can spare the time,
we may have a hippopotamus hunt; there are few things that are better
fun.  It requires caution, though, or there may be an ugly accident."

"What, from an attack of the animals?" suggested George.  "I should have
thought they were too large and unwieldy for there to be any danger from
them."

"Ah, but there is.  The banks of the river are for the most part covered
very thickly with reeds or rushes, among which these creatures are
accustomed to lie.  When they think that an enemy is at hand, they will
rush out suddenly from their covert, and their weight is so great that a
blow from them would probably be fatal.  Matamo here had a narrow escape
from one of them once, which I daresay he will relate to you, if you
like to hear it.  He speaks very good English, better than you would
expect; and there is nothing that he likes better than relating his
adventures, which sometimes border on the marvellous.  Shall I call
him?"

"By all means," said George.  "He is there, riding on your father's left
hand."

The Bechuana was accordingly summoned, and he at once expressed his
readiness to gratify George's curiosity.

"A scrimmage with a sea-cow?" he said.  "Oh yes, I remember it.  It was
when I was a boy.  I went out fishing, and I had no gun, only an assegay
with me.  I caught lots of fish, but by and by I was tired, and went to
sleep on the long grass.  Presently I was woke up by a great noise close
to me, and I saw a big sea-cow coming out of the river with his mouth
wide open.  I thought perhaps he was going to eat the fish, or perhaps
he was going to eat me.  I jumped up and ran off, and the sea-cow ran
after me.  I was in such a fright that I didn't see where I was running
to, until I found I had got into a swamp, and was sinking in it.  These
swamps are sometimes ever so deep, and there is nothing to hold to, to
keep you from going down.  The more you struggle, the faster you go
down.  I was already up to my ankles, and should soon have been up to my
knees, when I heard the sea-cow flounder in after me.  _He_ couldn't
stop himself either.  He was heavier than I was, and went down faster.
I caught him by his great big ear and scrambled on to his back.  He
grunted, but he couldn't help it.  Then I stood on his head, gave a
great jump, and just reached the bank.  He grunted louder than before,
and went down into the swamp.  Ho, ho, ho!--I dessay he is still going
down, and hasn't got to the bottom yet."

"But I suppose," said George, after bestowing due praise on Matamo's
story, "there is no real danger if care is taken."

"No, sir, no danger if you take care.  There are some fine sea-cows
there.  Your father sees them too, Mr Ernest."

Mr Baylen now rode up and asked George whether he and his friend would
like to take part in a hippopotamus hunt.  George expressed his
obligations, and presently the necessary preparations were made.  All
the party dismounted, leaving their horses in charge of the
waggon-drivers, and took their rifles, which they carefully loaded.
Then they separated into two companies.  One of these mounted to the top
of a rocky ledge covered with creepers, among which they carefully
concealed themselves; while the other, consisting of Ernest, George, and
one or two followers, crept stealthily through the long weeds and grass,
until they had reached a point beyond that at which the animals were
lying.  Some of these were basking in the sun, some standing in the
water with their heads above it; others were half concealed by the long
rushes, which grew thickly on the bank.

"She will be our best mark," whispered Ernest, as he pointed to a huge
female, whose carcase was half in, half out, of the river.  "It will be
very difficult, as she is lying now, to kill her on the spot.  But as
soon as she feels the shot, she will probably rush away into the reeds
or into the water.  In either case my father and Matamo, not to speak of
the others, will get a good aim at her as she rises up, and will be
pretty safe to kill her.  Any way, you will get your shot at her, and
mind you aim at her ear or her eyes."

George promised acquiescence, and he and Ernest gradually crept nearer,
until they were within tolerably easy distance.  Then George fired, but
apparently did not greatly injure the beast.  The whole herd sprang up
with loud snortings, and those lying on the edge of the stream plunged
into it.  The female whom George had wounded rushed away under cover of
the rocky ledge, which at that part bordered the stream, encountering,
as Ernest had anticipated, the fire of the party stationed above, and
the farmer's ball finished the business.  The animal fell dead almost
immediately at the foot of the rock, and Redgy and the others crowded to
the edge to get a sight of the huge carcase.  The farmer calmly
reloaded, and it was well that he did so; for almost immediately
afterwards there came a rushing noise from the bank above, and he caught
sight of a huge male hippopotamus rushing down upon them.  It was in all
likelihood the mate of the female that had just been killed, and he was
charging down to avenge its slaughter.  With the instinctive readiness
which long habit had produced, Baylen raised his rifle and fired.  The
bullet was happily aimed.  It pierced the heart of the monster, and was
instantly fatal.  The muscular force carried it on for a few yards, and
it fell dead only just short of the spot where the party was standing.
Another moment or two, and its blind fury would have carried it and them
over the edge of the precipice, on to the rocky ledge beneath.

"A near thing that!" exclaimed old Baylen coolly.  "Lads, you should be
always on the look-out for this kind of thing in hippopotamus-hunting.
You are never safe from a charge."

This exciting adventure would naturally have been the topic of a good
deal of discussion; but so much of the morning had now passed, that the
farmer told them they had no time to bestow on talking.  Prime pieces
were cut off from both the slain beasts, and put into the cart, Matamo
assuring George that they would be regarded by their friends at Colenso
as rare delicacies.  The whole party then returned to the waggons, and
prepared to cross the river; which, in its present swollen condition, it
would be no easy matter to accomplish.  The quantity of sand brought
down by the flood, it should be remarked, presented a more serious
difficulty than the depth of the stream, and all the more so because the
extremely turbid state of the water made it impossible to see what the
depth of the sand was.

The farmer and his sons, aided by Matamo and the other servants,
undertook the convoy of the larger waggon first, arguing that if that
could be got across without difficulty, the smaller and slighter one in
which Mrs Baylen and Clara were located would follow easily enough.
Both spans of oxen were fastened to it, one in front of the other; it
was hoped that the line of oxen would thus become so long that the
foremost ox would reach the opposite bank before the hindmost yoke had
entered it.  But the river was so greatly swollen that this could not be
accomplished.  Matamo had to cross, with a long rope tied to the front
bullock's horns, and thus guided the team, nearly all of which were
swimming, to the bank.  Then with great difficulty the oxen struggled up
the opposite shore, and the big waggon was safely landed, though its
contents had been completely wetted through.

Men and oxen now returned across the river to undertake the transport of
the second waggon.  But here a terrible misfortune took place.  Just as
they were approaching the water, the disselboom broke in half, and
rendered the waggon quite unmanageable.  Until this disaster was
remedied, it became impossible for the oxen to draw; and, as they had
not the means of mending the breakage on the spot, the waggon must
necessarily remain there all night, until the damage could be repaired
by workmen from Colenso.  Mrs Baylen and her daughter had the option of
either remaining on the bank of the river all night, or being conveyed
across the river on horseback.  They chose the latter; and the two young
Englishmen, riding up, volunteered their services.  They placed the
ladies in their saddles and swam by their sides, drawing their horses
after them.  After this fashion Mrs Baylen and Clara reached the bank,
though almost as completely soaked through as their cavaliers.  A
consultation was now held.  It was proposed to procure a change of
clothes for the ladies; but it appeared that all their wardrobe was in a
smaller waggon; and even if they could have allowed the young men a
second time to encounter the stream on their account, it would have been
next to impossible to bring the clothes across in a dry condition.  It
was presently agreed that the best course would be for the four who had
been soaked through to ride straight into Colenso, with Matamo as their
guide, and there procure a change of clothes, while the large waggon
followed at a slower pace.  The riders accordingly set off, and arrived
in due time at the Swedish pastor's house.

Mr Bilderjik and his wife, who were old friends of the Baylens, and
were in expectation of their arrival, were in readiness to receive them.
The ladies and the young men were soon supplied with dry clothes.
Carpenters were despatched to the banks of the Mooi to repair the damage
done to the waggon, and a message sent up to the hotel in the main
street of Colenso to provide beds for Hardy, George, and Redgy, for whom
the house of the Swedish pastor could not supply sufficient
accommodation.

A few hours afterwards Farmer Baylen arrived with the larger waggon, and
he and his sons, as well as Hardy, who was also an old acquaintance,
were hospitably welcomed.  In an hour or two after their arrival, the
whole party sat down to a comfortable repast, at which, as Matamo had
before assured George would be the case, the hippopotamus steaks formed
the chief delicacy.

There was nevertheless, independently of these, a very appetising meal
provided.  Sago soup was served up, fish from the Little Tugela river,
which ran close to the town; fowls, and pancakes, as well as abundance
of ripe fruits,--loquots, oranges, peaches, bananas, and nectarines--all
of them from the missionary's garden,--which could only be tasted in
their perfection in the climates of which they are the natives.

All the party appeared to be contented with their quarters, except the
indefatigable Matamo, who insisted on returning to the Mooi, where he
said his presence would be needed to look after the workpeople who had
been sent to execute the repairs, and who, as he affirmed, were never to
be trusted.  As soon as he had finished his dinner, he mounted his horse
and rode off.

"You have a valuable servant in that Kaffir," remarked George.  "It
would not be easy to find his match, even in England."

"Are you speaking of Matamo?" said Mr Baylen.  "Yes, he is a good
servant--good at farm labour, and better at hunting; but he is not a
Kaffir, nor a Hottentot either, but a Bechuana, though a very
dark-skinned one.  You haven't been long enough in the country to be
aware of the difference, but we old residents see it easily enough."

"A Bechuana!" said George.  "I think I know where their country is--on
the other side of the Transvaal, isn't it, three or four hundred miles
away from here?  What brought him into these parts?"

"Well, I brought him," was the answer.  "I brought him to Natal about
five-and-thirty years ago."

"Five-and-thirty years!" remarked Margetts.  "He couldn't have been very
old then."

"No; he was an infant," said the farmer.  "I was a young fellow of four
or five-and-twenty myself, and we hadn't been so very long settled in
Natal ourselves.  My mother, who had been brought up a Presbyterian,
though she conformed to her husband's form of belief, had once heard
David Livingstone preach, and had been so impressed by him that she had
never forgotten it.  After my father's death she fell into low spirits,
and there was no one near about us who could give her any comfort.
Nothing would satisfy her but that Mr Livingstone must come and see
her.  We tried to pacify her by telling her that Mr Livingstone, who
was a great traveller, would some day come our way.  You have heard of
him, I suppose, gentlemen?"

"All the world has heard of him," remarked Rivers.  "I should think
there is hardly an Englishman but knows his history."

"I am not surprised to hear it.  But he was a young man at the time I
speak of, and was but little known.  My mother, however, was bent on
seeing him.  She had heard that he was living at Barolong, and she was
sure that he would come to visit her, and she would die if he didn't.
At last I saw there was no help for it; I must travel across the
country, and find Mr Livingstone out."

"And you went?" inquired George, as he paused.

"Yes, I went; and a terrible journey I had; and after all I couldn't
find the gentleman.  He had gone up the country, and it was impossible
to say, they told me, when he would come back.  But that has nothing to
do with Matamo; and my story was to be about him.  Well, I took a good
stout horse, and rode through what is now called the Orange Free State.
It was almost wild in those days.  Native tribes were living here and
there, with whom I sometimes got a lodging; though, to be sure, their
kraals were not the pleasantest places in the world, even to me.  Once
or twice I came across the house of a Dutchman, who had emigrated
thither from the Cape."

"I don't expect you got much of a welcome from them," remarked Hardy.

"As an Englishman, I did not expect that I should," said the farmer.
"But you see my grandfather, old Fieter Van Schuylen, had been a leading
man among the Dutch, and so was my brother-in-law, Cornelius.  I had
only to mention their names, and they were ready to do anything for me.
I got on well enough until I was within a day or two's ride of the
village where Mr Livingstone was believed to be living; but there a
misfortune befell me.  My horse, which had carried me well up to that
time,--indeed, was as quiet a beast as ever I remember to have ridden,--
suddenly reared and plunged violently, and very nearly threw me.  I got
off and tried to quiet him; but he continued to struggle, and would not
let me remount."

"He had been bitten, I expect," remarked Hardy.

"That is my opinion too; indeed, there was a swelling on his fore-leg,
which looked very like the bite of a snake.  But I was not sure even of
that, and had no remedy at hand, even if I had known how to apply it.  I
soon saw that, whatever had been the cause of his illness, there was
little or no hope of his recovery.  His restlessness soon gave way to a
kind of dull stupor.  He presently lay down, stretched out his limbs,
stark and rigid, and was dead in less than two hours from the time when
he had been bitten.

"I was quite at a loss what to do.  There were no trees near at hand
into which I might have climbed and slept in safety.  I did not know
what wild animals there might be about.  Remember this was
five-and-thirty years ago, before the settlers had driven the lions and
rhinoceroses away.  The country consisted of long undulating downs,
covered with tall grass, which might shelter any number of poisonous
snakes; and a bite from any one of them could hardly help being fatal,
seeing how far I was from any place where a remedy could be applied.  So
I resolved to keep on.  The darkness was rapidly gathering, and the moon
wouldn't rise, I knew, for several hours.  But there was just enough of
a glimmer in the sky to enable me to distinguish the track.  So I went
on, holding my double-barrelled rifle ready cocked."

"Dangerous work," remarked Margetts.

"No doubt; but it was the least danger of the two.  Well, I went on,
walking slowly and cautiously, and by and by I got clear of the jungle,
and came into some high rocky land, in the midst of which there was a
Bechuana village.  If it had been daylight, I should have gone in at
once and claimed their hospitality as an Englishman, whom I knew they
would receive kindly.  But by that light I was afraid of being mistaken
for a Boer, and then my reception would have been very different.  It
was as likely as not that I should have been speared, before I could
explain the mistake they had made.  I resolved to find a shelter
somewhere for the night, and make my appearance among the Bechuanas in
the morning.

"After looking carefully about, I took up my quarters in a cavern in the
side of a long ridge of rock which overhung the village.  It was
December, and the night was warm, so I did not hesitate to lie down as I
was on a heap of dead leaves, with which the cave was half filled.

"I was tired out, and soon fell asleep, and, I suppose, must have lain
for two or three hours, when I was awakened by the noise of guns firing
and men shouting immediately over my head.  I started up and looked out.
The dawn had just broken, and diffused a light which made it almost as
easy to distinguish anything as if it had been broad day.  I perceived
that the village was surrounded by an armed enemy, and on a high bank on
the opposite side of the village I could see a line of men armed with
the long gun which the Boers then carried, while at the two ends of the
village strong parties--also of Boers, for they had no black allies with
them--were stationed.  These, too, were armed to the teeth.  I knew in a
moment what had happened.  The Boers had attacked the village by night,
and were shooting the men down as they rushed in alarm out of their
huts.  There was no possibility of resistance or escape.  The rocky
ridge over my head was too high to have been stormed, even by trained
soldiers, and these poor naked half-armed savages could not approach
within ten yards of it.  The bank opposite was almost as impossible to
attack; but I did see two or three of the Bechuana warriors make the
attempt.  Some spears were flung, but they did no execution.  It was
simple wholesale murder, and lasted, I should think, fully an hour; by
which time every male Bechuana in the village was either dead or
mortally wounded.  It was the most shocking sight I have ever
witnessed."

"Horrible indeed, sir?" exclaimed Redgy.  "What provocation do you
suppose they had given the Dutchmen?"

"Most likely none at all," was the answer.  "The Bechuanas in general
are peaceable enough, but the Dutch--the Boers, that is--are bent on
having slaves to work for them; and if they can't get them by what they
consider fair means, will get them by foul."

"What do they call fair means?" asked Redgy.

"Buying them of their parents," answered Baylen.  "They will go to a
village and demand the help of a number of women to work in their fields
or gardens.  These women, who dare not refuse, take their children with
them, and then they will try to bargain for these, in order to make
slaves of them.  But the Bechuanas are a very affectionate people, and
can very seldom be induced to sell their children.  Therefore, as the
Boers would tell you, they are obliged to take them by force."

"You are joking with us, sir, are you not?" said George.

"Indeed I am not.  They think that not only is it fair and right that
the natives should work without pay for them, but that it is their duty
to oblige them so to work."

"On what possible grounds, Mr Baylen?"

"Because they are an inferior race, over whom the Boers have a natural
right.  This is no pretence.  They really think so.  The Boers are,
after their fashion, a very religious people.  They believe Almighty God
has given the black races to be their servants, and that they are only
carrying out His will when they reduce them to slavery.  Some of them
even believe that it is their mission to kill all except those who are
thus kept in bondage.  They liken themselves to the Israelites when they
entered the Promised Land, and the natives to the Canaanites, whom they
were to exterminate."

"And their quarrel with us really is that we won't allow them to carry
out this idea?" asked Margetts.

"At the bottom I am not sure it is not," replied Baylen.  "It is certain
that they would carry it out, if it were not for the English.  Their
usual practice is to do what they did on the occasion I have been
telling you about.  They circulate a rumour that an attack is going to
be made upon them by some tribe.  The rumour is almost certain to be
false, for the Bechuanas are a very peaceable people.  But as soon as
the report has taken wind, they march out in force, generally taking
with them a number of native allies.  These surround the village,
keeping the men back with their assegays, while the Boers fire in safety
over their heads, until all the males have been destroyed.  They then
carry off the women, children, and cattle."

"Horrible!" exclaimed Redgy.  "I shall hate these Boers like poison.
Why, they must be the most awful cowards, as well as hypocrites!"

"I don't know about that, Redgy," remarked George.  "They don't want to
encounter danger, if they can help it, no doubt.  But it doesn't follow
that they wouldn't fight, if there was the necessity for doing so.  They
are like Wilkin Flammock in _The Betrothed_; you remember what he says.
He was `ready to fight for life or property, if it was needed; but a
sound skin was better than a slashed one, for all that.'  But I thought
you told us, sir, that the Boers in your story attacked the Bechuana
village without allies."

"So I did," answered the farmer.  "But they knew the ground, and were
aware that it would be impossible for the Bechuanas to attack them, so
that there was no need for the natives to accompany them on that
occasion.  But to go on with my story.  I told you it was a bright
morning, and so it continued for nearly an hour.  But after that thick
clouds came up, and it grew almost dark.  The Boers remained in the
position they had taken up till the forenoon.  But about half an hour
after the firing had ceased, I heard a noise as if some one was moving
somewhere near me.  I looked out, and could just make out that a
Bechuana woman, who had been mortally wounded by a bullet, had crawled
to that spot, with an infant of a year old in her arms.  I suppose she
had some idea of concealing herself in the hollow of the rocks, not
knowing that her hurt was to death.  I crept down and took the child
from her arms.  She was just at the last gasp, but I think she gave it
over to me willingly, fancying that I should treat it kindly.  I took it
back with me into the cave, and remained in concealment until the Boers
had departed, which they did about the middle of the next day.  I was
fortunate enough to reach the farm of a friendly Hollander, who sold me
another horse, and provisions enough to carry me through the most
dangerous parts of the journey.  The infant (which I called Matamo, from
the name of the Bechuana village which I had seen destroyed) proved
strong and healthy and we both reached Hakkluyt's Kloof safe and sound."

"And your mother?" asked Margetts.

"My mother was at first terribly disappointed about Mr Livingstone.
But when she heard the tale of the destruction of the Bechuana village,
and the rescue of the infant, she was so moved by pity for it, that I
think she forgot everything else.  She took it under her special charge.
Up to the time of her death, three years afterwards, Matamo was her
chief care and delight.  The boy grew up strong and healthy, and has, as
I told you, been an invaluable servant to us."

"And you have well deserved that he should," remarked Mr Bilderjik.
"You have had him baptised and educated, and brought up in the Christian
faith; you should add that.  I would that many masters in South Africa
could say the same."

CHAPTER NINE.

A general assent followed Mr Bilderjik's remarks, to which, however,
the farmer made no reply.  A silence of some minutes ensued, which was
broken by George.

"Mr Baylen," he said, "I was much interested in the history you gave us
the other day of the colony, and King Chaka and his brother Dingaan.
But all that you told us occurred forty years ago.  I should like to
know something of what has happened since."

"Well, the last thing I told you of, was the murder of Pieter Retieff
and his followers," said Mr Baylen, "wasn't it?  Well, the natural
consequences ensued; there was war for some years between the whites and
the blacks.  The English settlers invaded Zululand, and carried off a
quantity of women, children, and cattle.  But they were attacked by ten
thousand Zulus, and a hot fight followed.  The English shot them down in
such numbers, that they formed high banks over which their comrades had
to climb.  In spite of this, they advanced and overpowered their enemies
by mere force of numbers!"

"Ah," interposed Hardy, "and it would be a good job if our English
generals remembered that fact.  They persist in despising their enemies,
and may take a lesson from the Dutchmen, who are too wise to do so.  But
go on, Baylen; I beg pardon for interrupting."

"The Zulus," resumed the other, "drove the English beyond the Tugela,
overran Natal, and for the second time turned it into a desert.  The
colonists took refuge in an island in the Bay.  There they were
personally safe, but their houses and goods were utterly destroyed, and
their cattle driven off.  We had contrived to take away with us
everything of value that could be carried off to the island, and no
great injury was done to the farmhouse and buildings.  But all the
cattle, horses, oxen, sheep, and goats were driven away.  If we had not
recovered them a few months afterwards, I should have had to begin life
again."

"How did you manage to recover them, sir?" asked Margetts.

"Through my brother-in-law, Cornelius Schuylen.  He had joined the main
body of Dutch settlers from the Cape, and was a leading man among them,
and a friend of the Dutch General, Praetorius.  They found it necessary
to go to war with Dingaan, and there was a pitched battle, in which the
Dutch were the conquerors.  I agree with Mr Rivers, that the Dutch are
no cowards; but that they think that a whole skin is better than a
slashed one, and they conduct their campaigns accordingly.  I was
present at the battle myself, having gone up to the Boer camp about my
cattle.  The natives outnumbered us, ten to one, I should think, and
they fought as bravely as men could fight.  But we gained a decisive
victory, with very little loss."

"How did you manage it, sir?" inquired George.  "I have heard that the
Dutch have very little discipline in their armies."

"Very little, but their tactics are the thing.  When they knew that a
battle was imminent, they laagered their waggons together, and stationed
their foot-soldiers in and behind them.  The mounted men, of which their
force principally consisted, waited at some distance until the Zulu
assault on the waggons had begun.  Then they opened a fire upon them
with their rifles, which killed great numbers, and at last obliged them
to turn off and attack them.  They waited until the Zulus were almost
but not quite within what was called assegay distance, and then fired
volley after volley into them.  When the Zulus advanced nearer, they
galloped off to a little distance, and fired as before, repeating the
manoeuvre until the blacks were obliged to retire, with immense loss of
killed and wounded, while hardly a man on their own side was touched.
It wasn't much better with the Zulus on their attack on the laager.
They managed to fling a few assegays into, and under, the waggons; but
the Boers fired upon them, under almost complete shelter, and shot them
down by hundreds.  Dingaan was obliged to make peace, and restore the
cattle, mine among the rest."

"That must have been near about the end of Dingaan's reign," observed
the Swedish clergyman.

"Yes, in less than two years afterwards the Dutch deposed Dingaan, and
made his brother Panda king.  Dingaan fled to the Amaswazis, and they
put him to death.  Panda had a long reign of more than thirty years, and
during that period there was very little fighting with the European
settlers.  He was a different kind of character altogether from his two
brothers, and loved ease and quiet.  But I believe his disposition was
almost as cruel as theirs."

"You are right, sir," said Mr Bilderjik.  "He was as bloodthirsty as
either of them, though he shed the blood of his own people only.  He
would inflict the most frightful penalties for the smallest offences.
If one of his oxen was over-driven or hurt, he would order the cowherd
to be impaled.  Even for slighter offences than this, if the smallest
thing occurred to annoy or cross him, he would sentence the offender to
death, and his soldiers were always ready to execute his commands
without hesitation.  His barbarity drove his subjects away in such
numbers, that Natal was almost peopled with them.  He was a weak ruler,
however, and for the last twenty years of his reign his son Cetewayo,
who is now on the throne, was virtually king."

"Cetewayo!" observed George.  "Ah, I want to know about him!  We hear
plenty in England.  There is great alarm, is there not, that he will
invade this country?  I heard them talking of it at Maritzburg."

"There is great alarm, no doubt," said the farmer, "and it is no great
wonder, seeing that Natal has twice been invaded and devastated by the
Zulus.  But I do not myself believe that he will ever cross the Tugela,
unless he himself is first attacked, and drives his enemies before him.
But I should like to know what you think about him, Hardy.  Living so
near to him as you once did, your opinion must be valuable."

"Yes, I lived in Zululand for several years after I left the army," said
Hardy, "and I saw and heard enough of Cetewayo during that time, to form
a decided opinion about him."

"And what was that opinion, Mr Hardy?" inquired George.

"If I remember right, the English agreed to place him on the throne, on
condition that the lawless and indiscriminate shedding of human blood
should be put a stop to, and that no one should be put to death, until
after a trial and sentence.  There are those that say that this compact
was faithfully kept to."

"And it was," said Hardy, "so long as Cetewayo was insecure of his
throne.  At first this was the case, and he knew that the best hope of
establishing his power lay in the support of the English.  For the first
few years of his reign, therefore, he did, as a rule, loyally carry out
the promises he had given.  But those who watched him most closely know
that he never intended to be a tributary sovereign to any one.  From the
first he revived and developed his uncle Chaka's military policy.  He
reinstated the old regiments, and formed new ones, carefully choosing
men to lead them who were qualified to carry out his designs.  He
rebuilt the military kraals, and obliged his soldiers to live unmarried,
as his uncle had done."

"Ay," interposed George, "as Sultan Amurath did, when he instituted the
Janissaries."

"I daresay you are right, sir," said Hardy, "though I never heard of
him.  Well, the only difference Cetewayo made in his dealings with his
men was that he armed them with guns.  In all other respects it was the
reproduction of Chaka's army--the same enormous numbers, the same close
and jealous discipline, the same absolute devotion to the king's will,
without hesitation or question.  If Cetewayo had ever intended to be
faithful to his engagements with the English, of what use could this
enormous and costly army have been to him?  It is ridiculous to say it
would be needed to put down the Tongas or the Swazies, or even to resist
the aggressions of the Boers.  There is but one use to which he could
have intended to put it, and that is to drive the white man out of the
land."

"Well, there are many, at all events, that think that," observed Mr
Baylen.  "You think, then, that he is going to declare war."

"I doubt his doing that," said Hardy.  "But I think he will provoke the
English to attack him--to invade Zululand, in fact."

"Why should he want them to do that?" asked Redgy.

"He will then fight greatly at an advantage," said Hardy.  "In fact, he
thinks that he sees his way to victory.  I don't say I agree with him in
that--indeed, I don't.  But there is a good deal to be said on his side.
Zululand is a difficult country for an army to traverse.  He knows
every inch of it, and they do not.  The climate is often very unhealthy
to white men.  Disease would probably break out among them, if he could
keep them any time there, whereas his own men are thoroughly inured to
it.  His numbers, again, are vastly in excess of theirs, and if he could
attack them when off their guard, he might inflict frightful loss upon
them.  All these chances are in his favour, and he knows them well."

"In fact, he is trying to pick a quarrel," said Redgy.

"And he may succeed," added Hardy.  "Indeed--" He checked himself and
went on, "Then as to his natural disposition--you asked me what I
thought about that too.  I think he is just like his ancestors, quite as
merciless and bloodthirsty, and even more crafty.  It was said that
during the first few years of his reign he _never_ put any one to death
unless he had really been guilty of some great offence, and that there
was always a regular trial and conviction.  How much truth there is in
that, you may judge from what I am now going to tell you.

"When I first settled in Zululand, there was a Wesleyan missionary
living near me, whose name was Garnett.  He was a very good man, and the
people about there respected him much.  He had made several converts,
amongst others an Induna named Usumanzi, a man of means and some local
importance.  Now it is certain that Cetewayo did not like the
missionaries--one can very well understand why.  The entire submission
to his pleasure, right or wrong, which was the first thing he insisted
upon, was a thing which no Christian could fall in with.  Is it not so,
Mr Bilderjik?"

"Of course he could not," assented the clergyman.  "A Christian's first
law is obedience to God's commandments, not man's.  If the two came into
collision, the obedience to human authority must give way."

"Exactly so, sir," pursued Hardy.  "Well, then, there is no difficulty
in understanding Cetewayo's aversion to the missionaries.  But at the
same time he knew that the missionaries were strongly upheld by the
English, and that any persecution of them on religious grounds would be
sternly resented.  Cetewayo therefore sent a message to Mr Garnett,
desiring him to pay a visit to the royal kraal.  He wanted, he said, to
talk to him about the good things which he taught the people.  Mr
Garnett was only half deceived.  The king really might have been moved
by some desire to know the truth.  But it was far more likely that he
was only pretending such a feeling, in order to get him entirely into
his own power.  Usumanzi earnestly advised him not to go.  He said he
knew that the king had been greatly provoked by his conversion,
regarding him, as he did, as a valuable servant lost to him.  Cetewayo
would either banish him from the country, or, what was more likely,
accuse him of some imaginary crime, and put him to death for it.

"But Mr Garnett resolved to go.  He said there was a hope of doing a
great work for his Master, and he was not to be deterred by the danger
to himself.  I offered to accompany him, as I thought my presence might
be some protection.  You see, though I was living in Zululand, I was
employed by the Natal Government to collect taxes from the native chiefs
every year.  As an agent of the British Government, I knew Cetewayo
would treat me with consideration, and possibly Mr Garnett on my
account."

"Well, you were right, I expect," observed Baylen.

"I was to some extent," assented Hardy.  "As soon as I made it
understood that I was an officer in the employ of the Governor of Natal,
there was a difference in the demeanour of the councillors towards me,
and Mr Garnett too.  A civil reception was given us, and a good hut
assigned for our accommodation.  Then there followed a long delay, and
at last I was told I was to be sent with letters to Sir Henry Bulwer;
and the next day I set out, attended by two of Cetewayo's soldiers.  I
suspected at the time--and subsequent events confirmed my opinion--that
the king wanted to get rid of me, because I stood in the way of his
carrying out his designs against Mr Garnett.  I was no sooner gone than
he was informed there was an accusation made against him of practising
witchcraft.  The king would inquire into the matter himself.  This I
learned from the Zulu who was sent with me.  But what ensued I could
never learn with any certainty.  Mr Garnett, I believe, underwent a
kind of mock trial, being charged with bewitching several persons.  He
was found guilty, and was sentenced to be banished from the country.
Cetewayo had possibly thought that it would be dangerous to put him
publicly to death.  But it came eventually to the same thing.  Mr
Garnett set out, in company with two Zulus, who were directed to convey
him to Delagoa Bay, whither his wife and children had already been sent.
But he never reached his destination.  His guides came back with the
story that he had been killed by a lion.  The general belief was that he
had been murdered, and his body left to be devoured by the hyenas.

"But that was not the worst," resumed Hardy after a pause.  "There was
something like a trial in his instance, and, besides, he might really
have been killed by a wild beast, though the circumstances were full of
suspicion.  The usage of Usumanzi was a much grosser outrage.  No charge
was made against him, nor did he receive so much as a hint that the king
was displeased with him.  But the Isamisi, or prophets, whom, to do them
justice, both Chaka and Dingaan had discouraged, had gained considerable
influence with Cetewayo, and they resented Usumanzi's conversion, and
more particularly when they found that he still adhered to his new creed
after Mr Garnett's disappearance."

"I wonder he didn't leave the country," remarked Ernest Baylen.

"He was advised to do so," said Hardy, "but he was a brave man, and said
he had done no wrong, and that he put his trust in the God he had newly
learned.  Nothing was heard about him for some time.  But one morning,
quite early, I was roused by a number of Zulus living in an adjoining
kraal, who told me that the king had sent an Impi to eat up Usumanzi.
His house had already been surrounded, and himself, and every one
belonging to him, even to the infants in arms, assegayed.  The cattle
were being driven off at that moment.  In an hour or two Usumanzi's
kraal had been entirely destroyed by fire, and the ashes scattered in
all directions.  In a short time not a trace was left of his
habitation."

"And was no complaint made of such an outrage?" asked Margetts.

"Who was there to make it?" inquired Hardy.  "Usumanzi's relatives, if
there were any of them left, were too thankful to have escaped notice,
and were little likely to do anything that might cause them to share his
fate.  Perhaps you think that I might have made some representations to
the Governor of Natal; but I had already incurred suspicion, and
received a hint to keep quiet.  The Government were unwilling at that
time to come to a rupture with Cetewayo.  I knew, too, that I should be
required to produce witnesses; and not one of the Zulus, who knew the
facts, could have been induced, by love or money, to say a word on the
subject.  Most probably they would have said, if they had been brought
into a court of justice, that Usumanzi's kraal had caught fire
accidentally.  No.  He knew in this instance that he was safe, and you
may be assured that, let him profess what he will, there is no
possibility of inducing Cetewayo to respect the rights of his own
subjects, or those of other nations, except by putting him down by force
of arms.  And as for that--" He appeared to be about to add something
more, but checked himself, and addressed his host.  "It must be time for
us to go to bed, Mr Bilderjik," he said.  "We have a long day's work
before us to-morrow, and must start early.  I suppose you mean to set
off for Helpmakaar the first thing in the morning?"

"Helpmakaar?" repeated the farmer.  "No, I shall not set out for that in
the morning, if I do it at all to-morrow.  You have forgotten that we
have left one of our waggons in a damaged condition on the other side of
the Mooi."

"To be sure, so I had.  How stupid of me!  But if we are not going to be
fellow-travellers to-morrow, I should like to have a little talk with
you, Baylen, before we turn in for the night.  Will you walk with me to
the hotel in the village; I can say what I want while we are on the way
there."

Mr Baylen assented.  They said good-night to their host, and stepped
out into the porch, and thence passed through the little garden into the
wide street of the picturesque little town, with its white houses--each
shaded by its green verandah--and its double row of fruit trees already
beginning to spread a pleasant shade.  At that hour it was quite
deserted, and Hardy presently began,--

"I thought it better not to tell you my reason for riding over from
Umvalosa to meet you.  I did not want to alarm the ladies."

"What has happened?" asked Baylen anxiously.

"No injury has been done to your property or your servants," said Hardy.
"But beyond Umvalosa, from a little distance outside the town, as far
as Utrecht, or nearly as far, there is nothing but ruin and
destruction."

"The storm two days ago, do you mean?" suggested Baylen.

"No; this storm has been of man's making," said Hardy.  "Umbelini--you
know him?"

"Every one knows him too well," was the answer.  "If he fell into my
hands, I should be disposed to make short work with him."

"He wouldn't come off much better in mine," said Hardy, "if I caught him
`redhanded,' as the saying is.  He pretends to act independently of
Cetewayo; but nobody doubts he is really under his orders.  Well, he has
made a raid on the district we have been speaking about, with a large
force of Zulus.  They have burnt to the ground every house in it; driven
off the whole of the cattle, and murdered every man, woman, and child
that came in their way."

"The district between Utrecht and Umvalosa?" said Baylen.  "What can
have made Umbelini, or rather Cetewayo, choose that?  Why, that is the
very district which was in dispute, and which the English have awarded
to him!  That is strange!"

"Well, the English have awarded it to him, no doubt," assented Hardy.
"But they didn't give it to him out and out, as he expected perhaps.
The rights of the settlers living in it were to be respected.  Probably
Cetewayo wishes to show his contempt for their decision.  At all events,
there is no doubt that he is showing studied disregard of Sir Henry
Bulwer's demands.  There is this business of the violation of the
English territory, and the murder of the two women by Sirayo.  His
answers about that amount really to an insult.  It is what I have long
supposed, that, although he will not himself attack the English, he
wants to provoke them to attack him."

"I suppose it must be so; and the English will be driven to declare war.
But about this raid by Umbelini.  How far has it spread?  Is it likely
to spread further?  Will it reach Umvalosa?"

"It has not got there yet, and I don't think it will.  The place is
incapable of resisting an attack; but I think Umbelini has already got
as much spoil as he can carry away.  Besides, the English forces are
advancing to Rorke's Drift, and he will avoid any collision with them."

"If Umvalosa is not attacked, we might rest as usual on our way there.
It is one day's journey, you know, from Horner's Kraal."

"Rest?  What, at Rogers' station, Dykeman's Hollow?"

"Yes; we always rest there.  I know Mr Rogers is away in England.  But
we should be made welcome all the same."

"Not a doubt of it.  But you would find his station deserted.  When they
heard of Umbelini's approach, his head men packed his waggons with his
household goods and valuables, and drove away his cattle."

"And where have his waggons and cattle been driven to?" inquired Mr
Baylen.  "To my station--to Horner's Kraal?"

"No; Rogers' men thought of going there; but the cattle and the contents
of the waggons would be a tempting plunder.  Umbelini, who is notorious
for his rapacity, might have sent some of his men in pursuit.  No; they
have gone off to Rorke's Drift, to be under the protection of the
British force assembling there.  And that is where Mrs Baylen and all
your party and waggons must go, if you take my advice--as soon, that is,
as you have recovered the one which has been left on the bank of the
Mooi."

"The troops assembling at Rorke's Drift!  Ah, so you said just now.
Then what we heard at Durban must be true; and an ultimatum has been
sent to Cetewayo."

"So I am told; and that thirty days have been allowed him in which to
send an answer.  If he does not do so, Zululand is to be invaded at
three different points.  One column, under Colonel Pearson, is to cross
the Lower Tugela, and move on by Ekowe.  A second, under Colonel Evelyn
Wood, is to enter by crossing the Blood river, near Kambula.  The third,
commanded by Lord Chelmsford himself, will set out from Rorke's Drift,
and penetrate to the interior by Isandhlwana Hill.  If Cetewayo falls
back, as they expect, before them, the columns will meet at Ulundi.
There he must fight them or surrender.  That is what I am told; but of
course it is only rumour."

"Well, Cetewayo certainly intends to fight us, and I hope the plan of
operations may be successful.  But it does not concern me, and I am
anxious to be out of it.  Can't we go on, resting at any place where we
can find shelter,--at Umvalosa or elsewhere,--and get to Horner's Kraal?
There we shall be well out of it all."

"I really don't think you can, Baylen.  I don't think you'd be troubled
by Umbelini and his Zulus.  As soon as Wood and his men move to their
station on the Blood river, he is sure to take himself off, and will not
return while Wood and his troops remain in that neighbourhood.  But the
country is full of lawless characters of all kinds,--escaped convicts,
bush robbers, and adventurers who have lost everything at the diamond
fields.  There is no legal authority to keep them in control--no
sufficient authority, at all events, and they would murder any one for
the value of a tobacco pipe.  It would not be safe for the ladies of
your party, at all events, to attempt the journey, unless with a
military escort, until order has been restored."

"And I suppose there is a general flight to Rorke's Drift?"

"There were a great many on their way there yesterday.  I passed young
Vander Heyden and his sister, accompanied by Frank Moritz, as I rode
out."

"Vander Heyden and Moritz!  Why, they were in Durban a week or so ago!"

"Yes; but they travelled faster than you.  They reached Vander Heyden's
house--Bushman's Drift, as it is called--just in time to see it all in a
blaze, and the Zulus plundering and killing every one they encountered.
Henryk and the others had just time to escape.  If they had got there a
few hours earlier, they would have been shot or assegayed too."

"And they have gone now to Rorke's Drift?"

"Yes; I exchanged a few words with Moritz.  He was hot enough about what
he had witnessed.  But he was calmness itself to Vander Heyden.  _He_
did not say a word; but he looked like a man who meant to do something
terrible, when the time came.  I fancy some one, of whom he was very
fond, must have been killed.  But I did not like to ask.  I gathered,
however, that he was not going to Rorke's Drift for protection, but for
revenge on those miscreants.  Bitterly and notoriously as he dislikes
the English, he means to join their army as a mounted volunteer.  The
Lord have mercy on the Zulus that come in his way, for he will have
none.  He is an experienced soldier, and will be a valuable recruit."

"Well," said Baylen, "I don't know that I can greatly blame him.  I
shall not be at all surprised if a great many should be found to follow
his example.  It is certainly high time that a stop should be put to
these atrocities.  Well, Hardy, I shall follow your advice.  I shall
send off the waggon with Mrs Baylen and Clara, with Matamo to take care
of them, to-morrow morning, and I shall follow with the other as soon as
we have got it out of the Mooi.  I suppose the road to Rorke's Drift is
open and safe, is it not?"

"Well, for it to be that, Umbelini and his Zulus must have withdrawn.  I
expect to hear with certainty about that to-morrow morning, and will
come down and tell you about it before I start.  Mrs Baylen must not
set off until the road is safe."

"Many thanks.  By-the-bye, I forgot to ask whether you have suffered
much loss yourself from this Impi?"

"Not very much, thank you.  I had fortunately sold off my stock a short
time ago, and I had the money with me.  My servants also got notice in
time, and made their escape, with most of the articles of any real
value.  The house has been burnt and wrecked; but I daresay I shall get
compensation when the war is over.  Meanwhile, I mean to follow Vander
Heyden's example, and take service with the mounted volunteers."

CHAPTER TEN.

Baylen returned to the pastor's house too late to impart any of the
information he had received to the rest of the family; and, besides, he
judged it better that they should all get a sound night's rest,
undisturbed by perplexities and alarms.  He was up, however, by
daybreak, and soon afterwards Hardy arrived with the information that
Umbelini and his warriors had all returned to their mountains without
having approached Umvalosa.  No doubt this was due to the fact that some
of Colonel Evelyn Wood's men were on their way to the Blood river.  But
the condition of the Transvaal, between Umvalosa and Horner's Kraal, was
even worse than he had described it.  If Mr Baylen could obtain an
escort of soldiers for the first ten miles or so, it might be safe for
him to go, but not otherwise.

"Very well," said Mr Baylen.  "I shan't be able to get that--not for
some time, at all events.  And I am more likely to get it at Rorke's
Drift than anywhere else.  So the plan I agreed on with you last night
shall hold good.  I shall send Matamo to get the waggon ready as soon as
possible.  When I have seen that off, the boys and I will go down to the
Mooi.  Mr Rivers, what will you and Mr Margetts like to do?  It will
be of no use your going to Mr Rogers' station, after what Hardy has
told us, and I don't think it will be any better if you went to
Spielman's Vley.  It is very improbable that you would find the Mansens
there."

"True, sir," said George; "so I was thinking myself.  But I should learn
there what had become of them, and I am most anxious to join my mother
as quickly as possible."

"Spielman's Vley?" interposed Hardy.  "What, Ludwig Mansen's old
station, do you mean, near Landman's Drift, where I live?"

"Yes," answered George.  "Mrs Mansen is my mother."

"Really! ah, and Mrs Mansen's daughter is named Rivers, and you are
like her.  I have been puzzling my head for a long time who of my
acquaintances it was whom you were so like.  I know Mrs Mansen and her
second husband very well.  But I thought that her only son had been lost
at sea."

"So she believes," said George.  "I was wrecked, and nearly all hands
were lost."

"She will be very happy when she learns the truth.  But it will be no
use for you to go to Spielman's Vley to find her.  Six months ago,
almost immediately after Mr Rogers' departure, there came news that
Mrs Mansen's uncle, who lived near Zeerust, had died, and bequeathed
all his property to her.  It is a valuable and productive farm, I am
told, and I fancy Mansen did not like the look of things in these parts,
and resolved to move to Zeerust.  He sold Spielman's Vley, and moved off
as soon as he could to his new place.  He has been gone a good many
weeks.  He has probably before this settled down at Umtongo, as
Christopher Wylie's farm was called."

"And where is Zeerust?" asked George, a good deal disturbed at these
tidings.  "Zeerust! wasn't that the place you were saying something
about last night, Mr Baylen?"

"Yes," answered the person addressed.  "I believe I mentioned Zeerust,
in the story I told you about Matamo.  It is a long way there--three or
four hundred miles, I should think.  And it was, in the days when I was
speaking about, a very dangerous journey.  But I have no doubt it is
much easier now.  You mustn't be cast down, my lad," he continued
kindly, observing how much George appeared to be distressed.  "You are a
stout young fellow, with a head on your shoulders, and a brave heart to
boot.  You will get there, I have no doubt, quite safe.  Don't you think
so, Hardy?"

"I have no doubt of it," answered the person addressed.  "The only thing
is that I don't think Mr Rivers can attempt the journey just now."

"Why not?" asked George.  "I heard what you said about Mrs and Miss
Baylen, and I quite agreed in it, but there will be no ladies in our
party, and I can make my hand guard my head.  At least, I have never
failed to do so yet."

"I don't doubt it, Mr Rivers," said Hardy.  "But the danger to you
would not be only from ruffians and robbers; there would be risk from
wild animals to any one not acquainted with the country.  There are not
many lions or rhinoceroses or elephants in those parts, no doubt; you
seldom or never meet with them about there in these days.  But there are
plenty of leopards and buffaloes, and, what is more dangerous, deadly
serpents--puff-adders, ondaras, cobras, and the like.  And you may catch
marsh fever any day, if you sleep in the swamp neighbourhood.  You would
require one skilful guide at least, and it would be better if you had
two or three.  Now these are not to be had at present.  You must wait
till this war is over, which we may hope will not be a long one.  Then
perhaps Mr Baylen here will lend you Matamo and Utango.  They would
take you across safely enough."

"I think that might be managed," assented Farmer Baylen.  "Hardy's
advice is good.  You will do wisely to wait till this war is ended."

"I have no doubt of his kindness, or of yours either, sir," said George;
"but I own that this delay, coming after so many months of expectation,
does vex me.  How long do you think it will be before the war is over,
Mr Hardy?"

"That is hard to say," answered Hardy.  "It depends on how our troops
are handled, and how quickly they may be able to force on a battle."

"You have no doubt as to what will be the issue of the battle, when it
does take place?" suggested Redgy.

"Well, no.  Against disciplined English troops, unless there were great
incapacity or great cowardice, the blind courage of these Zulus would
avail little.  But there can hardly be incapacity, for Colonels Wood and
Pearson are undoubtedly able officers, and Lord Chelmsford has the name
of being a good general--though that has not been so clearly proved.
And such a thing as cowardice in English soldiers is unheard of.  I am
not so sure, however, about the Natal contingent.  There is such a
terror of Cetewayo among the natives, that, but for the presence and
example of English troops, I do not feel certain that they could be got
to face the Zulus.  However, the chances are that a few weeks will see
the Zulu king defeated and put down."

"Well, I don't think I can do better than take your advice," said
George.  "I suppose Redgy and I had better go with your party to Rorke's
Drift, if you will allow us.  Perhaps I may be of some use there."

"Perhaps you may indeed," suggested Hardy.  "Why, you and Mr Margetts
had better join the mounted volunteers, as I mean to do.  They would be
delighted to have you, and in a few weeks' time--before the fighting
begins at all events--you will have had nearly all the drilling that
would be required."

"That is not a bad idea," returned George.  "I wonder I did not think of
it before.  What do you say to it, Redgy?"

"Why, that it has been running in my head all the morning," said
Margetts.  "You see you and I have been taught to ride pretty well.
They won't require of you to have a seat like a life-guardsman in
Piccadilly, with the tips of your toes in the stirrup, out here.  And we
know how to shoot too, and are pretty good hands at single-stick, and
will soon learn the use of our swords.  We should soon be qualified for
the rough and ready work out here.  I should like to see these Zulu
fellows bowled over, I must say."

"Very good! then that's settled," said George.  "We'll ride over with
the waggon to Rorke's Drift this morning, and offer ourselves as
volunteers; and I think we had better go and saddle our horses at once,
as I see they are inspanning the oxen already.  We have only to take our
leave of Mr and Mrs Bilderjik, and thank them for their hospitality."

"You need not take leave of me yet, Mr Rivers," said the Swedish
pastor.  "I am going, with Mr Baylen's leave, to make one of the party
to the Drift, and Mrs Bilderjik will accompany me."

"I hope you don't imagine there is any danger here from the Zulus,"
remarked Hardy.  "As I have told my friend Baylen, the Zulu Impi has
been already withdrawn, nor is there the least chance of its return."

"I do not imagine there is," said Mr Bilderjik.  "Nor has Umbelini
anything to do with my movements.  But I think my brother pastor at
Rorke's Drift and his wife will have more on their hands for some time
to come than they can manage, and that they will be glad of our help.  I
can be better spared here, where my schoolmaster will do all that is
required in ordinary, and I shall ride over occasionally myself.  I am
going to fetch my horse, and will ride with you.  You may be glad of my
presence as a guide, and also, it is possible, to answer questions that
may be asked.  There are a great many suspicious characters about, and
the officers in command require explanations before they allow any one
to pass."

"I forgot that," said George, "and so, I suppose, did Mr Baylen."

"No, I imagine he reckoned on your riding by the side of the waggons, in
which case you would of course have passed as belonging to his party.
But you would find it very dull work, keeping by the side of the waggon
the whole way."

In another half-hour they had all set out--Baylen and his sons to the
Mooi, and Hardy to Umvalosa.  The large waggon jolted off with the
ladies seated in it.  The missionary and the two young Englishmen
cantered off in advance, Haxo, the Hottentot groom and stableman,
following on a Kaffir pony.

"Have you been long settled in this country, Mr Bilderjik?" asked
George, as they drew rein after a sharp ride of half an hour.

"Do you mean in South Africa, or in Natal?"

"I mean in Africa generally.  How long is it since you left Europe?"

"A great many years--five-and-thirty or so.  It is certainly nearly that
time since I landed at Cape Town, and was sent up to Namaqualand."

"Ah, you have been there, among the Hottentots?"

"I was about five years there."

"Were you settled in one place, or did you travel about?"

"My residence was always in the same place, but I and my wife made
continual excursions into different parts of the country."

"Did you find the people willing to receive you?"

"That is a question which it is not easy to answer," said the Swedish
minister.  "They showed no dislike to us; indeed, they were willing
enough to listen, but, I fear, to very little purpose.  For the first
two or three years, I continually fancied that I was making some
progress, getting some hold upon them.  But I am afraid it was nearly
all fancy."

"What stood in your way?"

"In the first place, the profound ignorance of the people, and their low
intellectual capacity.  They could understand all that was necessary for
supplying their wants, averting dangers, relieving pain, and the like.
If Christianity consisted in the proper discharge of duties like these,
one might have made good Christians of them without any great
difficulty.  They might have been taught to be diligent, and kind, and
truthful, and forgiving--though those last two qualities were not so
easy to teach.  But when any one tried to impress upon them the notion
of an Unseen Power watching over them, to whom they owed obedience, one
entered upon an almost impossible task.  They couldn't understand that
any being could exist whom they could not see, much less that he could
have power or authority over them.  Where was any evidence of so
extraordinary a thing, beyond my bare word?  It was useless, again, to
tell them that their relatives, who had been taken away from earth, were
not dead, but living elsewhere.  They had seen them die, they said, and
knew that they turned to dust, and there was no more left of them than
there was of the wood they had burned for their fire yesterday.  They
were on the whole a kindly race, and had received such hard usage from
the Dutch that they appreciated in proportion the kindness shown to
them.  But it was impossible to lift their minds--so at least it
seemed--from the degradation to which they had sunk."

"Had you not a better chance with the children, sir?" asked Margetts.

"That is every missionary's hope," answered Bilderjik.  "Yes, we
succeeded in teaching some of the children to read and write, though, to
be sure, not very efficiently; and they could take in some very simple
teaching on plain subjects, as, for instance, natural history, or
geography.  I suppose this might have been further developed, until, in
process of time, the intellect was fully awakened.  But it would be a
long and difficult task, extending probably over more than one man's
entire life."

"But to have accomplished any part of such a work would be worth the
labour of a life," said George.

The missionary looked pleased.  "You are right, Mr Rivers," he said.
"That is the true way in which to view it.  A man's work is often to be
estimated--not by what he himself does, but by what he enables others
after him to do.  `One soweth and another reapeth,' is truer, I think,
of the work of the gospel than of anything else.  Have you any idea of
giving yourself to it?"

"I have come out to South Africa mainly with that intention," said
George.  "It has struck me, since we left Colenso, that entering the
Volunteers, as I declared my intention of doing, may not be quite
consistent with it.  What do you think?"

The clergyman smiled.  "A minister of the gospel is a man of peace," he
said.  "But war is sometimes absolutely necessary to the preservation of
peace.  And that, I am inclined to believe, is the case in the present
instance.  If you were actually an ordained minister, I think you ought
not to take part in any violent proceedings, unless for the purpose of
preventing some actual deed of violence.  But you are at present a
layman, and the cause is one which every right-minded man ought to
uphold.  Situated as you are, I don't see why you should not enlist.
Did I not hear you say that you were going to Umvalosa?"

"Yes, to Dykeman's Hollow--Mr Rogers' place."

"Oh ay, I know him," said Mr Bilderjik.  "He is a good and worthy man,
and so is his chaplain, Mr Lambert.  He often visits me.  We agree that
there is very little difference between our churches, in respect either
of doctrine or discipline--very little even at home, none at all, it may
be said, out here.  Are you to be one of Mr Rogers' schoolmasters?"

"Yes," said George; "one of his schoolmasters for some time, and
afterwards one of his chaplains."

"You will be doing a good work.  He has several at Umvalosa, and at
Pieter's Kop, and Spielman's Vley, and Landman's Drift, and several
other places.  Mr Rogers is one of those who make a good use of the
means entrusted to them.  I wish we had many like him."

"I wish so too," said George.  "But we have got away from what we were
talking of, the Hottentots.  I had heard that they are as a rule
untruthful and sensual, but also that they are kind-hearted and
affectionate.  What is your experience on this point, I should like to
know?"

"In all countries, so far as my experience extends," answered Mr
Bilderjik,--"in all countries of the world, I believe, parents are
affectionate to their children, unless where some strong motive
influences them to be otherwise.  It is little more, in fact, than a
natural instinct that prompts their affection.  But where there is this
strong motive, the parental instinct is soon disregarded.  In countries,
for instance, where boys are a source of profit, and girls a burden and
a cost, as in China, female child-murder becomes a common practice.  In
lands, again, where food is with difficulty obtained, and every
additional mouth deprives others of their full supply of sustenance,
infants are killed without scruple.  The Hottentots are no exception to
this.  This is the case even where the natural affection of parents
might have influenced them to make sacrifices for their own children.
Where the children of others are concerned, there is the most absolute
indifference to suffering.  That Hottentot groom of mine, Haxo, is an
evidence in his own person of it."

"Your Hottentot groom yonder?  What of him?"

"I have had him ever since he was a baby," said the Swede.  "This is the
way in which I came by him.  While we were on our way to the upper part
of Namaqualand, and were a mile or two from the Hottentot village where
we meant to pass the Sunday, we fell in with a tribe of Hottentots, who
were emigrating to a different part of the country.  We sat down to rest
at the spring at which the Hottentots had been drinking.  We soon got
very friendly with them, making them presents of a few toys which we had
brought with us, to their great delight.  They listened very attentively
to all I had to say to them, and we parted with them having formed a
very favourable impression of them.  There was one family in particular
that took our fancy.  It consisted of a fine handsome man, a rather
delicate wife with an infant, not yet weaned, and two lads almost grown
up.  They went off in the cool of the evening, taking the same path
which we meant to take on the Monday.  We passed the Sunday as we
intended, and the next day set out.  After a journey of an hour or two
we came upon a woman who lay under the shadow of a rock with an infant
in her arms, evidently dying of exhaustion and hunger.  We gave her some
nourishment, but it was plain that she was too far gone to be restored.
She appeared to know us, and with some difficulty we recognised her as
the young mother we had so greatly admired.  It appeared that after the
party had proceeded some distance, it was reported to them that there
was a lion in an adjoining donga, which would probably attack them if it
was not destroyed.  All the men had gone in pursuit of it and killed it.
But before this could be done, the woman's husband had been struck by a
blow from the lion's paw, and died in a few minutes.  There was a debate
held as to what was to be done with the family.  The two boys were
strong and active, and would soon become useful as hunters.  It was
worth while keeping them, but they could not, or would not, support
their mother.  No one was willing to take her as a wife, she being
notoriously weak and sickly.  She tried hard, she told us, to induce one
of the women to take her child, and save its life.  Her own, she knew,
would soon come to an end.  But the baby was to all appearance as sickly
as herself.  After an hour's talk, the whole party went on, leaving her
and her infant to die in the wilderness.  I should much doubt whether
her boys ever gave her another thought."

"Shocking!" said Margetts.  "I suppose the poor thing died, did she
not?"

"Yes, died in a few hours.  We gave her what sustenance we had with us,
and did what we could for her.  But she was dying when we fell in with
her, and I do not suppose that the most skilful physician in Europe
could have restored her."

"And you took the baby and brought it up?" suggested George.

"Yes, that was the only thing that gave her any comfort.  We promised
that we would take charge of it, and see that it was cared for.  She
died quite contentedly, when she had seen it go to sleep in Mrs
Bilderjik's arms, and we buried her in the same grave to which the
remains of her husband had been committed on the previous day."

"How has the boy turned out?" asked Margetts.

"Very well," said the Swede.  "He makes a good farm servant, and
thoroughly understands the management of horses.  But he is better at
hunting than anything else.  He has all the instincts of his race.  I
frequently send him out with his pony into the wild country, and he is
pretty sure to come back before long with a springbok or two, or a
hartebeest, or eland; what we don't eat we can dispose of to our
neighbours.  Mr Baylen spoke in high praise of his Bechuana Matamo.
But I think Haxo is pretty nearly his match."

"Any way, he will be so by the time he reaches Matamo's age," said
George.  "He must be a good deal younger."

"Yes, Haxo is not much more than thirty.  By-the-bye, you were speaking
of making an expedition to Zeerust, when this miserable war is over.  I
did not hear clearly what was passing, but I thought I understood that."

"Yes," said George.  "They tell me that my mother has removed there; and
my first object in life is to find her."

"Ah, I thought so.  Well, I daresay I can lend you the services of Haxo.
In fact, it would be as much to my advantage as yours that he should
accompany you.  There is a message I must send to Kolobeng, and I had
thought of sending Haxo with it.  If he travelled across the Transvaal
with your party, it would be an advantage both to him and to you."

"To us certainly," said Rivers.  "And I thank you for the offer.  But I
have not yet done with my inquiries about the natives.  You have told me
about the Hottentots, but not about the Kaffirs and Zulus; I want to
know more about them than any other of the natives.  I am in no way
surprised that you found it difficult to make any way with the Namaquas
and Bosjesmans.  They are by all accounts the very lowest types of
humanity.  But from what I have seen of the Kaffirs, the case must be
quite different with them.  They strike me as being a highly intelligent
race--as intelligent, I should say, as the lower classes in any European
country.  The same obstacles that stand in the way of the conversion of
the Hottentots cannot surely exist in their instance."

"You are right, Mr Rivers," returned Mr Bilderjik.  "There are not the
same obstacles.  But, unfortunately, there are as bad, or, as some would
say, worse obstacles.  The Hottentots have, strictly speaking, no
religious ideas at all.  They are simply intelligent animals, and not
too intelligent either.  But the Kaffir has a religion, though one so
wholly false as to render him in a great measure incapable of conceiving
the true one.  He believes in a God, and even, in a wild, confused way,
in a Creator of the universe.  But these are in his view only _men_.
The dead, according to his ideas, become potent spirits, which must be
propitiated, or they will do the living the most terrible injuries.
There is no sense of love or of benefits conferred, but only the power
of working evil.  If the seasons are mild and genial, and the crops
productive, that is the ordinary course of nature, and there is no need
to be thankful for it.  If there comes tempest, or blight, or wasting
disease, it is because the spirits are angered at neglect shown, or
insult offered them; and sacrifices, often of the most bloody and cruel
kind, must be offered, or the vengeance of the angry gods will fall
still more heavily on the people.  In short, it is a religion of fear
and hate, instead of being what it should be, a religion of love."

"Are they not thankful, sir, to any one who will deliver them from such
a yoke of bondage?" asked George.

"One would certainly expect that they would be.  But the gospel does not
make the progress that might be looked for.  It is in direct opposition
to two of their ruling passions, their thirst for revenge and their
sensuality.  The preachers of the gospel especially forbid bloodshed and
polygamy; and these are the two things their chiefs live for."

"Polygamy!  Ay, I was going to ask you about that.  I can understand
that you would find yourself in a difficulty there.  But I do not quite
know what your practice is.  If a Kaffir chief, who has a number of
wives, is converted, would you oblige him to put them all away but one,
as a condition on which you will admit him to baptism?"

"It is a point on which Christian ministers are not fully agreed.  I see
a difficulty myself.  A man has solemnly promised to take and keep a
woman for his wife, and she has been faithful to him.  If he puts her
away, she may not only be distressed for the loss of her husband, whom
she loves, but may be placed in very painful and degrading
circumstances, which she has in no way merited.  It seems contrary to
the genius of Christianity, which is replete with justice and mercy,
that she should so suffer.  The Scripture no doubt allows but of one
wife, that being God's primary institution of marriage.  It cannot,
therefore, permit any to _contract_ polygamy, but that hardly meets the
case.  Scripture also commends the man `who swears unto his neighbour
and disappoints him not.'  It is a great difficulty."

"How do you yourself meet it, sir?"

"I do not lay down any hard and fast rule.  I make a point of talking
the matter over with the husband and with the wives, and try to induce
them voluntarily to separate, in every case but that of the wife first
married.  But if I cannot succeed in this, I do not refuse baptism.  We
must remember that, though polygamy has always been a thing contrary to
the divine intention, it was tolerated `for the hardness of men's
hearts,' until the truth in all its fulness was bestowed upon men."

"It is not the first time that the difficulty has occurred," said
George.  "The French Church, after the conversion of the northern
barbarians, was long embarrassed by the same question."

"True; and the custom gradually died out, and was heard of no more, as
Christian light grew stronger," said Mr Bilderjik.  "We must hope that
the same result will follow in Southern Africa.  But here I think we are
at last.  If I do not mistake, that is the Buffalo river that we see
glancing in the distance, and those small specks are the houses at
Rorke's Drift."

"Yes, that must be the place," said George.  "See the baggage-waggons,
and the horses and men on either side the ford.  But there is nothing
even resembling a village, that I can see."

This opinion was confirmed as they drew nearer.  There was a stone
kraal, and a storehouse near it, and at a distance of a hundred feet or
so another building, which, as they afterwards learned, was used as an
hospital for thirty sick soldiers.  Nearly a quarter of a mile off, in a
hollow between two hills, stood the house in which Mr Bilderjik's
brother minister resided.

CHAPTER ELEVEN.

Mr Bilderjik rode up to his brother pastor's abode, by whom he and his
young friends were very kindly received, and they were all invited to
enter his parlour; where, considerably to George's surprise, he
encountered his old companions on board the _Zulu Queen_, the two Vander
Heydens, and Mynheer Moritz.  Annchen came forward with a smile and a
blush to welcome George and Redgy, and Moritz was extremely cordial in
his greetings.  Vander Heyden also, though somewhat stiffer in his
demeanour, saluted them with courtesy, expressing his satisfaction at
meeting them again.  He explained what, however, the young men had
already been informed of, his intention to join as a volunteer the force
which was to be sent for the purpose of putting down Cetewayo's lawless
rule.  "It is not only," he said, "that I have the barbarous murder of a
near relative to avenge, but I feel that there will be neither law nor
justice in this land until his power is destroyed.  I do not know what
brings you here, Mr Rivers; but I should be glad to think that our aims
and intentions are the same."

"That is so," said George cordially.  "I am persuaded that, whatever may
have been said of former wars which England may have waged with this
country, the one she has now undertaken is the cause of justice and
right.  I am glad to think we shall be fellow-campaigners in it.  I
suppose there is no doubt that they will accept our services."

"None indeed," answered Vander Heyden.  "You may assure yourself of
that.  There will be few recruits that they will welcome more readily."

Vander Heyden's words proved true.  George and Redgy were admitted
without any demur, as was also Hardy, who arrived two or three days
afterwards.  He was a more valuable recruit than any of the party,
having served many years in various campaigns under Havelock, Napier,
and Wolseley.  His advice and help were most serviceable to George and
Redgy, and a close intimacy soon sprang up between the three.  Their
example proved catching.  About a fortnight after their arrival at
Rorke's Drift, the three young Baylens and Matamo made their appearance,
having persuaded their father, after many entreaties, to allow them to
enter the same company as their friends, in the Mounted Volunteers.
George was surprised to see them, for the Baylens had been gone more
than a week.  A message had been sent to the President of the Orange
Free State, and it was thought necessary, in the disturbed state of the
country, that the messenger should have a military escort.  As they
would pass very near Horner's Kraal, Farmer Baylen had obtained
permission to accompany it.  But it now appeared that, as soon as they
reached home, the young men had made such urgent representations, as to
wring from their father a reluctant consent.  He had insisted, however,
that Matamo should accompany them, upon whom he laid both his commands
and entreaties to keep a careful watch on his sons.

The eight friends, for so they soon became, found the time pass
pleasantly enough, while the preparations for the campaign were going
on.  There was the morning drill and parade, the mess-table, at which
the six English and the two Dutchmen sat next each other, and there were
sword-exercises, and practices with the rifle, which filled up the time,
so as to allow of little leisure.  In the evening they would commonly
adjourn to a neighbouring seat under the trees, where they beguiled the
time with narratives of past adventures, and speculations as to the
approaching struggle.  Hardy was a particularly pleasant companion.  His
anecdotes of the Indian Mutiny, the Abyssinian and Ashantee expeditions,
had a great interest for young soldiers who had never yet encountered
the enemy.  He told them of the relief of Lucknow, and how he had stood
by the terrible Well of Cawnpore; how he had accompanied Sir Garnet
Wolseley in his march to Coomassie; and how he had witnessed the final
discomfiture of King Theodore.  He regarded the Sepoys, he told them, as
more dangerous enemies, than either the Abyssinians or the Ashantees.
But none of them could, for a moment, compare with the Zulus.  It was
not merely the brute courage of these last-named savages that rendered
them so formidable, for almost all barbarous nations are indifferent to
danger.  It was their discipline, their devotion to their king's
commands, and their contempt for Europeans, that made them so
formidable.  They could not be cowed or terrified.  Nothing but
downright hard blows would quell them; and they would endure an amazing
amount of hard blows, before they would knock under.

"Were you ever in very great danger during the Ashantee campaign?" asked
Redgy, at one of these evening seances.

"Not more than any one must encounter, who goes on a campaign, I
believe," answered Hardy.  "No; the greatest danger I was ever in, I
think, was during the Abyssinian war, and the danger did not come from a
man, but an elephant."

"Tell us about it, Hardy," said Walter Baylen.  "I did not know King
Theodore used elephants in his army."

"No, it was not in battle, it was during the march," was the rejoinder.
"Ours was the advanced guard of the army, and we had entered Abyssinia,
and were passing through a very wild country, partly covered with long
grass, partly with dense forest, when suddenly an enormous elephant
rushed out of the bush upon us.  He was the biggest elephant I ever saw.
I don't think he could have stood less than some inches over eleven
feet."

"I thought they were found much larger than that," said Margetts.

"Ah, so people say," said Hardy.  "They talk of their being fourteen,
fifteen, and sixteen feet high, but that is all fancy.  Matamo here, who
has shot plenty of them, would tell you so.  How high was the largest
elephant you ever shot, Matamo?"

"The bull-elephants are mostly nine or ten feet," said the Bechuana.
"Some stand eleven feet, but not many.  I once saw one eleven and a half
feet high, but never bigger."

"Just so," said Hardy.  "Well, this chap, I should think, might have
been eleven and a half.  He was, I fancy, what they call a rogue
elephant--an elephant, that is to say, who has been sent to Coventry,
for some offence, by his companions.  They are always extremely
dangerous, and will sometimes attack a man without provocation; which
elephants, as an ordinary rule, will not do.  He had the most
magnificent tusks I ever saw; I suppose our commanding officer, Captain
Sparrow, noticed this, and thought they would sell for a lot of money in
Magdala.  He gave the order for all of us to fire upon him, and kill
him.  I was aware of the danger, and ventured to step up to him, and ask
him to recall his order.  I knew how difficult the elephant is to kill,
except to experienced hunters.  It was before the days of the
Martini-Henrys, you will remember.  I suppose the captain thought that
out of a hundred shots one must be mortal.  The men fired before I could
get his attention; and, I suppose, considering the size of the mark,
every one must have hit him.  He staggered under the shock, and his
sides streamed with blood, but he did not fall."

"No, Mr Hardy," said Vander Heyden, smiling; "no more than a man would
fall if he was pricked with a hundred needles.  Well, what next?"

"The next thing was that he recovered his legs," said Hardy, "and glared
round at us with an angry eye, as much as to ask, who was to pay for
this outrage?  I was nearest to him, and I think he had seen me move out
to Captain Sparrow, and had an idea that I might have been the author of
the attack.  Any way, I felt for a minute or two very uncomfortable;
but, if he had suspected me, he changed his mind, and made a rush
straight at Captain Sparrow.  The captain ran for it, and dodged behind
his men.  It was no good.  The elephant soon caught him with his trunk,
whirled him into the air as if he had been a shuttlecock, and, when he
came down again, trampled upon him again and again, till he had trodden
all human likeness out of him.  Then he looked round upon the ranks
again, as much as to say, `That's enough for this time, but you'd better
not try this again.'  After which he turned quietly round and went into
the bush.  We dug a grave, and scraped together, as well as we could,
the bloody and mangled remains.  I shall never forget the look the
elephant gave me.  It was as much as to say, `If I thought you had
anything to do with it, I'd give it to you too.'"

"Ha! that was a narrow escape, Mr Hardy," said Moritz; "but I think my
friend Henryk's here was narrower still.  I daresay he will tell it you
himself."

The others joining in the request, Vander Heyden complied willingly
enough.

"It occurred some years ago," he said.  "I was staying at the time at
Pretoria, with my relative Pieter Uys, and we had gone out for some
bok-shooting in the wild country that runs up towards the Limpopo.  It
was generally believed that the wild beasts had left that neighbourhood;
but I imagine that a hunt must have been going on somewhere near the
Limpopo, and a number of elephants, some of them wounded, were making
their way south.  At all events, they broke upon us without our having
had any suspicion of their being in our neighbourhood, bursting through
the thick mimosas round us, as though they had been so many bulrushes.
We were three in party--Frank, myself, and a Hottentot named Kololo.
One of the largest of the herd came so suddenly upon us that we had no
time to think of escaping.  We did the only thing there was to do: we
levelled our rifles and fired, hoping to strike him in the heart or
brain.  Kololo, poor fellow, aimed right enough; but the elephant tossed
his head at the moment, and the ball struck his tusk and glanced off.
The movement distracted my aim also, and my bullet only inflicted a
flesh wound.  Frank's rifle, luckily for him, was at the moment empty.
The elephant glared at us, then ran up and caught Kololo round the waist
with his trunk and flung him up a great distance into the air, so that
he fell among the Tambookie grass.  Then he charged me, caught me, as he
had Kololo, round the waist, and pitched me up as he had him, as easy as
a boy shies a stone into the air.  Fortunately for me, there was great
motjeerie close at hand.  I was thrown across one of the great branches,
and was jammed into a fork of the tree, so tight that I could not
release myself.  The elephant stopped below and waited for me to fall,
but, seeing that I did not, he rushed after Kololo, who was still lying
half stunned in the Tambookie grass, and trampled him, very much as Mr
Hardy describes, into powder.  Then he came back to the tree where I was
still lying insensible, and, seeing that I was out of his reach, twisted
his trunk round the bole and tried to tear it up.  Then he put his
forehead against it and tried to push it down.  Big as it was, it
cracked under his enormous weight.  But by this time Frank had reloaded
his rifle, and got a clear sight of him, as he stood pushing at the
tree.  The ball passed through his heart, and he fell dead instantly.
If Frank had taken a bad aim, I shouldn't have been sitting here to tell
the story."

"Well, I think your escape was narrower than Hardy's," said Ernest
Baylen.  "Halloo, Willikind, what now?"

This question was addressed to his brother Wilhelm, who at this moment
approached, accompanied by Sergeant Long.

"Your services are required, Mr Vander Heyden," said the latter.  "Our
colonel wishes to obtain some information from Mr Pieter Uys, who has
joined Colonel Wood as a volunteer at Bemta's Kop.  The colonel has been
told that you are well known to Mr Uys."

"Yes," said Vander Heyden; "he was my guardian, and I have known him all
my life."

"So he was informed.  He wishes to send a verbal message, and receive a
verbal answer, as any writing might, by some accident, fall into the
hands of the enemy.  Will you and Mr Moritz go to the colonel, who is
waiting for you at his quarters?"

The two Dutchmen rose, put on their swords and helmets, and went off in
the direction indicated.

"The colonel thinks I ought to take eight or ten with me," continued
Sergeant Long, looking round him, "as the roads are said to be beset by
a number of lawless fellows, both black and white, who would show no
respect for the British flag.  Will any of you gentlemen volunteer to
accompany me?"

He was answered by a general cry of assent.  Pleasant as their camp life
was, there was something of monotony in it, and the young men were glad
of a little variety.  "I will," and "I will," was the cry on every lip.

"A ride to Bemta's Kop will be some fun," remarked Margetts.  "Drill and
sword-exercise are very well in their way, but there may be too much
even of them."

"You will soon see plenty of fun, sir," observed Sergeant Long.
"Cetewayo's time will be up in two or three days now, and there is no
chance of his knocking under."  In another quarter of an hour the party
had set out.  It consisted of ten persons--there was Sergeant Long, who
was in command, the two Dutchmen, George, Margetts, and Hardy, the three
young Baylens, and Matamo.  The last-named had been very urgent to be
allowed to accompany the party, and, as he was a strong, alert, and
active fellow, Sergeant Long had made no objection.

The road lay for some distance along the bank of the Buffalo river, and
was at first quite open and safe to travel.  Knowing that the whole
neighbourhood, except within the immediate contiguity of the camp, was
full of dangerous characters of all kinds, Sergeant Long had impressed
on the party the necessity of keeping a bright look-out Matamo, in
particular, whose long training particularly qualified him for such
duties, was told to report to the sergeant anything suspicious that
might present itself to him.  But for some time there was nothing that
could occasion uneasiness.  There was neither rock nor wood for a long
distance on either side of the road, which could possibly afford shelter
to an enemy.  But after an hour's ride the character of the country
began to alter.  Ridges of rock appeared rising one above another, until
their height became sufficient to shut out the view beyond.  Farther on,
these ridges began to be clothed with thorns and shrubs of various
kinds, presenting places from which it would be easy to fire unobserved
on any one passing by.  The farther the road ran, the more dangerous did
it appear; and at last, when they were approaching Bemta's Kop, Sergeant
Long drew rein, and called up Matamo.

"I don't like this," he said.  "Do you know this road?  Have you often
travelled by it?"

"I know the road pretty well," answered Matamo.  "But if the Zulus or
the white robbers hide in the bank, it will not be possible to see them
till they fire."

"Just so.  Are there many bad places before we reach Bemta's Kop?"

"Plenty of bad places--as bad or worse than these.  But I chance to know
a way round.  It is a mile or two longer, but we shall be safe from the
robbers there."

"We should lose time by taking that, but I really think it would be
safer.  What do you say, Mr Hardy?" he continued, drawing him aside.
"I don't like the look of the road; and if it is true that there are
large gangs of ruffians of all kinds about, it is not safe to proceed
farther in a route like this."

"I am quite of your mind, sergeant," said Hardy; "I know Matamo is
entirely to be trusted."

"Very good; so be it.  Show us the way, Matamo, and we will follow."

The Bechuana complied.  Turning back about fifty yards, he urged his
horse between two almost perpendicular masses of rock, and then made his
way among the boles of the trees for perhaps a quarter of a mile.  Then
he turned sharp to the right, and followed a similar course, appearing
to know his way, as if by instinct, among the yellow woods and
oomahaamas, of which the wood chiefly consisted.  A bare, open country
followed, along which they rode for a long distance without seeing so
much as an animal or a bird the entire way.  Presently Matamo again
turned sharply to the right, and after a short ride through some
thickets of scrub, the summit of Bemta's Kop, and soon afterwards
Colonel Evelyn Wood's encampment, came in sight.

On arriving there, Sergeant Long presented himself at the quarters of
the commanding officer and stated his errand.  Mr Uys, it appeared, was
in the camp, and Vander Heyden and Moritz were immediately conducted to
him.  The others were invited to sit down to refreshments offered them.
It was seen at once that they were not common soldiers, and the officers
entered into friendly conversation with them.

"You are fortunate in having got along that road in safety," observed
Captain Forester to George.  "It is not everybody who does.  Only two
days ago some waggons bringing in supplies were attacked by a lot of
these fellows in open day, and several of our men were wounded.  They
got the worst of it, however, and perhaps that has induced them to sheer
off.  I believe one or two of them were killed--certainly hurt."

"Well, we were not in charge of any valuables," remarked George.  "There
was nothing to be got from us but our guns, and perhaps our horses."

"Just so; unless they thought you were carrying despatches.  Cetewayo
would pay them well for any information that might be brought him."

"Well, I suppose no white men would carry any information against their
own countrymen to him," remarked Margetts.

"Oh, wouldn't they!" exclaimed Captain Forester.  "You have much too
good an opinion of our countrymen, Mr Margetts.  I am afraid they would
not only give information, but supply them with Martini-Henrys and
Colt's revolvers, and Gatling guns too, if they could get hold of them,
always provided they could make fifty per cent, by the bargain.
However," continued the captain, "if they had meant to stop you at all,
they would have done so on your way here.  Most probably the losses they
sustained the other day have given them such a lesson that they won't
meddle with our men again."

In another hour the two Dutchmen returned, having had a satisfactory
interview with Mr Uys, and received the reply which was to be carried
to Rorke's Drift.  A consultation was then held, and it was agreed that
they had better set out immediately, as it would be possible, by sharp
riding, to reach the camp before dusk.  It was thought better to follow
the same road on their way back, as that by which they had come, it
being plain that it was a route known to very few, if to any but Matamo
himself.  They set out accordingly, and arrived without adventure at the
point in the road whence Matamo had turned off.  Considering now that
all danger was over, they set off at a round trot by the way which ran
along the river-side; when suddenly, as they were passing a mass of
rock, the top and sides of which were hidden by foliage, a puff of white
smoke issued from a bush, and a bullet was fired which would have struck
Vander Heyden in the chest, if it had not happened that Walter Baylen's
horse plunged forward at the moment, so that the ball intended for the
Dutchman entered Walter's shoulder.  Hardy instantly fired his revolver
at the spot whence the smoke had issued; and all the party, putting
spurs to their horses, galloped through the first opening that presented
itself into the broken ground which lay on the other side of the rock.
Half a dozen rough-looking fellows, alarmed by their approach, were just
springing on their horses, and making off in all directions, as they
came up.  One of the party, who had been wounded, doubtless, by Hardy's
shot, was leaning against a tree unable to move.  By the sergeant's
direction, Hardy and Matamo alighted from their horses, and proceeded to
secure him, at the same time tying up a wound in the thigh which he had
received.  The two Baylens and Margetts lifted Walter from his horse,
and proceeded to examine his hurt.  The sergeant and Moritz went off in
pursuit of one knot of fugitives; George and Vander Heyden after
another.  The latter were not above two hundred yards ahead, and there
was a long stretch of down country without shrub or stone to break the
prospect.  As their horses were evidently better than those of the
robbers, they expected to overtake them.  After a gallop of half an
hour, they had approached within fire, and George, discharging his
pistol, wounded one of the horses in the leg.  Perceiving that he could
go no farther, the man sprang from his saddle, and confronted his
antagonist.  An expression of surprise broke from George, as he
recognised the leader of the mutineers on board the _Zulu Queen_, John
Bostock.  Vander Heyden also appeared surprised, though he made no
remark.

"You here?" exclaimed Rivers.  "I did not expect it, but I am glad you
will not escape the punishment you so richly deserve.  I suppose you
will surrender yourself our prisoner, or we shall fire upon you at
once."

"You are two to one, Mr Rivers," said Bostock, "and you are both armed.
But I call upon Mr Vander Heyden here, if he is not a coward, to meet
me in fair fight.  He knows that I am entitled to it.  My birth is as
good as his own, I have served in the same army as himself, and I have
twice challenged him.  He is fond of saying that the English would be no
match for the Dutch, if it wasn't for the advantages that their position
in the colony gives them.  Does he dare meet an Englishman now, without
advantage on either side?  Mr Rivers, here, may stand by, and see that
there is fair play."

"Mr Vander Heyden, surely you will not think of allowing this," said
George, as he saw the Dutchman alight from his horse, and proceed to
secure him to a solitary thorn which grew on the down.  "Let him say
what he likes, he cannot be entitled to a meeting at your hands."

"It may be he is not, Mr Rivers," said Vander Heyden.  "He is no doubt
by birth a gentleman, and has held a commission in our army.  I agree
with you that he has so lowered and degraded himself, that he cannot
claim his privilege, either as an officer or a gentleman.  But let that
be as it may, no soldier, and, above all, no Hollander, can refuse to
meet him face to face.  You must act for both parties, Mr Rivers, and
see that everything is fair.  No Englishman shall ever say I refused his
challenge."

"If you insist upon it, I suppose I must," said George, who, though
greatly vexed and disgusted, knew enough of Vander Heyden to be assured
he would not give way on the point.  "If this duel is to take place, it
had better be immediately.  What weapons do you propose?"

"What he pleases," replied Vander Heyden shortly.

"Pardon me, Mr Vander Heyden," said George, "but if I am to have the
management of this affair, I cannot allow that.  You are the challenged,
and, by a rule everywhere acknowledged, have the choice of weapons.  I
choose pistols for you, and twelve paces is the distance at which you
are to fire.  I presume no objection is raised to either point."  He
looked at Bostock, who, though somewhat disappointed, as George fancied,
at the proposed arrangement, answered sullenly, "Choose what weapons you
like."

"Very well," said Rivers.  "Then here is my revolver and Mr Vander
Heyden's; they are by the same maker, and as nearly equal as two pistols
can be.  Take your choice of them, and stand, if you please, on that
spot.  Now, Mr Vander Heyden, in what manner will you fire--alternately
or at the same moment?"

"Alternately; that is the usual practice here," said Vander Heyden.  "We
can toss for who is to have the first fire."

A florin was accordingly flung up, and it was found the right of
shooting first fell to Vander Heyden.

The signal was given, he fired, and his bullet tore a button from
Bostock's breast.  The Englishman then discharged his revolver, and the
bullet struck Vander Heyden's helmet, through which it cut a furrow,
without wounding him, though he reeled under the blow.

"I presume that is enough," said George.  "He cannot claim more at your
hands."

"Does he demand more?" asked Vander Heyden.

"I do," said Bostock.  "I claim a second shot."

"Let him have it," said the Dutchman.

"If you must, you must," exclaimed Rivers.  "But take notice that I will
allow no more.  If you persist after this, I shall ride off the ground."

Vander Heyden bowed stiffly, and, raising his revolver, delivered his
second shot.  It evidently struck his antagonist, who raised, and then
dropped his arm, as if in pain.  Hastening up, George discovered that he
had been hit in the right wrist.  The wound did not appear to be a
dangerous one, but it was obviously impossible for Bostock to hold a
pistol.

"I cannot have my revenge to-day," he exclaimed sullenly, when the
bleeding had been stopped, and the wound bound up.  "But the day will
come when I shall return your fire."

"When you please, sir," answered the Dutchman haughtily.  "After an
affair of this kind, you must be allowed to go free.  If we meet again,
it will be different.  I shall not feel obliged to answer your challenge
a second time."

They parted, Bostock leading away his wounded horse, and the other two,
remounting, rode back to their companions.

"Mr Rivers," said the Dutchman when they had ridden, a short distance,
"I thank you for your friendly offices.  Will you add to them by being
entirely silent about this adventure?"

"Certainly," returned George; "it would not be desirable on many
accounts to speak of it."  No more was said until they rejoined their
companions, who were somewhat impatiently awaiting their return.

"Did you kill either of those fellows?" asked the sergeant.  "I fancied
I heard several shots fired."

"No, they got off," said George vaguely.  "I hope Walter is not much
hurt."

"Only a flesh wound, George," said Walter Baylen.  "The worst of it is
that I am afraid it will prevent me from joining the other fellows when
they march.  They tell me I shan't be able to stir for three weeks to
come."

"Well, we had better start now, and lose no time," said Rivers.
"Matamo, you have got the prisoner safe, I see.  Why, I declare it is
Van Ryk! a good job too!"

CHAPTER TWELVE.

"Up and bestir yourself, Redgy!" cried George, entering the tent, which
Margetts shared with Wilhelm Baylen, a few days afterwards.  "Cetewayo's
time was up last night, and he has made no sign.  The order to march has
been given, and every one is already on the move.  The mounted
volunteers are to cross first, and our horses must be taken down to the
Drift at once."

"I am sorry to say Wilhelm and I are to be left behind," said Margetts.
"It's an awful nuisance, but there's no help for it."

"Left behind!" repeated George.  "Why, what is that for?"

"I don't know, I'm sure; but last night, after you had left, there came
an order that half a dozen of us would be required to stay on service
here.  Green didn't know how to settle it to any one's satisfaction, and
it was determined at last to ballot for it.  You are always in luck,
George, and so are Ernest and Hardy, and the Dutchman Moritz.  But
Wilhelm and myself, and Vander Heyden--"

"Vander Heyden, eh?" interrupted George.  "Has _he_ got to stay behind?
How did he take that?"

"Rather worse than we did," answered Margetts.  "And we took it bad
enough.  Here we shall have to kick our heels, while you are having all
the fun.  By the way, what is to be done with Van Ryk?  His trial took
place yesterday, but I haven't heard the result."

"He is to be hanged," said George.  "Not only you and I, but Vander
Heyden and Moritz also swore positively to him.  You'll have the
pleasure of being his executioners after we are gone."

"I am not sure of that," said Redgy.  "They allow a fellow three weeks
now,--at least I suppose so,--and I should think you would have chawed
up Cetewayo before three weeks are past."

"Hardly that," said George, "though I daresay it won't be very long.
Well, I'm sorry for you, Redgy, but I can't stop here.  You had better
get up and see us off."

The banks of the Buffalo presented a busy and animated scene that
morning.  This river and the Tugela are often, in the later months of
the year, so reduced in volume that a horse may cross them without the
water rising higher than his knees.  But in January, February, and March
they are generally in deep and rapid flood, and difficult, and, except
to experienced riders, impossible to ford.  The mounted soldiers did
contrive to cross, and so did one battalion of the Native Contingent, at
a shallow spot a quarter of a mile or so up stream, and the 24th
regiment was got over on ponts.  When these were in position to repel
any attack that might be made by the Zulus, the rest of the force was
conveyed across, and lastly the waggons.

This was the heaviest part of the work, and occupied a long time.  The
waggons were dragged by the oxen to the edge of the bank; then the
cattle were outspanned, and driven into the river to swim across, while
the waggons were dragged on to the ponts by hand.  This occupied the
entire day; but by nightfall they had nearly all been got across, and on
the following morning the march began.

"We are to move first on Sirayo's kraal," said George to Hardy, as they
grasped hands.  "He is the fellow, you know, that made the foray into
Natal and carried off the women, whom he afterwards murdered.  Cetewayo
wouldn't give him up.  He is in a strong position, I am told, by the
Ingutu hill, about four miles from here."

"And he probably has a pretty large force with him," observed Hardy.
"Cetewayo is said to have sent his prime troops against our column.
Well, now, George, you'll see what these fellows fight like."

The order to move was presently given.  The advance was necessarily slow
through the broken and perfectly wild country on the north side of the
Tugela; through which there was not so much as a path to be traced,
except where the waggon of some trader had passed, and deep ruts had
been left by the wheels.  The ground was for the most part woodland,
broken, however, continually by ravines, with deep and high fissures
intersecting them--as difficult a country for a hostile force to
traverse as could well be imagined.

After an hour or two of tedious advance, they came on the banks of the
Bashee, a small mountain stream, running at the foot of the Ingutu
mountain.  Presently Sirayo's kraal came in sight.

"There is the kraal, George," exclaimed Hardy, "and there are a lot of
Zulus ready to defend it.  Now you may have a good sight of these
fellows in fighting array."

George looked up at the crags above him, and saw a number of
dark-skinned warriors, whose appearance was in the highest degree
striking.  On their heads they wore head-dresses, apparently of
leopards' skin, surmounted by feathers, the dark plumes waving after a
most picturesque fashion against the sky.  Round their wrists and ankles
they wore rings of ivory or burnished copper, while their waists were
encircled by the tails of wild animals bound together.  On their left
arms they carried oval shields, large enough to protect the entire body
from neck to ankle, proof against the sharp and dangerous assegay, but
no protection from the rifle bullet.  Their defensive weapons were
rifles and assegays; the latter long spears cut from the wood of the
tree which bears the same name, with an iron head and a barbed point,
and which these savages hurl with great dexterity and force.  As soon as
the English soldiers came within hearing distance, they began to taunt
and jeer them after their barbaric fashion, inquiring, "What were the
white men riding there for?"

"What did they want in the land of the Zulus?"

"Were they looking out for some place to build a kraal in?"

"Would they ascend the rocks, and receive the greeting they were ready
to bestow upon them?" and the like.

Presently the order to advance was given, and the men of the 24th began
climbing the westward side of the hill, on which Sirayo's kraal stood.
A fire was instantly opened upon them by the Zulus, from behind the
various points of vantage where they had stationed themselves, by which
a dozen men or so were struck down.  But in a short time, in spite of an
obstinate resistance, the enemy were driven out of the kraal, and fled
in confusion along the hillside, followed, as soon as they reached
tolerably level ground, by the cavalry, who cut down a considerable
number in the pursuit.

"So much for the first brush with these rascals!" exclaimed Hardy as he
sheathed his sabre.  "Certainly these are gallant fellows, very
different from either the Ashantees or the Abyssinians.  But,
nevertheless, savages, however brave, cannot stand against disciplined
troops, and this is only one more proof of it.  Well, I suppose we shall
go no farther to-day."

Hardy's words were fully verified.  Not only was the march not resumed
that day, but more than a week passed before the troops were again in
motion.  It was found to be impossible for the waggons to make their
way, without constructing for them what really was a new road; or
rather, a road of some kind, the old waggon tracks being all but
useless.  In some places the rains or the overflow of the brooks had
made the ground swampy, and here the wheels would suddenly sink up to
the axles, and it was only after long and severe exertion that they
could be extricated, to fall into a similar pitfall, perhaps, before
another ten yards of the way had been surmounted.  So slow was the
progress, that it was not until the 20th of January that the column
resumed its route, through a bare country, hardly exhibiting a tree or
shrub, and reached on the evening of the same day, the base of the lofty
eminence known as Isandhlwana, or "the Lion's Hill."

"This is to be our camping ground, then?" said Ernest Baylen as the
order to halt was given.  "Well, I have often heard of Isandhlwana hill,
and have seen it from a distance.  It doesn't look a bad sort of a place
to pitch one's tent in."

"By no means," assented George, looking round him; "and it will be a
strong position too, if it is properly secured from attack.  What say
you, Hardy?"

Hardy cast a scrutinising glance round him, and then expressed his
assent.  It was indeed a striking scene.  On the west side the rock rose
steep and rugged, and in some places precipitous, to a considerable
height, sloping downwards towards the east until it reached the
water-side.  Ridges of rock and grassy mounds everywhere broke this
descent, so that it was rendered very difficult to traverse.  On the
south there was a long platform of rock covered with grass overhanging
an extensive valley.  The whole ground chosen for the camp was a kind of
sloping plateau, overlooked by an inaccessible eminence.  The scene soon
became lively and picturesque, as the white bell-tents were pitched in
long rows, the fires lighted, and the men, in their scarlet jackets and
white helmets, gathered in groups round them, or moved hither and
thither on their various errands.

The companions, now reduced to four, for four had been left at Rorke's
Drift, sat down to their meal in a somewhat dissatisfied humour.  They
were terribly tired of their long inaction, and it did not look as
though matters were going to be any more expeditious as regarded the
future.  They had been more than ten days going five or six miles, and
the waggon tracks, it was said, were to be no better.  At this rate,
when would they reach Ulundi?  Not, at all events, until long after the
other two columns under Evelyn Wood and Colonel Pearson had come into
contact with the main force of the enemy, and probably reaped all the
laurels that were to be gained.  They were rejoiced when they were
informed that Lord Chelmsford meant to send a force to reconnoitre on
the following morning, and Ernest Baylen and Moritz were to accompany
it.

"I envy you fellows," said Hardy.  "Dartnell, who is to lead you, is a
smart officer, and by all accounts the Zulus are mustering pretty thick
in the neighbourhood, so that you will run the chance of some sharp
fighting."

"Lonsdale is to make a reconnaissance with the Natal force in the same
direction, I am told," said Ernest; "and Lord Chelmsford also means to
take a party out, they say.  There will be plenty of fighting to-morrow,
I expect."

"Won't the withdrawal of all these detachments leave us rather a small
force to defend the camp with?" suggested George.

"Oh, they will fortify it, of course, the first thing to-morrow," said
Hardy.  "I rather wondered that something of the kind wasn't done last
night, seeing that the enemy are in force near us.  But the men were
very tired, and it was too dark to do much.  But no doubt they will
laager the waggons and throw up breastworks as soon as it is light."

With the break of day, Moritz and Ernest, attended by Matamo, rode off
with Major Dartnell's force.  And not long afterwards the Natal troops
followed, taking the road, as they afterwards learnt, to Matejan's Kraal
and Malatoko hill.  But after this no further movement occurred during
the day.  The men busied themselves with the routine of camp duty, or
were gathered in groups, talking, and smoking, and playing games.  The
scene was romantic and lively.  In the foreground were the white
bell-tents, making a forcible contrast to the scarlet of the uniforms
scattered about; farther off were the waggons belonging to the different
corps, each remaining in the place where it had been unpacked; and in
the background was the wild uncultivated landscape--forest, and mountain
ridge, and sandy ravine, and rocky boulder, mingled together in
picturesque disorder.

"They don't seem inclined to fulfil your prediction," observed George to
Hardy on the following morning, as they sat upon a large stone under the
shadow of the great Isandhlwana hill.  "No order seems to have been
given for fortifying the camp.  Look, there's Colonel Pulleine, who is
now in command, and has been so since Lord Chelmsford and Colonel Glyn
left.  He is reading some letters, or papers of some kind.  He does not
seem to have an idea that the camp wants fortifying."

"He ought to know best," said Hardy, "and for the matter of that, I
suppose he must have had the general's orders about it.  And he, and we
also, have nothing to do but to obey.  All I can say is, that if the
camp were to be attacked by any large force, as things now are, I don't
see how it could be defended.  What is there to stop the Zulus?  The men
might, of course, form into a square, if they had time to do it, with
the ammunition in the middle; and as long as powder and shot lasted, I
don't suppose the Zulus could break in.  But look at them, scattered up
and down and everywhere.  Suppose there came a sudden rush of these
black fellows from under cover, what time would the men have to form and
collect the ammunition?  The niggers might pour in by hundreds and by
thousands, and cut our fellows up into small bodies, which might be
destroyed in detail."

"It looks so, certainly," said George; "but our officers are men well
used to campaigning, and, what is more, to campaigns with the natives.
They can't have overlooked this, unless they knew that there was no
risk."

"Well, all I can say is, no commanding officer under whom I have served
before ever left a camp undefended, as this is," rejoined Hardy.

"Here comes Colonel Durnford," said George, as a fine soldierly-looking
man rode up, attended by a force of mounted Basutos.  "I knew he was
expected about this time.  He is senior to Colonel Pulleine; I daresay
he will order the camp to be fortified.  I suppose it would not be a
very long job, would it?"

"No, not to put it into such a state as would be sufficient to repel an
attack of these Zulus," assented Hardy.  "Look at those waggons yonder.
The oxen are already inspanned.  If they were simply drawn together in a
circle, the infantry and the ammunition collected and placed inside, the
Zulus couldn't force their way in against one-half of the numbers that
we have here.  No, not if Cetewayo sent his whole army.  Of course they
might pillage the rest of the camp, and drive off the oxen.  But they
couldn't get inside,--not in a week,--and they would probably lose
thousands in making the attempt.  Look at those two guns there, too!  If
they were drawn in front of the waggons, they would shoot down any
attacking force--whole heaps of men at every discharge.  And they
couldn't be taken under the fire of the laager.  See there, Colonel
Dumford is giving some orders.  I hope he sees the danger, and is going
to take some precautions against it.  Let us move up nearer."

On approaching the spot, however, they found the colonel's thoughts were
otherwise occupied.  News had just come in that the Zulus were
retreating in all directions, and would escape unhurt if they were not
pursued.  The colonel therefore was on the point of going after them,
accompanied by his mounted Basutos and the rocket battery which he had
brought with him, leaving the camp once more under Colonel Pulleine's
command.

"I don't like it," said Hardy when this was reported to him.  "I don't
see what there has been to make these Zulus retreat.  It is certain that
they are in great force, and they can hardly be said to have been
attacked.  I hope this retreat is not a mere feint to draw more men out
of the camp.  I suppose, however, Lord Chelmsford must be returning to
it, and Colonel Durnford knows that he is close at hand."

As he spoke, Colonel Durnford and his Basutos went past at a rapid pace,
the rocket battery, under Captain Russell, following.

For some time after his departure there was no further movement in the
camp.  But presently the idea spread, and gained ground, that an attack
from a large force of the enemy was to be looked for.  The six companies
of the 24th were drawn up--three of them in extended order on the left
front, where the principal attack might be looked for, two more on the
side where the waggons were posted, while one company (that of Captain
Younghusband) was held in reserve.  Close to the companies the artillery
was stationed, and a little farther off a detachment of the Native
Contingent.

About one o'clock heavy firing all round announced the approach of the
struggle, and presently the Basutos, who had encountered an overwhelming
force of the enemy, were seen falling back on all sides, pursued by
large bodies of Zulus, who came rolling like a sable wave over the crest
of the opposite hill.  As soon as they came in sight, the artillery
opened upon them, mowing them down with terrible havoc.  But they
continued to advance, hesitating now and then when the fire from the
guns came among them, then rushing on more resolutely than ever.
Presently they came near enough for the fire of the 24th to open, and
this for the time checked their advance.  Desperate as the courage of
the blacks was, they could not face the storm of lead thus showered upon
them.

"They won't stand this very long, Rivers," said Hardy, as they watched
the battle from the flank, on which the volunteers were stationed.
"They have wonderful pluck, certainly; but, unless the ammunition fails,
it is impossible they can approach nearer.  Even now I see signs of
wavering among them.  We shall soon be at their heels, I expect.
Merciful Heaven!" he exclaimed a moment afterwards in an altered voice,
as, chancing to turn round, he caught sight of some object behind him.
"The Zulus have got into our rear!  It is all over with us!"

Rivers glanced round, and a thrill of dismay shot through him, as he
beheld the head of a Zulu column making its way round the precipitous
hill in the rear of the camp, and pouring on in large and
ever-increasing volumes to attack the English from behind.  At the same
moment the assailing force in front caught sight of their countrymen,
and rushed forward with redoubled fury.  Struck with terror, the native
contingent broke its ranks and fled, leaving a wide gap in the fighting
line, through which the black warriors burst like a raging torrent, and
the whole camp in a moment became a scene of wild confusion.  The
various groups of white soldiers were cut off from their ammunition and
from one another, presenting the appearance of an island here and there,
encompassed by the overwhelming flood of the enemy.  A fierce rush
carried the guns, which had hitherto inflicted such deadly loss on their
host.  A desperate attempt was made by those in charge of them to force
their way through the enemy.  But the gunners were assegayed on the
limbers, and the drivers in their seats.  One gun was upset, the other
was dragged off by the wounded horses.  All was confusion, distraction,
despair.

"Ride for it, George!" shouted Hardy.  "The only hope is to reach Lord
Chelmsford, if he is anywhere near at hand, as I hope he is, and bring
him to the rescue.  Some of our fellows may hold out long enough for him
to come up.  Ay, that is right!" he exclaimed, turning on his saddle as
they galloped off; "there is Captain Younghusband retiring against the
steep side of the hill.  He, at all events, will hold out a long time
there.  All depends on how near Lord Chelmsford may be."

Urging their horses to the utmost speed, they broke their way through
some scattered groups of combatants, and had got clear of the camp among
some bushes, when they came upon two horsemen riding, at the top of
their speed, in the opposite direction.  George recognised them as
Ernest Baylen and Matamo.

"Stop, Ernest!" he shouted; "do not make for the camp.  The Zulus have
broken in there.  Where are our fellows?  Where is Lord Chelmsford?"

Baylen reined in his horse.  "Broken into the camp!" he exclaimed; "the
Zulus!  Then all is lost!  Dartnell's men are dispersed or killed.
Moritz has been assegayed.  I was riding to bring help."

"Where is Lord Chelmsford?" interposed Hardy.  "Is he anywhere near at
hand?"

"No, miles off, I believe, but I can't say where."

"Then there is nothing for it but to make for Rorke's Drift.  We may
warn them in time to prepare for attack."

He was just turning his horse when half a dozen Zulus came rushing up,
hurling their assegays as they advanced.  One of these grazed George's
cheek.  Another pierced Ernest in the chest, who fell on the instant;
while a third mortally wounded Matamo's horse.  The Bechuana leaped from
his saddle, and was instantly struck down by a blow from a club.  George
cut down the man whose assegay had narrowly missed him, and Hardy shot
two more with his revolver.  The others drew back for the moment; and
the two Englishmen, taking advantage of their hesitation, galloped off.

"To the left, to the left!" shouted Hardy; "make for the thicket there.
I know a path through it that runs down to the Buffalo.  The pursuit is,
fortunately, in another direction."

In a few minutes they reached the cover of the trees, followed only by
the three or four Zulus from whom they had just escaped.

Once inside the wood they were tolerably secure.  Elated by the signal
success they had obtained, the news of which spread like wildfire in all
directions, the Zulus were hurrying to witness the overthrow and
slaughter of the white men, and get their share of the spoil, and the
fugitives did not encounter a single enemy, while their pursuers were a
long way in the rear.  Hurrying along a path, which Hardy had often
traversed when a resident of the country, in half an hour's time they
found themselves on the banks of the Buffalo, at a part which was
entirely out of sight of either friends or enemies.

"Will our horses carry us across?" asked Hardy as he looked at the
swollen and roaring stream, which at that point ran with extraordinary
speed.

"They must," said George.  "Not our lives only, but those of our friends
at Rorke's Drift depend upon it."

"You are right.  We must cross at once."

The horses, which had somewhat recovered their wind during the passage
through the wood, were extremely unwilling to enter the stream; and it
was only by sharp use of the spur that they could be compelled to breast
it.  For about a third of the distance the water was comparatively
smooth, and they made their way, though with difficulty.  But as they
approached the mid-current they found its force quite irresistible.
Both horses were swept down the stream, and soon lost all power of
resistance.  George threw himself from the saddle, and, striking out
with all his force, broke clear of the current and slowly made his way
to the shore, while his horse, which had ceased to struggle, was carried
down the torrent.  George scrambled with difficulty up the bank, and,
looking round for his companion, saw him a hundred yards lower down,
clinging to the long, projecting branch of a large yellowwood.  His
horse too had disappeared, and he himself appeared to be quite
exhausted.  Shouting to him to hold on to the branch, George hurried to
the spot, and, climbing into the tree, was able to approach him near
enough to throw one end of his belt to him, while he drew him upwards by
the other.  After a quarter of an hour of great peril and exertion, they
both stood safe on the farther shore of the Buffalo.

"We are saved, Rivers," said Hardy as soon as he had recovered his
breath sufficiently to thank his preserver; "but I am afraid not in time
to warn our friends at Rorke's Drift.  We have come direct enough so
far, no doubt.  But Rorke's Drift lies some considerable distance off,
and I am so much exhausted that it would take me a long time to reach it
on foot.  I am afraid you are not much better."

"Hush!" said George; "I hear some one moving close at hand.  We have
lost our revolvers, but we still have our sabres.  Can these Zulus have
followed us?"

They drew cautiously back under the cover of the reeds and rushes, and
listened intently.  Presently the tramp of horses' feet was distinctly
heard, and two mounted volunteers came riding by at an easy trot,
attended by two or three natives.

"It is some of our own fellows," exclaimed George; "how fortunate!  By
all that is lucky," he added a moment afterwards, "it is Redgy himself,
and Wilhelm Baylen!  Hullo, Redgy, what has brought you here?  Stop a
moment, and take us with you."

Margetts reined in his horse in great surprise.  "I may return your
question, I think," he said.  "What brings you here?  And, good heavens!
what a condition you are in.  You have swam the river, and are covered
with blood besides!  What has happened?"

"It will take a long time to tell that," answered George, "and we must
not stop here to tell it.  Every moment is of incalculable importance.
Give me your horse, Redgy.  I think I can contrive to sit in the saddle,
and Wilhelm must ride by me.  You and Hardy must make your way as well
as you can on foot.  He will tell you all about it."

He spurred the horse to its speed, and he and Baylen were soon lost to
sight.

CHAPTER THIRTEEN.

The morning of the 22nd of January broke calm and clear on the valley of
the Buffalo.  At one end of this, as the reader has heard, was situated
the ford of Rorke's Drift, to which the occurrence of that day has given
a world-wide celebrity.  But for the fact that there are shallows close
to it, by which cavalry may almost always cross, there is nothing that
could cause it to be chosen as a military station.  The valley indeed is
open for some considerable distance above the Drift; but below it there
rise rocky hills, which would enable an enemy completely to command it.
On the north bank again, which is in Zululand, the ground is level; but
on the Natal side there is high land, sloping abruptly down to the river
at the point where the ford is shallowest.  From this point, as well as
from that before mentioned, the camp could be easily attacked, and
probably with disastrous effect.  It could therefore only be from that
contempt of the most obvious dangers, which seems to be an inevitable
feature in the English character, that a military storehouse and
hospital could have been built in such a situation.  It must have been
evident to every one that, if a Zulu invasion--a thing which had already
twice occurred, and which was now again apprehended with grave reason--
were really to take place, and Cetewayo pour his dusky thousands across
the Buffalo, the stores and the sick men must be, at once and without
hope of deliverance, at his mercy.

In any case, one would have supposed that this consideration would cause
some anxiety in the minds of the slender garrison left in it, when the
three British columns had passed the frontier of Zululand to attack its
renowned and dreaded king.  All over Natal, if not all over Southern
Africa, it was considered as, at all events, very doubtful, whether he
would not prove too strong--not indeed for the power of England to cope
with, but for the number of troops now sent against him.  And if he
obtained even a temporary triumph, and forced Glyn's column back over
the river, what would all their lives be worth?  Did not common prudence
require the throwing up defences of some kind, which might keep the
enemy off, for some time at least, until succour might arrive.  The
grand feat of arms, which averted a second disaster, has induced the
world to disregard the strange imprudence exhibited here, as at
Isandhlwana.  But had the result been different, and had the garrison
experienced the same fate as those who fell in the fatal battle on the
morning of the same day, the outcry would in all likelihood have been
quite as loud and quite as justifiable.

But no thought of danger disturbed the equanimity of the slender force
left to garrison their untenable post.  The men, when the necessary camp
duties had been discharged, appeared to be sorely at a loss to know in
what manner to employ their time.  The day was warm and bright, and
early in the forenoon it became oppressively hot.  Some amused
themselves by fishing in the adjoining river.  Some strolled up and
down, or sat smoking and chatting in the verandah, or under such shade
as could be found.

At a little distance, in front of the Swedish pastor's house, Vander
Heyden and his sister were walking up and down, engaged in earnest
conversation.

"I wish you would think better of this, Annchen," he said.  "Mr
Bilderjik returns this morning to Colenso.  He finds there is nothing to
be done here, which the pastor himself cannot do, nor is there likely to
be anything.  He will take you with him to his house, and thence you
will find easily enough the means of conveyance to Newcastle, where a
temporary residence has been engaged.  There all the waggons and the
goods which were saved from the wreck at Bushman's Drift have been
conveyed.  There, too, you can make the necessary preparations for the
journey across the Transvaal, which cannot be made here."

"You are resolved on settling at Pieter's Dorf, then?"

"Have I not told you so already?  Bushman's Drift was completely
destroyed by those fiends of Umbelini's.  It would take a great deal of
time and money to restore it; and even were that otherwise, I could
never endure the sight of the place again."

"I know, I know," murmured Annchen, as she laid her hand pityingly on
his arm.

"And Pieter's Dorf," resumed Vander Heyden, "is the place at which I
have always wished to live, since it came into my possession.  Additions
to the house and farm buildings are needed, and these Hardy, the most
competent man in these parts, has promised to undertake.  We shall
certainly set out as soon as I am free to travel."

"That is, as soon as Cetewayo has been put down, I suppose.  But if you
are to have no hand in putting him down, why wait for that?"

"I mean to have a hand in putting him down.  As a soldier, I know I must
obey orders, and therefore I have stayed here.  But I have been promised
that I shall take the place of the first officer that is killed or
disabled.  Every day I am expecting to hear that a battle has been
fought and I am free to draw my sword.  I must stay here."

"But, Henryk, may I not be as anxious to obtain the earliest information
as yourself?"

"Of the safety of Frank Moritz?" suggested her brother, turning a
scrutinising look on her; "or perhaps of some one else?"

Annchen coloured.  "You have no right--no reason for asking me that,"
she said.

"I hope I have no reason," he answered.  "As for right, that is a
different matter.  Let us understand one another.  It was never supposed
that there was any romantic affection between you and Frank, though you
liked one another well enough to marry.  But I have fancied once or
twice that you were getting romantic about this young Englishman,
Rivers.  He is a fine fellow, I allow, and I admire and like him.  But
you shall never marry an Englishman with my consent.  And though my
control over you will cease after a time, you would no longer be a
sister of mine if you were to marry one."

"I repeat you have neither right nor reason to speak thus to me," she
rejoined.  "Neither Mr Rivers nor myself have said or done anything
that could justify it.  And I really think it _would_ be better for me
to leave Rorke's Drift.  I have no doubt Mr Bilderjik will give me
permission to accompany him, and, as he means to set out very soon, I
will go and prepare for my journey.  Good-bye, Henryk; let us part
friends."

They took leave of one another, and not long afterwards she was seen
riding off in the Swedish pastor's company.  Vander Heyden lounged up to
the camp and joined some of the officers, who had gathered in a group
near the storehouse, listening intently to some distant sounds borne by
the wind from the eastern quarter.

"That is firing, I am sure," said Evetts, one of the volunteers; "but it
is a long way off."

"Yes, that is firing," said the experienced Vander Heyden; "but it is
not volley firing.  It is only some skirmishing, I expect.  How long has
it been going on?"

"I should think it began about an hour ago," said Evetts, "but it was
very faint and irregular then.  It has been getting more distinct for
the last twenty minutes.  It is just half-past twelve now."  He looked
at his watch as he spoke.  "But, ha! what is that?" he added a moment
afterwards, as a deep, hollow boom came across the river.  "That is
cannon.  There is a battle going on at Isandhlwana."

"A good job too," said Vander Heyden; "it is time there was some
fighting.  People had begun to think there never was to be any."

They continued to listen for a considerable time to the roar of the
cannonade, which presently ceased, and the desultory firing was again
heard.

"The action is over," observed Evetts.  "The Zulus never can face the
guns very long."

"Where is Margetts?" inquired another officer after another hour's
conversation.

"He and Baylen have ridden out to the ford on the Lower Tugela,"
answered Evetts, "with some letters which were to be forwarded to
Pearson's camp.  I have been on the lookout for them for some time."

"And here they come," said Lieutenant Bromhead, the officer in command
of the garrison; "I know Margetts' horse even at this distance."

"It is the horse, sure enough," said Vander Heyden, as they drew nearer,
"but I don't think it is the man.  No," he added a minute afterwards,
"it is Rivers, not Margetts."

"Rivers!" repeated Bromhead.  "And so it is!  He must come from
Isandhlwana.  Depend upon it, he brings us the news of a victory.  Well,
Rivers, what is it?"

"I am sorry to say, Mr Bromhead," said George, saluting the officer in
command, "we have suffered a terrible defeat.  The Zulus have broken
into our camp and massacred nearly the whole of the companies of the
24th, the police, and the volunteers.  All the guns, ammunition, and
waggons have been taken.  I should fear that nearly a thousand men have
been slaughtered."

"Good Heaven! you cannot mean it!" said Evetts.  "Where is Lord
Chelmsford?  How can it have happened?"

"It is no use asking either question now," said George.  "The Zulus are
in immense force--ten or twelve thousand of them at the least.  They are
already, I expect, on the march to attack you.  You must instantly
retreat, or prepare to defend yourselves."

"We cannot retreat," said Bromhead.  "It will be impossible to remove
the wounded men, and we cannot let them fall into the hands of the
Zulus.  Besides, it is of the utmost importance to maintain this post,
if it be possible.  We must throw up what defences we can, and, rather
than surrender them, die behind them."

He was answered by a general cheer and a cry of determination to defend
the place as long as there was a cartridge left, or a man to fire it.

As has already been intimated, a worse position for defence than Rorke's
Drift can hardly be imagined.  The two small frail buildings were more
than a hundred feet apart from one another.  The walls were thin, the
doors weak, the roofs thatched, and easily set on fire.  On two sides
there was rising ground, from which they could be completely commanded.
On a third they could be approached under cover within a few yards'
distance.  There was neither wall nor breastwork nor trench--nothing, in
fact, to keep an enemy back.  The attacking party would probably consist
of some thousands of desperate and well-armed savages, flushed with
victory.  The defenders were one hundred and four in number (for the
native contingent withdrew before the approach of the enemy), and they
were cumbered with the care of thirty-five sick men.

They went to work, however, with a will, and for more than two hours
employed themselves in loopholing the walls and constructing barricades
between the two houses.  These consisted of two waggons, which had
fortunately been left at the station, and of piles of sacks filled with
mealies and biscuit-boxes, the parapet thus formed being only a few feet
high.  It looked more like a mock fortification, put together for a
schoolboy's game, than for the purposes of a real battle.  The rude
defences were still incomplete, when the dark masses of the enemy were
seen crowding the rising ground to the south, and the foremost lines
made a sudden charge down the hill, intending to carry the place by a
_coup de main_.  But when they had approached within fifty yards, they
were met by a fire so heavy, as to check even their triumphant advance.
Instead of continuing their rush, they withdrew into whatever cover they
could find, and fired from behind hollows in the hillside, trees and
shrubs and garden wall, every now and then rushing forward and trying to
force their way in, until driven back by the weapon they dreaded most of
all--the British bayonet.

"These fellows fight desperately," said George to Hardy, who had arrived
an hour or two previously, as, aided by him and Vander Heyden, he drove
back half a dozen Zulus, who had forced themselves half over the wall of
mealie-bags; "yonder big fellow actually clutched the barrel of my
musket as I fired it into him, and, though he was mortally wounded,
attempted to tear it from me.  If his strength hadn't failed him pretty
quickly, he'd have got it, too!"

"Well, the fighting has gone on for four or five hours," said Redgy, who
was close by, "and they have not gained an inch yet."

"Ay, but if they _were_ to gain an inch, it would be all up with us,"
said Hardy.  "Put those mealie-bags back again, Wilhelm.  That last rush
nearly had them down."

"Look out, here is another lot coming!" shouted George, as he
indistinctly caught sight of a dark mass advancing towards them.  A
moment afterwards a dozen blacks vaulted nimbly on to the parapet, but
were instantly hurled back by a volley of musketry, which carried death
among the assailants.  Three only had made their entrance good.  George
shot one with his revolver, Hardy bayoneted a second, and Vander Heyden,
clubbing his rifle, brained the third, all falling dead within the
enclosure.

"Safe once more!" exclaimed Hardy; "but how long is this to go on?"

At this moment a shout was raised that the enemy were forcing their way
into the hospital, and the sick must be moved, or they would fall into
the hands of the savages.  With the utmost difficulty this task was
accomplished, the soldiers fighting from room to room, and guarding the
doors by turns, while their sick comrades were carried out under the
very eyes of a crowd of swarthy savages, pressing on them with
brandished weapons and yells of fury.  Presently the hospital was set on
fire, and the flames, rising high and catching the thatch, lit up the
terrible scene with a lurid splendour.  It guided the bullets of the
defenders, who continued to pour volley after volley into the midst of
the dense array of their assailants, heaping the ground everywhere round
the entrenchments with their corpses.

Who can relate the achievements, who can recount the horrors, of that
long night of trial?  It was like a succession of hideous dreams, from
which the sleepers were continually being awakened, only to renew them
in sleep again.  About midnight the little garrison, forced back on
every side by overwhelming numbers, had to retire within an inner
circle, formed, like the outer one, by mealie-sacks; and here the same
scenes were, hour after hour, renewed in endless succession--of black
warriors pouring in to the attack, and being driven back by volleys of
musketry and charges with the bayonet.

At last the dawn broke.  The Zulu fire ceased, and the dense array of
the enemy was seen retiring over the heights by which they had
approached.  The garrison, diminished still further by the casualties of
the night, stood triumphant in their citadel.  The scene which the
rising sun revealed was one of the most terrible and striking on which
the eye of man has ever rested.  There were the handful of defenders,
with their faces blackened with powder or clotted blood, their uniforms
ragged with bullet-marks and charred by fire, leaning exhausted against
the walls, or stretched on the ground; and all round the camp the bodies
of the assailants, scattered singly here and there, or piled on heaps
upon one another, in some places six and seven deep.  There they lay, in
every conceivable attitude of repose or agony, some struck with sudden
and almost painless death, others torn by gaping wounds or forced into
hideous contortions by acute and protracted torture.

"What a night it has been, Vander Heyden!" exclaimed George, as he
leaned on the stalwart Dutchman's arm, giddy with exhaustion.  "A
hundred times over I have given myself up for lost.  I can hardly
believe that it is over, and we are safe!  It was like a horrible
nightmare!--those interminable black faces and whirling spears and
ferocious shouts!  I think I shall never cease to hear them!"

"It has indeed been a tremendous struggle," said the Dutchman.  "Ha!
what is that shout?  They are not returning to the attack, are they, Mr
Bromhead?" he continued, addressing that officer, as, grim with dust and
blood, he passed them on his way to the flagstaff.

"No, some of our fellows are in sight, and coming this way--escaped from
Isandhlwana, I suppose.  They raised a cheer when they saw that our flag
was still flying, and our men returned it."

George and Vander Heyden followed him, just in time to see the remnant
of Glyn's column coming up, headed by Lord Chelmsford himself.  The
commander-in-chief rode forward and looked with approval and admiration
on the frail and slender defences, which a handful of brave men had
converted into an impregnable fortress, on the vast multitude of black
corpses heaped on every side, and on the gaunt and war-stained figures
of the few defenders.  Then he asked,--"Where is the officer in
command?"  Lieutenant Bromhead advanced and saluted.  "You have done
nobly, sir,--you and your gallant followers,--and England owes you her
warmest thanks.  Your brave defence has probably averted the mischief I
had feared, and saved the colony from invasion."

The days which followed this fierce and protracted struggle were, as is
usually the case, dull and inactive, the defenders being in truth too
much exhausted to do more than lounge through the day and recover their
strength and energies.  It was some relief to George to find that Farmer
Baylen had returned some time before to Horner's Kraal, so that it was
impossible to send him immediate news of Ernest's death.  Vander Heyden
rode over to Colenso as soon as he was able, to break the news to
Annchen that her lover had fallen at Isandhlwana.  Walter Baylen was
nearly convalescent, and it was agreed that as soon as he was
sufficiently restored he should ride over to his father's house and
inform him of their loss.  There had been at first some apprehension
that, notwithstanding the repulse at Rorke's Drift, Cetewayo might be so
elated by his success at Isandhlwana as to send his dark-skinned
warriors over the Tugela to overrun Natal.  But the more the Zulu king
learned of the event of the memorable 22nd of January, the less he felt
inclined to be elated.  He had killed a thousand of his enemies, no
doubt, but they had probably killed nearly three times that number of
his best soldiers.  He had gained a battle at Isandhlwana, but he had
lost one at the Inioni river; and presently he discovered that not only
had another action been fought and lost at Rorke's Drift, but that his
favourite regiment, the Tulwana, had been half destroyed in it.  More
red soldiers, he learned, were coming up "out of the sea" to supply the
place of those lost.  He had no means of filling the vacancies that had
been caused in his own army.  It was no time for sending troops out of
Zululand.  He would want all he had for its defence.  Day after day did
the garrison look across the waters of the Buffalo towards the fatal
Lion Hill, but they beheld none coming that way, except now and then a
wounded soldier, who had escaped by some marvel from the fatal field,
crawling slowly and painfully over the broken ground to the friendly
shelter where his wounds would be cared for.

It was one of the last days of January, when George and Redgy, who were
sitting under shelter of the kraal wall, saw on the river bank what
seemed to be a wounded Zulu, who was making his way with toil and pain
to the camp.

"Do you see that darky there," said Margetts, "creeping up this way, and
keeping out of sight as much as possible?  He is up to no good, I
expect."

"He seems to me to be wounded," said George, "or rather to be recovering
from the effects of a wound.  Perhaps he has been lying hurt by the
river's bank, and has just recovered strength to crawl up here."

"Well, if so, we oughtn't to refuse to give the poor beggar shelter, I
suppose," said Redgy.  "But we had better not go near him until we have
made sure.  These black fellows take it for granted that you are going
to assegay them, and generally try to anticipate the compliment.  Here
he comes, crab fashion!  Hallo, darky, what may you please to want at
Rorke's Drift?"

"I want your help, Mr Redgy," was the reply,--"yours and Mr Rivers'.
You haven't forgotten Matamo, have you?"

"Hey, what!" exclaimed both the young men, starting up.  "Matamo!"
continued George.  "Why, you don't mean it!  I declare it is he!  Why,
we all thought you were dead, if not buried!"

"No, sir," returned the native, grinning and showing his white teeth.
"I am not dead, nor buried.  There is nobody buried yet at Isandhlwana.
But I am almost dead with hunger.  Please to give me some food, and I
will tell you all about it."

Interested and astonished, the young men took Matamo to their tent and
supplied him with food; after which he told his story.

"Mr George, you saw me knocked down by a blow from a knobkerry.  I was
stunned, not killed.  I lay for some time, and then came to.  I tried to
get up, but the big Zulu you killed had fallen over me, and the dead
horse lay on the other side of me.  I was fast jammed in, but I could
see under the Zulu's arm what was going on."

"What did you see?  Tell us.  No one seems to know the exact details,"
exclaimed Rivers eagerly.  "Was the fighting still going on?"

"It was still going on; but there was no chance for the red soldiers.
They were nearly all killed.  There were half a dozen here, a dozen
there, two dozen there, with hundreds of Zulus round them.  Most of them
were standing back to back, and stabbing with their bayonets.  They were
dropping one after another, but killing at least three men for every
one.  I saw one tall man kill five blacks without stopping, but the
bayonet stuck for a moment in the ribs of the fifth, and then they
assegayed him.  The red soldiers died out, one by one, like the sparks
in tinder.  But none of of them ran away, and none called out for
mercy."

"Could you distinguish who held out the longest?" asked Margetts.

"Yes, sir.  One company had moved back against the steep rock and stood
in three sides of a square.  They were the last."

"Ay; that was Younghusband's company.  I saw them retreating to the base
of the precipice just as Hardy and I rode off the ground.  They kept the
Zulus _off_ the longest, did they?"

"Yes, sir.  They stood side by side, and couldn't be attacked from
behind.  They shot the blacks down by twenties at a time, till there
were great heaps of dead in front of them.  The Zulus kept back at last,
and only threw at them from a distance.  By and by all their cartridges
were used up.  Then the blacks rushed at them again.  But the soldiers
kept them off ever so long with their bayonets.  At last the Zulus
picked up the dead bodies and threw them on the bayonets, and so broke
into the square and killed all."

"And how did you manage to get off yourself?" inquired Redgy.

"I contrived to pull off my uniform, bit by bit, and hid it under the
horse's neck.  Then I took the big Zulu's feathers and bracelets and put
them on, and tied his cowtails round my waist.  No one came near the
part of the field where I was lying while I was doing it.  Then I got
up, took the Zulu's assegay, and nobody guessed that I was not a Zulu.
I went first to Mr Ernest, meaning to bury his body.  But he was alive,
and did not want to be buried!"

"Ernest alive!" exclaimed George.  "Why, I saw the assegay pierce him
through and through?"

"No, it only grazed his ribs, and the handle remained in his side, so
that the blood had stopped.  As soon as it got dark, I carried him into
the wood, to a cave which I found there.  There he has been lying ever
since, and I have nursed him.  I got some supply of food from the camp
before the Zulus took it all.  But it was all done yesterday, and Mr
Ernest would have died of hunger, so I came here."

"And you would have died of hunger too, you good fellow, though you
never seem to think of that," said Redgy.  "Where have you left Ernest
now?"

"He is still in the cave, Mr Margetts.  He is much better, but not able
to walk yet.  But he might be brought here quite safely."

"I'll go and speak to the lieutenant, or to Evetts, whichever of them I
can find first," said George.  "I have no doubt he will send out a party
to fetch Ernest in.  But tell me, Matamo, are the Zulus still in great
numbers about there?  Would they attack our fellows if they went out to
bring him here?"

"The Zulus have been gone from Isandhlwana a long while ago," said
Matamo.  "If they had remained about there, they must have discovered
Mr Ernest.  No; they have carried off the cannon and the rifles and the
revolvers, and everything they fancied.  There are nothing but dead
bodies there."

"Very well.  As soon as you are rested, a party shall set out.  I will
go with it myself."

"Thank you, sir, I want no rest.  I can go at once."

CHAPTER FOURTEEN.

A long interval had passed since the occurrence of the events recorded
in the last chapter.  It was now July, the depth of the southern winter.
Although Zululand is on the border of the tropics, there is often at
that season damp and chilly weather, which is extremely trying to
Europeans.  When our story re-opens, George, Vander Heyden, and Redgy
were lying on some tiger-skin karosses, under the shelter of a Cape
waggon, enjoying the warm beams of the sun, which in the forenoon had
considerable power.

The scene was very different from that surrounding Rorke's Drift, being
extremely picturesque and beautiful.  A rich undulating plain was spread
out before them, terminating in woody heights.  The green surface was
varied by patches of mimosa scrub and groves of acacias and date palms.
Under the hills to the right, which were mostly covered with thorns, the
course of the noble Zulu river, the White Umvalosi, was distinctly to be
traced, now lost between graceful masses of feathery foliage, now
flashing out from behind its screen into the full sunlight.

"Do you know what that mound is yonder?" inquired Margetts, pointing to
a vast green tumulus, conspicuous in the distance in the direction of
the north-east.  "Has a battle been fought there, or what?"

"That is King Panda's tomb!" said Vander Heyden,--"Cetewayo's father,
you know.  He was interred there in a sitting attitude, as is the custom
of the country.  The meaning of it, I suppose, is to signify that he is
still ruling the land, as they have a sort of superstitious belief that
he does.  They are very particular about their funeral ceremonies.  They
have an idea that the spirits of the dead will punish severely any
omission of them!"

"And they have an unpleasant custom of killing some hundreds of people
to do honour to the dead, haven't they?" inquired Redgy.

"Yes, they have," assented Vander Heyden; "but to do your English
Government justice, they would not allow that.  One reason why I
resolved to follow this out to the last, is because I know Cetewayo's
barbarity has only been kept within any bounds by the power of the
English.  Were he to be able to defy that, the horrors of the past would
be revived."

"Shall we pass Panda's tomb on our way to attack Ulundi to-morrow?"
asked Margetts.  "I am not sure that even now I know the exact position
of the royal kraal!"

"It is there," said Vander Heyden, pointing with his hand, "in the
centre of those masses of the mimosa scrub.  It is as much as fifteen or
sixteen miles from here.  If we are to march to attack it to-morrow, as
you say, Margetts, and as is generally believed in the camp, it will be
a long day's work over a country like this."

"I agree with you," said George; "but, nevertheless, the attempt will be
made.  In a very few days, perhaps in a single day, the opportunity will
be lost to Lord Chelmsford of recovering the laurels he lost at
Isandhlwana.  Sir Garnet Wolseley has already arrived from England, and
may take the command over any day."

"I don't suppose we shall ever get very near Ulundi without having a
brush with these black fellows," observed Margetts.  "They are about in
great numbers, and will never allow the royal kraal to be taken, if they
can prevent it."

Much had happened during the last few months of public interest, as well
as affecting the personal concerns of the characters of our story.  In
the first place, hostilities had altogether been broken off after the
action at Rorke's Drift.  Lord Chelmsford, over-estimating perhaps the
gravity of the situation, as he had before certainly underrated it,
resolved not to recommence operations until he was in command of a force
sufficient to bear down all resistance.  He argued, and perhaps rightly,
that, after his experience at Isandhlwana, the native troops could not
be relied upon in any action with the Zulus; and without them the forces
at his command were insufficient to face the vast multitude still under
Cetewayo's orders.  Pearson had had to intrench himself at Ekowe, where
he would be obliged to defend himself, until troops sufficient for his
relief could be got together.  Colonel Wood was in like manner under the
necessity of fortifying a camp on Kambula Hill, unable to advance;
though the terror in which his name was held, and his own extreme
vigilance, rendered any attack upon him too dangerous to be attempted.

Lord Chelmsford's demands for powerful reinforcements were promptly
granted.  Two regiments of cavalry, five of infantry, two field
batteries of artillery, and a company of engineers, were sent out in
large and powerful steam-vessels, placing, with those already in Natal,
not less than twenty-two thousand men at his disposal.

But, notwithstanding all the exertions made, a long delay ensued, during
which the prestige of England seemed to be continually on the wane, and
the terror inspired by Cetewayo continually on the increase.  The
general belief throughout Natal--it might be said throughout the whole
of Southern Africa--was that if Cetewayo, leaving a sufficient force to
keep Wood and Pearson within their camps, were to lead say thirty
thousand of his braves into the colony, no resistance could be offered.
The inhabitants would have to shut themselves up in the towns, which had
been fortified in anticipation of such a danger, leaving their villages,
their farm and country houses, their cattle and their crops, an
undisputed prey to their invaders.

The anxiety was in a great measure relieved when, early in April, the
battle of Ginghilovo was fought and the relief of Ekowe effected.  But
the disaster at Intombi, occurring at nearly the same time, which proved
only too plainly how completely the blacks were masters of the country,
and not long afterwards the melancholy death of the Prince Imperial,
saddened all hearts.  The universal feeling throughout the country was
that, if the lustre of the British arms was to be vindicated, it must be
by some brilliant achievement, which would throw all previous disasters
into the shade.

All our friends, George and Redgy and Hardy and Vander Heyden, had been
embarrassed by the untoward course of events.  George had obtained leave
of absence from camp duties.  The Mounted Volunteers indeed had been
reduced to a mere handful, and though he and Margetts and Vander Heyden
all intended to accompany the British forces to the end of the campaign,
they had to wait until they were drafted into some other corps.  Rivers
and Margetts proceeded to Dykeman's Hollow, where they learned that Mr
Rogers was still detained in England by business connected with Cape
politics.  He had written, however, to George, of course in ignorance of
Umbelini's raid and the disastrous issue of the invasion of Zululand,
and George proceeded to carry out his instructions, as far as he was
able.  All the waggons and farm stock had been brought back, and nearly
all the native servants had returned to their work.  George commenced
his duties as a Sunday school teacher, and though he felt somewhat
strange and awkward in the discharge of them, he was not on the whole
dissatisfied.  His house was convenient enough, though curiously
different in many respects from an English house.  There was room enough
for Redgy to be lodged in it also; and George took upon himself to
engage him as an assistant at the farm, until he could hear from Mr
Rogers, to whom he had written on the subject.  The two young men had
agreed that, although the present delay was extremely inconvenient to
them,--Redgy being anxious to find some settled work, and George to set
out in search of his mother,--their honour was pledged to accompany the
British troops in accomplishing the overthrow of Cetewayo, and they must
persevere.  George had written to his mother, and a trader going up the
country had promised to deliver his letter.  But the weeks and months
went by, and no reply was received, and he could not but be aware how
slight the likelihood was that his letter had reached its destination.

The delay was equally embarrassing to Henryk Yander Heyden.  He was not
only weary of the enforced inactivity and anxious to set in order his
new home, but his relations with his sister distressed him.  He and
Annchen had removed to Newcastle, to which town such of his goods and
possessions as had escaped destruction at the hands of Umbelini had been
conveyed.  There he had found a tolerably comfortable abode, but there
was nothing to employ his time, and inaction was particularly trying to
him.  If he had not felt himself bound by the vow he had made not to lay
down his arms until Cetewayo had been deposed or slain, he would have
set out for Zeerust without further concerning himself in the war.  But
he was a man who, when he had once taken a determination, persisted in
it till the last.  And when day after day passed, and the English
troops, for reasons which it seemed impossible to understand, still
delayed their march into Zululand, he only chafed and fretted, and made
his comments on the English commander-in-chief in terms which were
perhaps just, but not flattering.

As for Annchen, the present period of inactivity was even more trying to
her.  She had mourned sincerely for the loss of Frank Moritz, of whose
good qualities she had been fully sensible.  But along with this there
was a sense of relief; for which she reproached herself, perhaps too
severely.  She had never been in love with him, in the real sense of
that expression; and as time went on, the conviction stole upon her that
she _was_ falling in love, if she had not already done so, with some one
else.  The scenes during the wreck had brought Rivers before her in a
very striking light; and she could not but be sensible (though nothing
could be more respectful and reserved than his demeanour) of his
devotion to herself.  She saw that it was her brother's opposition alone
which prevented his coming forward, and she rebelled against her
brother's prejudices as unreasonable and even ungrateful.  The mutual
embarrassment that had for some time been felt increased during her
residence at Newcastle.  It was the nearest town of any size to
Dykeman's Hollow, and George, who had temporarily assumed the management
of Mr Rogers' property, had continual occasions of riding in thither on
matters of business.  Sometimes they met in the street and exchanged
greetings, and some conversation passed.  Sometimes it was the brother
he encountered, and Vander Heyden was always cordial and courteous,
though he never spoke of his sister or invited Rivers to his house.
Considering that George must necessarily need refreshment after his long
ride, and the hospitable habits of the Dutch, Annchen could not but feel
that this was ungracious and marked.  Once or twice she tried to express
this to him, but stammered and hesitated so much over it that she was
obliged to desist.  If Vander Heyden had known much of feminine nature,
he would have been aware that, if he wished to check the growth of an
attachment on his sister's part for Rivers, he was taking the most
likely means possible of defeating his object.

At last, one day about the middle of June, Henryk encountered his friend
in the street at Newcastle, with an expression on his face which had
long been absent from it.

"We are summoned to headquarters," he said, "at last.  The march to
Ulundi is to begin immediately.  We are to set off to-morrow.  We are to
advance to Luneberg, where a junction will be effected with Sir Evelyn
Wood; and then the whole army will proceed to Ulundi for what will be, I
trust, the final struggle."

On the following morning, accordingly, the three adventurers set forth,
and on reaching Lord Chelmsford's quarters, found Hardy already there.
The three Baylens and Matamo, remained at Horner's Kraal, though the
farmer adhered to the promise he had given of lending them Matamo for
their expedition across the Transvaal.

In a few days more the march began.  George was interested and almost
amused at noticing the extreme caution which was now observed in
securing the troops against the attacks of the enemy.  Whenever any spot
was approached where a ledge of rocks or a wooded hillside might afford
protection to an assailing force, scouts were always sent forward to
make the most careful examination of it.  Immediately after a halt, the
camps were always strongly fortified, and even surrounded by lines of
galvanised wire, which the soldiers humorously called "Cetewayo
catchers."  The heliograph, too, was invariably set up, by which
messages in cases of emergency could be despatched.  The change from
reckless indifference to danger, and unbounded contempt for the enemy,
to the most extreme and jealous caution, was curious to notice.

On the 3rd of July, as the reader has heard, the English force had
approached so near to Ulundi that an action was evidently imminent.  The
broad, open plain which extends between Nodwengu and Ulundi seemed to
have been chosen by mutual consent to determine what might be called the
decisive encounter between civilisation and barbarism.  On the day
following the conversation between George and his friends, the English
army formed in square and marched on the royal kraal.  It was an unusual
order for a march, but one which rendered a surprise impossible.  The
infantry formed all four sides of a square; the cavalry, mounted
infantry, and volunteers protected the front and flanks; the Basutos
covered the rear.  The cannon were placed at the angles; the ammunition
and waggons in the centre.

The march proceeded past the green tomb of King Panda already mentioned,
steadily moving onwards towards Ulundi.  Presently there was visible in
the distance a vast array of oval-shaped shields, above which rose
multitudes of feathered head-dresses and the blades of glittering
assegays, where the interminable host of Cetewayo's warriors were
advancing to commence the battle.

The order was now given to halt, the ranks were formed in close order,
four deep,--the two in front kneeling as though to repel a charge of
cavalry, and the two behind firing steadily over their heads.

"They mean it," exclaimed George to Redgy, as they sat side by side on
their horses, watching the movements of the enemy; "Ginghilovo hasn't
frightened them after all."

"No," said Hardy, who was next to George on his other side.  "I don't
expect that any of these fellows were there, and it isn't an easy matter
to cow them at any time."

"And look what multitudes of them there are!" said Redgy; "the whole
plain seems full of them.  They outnumber us, four or five to one, I
should say."

"Quite," assented Hardy.  "But if there were forty to one, it would not
affect the result, if our fellows stand firm.  It is impossible for them
to approach the line of fire."

"They don't think so, though," observed Redgy.  "Here they come."

As he spoke the dark columns were seen moving forward, the men advancing
with a kind of springing step, holding their shields before them on
their left arms.  After firing their carbines, they did not stop to
reload, but pressed forward, brandishing their assegays in their right
hands.  A stern silence was observed in the British line until they were
within rifle fire.  Then the word was given, and the fusillade began.
The effect was terrific.  The Gatling guns opened whole lanes in the
advancing masses, and the leaden storm from the rifles struck down
hundreds at every discharge.  The ground was almost instantly heaped
with bodies, so that the rearward file had to struggle over the piles of
slain.  They continued, however, to press forward with fierce shouts and
undaunted valour to inevitable death, though the fire only grew heavier
as they struggled nearer to it.

"What splendid fellows!" said George admiringly; "it really seems a
shame to massacre them after this fashion, though no doubt there is no
help for it."

"They are stopping now, though," said Hardy.  "They have advanced nearer
than any other troops in the world would, I think, have done, but they
are wavering and recoiling now.  Ha! there is the signal to charge," he
added, as the bugle sounded.  "Now for it, then, George?"

As he spoke, the cavalry darted forth from either flank, and swept down
with the force of a hurricane on the disorganised and disheartened
masses.  In an instant the whole body of Zulus broke and fled in all
directions, the horsemen with their sabres plunging among them and
mercilessly hewing them down.  Even in this extremity the gallant blacks
turned again and again on their pursuers, pouring in desultory volleys
or hurling assegays, which cost the conquerors many a life.  Nor did
resistance entirely cease till tracts of broken country were reached,
where it was impossible for the cavalry to follow farther.  Then they
halted, recalled the stragglers, and slowly returned over the scene of
the long encounter, the whole route being heaped with the dead and dying
with a sad and terrible sameness.

"Well, Vander Heyden," said Rivers, as they lay on their karosses that
evening, too much exhausted with their day's work to raise their heads
from their pillows, "our vows are fulfilled at last.  Cetewayo is
completely crushed.  His army is destroyed, or too widely scattered to
be gathered together again.  He will never fight another battle nor
summon another council.  Now at last we may think of our long-delayed
journey to Zeerust."

"I do not know what the terms of _your_ vow were, Rivers," answered the
Dutchman, "but mine remains to be fulfilled Cetewayo is neither slain
nor captive yet I grant his power is to all appearance broken.  But he
is a brave and resolute savage, and his people are still devotedly
attached to him.  So long as he is alive and at liberty, _my_ vow is not
accomplished.  You of course can do as you will.  But I am not free to
depart at present."

George looked disappointed.  "My own resolve," he said, "no doubt, was
to see an end of Cetewayo before I left, and I should not like to set
out without you,"--possibly George may have added inwardly, "or without
Annchen."  But if this was his thought, he kept it to himself.  "I
suppose," he added a moment afterwards, "Hardy also will wait to
accompany you."

"No doubt," assented the Dutchman; "and besides, Rivers, I ought to tell
you that, anxious as I am to set out, I should not like to do so at this
season of the year.  Even here the weather is extremely trying,--trying
even to those who have lived as long in the country as I have.  But in
the camp here we have sufficiency of food and firing and shelter, as
well as medical attendance close at hand, if we should want it.  None of
these things are to be had with any certainty in the Transvaal.  It
would be unwise, for you and Mr Margetts at all events, to make the
attempt for five or six weeks to come.  One of the things that vexed me
most last April, when that extraordinary delay occurred, was that I knew
that we could not then set out until the beginning of September.  But by
that time, I have no doubt, Cetewayo will have been killed or be a
prisoner in our hands."

"I suppose you are right," said George reluctantly.  "Well, if I must
remain, I shall try to make part of the force that is sent to catch him.
I only hope there will not be as long a delay about this part of the
affair as there was about the march to Ulundi."

The feeling expressed by George was one generally entertained throughout
the camp.  But nevertheless the search after the Zulu king seemed to
partake of the same inactivity which had prevailed from the first.
Rumours were brought in that Cetewayo, who had refused all the offers
made him, in deep distrust, no doubt, of the good faith of the English
in making them, had fled into the recesses of a wild primeval forest on
the borders of the Black Umvalosi, known as the Ngome Country.  Here it
was almost impossible to pursue him.  The scenery was wild, broken,
covered with rock and wood, presenting innumerable fastnesses, which
could only be approached with the utmost caution, and great numbers of
Zulus were still lurking in the neighbourhood, quite capable of
exterminating any party which they might surprise unawares.  A cordon
was drawn round this district, and the circle gradually contracted; but
for a long time, notwithstanding the rewards offered, and the fact that
numbers of Cetewayo's bitterest enemies were on his trail, no certain
intelligence of his lurking-place could be obtained.  At last, on the
26th of August, information came in, which indicated exactly where the
fugitive was to be found.  Major Marter of the Dragoon Guards was
ordered to take a squadron of his men, together with some of the native
horse and a few mounted infantry, to effect the capture.  With some
difficulty, Rivers and Vander Heyden were included among the latter.

On the morning of the 27th they set out, the mounted infantry acting as
scouts, and the others following.  They made their way through wild and
picturesque scenes, where the foot of civilisation seemed never to have
trodden.  Here and there the rude pathway was interrupted by mountain
streams, leaping over rocky heights.  The horsemen passed under groups
of date palms, mimosas, and euphorbias, the giant trailers dropping from
branch and crag in tropical luxuriance round them; overhead jays and
parrots, exhibiting the brightest hues, screamed and croaked; and troops
of monkeys chattered.  Every now and then a watchful eye could see
venomous snakes creeping off through the brushwood or making their way
along the boughs of trees, scared by the sight of the scarlet tunics or
the tramping of the horses' hoofs.  It was a strange, bewildering
journey.

At length they reached a mountain height, from which, at the distance of
a mile or two at the most, a small kraal was to be seen, in which, as
the spies confidently assured Major Marter, the royal fugitive had taken
refuge.

It was a difficult point to approach.  The wooded valley in which it was
situated lay at a great depth, more than a thousand feet, it might be
twice that distance, below; and if the party should be seen before they
were close to the kraal, escape would be possible into a tangled
wilderness, where pursuit would be extremely difficult.

The major made his arrangements accordingly.  He caused the dragoons to
lay aside their scabbards and all the rest of their accoutrements, which
would make a rattling noise as they advanced.  Then he sent some of the
native contingent and volunteers, among whom George and Vander Heyden
were included, to creep down the mountain-side, keeping carefully out of
sight, and making no noise, until they reached the edge of the stream on
the banks of which the kraal stood.  Arrived there, they were to conceal
themselves among the dense bushes which fringed the stream, until the
major himself with his dragoons were seen coming up on the opposite
side.  Then they were to cross the stream, which a good leap would be
sufficient to surmount, and surround the kraal.  Marter himself led his
Dragoon Guards to a point three miles distant, where the slope of the
hills was sufficiently easy to allow of their riding down.

George and his companions accomplished the difficult descent
successfully, clinging to the baboon ropes,--as a species of long
trailer is called, and swarming down the date palms, all in profound
silence.  The chief danger arose from the incessant screaming of the
monkeys, which rose in such a chorus that the adventurers were afraid
that the attention of the occupants of the kraal might be attracted by
it.  But Cetewayo and his followers either felt confident in the
security of the place of their retreat or were over-wearied by their
recent exertions.  George and his companions succeeded in reaching the
bank of the stream unobserved.  They could see a Zulu soldier or two
moving about, and now and then a woman coming out and going back into
the kraal.  But all was listless and dispirited.  The alert and watchful
activity of the Zulus seemed completely to have deserted them.
Presently the sound of hoofs was heard, and the Dragoons, sabre in hand,
came galloping up.  At the same moment George and his comrades rushed
from their concealment and cleared the little stream at a bound.

The Zulus offered no resistance.  It might be that they felt that the
struggle would be hopeless, but it seemed as though all heart and hope
had deserted them.  They raised a feeble cry.  "The white soldiers are
here, my father!  You are their prisoner."

There was a moment's pause, then the door opened, and the huge and
sinewy figure of Cetewayo came forth.  He looked worn and over-wearied,
but he still retained something of his native dignity.  George and
Vander Heyden stepped up on either side, as if to arrest him, but he
waved them off.

"Lay no hands on me," he said, "white men.  I am a king; I surrender not
to you, but only to your chief."

CHAPTER FIFTEEN.

The waggons had stopped for the night, the oxen were outspanned, and the
native servants were engaged in knee-haltering their masters' horses,
which were then turned into the veldt to graze.  They had not yet
advanced far enough into the Transvaal country for any danger to be
apprehended from wild animals.  George and Margetts, assisted by Hardy,
were engaged in lighting two large fires, partly to cook the supper,
partly to dispel the chill which they felt creeping over them; for,
though winter was now past, and the early spring was usually mild and
balmy, yet after nightfall it is apt to become extremely cold.  There is
no country in the world, it may be remarked, more liable to sudden and
rapid changes from cold to heat, and again from heat to cold, than that
which they were now traversing.

They had left Zululand--that is, Vander Heyden, George, and Redgy had
left it--a day or two after the capture of Cetewayo, and proceeded
straight to Luneberg, whither the waggons had been despatched from
Newcastle to join them.  Annchen had travelled under the charge of her
brother's two chief Hottentot servants, Koboo and Utango.  Matamo and
Haxo had been despatched by their respective masters to join the party
at Newcastle, and Hardy arrived the following day from Landman's Drift.
The whole party being assembled, they set off about the end of the first
week of September.

There were two waggons, each with its full team of oxen and four
servants attached to each.  All these belonged to Vander Heyden, and
contained valuables of all kinds, household furniture, farm implements,
guns and ammunition, and a considerable supply of provisions, it being
difficult and sometimes impossible to procure even the commonest
articles at various places on their route.  They were to proceed first
to Heidelberg, by Elandsberg and Standerton; afterwards journeying north
of Potchefstroom to Lichtenberg, and so to Zeerust.  Supposing them to
be able to travel every day, and no casualties to delay them, it would
probably be five or six weeks before they would reach their destination.
But there might be obstacles of all descriptions to encounter.  Heavy
rains might oblige them to remain inactive for days together.  Disease
might attack the cattle, especially the lung disease, of which mention
has already been made, to which horses were so liable in that country.
There was also a risk from wild animals.  The more dangerous beasts, the
lion, the rhinoceros, and the like, had become very scarce of late years
in all the southern portion of the Transvaal, unable to endure the
vicinity of the white man and his rifle.  Still they might be met with
at various points of their route, and the tiger (that is, the African
leopard, which is so-called in that country) and the hyena were still
numerous.  Annchen and her attendant were accommodated in the best
waggon.  Vander Heyden and Hardy usually slept in the other, as did the
others indeed also, Vander Heyden having courteously offered sleeping
berths to George and Margetts.  The native servants usually made their
bed on the ground outside.

It was now the end of the second day of their journey, and they were
beginning to make their way into the wilder country of the Transvaal,
leaving the more civilised parts behind them.  The road during the
greater part of the day had lain across lonely tracts of country--such
kraals and farmhouses as they had fallen in with being few and far
between.  The main features of the scenery had been long undulating
downs, over which the tall coarse grass was growing up in abundance,
diversified now and then by masses of rock rising abruptly into sharp
eminences, and crossed occasionally by deep watercourses overgrown with
weeds.  These were, in general, difficult and sometimes dangerous to
pass.  Every now and then herds of springboks came by, bounding straight
up into the air, as they caught sight of the travellers, like
Jacks-in-the-box, to an astonishing height, and then rushing away with
the fleetness of the wind.  More rarely elands and hartebeests appeared,
and once a number of gnus--these strange animals, which seem to be
something half-way between the horse and the ox--went by at their
awkward gallop.  George and Matamo rode in pursuit and succeeded in
killing a hartebeest and two springboks, the more dainty parts of which
were cooked for the evening meal.

Annchen took her supper with the rest of the party, but soon afterwards
retired to her waggon; and the four Europeans, sitting round the largest
fire, for the night was unusually cold, began to converse together.

"This is near the place where that disaster occurred--Intombe--isn't
it?" asked Margetts, knocking the ashes out of his pipe.

"Yes," answered Hardy; "the spot where the massacre took place is down
on the bank of the river, only a little way from this.  One would have
thought that Isandhlwana would have been enough to teach even our
countrymen common prudence.  But I suppose nothing ever will."

"It looks like it, certainly," said George.  "But it does not often
happen that three such instances of carelessness, followed by such
terrible results, follow in the course of one single campaign, as
Isandhlwana, Intombe, and the death of the Prince Imperial."

"That last was rather cowardice than carelessness, wasn't it?" asked
Margetts.

"I don't think so," said George.  "The Prince Imperial was an entirely
raw and inexperienced officer.  The country was known to be in a most
dangerous state, full of armed Zulus, who are among the most stealthy
and cunning of all enemies; and he was allowed to go out in command of a
party with no one competent to advise him.  They tried to make out that
he was not in command of the party, but nothing could be plainer than
that he was; and that it was his total ignorance of the Zulus and the
Zulu country that caused the disaster."

"The troopers might have stopped to help him," suggested Margetts.

"They were told to mount and ride," said George, "and they did what they
were told.  How can you blame them for obeying their officer's orders?
Don't you think so, Hardy?"

"Most certainly," assented Hardy.  "It does not appear that any of them,
except his own French attendant, knew that the Prince was in any more
danger than the rest of the party, until it was too late to do anything
for him.  The attempt to make out that that unfortunate Lieutenant Carey
had the command of the party and was answerable for the loss of the
Prince, was one of the most dishonest things I ever remember.  The
person really to blame was the officer who sent out the party under the
Prince Imperial's charge.  But I suppose it was necessary to have a
scapegoat, and this poor young Carey was the most convenient person to
select."

"What will become of Cetewayo?" suggested Vander Heyden.  "Will they
send him to Robben Island, along with Langalabalele and a lot of
others?"

"Most likely," said Hardy; "and there he will enjoy himself along with
his wives, and grow fat, and die an old man most likely."

"Yes, if a party in England don't take him up," said Rivers.  "I am told
there are persons in England who are raising a great clamour and making
out that he has been shamefully used."

"I wish they could be made to come out and live under his rule in
Zululand," suggested Hardy.  "What is that?" he exclaimed a moment
afterwards, starting up.  "There is something in the bush there,
creeping near us.  Take your rifles.  We must see to this."  He caught
up a long burning stick from the fire and threw it down among a number
of dry canes and reeds which lay at a short distance.  A bright flame
sprang up and showed some dark figures moving off into the scrub at a
little distance; but the shadows fell so confusedly that it was
difficult to make out whether they were men or animals.  A minute
afterwards Matamo passed them on horseback, cantering off in the
direction of the scrub.

"That's all right," said Vander Heyden; "he's sure to truck them, if any
one can.  We may sit down again.  I suppose you couldn't see what they
were, Hardy?"

"It was something crawling on four legs," said Hardy, "and I caught a
momentary glimpse of a spotted skin, but whether it was the kaross of a
Zulu, or a real tiger, I can't say."

"The tigers are very bold," said Vander Heyden, "in this country.  I
suppose they are not such formidable beasts as the tigers of Bengal,
though."

"No, indeed," said Hardy.  "If you had ever come into contact with them,
you would know the difference."

"Did you ever kill a tiger in Bengal?" asked Margetts.

"Why, no, Mr Margetts, but one very near killed me."

"Did he?  Tell us about it," said Redgy.

"Well, it was very soon after I went to India, when I was quite a young
man.  There was a letter of importance to be taken to the officer in
command at Meerut; there was no one at hand who could take it, and they
were obliged to entrust it to me.  I was to travel by what they call
dak,--travelling all night in a palanquin on men's shoulders, and
resting during the hot hours of the day.  We were travelling in the
wildest part of the country, when one of the bearers put his head in
between the curtains.  `Would massa like to see a tiger?' he said.

"I had been dozing, but I started up.  `No,' I said; `there are few
things I should like to see less.'

"`Massa see one if he like it.  Very big tiger yonder!'

"I looked out, and there, sure enough, about two hundred yards ahead of
us there was a big tiger, trotting along in advance; I could see his
striped skin clearly in the moonlight.

"`Won't you stop?'  I inquired of the bearers.

"`No good stop!' was the comforting reply; `tiger see us before we see
him.  If he mean to eat us, he eat us; if he don't, he leave us alone.'

"I looked carefully to the loading of my gun, and lay back in the
litter, watching our fellow-traveller, who jogged on, apparently
entirely regardless of us.  Presently he turned into the jungle and
disappeared.

"`Well!'  I said, `to be sure you are not going to pass the spot where
he very likely is laying wait for us?'

"`If he mean to have us, he have us,' was the only answer I got.

"I had a strong presentiment that he _did_ mean to have us, and I was
half inclined to get out of the litter and leave them to make the
experiment in their own persons.  But at this moment there was a ringing
noise heard in the distance, and a troop of native horsemen, who had
been sent on some errand, came riding up.  I informed the officer in
command of our predicament, and he gave us an escort of his men to the
nearest station.  We heard afterwards that the tiger in question had
been for many weeks past the terror of the neighbourhood, having killed
great numbers of men.  I was exceedingly glad to hear, when I returned
that way a week or two afterwards, that he had been tracked out and
shot."

"I know they are formidable beasts," said Vander Heyden.  "I saw some of
them when I was in England, and also at the Cape.  The so-called tiger
of this country is an awkward beast to come into contact with, though.
But I consider the buffalo, if he is wounded, a much more dangerous
animal."

"I agree with you," said Hardy.  "A full-grown buffalo is pretty nearly
a match for a lion, and a herd of them can put a lion to flight at any
time."

"Yes, I have seen that myself," said Vander Heyden.  "I remember once,
when I was out hunting in the country near the Crocodile river, I came
upon a lion who had just seized a buffalo calf, which had strayed, I
suppose, for none of the herd were in sight.  He was carrying it off to
his lair probably.  I fired, and my bullet struck one of his legs.  It
was a bad shot, and only inflicted a flesh wound.  The lion turned, and
I suppose would have rushed upon me.  But at that moment a trampling was
heard, and a troop of buffalo came in sight, headed probably by the
mother.  The lion left the calf and galloped off as fast as he could to
the jungle, which lay a mile or so off.  He would have got clear of
them, I have no doubt, if it hadn't been for the wound I had given him.
But that crippled him so much, that the herd presently overtook and
charged him.  He turned and sprang upon one of them.  But they had him
down in a minute, and gored him to death with their horns, without his
being able to make any resistance."

The sound of horses' feet was now heard, and Matamo came up.  "Well,
Matamo," cried Redgy, "what was it then? was it a tiger, or a hyena, or
a wild dog, or what?"

"I am not sure," said Matamo, "but I think it was a bush thief?"

"A bush thief?" repeated Hardy; "do you mean a native or a white man?"

"A white thief, Mr Hardy," answered the Bechuana,--"the same who
attacked us before."

"What! on the banks of the Blood river, you mean--before Isandhlwana,
eh?" said George.

"Yes, Mr Rivers,--the man you rode after and did not catch."

"What makes you suppose that?  Colonel Wood is believed to have cleared
the country of the gang by whom we were attacked," observed Margetts.

"The colonel did not drive him off," said Matamo.  "_I_ remember him
quite well; I saw him in Luneberg the day before we left.  He was
looking at the waggons and asking questions.  He thought I did not know
him, but I did."

"Then you think he is dogging us?" suggested Rivers.

"He is certainly after us, and means us harm," rejoined the Bechuana.
"I saw him long way off to-day.  I knew his horse."

"Horse! was he on horseback when you saw him just now--that is, if you
did see him?"

"He was creeping through the bush on his hands and knees when I first
saw him," was the answer.  "When I first got on my horse and rode after
him, I saw him a long way off, on the edge of the wood, he and one or
two more.  They got on their horses and rode off before I could come
up."

"Well, they won't come back to-night, anyhow," observed Rivers; "and
to-morrow we must devise some means of circumventing them."

No more was said, and presently the party turned in to their
sleeping-places for the night.

Rivers tapped Vander Heyden on the shoulder, and the two moved off a
short distance out of hearing.

"What do you think of this, Mr Vander Heyden?" inquired George when
they were out of hearing distance.

"I am afraid Matamo is right," answered the Dutchman.  "I know more of
this man Cargill, or, as he chooses to call himself, Bostock, than I
have cared to say.  He was once in the Dutch service, and was received
in society as a gentleman.  At the Hague he fell in with my sister, to
whom he offered very marked attentions--indeed, once made her an offer
of marriage."

"But she repelled him?" said George.

"Yes, so decidedly that he had no pretext for intruding further on her.
But he would not desist, and my sister appealed to me for protection.  I
called at his quarters, and the result was a quarrel and a challenge,
which I accepted.  But the same night, at the burgomaster's ball, he was
so insolent in his demeanour to Annchen, that I insisted on his leaving
the ballroom.  A fracas with the police ensued, and he was lodged in
prison, from which he made his escape.  I never heard what had become of
him until I saw him on board the _Zulu Queen_.  But he had sent a notice
to me, while in prison, that the defiance which had been exchanged
between us still held good, if I dared to meet him.  I answered that I
stood prepared to do so when and where he might demand it.  I could not
then foresee that he would fall to his present level.  He reminded me of
my words when we met that day near the Blood river.  I daresay you
wondered that I should condescend to a duel with such a fellow.  But my
word had been given, though at that time I did not like to tell you
all."

"I see," said George; "but you are not bound to meet him again."

"No, nor have I any intention of doing so.  Indeed, I told him so.  But
you heard what he said,--`he would find his opportunity of returning my
fire,' or some such words.  He is quite ruffian enough to shoot at me
without further warning."

"If I thought that," exclaimed George, "I declare I would fire upon him
without ceremony!  What, do you think he was creeping up through the
reeds with that intention when Matamo saw him?"

"I cannot say.  But if it was really he that Matamo saw, I don't think
it unlikely."

"Well, we must be on our guard of course.  It is a pity we haven't a
good dog with us.  We must see if we can't get one at one of the houses
we pass.  There is nothing for it but to go to sleep now.  I think we
are safe for to-night."

The night passed as had been anticipated, without further disturbance.
In the morning the route was resumed, the place appointed for that
evening's halt being Elandsberg.  They were able to proceed with greater
speed than on the previous day, the long, level plain being rarely
interrupted by watercourses.  The only drawback was that the veldt,
though to all appearance level and firm, was in many places undermined
by the burrows of the ant-bears which abound in this district, and which
the long grass renders invisible.  The horses were continually plunging
into these fetlock deep, and sometimes almost to the knee.  The greatest
care was necessary to prevent a dangerous accident.  This formation of
ground lasted through the whole of the morning's ride, so that Vander
Heyden had no opportunity of resuming the conversation with George which
he had held on the previous evening.  But when the mid-day halt had been
made, the Dutchman, who had been seated near him under the shade of a
large oomehahma, asked him to take a turn with him into the wood, while
the drivers were engaged in inspanning the cattle.

"Mr Rivers," he said, "I think I ought to tell you what I have heard
from my sister about this man Cargill, of whom we were speaking last
night.  I suppose she had overheard something from the Hottentots, which
induced her to suppose that he had been seen in the neighbourhood.  But
it certainly is necessary that some steps should be taken to prevent the
mischief which may otherwise not improbably follow.  You will perhaps
think it strange that I should speak to you, of all men, about her.  I
know the light in which you regard her.  You have never, indeed, made
any secret of it."  He paused and hesitated, looking at George in an
embarrassed manner.

Rivers bowed rather distantly.  "You are right, Mr Vander Heyden," he
said; "I have said and done nothing secretly.  But I am aware of your
feeling on the subject.  You must allow me to say that you have made no
secret of _your_ feeling either."

"That is true, Mr Rivers, and is one reason why I wish to speak to you
now.  I will not deny that when we first met, on board the _Zulu Queen_,
my feeling was one of simple dislike to your countrymen.  That may be an
unreasonable prejudice; but if you knew my family history, you would not
wonder at it.  But the events which ensued on board the ship, and
afterwards during the campaign in Zululand, have, permit me to say,
completely altered my feeling.  I have learned your true character, and
honour and esteem you."

George again bowed, and put out his hand, which the other took frankly.
"I, too, Mr Vander Heyden, have had prejudices to get over," he said,
"and may say with truth that I have surmounted them."

"I am glad that you can say so," resumed Henryk.  "To proceed--I would
now willingly accept you as a suitor for my sister's hand, and, to be
perfectly frank, do not much doubt that she would receive you
favourably, but for a circumstance which is perhaps to be regretted, but
cannot be set aside.  My father entertained a still stronger resentment
against the English than ever I have felt.  The idea of being connected
with them in any manner was odious to him.  Above all, the notion that
either I should ever marry an Englishwoman, or an Englishman become the
husband of Annchen, was one against which he was determined to guard by
every means in his power.  She is seven or eight years younger than I
am, and was indeed not more than twelve years old at the time of his
death.  He thought her too young to be spoken to on the subject.  But he
put a clause into his will, by which she forfeited her whole inheritance
if she married an Englishman, and he also laid his solemn commands on me
never to allow such a marriage.  I gave him my promise, and nothing can
ever release me from it."

He again paused.  But George only once more bowed, and Henryk went on.
"I have never told Annchen of my interview with my father, which took
place only a few days before his death; nor is she aware of the clause
in his will of which I have told you.  When I perceived your attentions
to her, I warned her against entertaining any reciprocal feelings, but
only on the ground that I could never consent to such an union.  I did
not wish to bring in my father's name, if I could help it.  Nor shall I
do so, unless it becomes absolutely necessary.  May I not hope, Mr
Rivers, that you, seeing what the consequences of a marriage with her
would be, will prevent the occurrence of this necessity by abstaining
from any further persistence in your suit?"

George was silent for a minute or two, and then replied, "You have
spoken frankly, Mr Vander Heyden, and in a manner that does you honour.
I do not fear poverty myself, but I ought not to reduce her to it,
unless at her own expressed wish.  We should not, in England, think it
right for a parent to exercise so extreme an authority over a daughter
as a prohibition to marry a person of any particular nation, be he who
or what he might, would amount to.  But under the circumstances of the
case, I am willing to respect your joint wishes, and will not, unless
with your permission, ask Annchen to be my wife."

"I thank you, Mr Rivers.  You will observe that my father's command was
not addressed to her, forbidding her to marry an Englishman, but to me,
requiring me to forbid it.  If I could think it right to set my father's
injunction aside, she doubtless would feel no scruple.  But that, I
fear, can never be the case."

There was a further pause, and then Vander Heyden again spoke.  "Having
told you this, I have no hesitation in asking your help in the present
condition of things.  This man Cargill, or Bostock, or whatever he may
choose to call himself, does not pursue us in this manner only because
he bears me a deadly hate.  He has an equally deadly passion for
Annchen.  I had no idea till last night of the length to which he had
gone.  Even on board the ship, he had the insolence to speak to her.  On
the day when we left the Cape he contrived to find her alone, and warn
her that there would probably be mutiny and danger to the captain and
officers and passengers, but she might trust to him to preserve her from
all harm."

"Why did not Miss Vander Heyden warn you?" exclaimed Rivers, greatly
startled.

"He timed it well.  It was only just before the ship struck.  Moritz and
I were asleep in our cabin, and the captain was asleep in his also.  He
knew that there would be no possibility of warning us.  Again, as I
learn, while she was at the Swedish pastor's house, just after our
encounter on the banks of the Blood river, she received a letter which
he contrived to have handed to her, telling her of his unaltered
affection, and that he was still resolved she should be his.  I learn
that he was seen in Luneberg making inquiries as to the route we were to
pursue, accompanied by some of the mutineers and one or two other
notorious ruffians.  There is, I am afraid, no doubt that some attempt
will be made to carry her off during this journey to Zeerust."

"It sounds like it, I fear," said Rivers.  "Well, Mr Vander Heyden, you
may command my services to the utmost in averting so dreadful a
calamity."

"I thank you; I knew I might reckon on your generous help.  I think, if
we can reach Standerton in safety, as with great exertion may be done
to-morrow, we may engage more men to accompany us.  Our party may be
made so numerous, that Cargill will not venture on any violence.  We are
at present ten in number, but two or three of them cannot be relied on.
If we could engage five or six stout fellows, and arm them well with
rifles and revolvers, they would not dare to attack us.  I propose to
have a watch kept throughout the night, as well as two or three men
riding always in advance, and they may follow in our rear by day."

"I think you could not do more wisely," said George; "and until we reach
Standerton we will undertake the duty ourselves.  Margetts and I will
keep one watch, you and Hardy another, and Matamo and Haxo the third.
And the same with the parties in advance and in the rear."

"I thank you heartily," said Vander Heyden.  "I will speak to Mr Hardy
and the two servants, if you will do so to Mr Margetts."

CHAPTER SIXTEEN.

The dawn was only just beginning to dapple the skies, when the voice of
Henryk Vander Heyden was heard rousing his Hottentots and superintending
the inspanning of the oxen and the saddling of the horses.  The sun was
hardly above the horizon before the party had set out, Vander Heyden and
Hardy riding two or three hundred yards in advance with their guns and
revolvers loaded, keeping a keen lookout as they advanced, and two of
the Hottentot servants following in the same manner in the rear.  In
this manner they advanced for three hours or so, through a country
resembling in character that which they had passed yesterday, with the
difference that the ground was harder and drier, so that the progress of
the waggons was less interrupted.  About nine o'clock they halted for
the first meal of the day on the edge of a dense mass of shrubs and
underwood, through which nothing but the woodman's axe or a herd of
elephants could have forced their way.  Here occurred an incident which
was remembered by one of the party, at all events, long afterwards.
Redgy Margetts had alighted, and was about to take his place at the
breakfast table, if the rough boards taken from the cart, on which the
viands were spread, could be so designated, when he saw what he took to
be the end of a long green plantain among the stems of the cacti.  They
are very delicious eating; and, thinking to add to the attractions of
the meal, he took hold of one end to draw it out.  To his surprise and
alarm, he felt it move and writhe in his grasp, and the next moment a
hideous green head made its appearance from the bushes, and would have
sprung on him, if Matamo, who was calling out to Margetts to warn him,
had not dexterously flung the large knife which he was holding in his
hand, wounding the snake in the neck and disconcerting its aim.  It
missed Redgy's face, at which it had darted, and fell on the ground
close to him, and Haxo, who had caught up an axe, struck its head off.

"A lucky escape, Mr Margetts," said Matamo.  "A big mamba, that; he is
seven or eight feet long.  I never saw a bigger."

"The brute?" exclaimed Redgy.  "I took him for a big cucumber, or
something of that kind.  Is he poisonous, Matamo?"

"Yes, Mr Redgy, very poisonous.  A man, if he was bit by him, would die
in an hour, perhaps in less.  I've known one die in three-quarters of an
hour."

"You must be careful, Mr Margetts," said Annchen, who had witnessed
what had passed with a shudder of horror.  "I have been learning a good
deal about the African snakes.  They are the worst things in the
country.  We newcomers cannot be too careful."

"You are right, miss," said Matamo.  "Some of them look like sticks or
green stalks or stems of trees lying on the ground.  Strangers sometimes
don't find out that they are snakes, till they are bitten."

"But, as a rule, they won't harm you unless you provoke them," said
Vander Heyden.  "They have the cobra in India as well as here.  In which
country do you think it is the most venomous, Hardy?"

"It is bad enough anywhere," answered Hardy; "but I think it is worst in
India.  Its venom is very rapid in its action there.  I remember Captain
Winter's Hindoo cook being bitten by one.  She used to keep her money in
a hen's nest near the kitchen door.  One night she heard a noise in the
nest, and thought some one was stealing her money.  She crept down in
the dark and put her hand into the nest to feel if the money was safe.
The noise had been caused by a cobra which had crept in to eat the
chickens.  It bit her, and she was dead in less than half an hour."

"Yes, no doubt it was in a state of great irritation, and the bite
unusually venomous," observed Vander Heyden; "but I consider both the
puff-adder and the cerastes to be quite as dangerous as the cobra, and
the mamba yonder is almost as bad as any.  But with proper care there is
not much danger.  If they do bite you, as a rule, the only thing to be
done is to cut or burn the flesh out."

The meal was now eaten, and the waggons were soon once more in motion,
the same precautions being observed during the remainder of the day.  No
enemies, however, were sighted, or, indeed, any living creatures at all,
except some koodoos, which Haxo and George pursued and were fortunate
enough to overtake, killing one and bringing the prime parts home for
supper.

About five o'clock they reached Elandsberg; which had never been more
than a tolerable-sized village, and had been sacked and burned by the
Zulus some months before in one of their incursions.  It was now
deserted; and it was fortunate that the koodoo had been killed, or the
party might have had but a slender supper to partake of.  But as it was,
they soon made themselves comfortable.  All the cottages had been
wrecked, and the furniture broken to pieces or carried off; but the
walls of some were still standing, and one of the largest--a farmhouse
apparently--had suffered less than the others.  The roof, of corrugated
iron, over two of the rooms was still almost whole, and even the windows
of one, the principal bedroom, had escaped.  This room was got ready for
Annchen and her Hottentot.  Her bed and box were brought in, and a rug
spread on the floor for the servant.  In the other room, which had been
the kitchen, the men of the party took up their quarters.  A fire was
lighted on the hearth, at which the koodoo's flesh was roasted; a half
shattered table was rescued from the debris outside and propped up with
boxes, and the party presently sat down to an appetising supper.  Two of
the servants were left to keep guard outside, their places being taken
by others at midnight.  Then the rest of the company wrapped themselves
in their rugs and lay down round the fire.

The night was undisturbed, and the route resumed with the first glimmer
of daylight, Vander Heyden being particularly anxious to reach
Standerton that night; where, he believed, his anxieties would be at an
end.  It was a most delicious day, and everything went smoothly until
after the halt for the mid-day meal.  Then it was arranged that Margetts
and Haxo should form the advanced guard, while Matamo and Hardy followed
in the rear.

Redgy rode on, thoroughly enjoying the delicious afternoon.  The sky was
beautifully blue, and for a long time not flecked by a single cloud.

"How lovely the afternoon is!" he exclaimed half to himself, as they
paced leisurely along.  "I wish our halting-place was farther off.  I
shall be quite sorry when this comes to an end."

"It is quite far enough off, sir," replied Haxo, to whom this remark
appeared to be addressed.  "It is about half a mile on, and I wish it
wasn't a quarter."

"Why do you wish that, Haxo?" asked Redgy, turning in surprise to his
companion, whose presence he had almost forgotten.

"Because the river is between us and Dolly's Kop, sir," answered Haxo;
"and I am not sure whether the waggon will get across."

"Get across!  Why not?  I suppose it is like the other rivers we have
passed to-day,--so I understand at least.  We have had no difficulty
about crossing them."

"Just so, Mr Margetts.  The rivers about here are nearly all sand, with
just a little water.  But after an hour's rain they look different."

"Rain!  Yes, but we've had no rain."

"We are going to have it, though, and that pretty soon.  Do you see
those clouds?"  He pointed as he spoke to a thick bank of black vapour
which was creeping over the sky.  "See, they're hurrying on the oxen as
fast as they can.  They may get across, but I don't think it."

They turned round and rode up to the waggon, where, indeed, the
giraffe-hide whips were in full requisition, and the waggons proceeded
at a pace which would soon have brought them up to the river-side had it
continued.  But they were presently obliged to moderate their pace, and
before long it became difficult to proceed.  The sky grew so dark as
almost to obscure the track--indeed, but for the lightning, which
repeatedly burst forth with a vividness which illuminated the whole
scene, they would not have been able to distinguish their way at all.
Then there came a cold, biting rush of wind, and suddenly the rain burst
forth in torrents, which soon drenched every one to the skin, while the
animals became almost unmanageable.  It was well they had experienced
drivers, or some serious disaster must have ensued.

At length, after a fierce struggle with the elements, the banks of the
river were reached.  But it became evident at a glance that all hope of
crossing it must for a long time to come be abandoned.  The narrow
streamlet had risen to a roaring torrent, not only filling its sandy
bed, but expanding into wide lagoons on either side, and filling up
hollows which in some places were fifteen or twenty feet deep.
Fortunately for the belated wanderers, the ground at the point which
they had reached was high and rocky; and they were glad to avail
themselves of Matamo's local knowledge, who ordered the oxen to be
turned aside from the track, and presently drew the waggons into a
cavern, running far enough back into the rock to afford a shelter from
both wind and rain.  The horses were now stabled in an adjoining cavern,
and the oxen turned out to find what food they could.  The condition of
the party was in some degree improved.  But they were sufficiently
miserable nevertheless.  The deluge of rain had not only soaked the men
to the skin, but had forced its way into the waggons, and Annchen and
her maid, and the beds and wraps and every other article inside, except
the solid chests, were as completely drenched as though they had been
plunged into the river.  Some wood, with which the floor of the cave had
been strewn, was heaped together and a fire lighted, but it would
evidently be hours before anything like warmth or comfort could be
restored.  Our travellers were greatly relieved when they saw a
horseman, wearing a heavily flapped hat and leggings and boots of
untanned leather, together with a thick cloak wrapped round his person,
suddenly draw up at the mouth of the cave and ask in intelligible
English who they were, and whether they required any help.

"We are mostly English travellers," replied George.  "We have been
caught in the storm, and are almost wet to the skin.  The lady who is
with us, in particular, may suffer from the effects of the exposure.  We
should be thankful to you to show us any place where we can obtain
warmth and food and shelter."

"English!" repeated the stranger; "my countrymen.  I do not often come
across them in these regions, and shall be pleased to offer them such
hospitality as I can.  You have horses, I think; you had better mount
and ride with me.  My house lies at the distance of about a mile from
here, though the wood lies between it and us."

All complied without hesitation; even Vander Heyden, though unwilling to
be indebted for any services to an Englishman, felt that, for his
sister's sake, it would be impossible for him to refuse.  The servants
were left behind under Matamo's and Haxo's charge, there being plenty of
food for their wants, as well as accommodation quite as good as they
were used to.

The party rode off, following a path evidently well known to their
conductor, though indistinguishable by them.  The rain had now entirely
ceased, though the sky was still clouded.  After a quarter of an hour's
ride they reached the house; which stood, as well as they could discern,
on the edge of a wide, deep hollow, which the floods had converted for
the time into an inland lake.  There was light enough to distinguish
clearly the outlines of the building.  It was externally like the houses
of the Dutch; but the internal arrangements were different.  The kitchen
was at one end, and there was a sitting-room adjoining it, and two or
three separate bedrooms at the other end.  The furniture, too, was
different, the articles being less massive and solid than is usually the
case with the Boers.  There was even a bookcase in the parlour,
containing it might be thirty or forty books, articles rarely to be seen
in the houses of the Dutch.

Annchen was immediately shown to one of the spare bedrooms, and some
clothes brought her by one of the Hottentot women, while her own were
taken out to be dried.  The males of the party were similarly
accommodated, and in an hour's time all the travellers were assembled
round the stranger's board, with the exception of Vander Heyden, who,
having seen his sister made comfortable, took a courteous farewell of
his host, and expressed his intention of returning to the cavern, not
considering it safe, he said, to leave the waggons and cattle entirely
in charge of the natives.

"You may be right, sir," said the Englishman.  "Natives, unless you have
had long experience of them, cannot safely be left in charge of valuable
property.  More particularly is that the case at the present time."

"Indeed!" said Vander Heyden, delaying his departure as he heard his
host's words.  "To what do you more particularly refer?"

"The whole country has been for a long time past overrun with ruffians
and outlaws of every description," was the answer.  "Zulus and Kaffirs,
whom the recent war has driven out of their own country; Hottentots, who
will not work, and live by pillage and pilfering; rogues from the
diamond fields, who have been expelled for their knavish tricks, as well
as convicts, who have broken loose from their confinement, have for
years past formed a sort of banditti, against which one has perpetually
to be on one's guard.  After the annexation, our Government almost
entirely put them down; but the events of the last half-year have
renewed the mischief almost as bad as ever.  I have no doubt, however,
that now that the struggle has come to an end, quiet and security of
life and property will be reestablished.  But you need not be afraid, I
think, for your waggons.  You do not seem to be aware that a bridge over
the river has been recently made, and there is a good road from it all
the way to Standerton.  I shall be pleased to show it to you to-morrow.
It is one of the boons for which we have to thank the English
Government."

Vander Heyden made no reply, but once more bowed and took his leave.

Rivers and Hardy looked at one another and smiled.

"What a pity it is that he dislikes the English so!" said the latter.
"He really is a fine fellow--brave and generous and honest, and full of
kindness to every one, except an Englishman."

"We ought to feel it all the more a compliment that he is so civil to
us.  I suppose there must have been some very great wrong done to his
father by our countrymen," said George.

"To his grandfather first, and then to his father," said Hardy.  "His
grandfather was one of those who rebelled when they found that the
country had been permanently handed over to the English after the fall
of Napoleon.  He was taken prisoner with arms in his hands, and was
hanged like any highwayman.  His son migrated to Natal, and was again
driven out by the English, when they annexed the colony.  Proceedings
were taken against him which were extremely harsh, and he died, as I
have heard, of a broken heart.  His son, our friend Henryk, got together
all he could of his father's property, and withdrew into the Transvaal;
where he bought a farm, but left it in charge of an agent, while he
himself served in the Dutch army for several years.  The annexation of
the country by the English, three or four years ago, was the last drop
in the cup of his indignation.  He had returned to the Transvaal, having
become wealthy again, partly by his deputy's successful farming, partly
through money left him by his uncle, Van Courtlandt.  He went again to
Europe, to try if he could not procure the repeal of the Act of
Annexation.  He has come back now, bitterly disappointed at his failure.
It is no wonder, I must say, that he cannot endure the English."

The host now informed them that supper was ready, and they took their
places at the table.  After the meal Annchen withdrew for the night, and
the rest of the party, gathering round the hearth, for the rain and wind
had made the air chilly, smoked their pipes and drank their host's
Schiedam at their ease.

"If you would excuse my curiosity, sir," said Hardy after a while, "I
should like to know what brought you into these parts.  You are, I think
you said, an Englishman.  But--"

"But I don't look as though I had lived in England,--that is what you
mean, I think?  Well, I'll tell you my history.  It illustrates what we
were talking of at dinner,--as to what is the truth respecting the
treatment of the natives by the Boers.  My father and mother were
English.  They came out to the Cape Colony somewhere about 1830, and
they settled on a farm in Namaqualand.  It didn't pay.  Their cattle
were continually driven off by the bushmen, and their fruit plundered
and their guns and hoes and the like stolen by the Hottentots.  Nothing
they could do would prevent it.  The native servants were often as not
in league with the thieves.  Every now and then they would run off and
take anything of value with them."

"As for the cattle-stealing," remarked George, "that is an old story.  A
man must be a good deal wiser than I am who can say how it is to be
prevented.  But I wonder, I must say, if you treated the Hottentots
well, as I have no doubt you did, that they didn't stay with you."

"Perhaps they might," said Prestcott, which they afterwards found to be
their host's name,--"perhaps they might, if they had been left to
themselves.  But there were always a lot of Hottentots going loose about
the country; and they threatened our servants with their vengeance if
they didn't give them food and drink.  They didn't dare refuse, and then
they expected to be severely punished, and ran off.  Anyhow, they
couldn't keep any servants, and their property was continually pillaged.
They must have left the country if they had lived.  But one day my
father was speared by a party of bushmen, whom he had caught driving off
a bull.  My mother, who had seen the transaction, ran screaming out, and
they speared her too.  They then entered and pillaged the house.  I was
a child of eight years old, and they no doubt would have killed me along
with my parents, if it hadn't occurred to them that old Potgieter, a
Boer farmer a few miles off, would give them something handsome for me.
They took me to him, and he did buy me."

"You don't mean that he bought you of them, knowing how they had come by
you?" exclaimed Redgy, horror-stricken.

"No, sir.  They were too clever to tell him that, and he was too clever
to ask.  They merely said they had found me, and they believed my father
and mother were dead."

"And they had excellent reasons for believing so," remarked Redgy.

"True, sir.  Well, old Herman Potgieter took pity on me, as he was
pleased to express it.  He took me over to the field-cornet's house, and
apprenticed me, after their fashion, to himself, until I should be
one-and-twenty years old."

"Ay, I have heard of that before I left England," remarked Margetts.
"But I thought the age was five-and-twenty, and it was further remarked
that it was astonishing how long these apprentices are in reaching their
five-and-twentieth year."

"Just so, sir.  The natives seldom know how old they are; indeed, they
are seldom able to keep any account of time; and they are obliged to
prove that they are five-and-twenty before they can claim their freedom.
I have known a native kept in service until he was nearly forty.  But
though I was not nine years old before I was taken before the
field-cornet, I knew something of their ways, having heard my father
talk about it.  I produced a Prayer-Book he had given me on my eighth
birthday, insisting upon it that in a little more than twelve years'
time I should be free.  I suppose when they found out I was really an
English boy, on my father's side at all events, they were a little
frightened, and thought it best to be cautious."

"I have no doubt of it," assented Hardy.  "I suppose you took good care
of your Prayer-Book?"

"Old Potgieter contrived to get hold of that," said Prestcott; "but I
was not to be beaten.  The house where my father had lived stood only a
few miles off, or rather had once stood, for no one had lived there
since it had been wrecked by the Hottentots, and it was a mere ruin.
But I knew my father had buried a box under the stone paving in one
corner of the room, and that it contained among other articles my
baptismal certificate.  One day, when I wanted but a few weeks of
becoming one-and-twenty, I took a pick-axe with me, went over to my old
home, and dug up the box.  There was my baptismal certificate, sure
enough, and a good bit of money besides, as well as shares in an English
company at Cape Town.  I put these back into the box, which I buried
again, but I took the certificate with me, and on my twenty-first
birthday went over to the field-cornet's again.  Old Potgieter thought
he had destroyed the evidence of my age, and was dumb-foundered when he
saw the signatures to the papers, and durst say no more.

"I repossessed myself of my money and shares, and sold the latter at
Cape Town, where they fetched a good price.  Then I bought this land
here and built this house, where I have lived ever since.  I married,
but never had any children.  A few years ago my wife died, and I have
never cared to marry again."

"What became of old Potgieter, the old wretch?" inquired Redgy.

"Poor old Potgieter!" said Prestcott.  "He wasn't unkind to me after
all; and when I heard how barbarously he had been murdered, I was as hot
as any one to punish his slayers."

"How was he murdered?" inquired Hardy.

"He was making a journey somewhere, I forget where.  It was only for
trading purposes, but I suppose the Kaffir chief, near whose kraal he
halted for the night, thought otherwise.  And it can't be denied that
there was some reason for his thinking so.  Old Potgieter had been on a
great many commandos, and had killed more natives than he would find
easy to reckon up.  Makapan, as the chief was called, attacked the camp
by night and killed them all.  I have been told that they flayed him
alive, and the story was generally believed, though I have great doubts
whether it was true.  The Dutch, when they heard of it, ordered a
general commando, which was joined by a large party of Potgieter's
relatives and friends, and I, as I told you, went with them.  We were
several hundreds in number, with waggons containing military stores, and
a cannon or two.  Makapan and his tribe were quite unable to resist.
They retired into the broken country adjoining the kraal, and there
assailed us with arrows and assegays from behind their rocky fastnesses.
But we continually forced them back; and at last they retired into a
cavern, which was some hundred yards in depth, and so dark that it was
impossible to see anything, except close at hand."

"It wouldn't have done to have followed them there," said George.  "You
would have been an easy mark for their poisoned arrows."

"No doubt, and we might have fired as many rounds of ammunition as we
pleased and hit nothing but the rocks.  Praetorius and the others knew
better than to try that."

"What did they do?" asked George.

"They first tried to blast the rocks, but that had no effect but that of
wasting powder.  Then a sort of blockade was established.  Guards were
set at every opening, and nothing allowed to come out or go in.  But
either the Kaffirs had collected large stores of food, or they had some
way of going out and getting in which we could not detect.  At last the
Dutchmen came to the conclusion that the only thing to be done was to
build them in."

"Build them in!  What, build a wall in front of the cave, do you mean?"

"Build up the mouth of the cave itself.  They had pretty clearly
determined that there was but one mouth,--the fact that the cave ran
deeper and deeper into the hillside seemed to prove that,--and if so,
there could be no way out."

"Why, that is very much what I remember reading in my history of
Scotland," said Margetts, "that a very barbarous Highland tribe did to
another.  It was in prehistoric times, so that there was only a legend
about it."

"As for barbarity, Redgy," observed George, "I don't fancy the Boers of
the nineteenth century are much behind the McLeods of whom that story is
told.  And the French performed nearly the same feat in Algeria forty
years or so ago.  Only they, I believe, smoked the Arabs like bees in a
hive."

"That would have been much more merciful," observed Prestcott.  "These
Kaffirs died of hunger, the most dreadful of all deaths, and no quarter
was given them.  Whenever any of them made their appearance at the mouth
of the cave, they were shot down.  More than a thousand were killed in
that way.  The blockade was maintained for nearly a month.  After that
no Kaffirs appeared, and there came so dreadful a stench from the cave
that the Dutch could endure it no longer, and made their way in.  I had
gone away some time before that, not being able to endure the horror of
it.  But I am told that they found no living thing.  The whole tribe had
been destroyed."

"Then, I suppose, they went home and celebrated their victory," said
George.

"Yes, and boast that peace has been maintained in that district ever
since," replied Mr Prestcott.

"Solitudinem faciunt pacem appellant," said George, who had not
forgotten his classics.  "I did not know the Boers were as bad as that!"

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN.

"I should like to ask you, sir," said Margetts after a pause, "the
rights about the presence of the larger animals--wild animals, I mean--
in these parts.  In Zululand, which is very nearly on the same parallel
as this, they were certainly to be found.  Some of the horses were
attacked by lions while we were actually in the country.  We had been
informed that it was very much the same state of things in the
Transvaal.  But here we have been journeying several days, and we have
not come upon the slightest trace of elephant, or lion, or giraffe, or
rhinoceros.  We did hear a roaring one day, which we thought was that of
a lion, but it turned out to be only an ostrich,--so Matamo said, at all
events."

"If you heard the roaring by day, Mr Margetts," said Prestcott, "it was
pretty sure to be that of an ostrich.  As a rule, the lion only roars by
night.  The two roars are certainly very much alike, though a practised
hunter could distinguish between them easily enough.  As for the great
game of which you speak, it has certainly left the lower parts of the
Transvaal.  If a solitary specimen here and there is to be met with, the
animal in question has been driven southward by some accident.  It is a
different thing in Zululand from what it is here.  The natives do not
hunt the lion or the rhinoceros, as the European settlers do.  After
they have once begun to people a land, the big game soon disappears.  We
have, however, still herds of antelopes of all kinds, springboks,
gemsboks, elands, koodoos, hartebeests, and gnus.  The lion preys upon
all these, and where they are to be found in great numbers he might be
looked for also.  But the white hunter is too much for him, I expect."

"They are old acquaintances of yours, I perceive, sir," suggested
George.  "Have you ever had any perilous encounters with them?"

"Well, sir, I have had one or two brushes--narrow escapes they may be
called.  I had one in Namaqualand some years ago--no one ever had a
narrower, I may say."

"Please let us hear it, sir," said Redgy.  "If one can't see the lions
themselves, as I had hoped, at all events one may hear about them."

"Well, I'll tell you my adventure, sir, if you like it," said Mr
Prestcott, who had evidently no disinclination to relate his personal
experience.  "I had gone to Walfisch Bay, where some English traders had
settled, with whom I wished to establish business relations.  I had to
pass through the Hottentot country.  At that time there were a good many
villages scattered about, and there I could procure food and lodging.
There were few or no white men at that time in the country, and the
lions had never been disturbed in their occupation.  One evening I
reached a kraal on the Fish river, and there I found all the Hottentots
in a terrible state of alarm about a very big lion, which was lurking
somewhere in their neighbourhood and had taken to man-eating.  I daresay
you may have heard that when a lion once does that, the only chance is
to kill him at once.  He gets so fond of human flesh that he won't eat
any other, and he will lie in wait near one of the villages for days and
weeks together, hiding himself in one place or another, and springing
suddenly out on some unwary traveller."

"Isn't that fact disputed, Mr Prestcott?" asked Hardy.  "I have met
with old hunters who say that the man-eating lion is merely an old
animal, who has become too stiff in the joints to run his victims down,
and that he only preys on men in the way you have described, because
they can't run away from him in the way that an antelope or a gnu
would."

"Yes, I have heard that," assented Mr Prestcott, "and think it may very
possibly be true.  Certainly such man-eating lions as I have seen killed
were very wretched, mangy-looking creatures.  That was attributed to the
fact of their living on human flesh, but I don't know why that should
cause such a result.  Their appearance is certainly consistent with
their being old, worn-out animals.  Any way, the Hottentots were in a
state of great disquietude about this lion.  No less than five victims--
two men and three children--had been killed and carried off into the
long jungle grass, where he principally took up his abode, within the
last week or two.  Several times the whole of the men had gone out to
spear him.  But though they had seen him at a distance, they could not
get near enough to wound him with their shots or arrows.  They implored
me so earnestly to deliver them from this terrible pest, that I agreed
to remain for a day or two and see what I could do for them.  Well, I
stayed with them a week, and made several excursions, but could see
nothing of him.  At last it was supposed that he had been killed or had
left the neighbourhood.  I had delayed there longer than I liked, so I
took my leave one morning, and, having loaded both barrels of my gun, I
set off on my way for Walfisch Bay.  About a mile from the Hottentot
village there was a clear spring of water.  As the day was very hot, I
resolved to bathe my hands and feet and take a good draught before going
farther.  I took off my coat and shoes and stockings and laid them at
the foot of a large mootjeeri that almost overhung the pool, but I
retained my gun in my hand.  I was just stooping to take a draught of
water, when I heard a stealthy movement in the long tambookie grass,
like that of a large animal creeping towards me, and at the same moment
my horse, which I had fastened to the bough of a small tree, broke away
and rushed off at full speed I sprang up and swung myself round the
mootjeeri, only just in time to escape the spring of a large lion, which
struck against the tree and was thrown by the shock on its side.  Before
it could regain its legs I had dropped my gun and skimmed up into the
tree, the lower limbs of which were only six feet or so from the ground.
I seated myself on a branch, and took a good look at my assailant, who
was now standing only a few feet below me, eyeing me with a hungry look,
and every now and then giving vent to his impatience at being kept from
his supper in short, angry roars.  There could be no doubt that it was
the man-eater, and that he had tracked me, waiting his opportunity.  It
was a good job for me that the mootjeeri was so close at hand, and that
lions cannot climb, or he would have made short work with me.  But
though I thanked Heaven for my escape so far, I was by no means out of
the scrape.  If I had been able to take my gun up into the tree with me,
I could soon have rid myself of him, but it was lying on the brink of
the spring.  Nor could I even recover my coat and shoes, which I had
placed at the foot of the tree, a couple of yards below the branch.  I
could only reach them by hooking them up with a long stick.  I did try
this.  I cut a long wand with a crook at the end, and let this down.
But the lion instantly seized my coat in its teeth and tore it away.  It
was the same with my shoes, and I was presently obliged to give up the
attempt.  He instantly clutched anything which I attempted to move.

"I was obliged to remain quite passive, but my condition was getting
very uncomfortable.  My arms and feet were bare, and the leaves of the
mootjeeri afforded me a very insufficient shade from the blazing heat of
the sun overhead.  I also became very hungry as the evening came on.
What food I had had with me was all in the bags attached to my saddle.
My only chance, I felt, was that the lion might get tired of waiting for
me and go off to seek food elsewhere.  But I was sensible that this was
not worth much.  It was clear that he wanted me, or he would have sprung
on my horse when he first made his attack; and I knew how eager the
craving of the man-eater is for human flesh.  He would wait as long as
nature would allow him to hold out, in the hope of making his meal on
me, and he would probably be able to last out much longer than I could.

"Presently he left the foot of the tree and went back to the spring,
where he took a long draught, and then lay down on the grass under the
shrubs, keeping his red and angry eye still fixed on me, and every now
and then displaying his terrible teeth.  The whole afternoon passed
thus.  I was in hopes that some of the Hottentots might pass that way,
and repeatedly shouted at the top of my voice for help.

"By and by it grew dark, and some of the smaller animals which were
accustomed to resort to the fountain to drink made their appearance in
the distance, and again I hoped that he would pursue and make his supper
on one of them.  But no, it was quite plain that he had made up his mind
to have me and nothing else.  At last it grew quite dark, only a few
stars being visible in the sky, and the lion, so far as I could make
out, was sound asleep.  I attempted to creep stealthily down from the
branch, but the moment I moved he started up with a short roar, and
rushed up to the tree so quickly that I had only just time to regain my
former position.

"Daybreak came at last.  I was worn out for want of sleep and ravenous
with hunger.  I foresaw that I should soon get weak and dizzy and drop
from my perch into the jaws of my enemy.  Suddenly it occurred to me,
that although my supply of tobacco, was in my saddle-bags, I might have
a small quantity in my belt, which would for the moment relieve my
hunger.  I felt accordingly, and drew out--not, alas! any tobacco, but
my match-box.  I usually carried this in my coat pocket, but by good
luck I had thrust it into my belt at starting.  The matches were of an
unusually good kind, and when once ignited would burn for two or three
minutes quite to the very end.  The moment I saw them, I felt I had
found a mode of deliverance if I could only accomplish it.  I took my
powder-flask, which was fortunately quite full, and dropped some loose
powder on the ground.  I then took one of the matches and fastened it to
the end of the long stick by which I had endeavoured to hook up my coat
and shoes.  Having firmly secured it, I lighted it, and then dropped the
flask on the heap of powder which I had scattered below.  The lion, as
before, rushed instantly up and put his head down to lay hold of the
flask.  Quick as lightning I thrust the stick down and applied it to the
powder.  The flask exploded directly in the lion's face, setting his
mane and whiskers on fire and severely scorching his mouth and nose.
With a yell of terror and pain, he galloped off at the top of his speed,
while I crawled down so exhausted that a long draught from the fountain
and a feast of some wild medlars, which I fortunately found growing by
the fountain, only restored me so far as to enable me with a great
effort to get back to the Hottentot village, where I had to rest several
days before I was fit to resume my journey."

"What became of the lion?" asked Redgy.

"Nothing more was, I believe, ever heard of him.  I inquired about him
on my way back, but the Hottentots said he had entirely disappeared from
the neighbourhood.  They fancied that the fright he had had prevented
his returning to his old haunts.  But my opinion is that his eyesight
had been completely destroyed by the explosion, and that, being rendered
unable to provide himself with food, he had soon died of hunger."

"Well, sir, that was a near touch, certainly," said Hardy.  "But I think
what happened to my old comrade Robson may match it.  He and I were in
the same regiment in the war with the Ashantees.  He told me the story,
I remember, one night on our march to Coomassie, when the mosquitoes and
the heat made it impossible to sleep.  Robson had been servant to an
officer who was very fond of field sports.  He and two or three others
who had got a short leave were resolved to pass it in some genuine
African hunting, as they called it, going quite beyond the usual resorts
of white men.  They started from Graham's Town, and travelled northwards
across what is now the Orange Free State and the Transvaal, till they
came within a short distance of the Limpopo.  The country was wild
enough even for them.  They fell in with a number of savage tribes, and
here and there a Dutch settler.  But there had been nothing to scare
away the wild beasts.  When they encamped for the night, Robson said
they could hear the lions roaring about them to their heart's content.
They were obliged at night to light two large fires, one on each side of
the space enclosed by their waggons.  The oxen were all placed in the
middle, so that they couldn't get out, or the lions get in, otherwise
they would certainly have been seized and devoured.  Sometimes the lions
were so bold, that they were obliged to cut long stout poles and lash
them to the spokes of the wheels to prevent the animals creeping in
under the waggons.  One or two always kept watch, and the others slept
with their loaded rifles by their sides.  Robson said that if any of the
oxen had contrived to slip out, they would have been seized and devoured
in no time.  By the light of the moon, he had sometimes seen three or
four lions stalking about, trying to find some way in.  Till he got used
to it, their roaring was the most terrible sound to him that could be
imagined, and he used to lie quaking with terror.  It seemed to fill the
whole air in all directions, he said."

"Ay," remarked Prestcott; "that is because the lion when he roars puts
his head close to the earth, so that his voice rolls along the ground
and echoes among the rocks.  Go on with your story."

"Well," resumed Hardy, "what the party wanted above all things was to
fall in with a herd of elephants.  They had been told how they went
about everywhere in that country in large herds, breaking their way
through the thick forests like a fleet of men-of-war through the waves.
They were a good deal disappointed that several weeks passed without
their meeting so much as a single elephant.  Robson said that he was as
much disappointed as the rest.  But one day he had his wish, and
something over, as the saying is.  There had been a great hunt among the
Matabeles to the north, and a large herd had been driven some way south
of the Limpopo.  One evening the scouts came hurrying in with the
information that the whole forest a few miles to the north of them was
full of elephants.  They were resting for the night, the blackies said,
but in the morning they would be pretty sure to make for a piece of
water which lay about a mile to the south of us.  They would pass
through the very glade where we now were, in which there were some very
large trees.  If we climbed up into these, we should get some capital
shots as they passed.  But not a moment was to be lost in placing the
waggons and oxen in some secure spot.  The elephants would pass down the
middle of the glade, trampling everything to powder that came in their
way.

"The oxen were inspanned accordingly, there being just daylight enough
for the purpose.  Fortunately one of the party had seen some high steep
cliffs about half a mile off, which the elephants could not get down if
they tried.  Thither the waggons and oxen were conveyed, and were placed
in a shady nook immediately under the precipice, leaving some of the men
in charge of them.  The rest returned to the glade, and, after taking
their supper, climbed up into the largest trees they could find, taking
care to be fully eighteen or twenty feet from the ground.  Robson made
himself as comfortable as he could, but he could not sleep.  The air was
full of insects of one kind or another, and their bite was very
annoying.  Besides this, he kept continually fancying that he heard
noises of one kind or another in the distance.  Now it was a low
rumbling, which he presently discovered to be the wind, now a shrill cry
for help, which, after intense listening, he recognised to be the call
of some bird.  Repeatedly, too, he imagined he was falling out of the
tree, in a fork of which he had fixed himself.  At last he resolved to
descend and lie down to rest on a heap of long grass which lay near the
foot of the tree.  He was convinced that his slumbers would be but
light.  Anyhow the crash of the advancing herd would be enough, he
argued, to wake the dead.  Two minutes would be enough to enable him to
regain his station on the branch.

"He descended accordingly, and having made a careful examination of the
grass, to make sure there were no snakes in it, he lay down with his
rifle in his hand, and almost instantly dropped asleep.  He did not know
how long he slept, but it was probably several hours, for it was broad
day when he awoke.  The crash and din he had anticipated were fully
realised.  Babel itself seemed to have broken loose, but it was not the
herd of elephants that created it.  They were no doubt in motion.  He
could see, indeed, from the excited gestures of his companions in the
great nowana above him, that the leaders were already in sight.  But it
was a crowd of frightened animals of all descriptions that had awakened
him.  They had been driven from their lairs by the approach of the
monsters, and were flying in confusion from them.  There were herds of
buffaloes crowded so close together that it was with difficulty they
could advance, whole legions of boks of every variety, a few jackals,
hyenas, wild pigs, even here and there a lion or a rhinoceros, hurrying
through the forest paths, in terror of being trampled under the feet of
the elephants, which would have crushed them into atoms, scarcely aware
of their presence.  Among the runaways were crowds of monkeys, which did
not join the crowd below, but sprang from branch to branch, along the
lower parts of the trees immediately over his head, making it impossible
for him to climb to his former perch.  He would have been knocked off,
gun and all, before he had mounted a dozen feet.

"It was evident to Robson that he must find some other place of refuge,
and that without loss of time, for even he could now see, about a
hundred yards off, the heads of the great bull-elephants which always
marched in advance of the others, tearing and forcing their way through
the dense forest as a man would through a field of standing corn.  In a
few minutes more they would be close upon him, and the crowd of animals
still prevented him from escaping.  The only chance that presented
itself to him was creeping into the hollow of a huge nowana, close to
which he was standing.  The roots of this were above ground, and there
was a huge cleft in them which was at all events large enough to hide
him from sight.  He forced his way through the opening in the bark
accordingly, though with great difficulty, and found the hole inside
larger than he had expected, though he could not distinguish how far it
extended, for the climbing plants outside almost covered the entrance.
But he had not been in his hiding-place five minutes before the leading
elephants came up.  On strode the giants, some of them appearing to
Robson to be fully fourteen feet high, the large trees giving way before
them and the very ground trembling under their feet.  Just as the
leaders came in front of the hole in which he was lying, a shot from
above struck one of the largest behind the ear and passed into his
brain.  It was instantly fatal.  With a loud roar the huge beast fell
dead, and his head blocked up the lower part of the opening through
which Robson had entered.  It was impossible for him now to make his way
out; but then, on the other hand, he was now safe from intrusion--so, at
least, he fancied.

"He resolved to wait until the herd had passed, and then to shout to his
companions for help.  The tremendous noise for the present prevented the
possibility of being heard, if he had shouted ever so loudly.  There was
nothing for it but to remain quiet.  By and by the light became better,
or rather, I should say, Robson's eyes became used to the darkness, and
he perceived that he was not the only occupant of the cave.  There was
something indistinct and shapeless in the farthest corner, a slight
quivering motion showing that it was alive.  It was probably some wild
animal which in its terror had taken refuge in the hollow of the tree,
as he had done.  It might be something quite harmless, a stray goat,
perhaps, from a herd,--there were plenty kept in the neighbourhood, and
underground caves and hollow trees were favourite places of retreat for
them.  It was as well, however, for him to be on his guard.  He took up
his rifle and brought it to his shoulder.  As he did so, there came a
rustling sound from the dark corner, and two fiery eyes were visible
against the light.  Instinctively, rather than with any settled purpose,
he drew the trigger, there was a loud hissing noise, the light from the
eyes disappeared, a writhing motion which lasted for several minutes
followed, and then the dark mass, whatever it was, lay motionless.
Robson told me that a sickening sensation came over him, and he supposed
that he must have fainted.  When he came to, some time afterwards, he
was in the hands of his friends.  They had been engaged in cutting out
the tusks of the great bull elephant, and had heard a shot fired inside
the tree.  In great surprise they searched the hollow, and dragged
Robson out, to all appearance more dead than alive."

"And did they pull out his companion too?" inquired Redgy eagerly.

"Yes, sir, they had pulled it out, and it was the first thing he saw
lying on the ground near him when he came to his senses, and it didn't
improve his spirits."

"What was it?" exclaimed several of the party together.

"A cobra, seven feet long, sir," answered Hardy.  "It had crept in there
out of the noise, I suppose, and had been as much frightened as the
other creatures were; that was no doubt the reason why it did not fly at
Robson the first moment he entered.  When he levelled his gun, the
creature's instinct probably warned it of its danger, and it had spread
its hood and raised itself for a spring, when the bullet struck it
between the eyes and killed it on the spot.  If the shot had gone
anywhere else, Robson would never have told me the story."

"That was enough to shake a fellow's nerves, certainly," said George.

"Yes, sir; Robson could never endure the sight of even harmless snakes,
and used to shake all over when he saw one, like a man with the ague.  I
used to joke him about it, and I think he told me his adventure to
prevent me from doing so any more.  Well, I suppose it is time that we
go and lie down, isn't it?  We are to set off, I believe, as early, or
rather earlier than usual to-morrow."

"Are you going on to Standerton the first thing in the morning?"
inquired Mr Prestcott; "and does the Dutch gentleman intend to accept
my escort?  He didn't say positively."

"I have no doubt he will," replied George with some hesitation.  "And
you must accept," he added more confidently, "our thanks for your kind
and hospitable reception of us.  Mr Vander Heyden is, as you have
noticed, a Boer, and, like some of his countrymen, does not love the
English."

Mr Prestcott smiled.  "We English settlers here," he said, "understand
all about that.  This annexation of the Transvaal, though they were glad
enough of it at the time, when their country was in the greatest danger
of invasion, to which they could have offered no resistance, is not at
all to their mind now.  I hear they are trying to induce the new
governor to get it rescinded; and if they are rebuffed, as probably they
will be, they will get more and more discontented.  But it has occurred
to me, since speaking to Mr Vander Heyden, that there is an opportunity
for him to travel in safety as far as Heidelberg, at all events.  There
are a number of waggons containing Government stores on their way to the
town which are resting for the night a few miles from this.  I have no
doubt he might obtain leave to travel in their company.  There is a
military escort, which of course would make the journey quite secure.  I
have some acquaintance with Lieutenant Evetts, and would give Mr Vander
Heyden an introduction to him, if he would condescend to make the
acquaintance of a British officer."

"Lieutenant Evetts," repeated Rivers.  "What, of the Mounted Volunteers,
do you mean, who was present at the attack at Rorke's Drift?"

"Yes, the same, only he now holds a commission in the Natal Mounted
Police."

"There is no need of any introduction to him," said George,--"not for
me, at all events.  We knew one another for some weeks, before the
advance into Zululand.  And even if we had had no previous introduction,
that night at Rorke's Drift would have been introduction enough."

"Were you there, Mr Rivers?" asked Prestcott eagerly.  "And do I
understand you that Mr Vander Heyden was there too?"

"Yes, he and I and Evetts were all three there, and saved each other's
lives at least half a dozen times during those nine or ten hours of
fighting."

"I am glad to have had you under my roof, Mr Rivers, and I must forgive
Mr Vander Heyden his dislike to the English.  No, sir, no introduction
to Lieutenant Evetts can be required.  I should as soon think of
introducing one twin brother to another."

"I say, Hardy," said George, as they went off to bed, "that was a pretty
good one about the cobra in the hollow tree, wasn't it?"

"I wasn't going to be beaten by him," answered Hardy; "though his wasn't
a bad one about the lion, I must admit that."

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN.

Nearly a week had passed, and the cortege was again setting out from
Heidelberg, where it had arrived three days previously.  Lieutenant
Evetts greeted his old companions in arms with much cordiality, and they
had travelled in great comfort as well as safety under his escort.  He
had expressed his great regret that he could not accompany them with his
men to Lichtenberg.  The distance between these two towns was much
longer than between Luneberg and Standerton, or between Standerton and
Heidelberg.  The country, too, was wilder and more sparsely inhabited.
His presence, and that of half a dozen of his men, would have made
everything smooth.  But he was under orders to leave immediately for
Newcastle, as soon as he had performed his errand.  All efforts to
engage trustworthy men at Heidelberg had proved vain; and they were
obliged to set out at last with the same party which had started from
Luneberg.  It was with equal surprise and satisfaction that they
overtook, a few hours after leaving Heidelberg, some soldiers belonging
apparently to the Natal Contingent, with a corporal at their head, who
were escorting some prisoners, chiefly natives.  These were handcuffed,
as well as linked together by lashings round their arms.  The soldiers
were all white men.  George, who was riding in advance of his party,
moved up and spoke to the corporal.  He introduced himself as Mr
Rivers, late of the Mounted Infantry, and stated that his companions had
belonged to the same corps.

The man answered civilly enough, though with rather a confused manner,
that he remembered Lieutenant Rivers and his friends quite well, having
been present at the action at Ulundi.  George then inquired whither he
was conveying his prisoners, and heard with much satisfaction that it
was to Lichtenberg.  It appeared that there had been a riot there.
Houses had been plundered and murders committed, and these men, who were
believed to have been concerned in the riot, had been arrested on the
frontiers, and were on their way to Lichtenberg to be identified and
tried.  George again expressed his satisfaction, and proposed that the
two parties should travel together for mutual convenience and security.
To this the corporal rejoined that he should be quite satisfied with
such an arrangement; and George rode off well pleased to give the
information to Vander Heyden and Margetts, who were acting as rearguard.
The Dutchman at once expressed his satisfaction, as did Margetts,
though in a more guarded manner, and George noticed, with some surprise,
that he scrutinised very closely the corporal and his men when he rode
up to speak to them.  He made no remark, however, and George, riding
back, resumed his place by Margetts' side.  It was still quite early.
Desirous of avoiding the mid-day heat, which for the last day or two had
been very great, they had started two hours before daybreak, and the
whole landscape had hitherto been wrapped in a gloom through which they
could not do much more than distinguish their way.  But the dawn now
began to dapple the skies, and with the first light appeared a scene so
startling, that our two travellers drew rein to gaze with wonder on it.

As they had approached Heidelberg a few days previously, they had
noticed how dull and uninteresting the landscape appeared.  The ground
had been rising continually for a long time past, until it had attained
the height of some hundreds of feet, and then a long undulating level
had succeeded, extending as far as the eye could reach, without rock or
forest or scrub to break the monotony.  Nor were there, for vast
distances together, traces to be found of the hand of man.  There were
few enclosures or habitations, and even flocks of sheep were of rare
occurrence.  They had expected to find the country on the other side of
Heidelberg very nearly the same in appearance as that which they had
encountered before reaching it.  But the landscape which they now beheld
formed the most striking contrast to it.  In place of the sparse and
barren plain, varied only by dried clumps of dull vegetation and bare
heaps of sand or stone, there appeared a scene which might have vied
with that of fairyland.  Rich forests, with a most picturesque variety
of outline, were seen environing the shores of a lake whose deep blue
surface was studded with verdant islets.  In the foreground rose castles
and abbeys and picturesque ruins, grouped with a skill that no landscape
painter could have surpassed, and the distant view was closed by
mountain ridges, presenting the most striking effects of light and
shade.

"Pretty to look at," remarked Matamo, who had just ridden up, as he
noticed George's admiring gaze.  "Pity it is not real."

"Not real!" returned George.  "What do you mean?"

"You'll soon see," was the brief reply; and, sure enough, almost
immediately afterwards the brilliant landscape melted away like a
dissolving view in a magic lantern, and a long stretch of barren down
and rock and scrub was all that could be discerned.

"A mirage!" exclaimed George.  "Well, I have often heard of them, but I
could not have believed the delusion was so perfect."

"Wonderful country for cheats of that sort," remarked Matamo; "it often
looks like that before sunrise."

The mid-day halt was made under some high cliffs, which threw a long
shadow and afforded some protection from the heat.  Here Vander Heyden
had some conversation with the corporal, and agreed with him that, as
his party could not proceed beyond a certain distance every day, all of
them, except the corporal himself, being on foot, the soldiers should be
allowed occasionally to change with the mounted men of Vander Heyden's
party, while the prisoners were permitted to take their seats in the
waggon.  Margetts uttered a hasty exclamation when this arrangement was
reported to him, but he said nothing more, and everything went on
prosperously till the halt took place.  They sat down in three parties--
the corporal and his men by the side of one waggon, Matamo, Haxo, and
the Hottentots by the other, while the third, consisting of what might
be termed the gentry of the party, took their places under some mimosas,
on the brink of a small fountain, almost immediately under a high and
steep rock.

The meal was half over, when suddenly there was heard a loud jabbering
noise above, and the party, looking up, saw several hideous faces
peering over the ridges of the rocks.

"Bushmen!" exclaimed Redgy.  "I have been expecting to fall in with them
for some time.  We are not so very far from their country, I believe.
Hallo up there?" he continued, as a number of large stones came rattling
down from above.  "Stop that, do you hear, or you'll find two can play
at it."  He raised his gun as he spoke, and pointed it at the rocks.

"It is no use talking to them," observed Hardy, laughing; "I don't
suppose they would understand you if they _were_ Bushmen.  But they are
not.  They are baboons--mandrils, I believe, is their exact name.  There
are great numbers of them in this part of the country.  I wonder we
haven't fallen in with them before."

"Baboons, hey!" cried Redgy.  "The mischievous brutes!" he added a
minute or two afterwards, as another large stone passed over his head,
which it very narrowly missed.  "I say, I am not going to stand this
sort of thing!  I'll just give them a shot or two to improve their
manners."

"Stop, Mr Margetts, don't fire!" cried Vander Heyden.  "They are the
most revengeful and malicious creatures in the world, and as strong and
fierce as tigers.  There are hundreds of them, and they'll attack us in
a body if you provoke them."

His warning came too late.  Redgy had already fired, and a yell of pain
from above announced that his aim had been successful.  The next moment
a dozen huge mandrils had sprung over the rocks and began to descend the
cliffs, leaping from point to point as nimbly as squirrels.

"Run for it!" shouted Hardy.  "Take shelter in the waggons.  We may keep
them off there, but it is about our only chance."

There was no need of further warning.  Matamo, Haxo, and the Hottentots,
the corporal, his men, and his prisoners, though they had been too far
off to hear what was passing, no sooner saw the baboons coming down the
rocks, screaming and gesticulating with fury, than they became aware of
the danger of the situation, and made straight for the waggons as the
only haven of shelter.  Nor were they a moment too soon.  The front and
back boards of the waggons were only just secured, when they were
surrounded by a multitude of infuriated brutes, endeavouring to pull
down the tilt and boards of the waggons.  Others climbed on to the top
and tore away the tarpaulin covering from the ribs, endeavouring to
wrench out the ribs themselves with their strong, sharp claws.  They
became, however, in this manner an easy mark for the party inside.
These at first only loaded their guns with powder, hoping to scare their
assailants without further rousing their fury.  But they were soon
obliged to try sterner measures.  The brutes, some of which were nearly
five feet high and extremely strong and agile, succeeded in loosening
more than one of the ribs of the waggon, and would soon have forced
their way in, if the bullets which followed one another in rapid
succession had not laid assailant after assailant in the dust.  But
undeterred apparently by the deadly shower, they continued their attack,
gibbering and screaming with fury.  The whole of the covering of the
waggon was now torn away, and the baboons, thrusting down their long
sharp claws, endeavoured to clutch their enemies within, rendering it
almost impossible for them to continue to load.

"I say, George," exclaimed Redgy, as he rid himself with difficulty from
a huge baboon which had seized him by the hair, firing his revolver
directly into his chest, "these brutes are worse than the Zulus.  I wish
I had my bayonet here.  That would have been the thing for them."

"You are right, Redgy," answered George.  "I am just going to use my
wood-knife.  My revolver is empty, and I have no time to reload.  The
knife isn't as good as the bayonet, but it is the next best thing."

The others followed his example--all excepting Hardy, who, with the
coolness of an old campaigner, had lain himself down on the floor of the
waggon out of the reach of the assailants, and from thence took aim with
his revolver, bringing down one baboon after another, and always
singling out those which seemed to be the most likely to break in.  But,
notwithstanding the vigorous resistance offered, it seemed as if the
strong ribs of the roof must speedily give way, when suddenly there
burst forth a volume of flame which enveloped for a minute or two the
whole waggon.  Screaming, not with rage now, but with fright, the
mandrils leaped down and rushed away, scrambling up the sides of the
rocks more quickly than they had come down.  At least twenty were left
on the ground, either dead or too severely wounded to effect their
retreat; while several others limped in the rear of their companions,
scarcely able to accomplish the ascent.

"Stop, Mr Margetts," cried Hardy, as he saw Redgy raise his rifle;
"don't fire at them.  You may provoke them to come back.  Well, that was
as near a thing as I remember to have seen.  How did you manage it,
Matamo?"

"Koboo and Utango and I had been piling a big heap of reeds to make
fires of," answered the Bechuana.  "It was lucky we made the heap so
large.  When we saw Mr Margetts fire at the baboons, we knew what would
happen, and we heaped the reeds round the waggon while the brutes were
coming down the rocks.  I dropped a match among the reeds as soon as
they began the attack, but for a long time it wouldn't catch.  Lucky it
did catch at last, or we should have been torn to pieces!"

"Well, you managed famously, Matamo," said Hardy, "and we all owe our
lives to you."

"Yes, sir, and your dinners too.  Very good eating is baboon, and there
is enough for a great many dinners."

"Eating!" repeated Redgy in great disgust.  "You don't suppose any one
would eat these brutes, do you?"

"Wall, Redgy, I agree with you,--the idea isn't pleasant," said George.
"But they can be eaten, I believe.  An old messmate told me that when
his ship was at Gibraltar, many years before, the colonel of one of the
regiments there sent Captain Waters the haunch of a large ape, which had
been shot a few days before.  The captain didn't see the haunch, but
invited all the officers of the ship to dine off it.  The colonel, who
had only intended a joke, sent a note explaining it.  But somehow it
wasn't delivered until just as the haunch was being removed from the
table, having been declared to be excellent.  The captain put the note
into the fire, and said nothing about the matter."

"He was a wise man," said Hardy, "and we shall be wise to follow his
example, and make a good dinner off our late enemies."

His advice was at once followed.  Fresh fuel was collected and fires
lighted, and presently the cooks were busily engaged over their roasting
and frying.

"Come and take a look at the soldiers," suggested Margetts to Vander
Heyden and Rivers.  "I wonder how they came off in their waggon."

"They were much luckier than we were," said Rivers.  "Either the baboons
didn't take any notice of their waggon, or they were bent, like Hardy's
elephant, on punishing the culprit who fired on them.  The soldiers were
not attacked at all."

"I am very sorry, I am sure," said Redgy; "I'll promise to be good
another time, that is all I can say.  But they made their preparations
against attack, I suppose."

"Yes," said Vander Heyden, "they took off the prisoners' handcuffs of
course.  They couldn't have left them in that helpless state to the
mercy of those ferocious brutes.  But I see they are going to put the
handcuffs on again now."

They moved nearer to the prisoners, and stood for a while watching the
replacing of the handcuffs.  Then Rivers called out to Margetts, who was
standing at a short distance, and asked him and Vander Heyden to ride a
little way on the road by which they had come that morning, to search
for his revolver, which he must have dropped.  The other two assented,
and they went away together.

About half an hour afterwards, when the dinners were nearly ready,
Vander Heyden and Rivers returned, looking a good deal put out.

"Corporal Sims," said the Dutchman, riding up to the person named, "this
is vexatious, but I am afraid we must stay here to-night.  Mr Rivers
cannot find his revolver, and thinks he must have dropped it a long way
back--at the first stream which we crossed.  Mr Margetts has offered to
ride back, and look for it, and I am afraid we shall, in consequence, be
obliged to remain here all night.  As some repairs must be made to our
waggon, perhaps it is not of so much consequence.  But are you able to
stay?"

The corporal hesitated a moment, apparently a good deal surprised.  Then
he answered civilly that he saw no reason why they should not remain, as
there was plenty of food and a good spring of water, and there was no
particular need for haste.

"Very well, then," said Vander Heyden, riding on, "we will stay here
till to-morrow."

Nothing was said until the two horsemen were out of hearing.  Then one
of the prisoners said in a guarded tone,--"Do they suspect anything, do
you think, Andrewes?"

"No," answered Andrews, "I am pretty sure they do not.  Why do you ask
that, Bostock?"

"I have been uneasy all day," was the answer, "lest either Rivers or
Vander Heyden should recognise us.  It is quite true that I am stained
as dark as any Zulu in the country, and so are Gott and Sullivan.  And
our beards and whiskers have been shaved, and our hair frizzled and dyed
black, so that we could hardly recognise ourselves in the glass.  But
they are both of them wide-awake fellows, and I shouldn't like this kind
of thing to go on long.  I suppose our intention holds good, to make the
attack to-night, doesn't it?"

"I don't see why not," answered the pseudo-corporal.  "It was agreed
that we should, all of us, approach the waggon together as soon as the
moon sets, and that will be before twelve o'clock.  They keep a watch
all night, I know.  One of them stands sentinel at the fire near the
waggon.  But a rifle bullet will quiet him.  Then we rush up and shoot
the others.  We shall have only four to deal with instead of five now.
The Hottentots are sure to run off at the first shot."

"Margetts may return," remarked Gott.

"If he does, he'll hardly reach the camp," returned Bostock.  "Some one
had better be on the look-out for him a mile or so on the Heidelberg
road.  There will still be twelve of us left.  That will be enough to
settle four men, won't it, even if they should not be asleep."

"You forget the women," said the corporal with a smirk.

"No, I don't forget them, Andrewes," answered Bostock angrily.  "But you
had better do so--forget Miss Vander Heyden, at all events.  You will
remember that she is to become my wife as soon as we can reach Doomberg,
where the missionary has promised to marry us.  You had better all keep
that in your heads, or you may chance to find an ounce of lead there."

"Well, you needn't be so cranky about it, John Bostock," said Sullivan.
"Will Andrewes and the others have been your pals ever since we came
into the country, nigh upon a twelvemonth ago, and Jem Gott and I was
your pals long before.  And we've never done nothing but please you, and
we ain't going to now."

"Well, that's as it should be, Sullivan.  We need have no more words
about that.  And now dinner's ready, I see, so we had better fall to at
that."

Meanwhile Vander Heyden and his two friends had no sooner completed
their meal than they hastened to the waggon, and summoned Matamo and
Haxo to assist in repairing the damage sustained.  Their first step was
to renew the canvas covering, which had been torn down.  Then they
nailed thick boards all round the lower part of the waggon, and
constructed a kind of citadel in the middle, consisting of four strong
boxes, about three feet high, inside which two persons might take
refuge.

"I wish you would not think so much of me," urged Annchen, from whom it
had been impossible to conceal the approaching danger.  "My life is of
no more value than any one of yours.  And you are neglecting, I am sure,
your own safely.  Henryk, will you not listen to me?  Mr Rivers, will
not you?"  She blushed deeply as she spoke.

"Say no more, Annchen," returned her brother sternly, though with
evident tenderness of feeling.  "We shall all do our best for ourselves
as well as for you.  And there is every hope that Margetts will return
before these scoundrels even begin their attack.  It cannot be more than
a two hours' ride to Heidelberg.  I could myself do it in little more
than one; but then, unfortunately, I was only on terms of distant
civility with Lieutenant Evetts."

"It will take Margetts at least two hours," observed Hardy; "and then
there may be difficulty in finding Mr Evetts and in getting his men
together.  It was three o'clock when Margetts rode off.  If he is back
by ten, it is as early as can reasonably be hoped."

"Ten will be time enough," remarked Rivers.  "They will wait for the
moon to set, or they would be an easy mark for our bullets."

"And the moon does not set till eleven," said Vander Heyden.  "Besides,
even if they do make their attack, it remains to be seen whether we
cannot keep them off.  It can hardly be worse than it was at Rorke's
Drift, when we three stood side by side together.  But I think we have
now been as long at work in the waggon as it is safe for us to be.  We
might awaken suspicion if it was thought that we were fortifying it.  We
must get out, and not return to it until after the moon has set.
Annchen, I shall wish you good-bye now.  You must be in your place of
shelter when we return."

He folded her in a warm embrace, and then leaped from the waggon,
forgetting that George still remained, or unwilling perhaps to witness
his adieux.

George took her hand and looked earnestly into her face.  "This may be
the last time we shall meet," he said.  "I know I can never have my
wish, but I should like you to know how fondly I love you."

The tears rose in her eyes and streamed down her face.  "I do know it,"
she murmured,--"I do know it, George; I prize and I return it."

Their lips met for a moment, as if by a mutual impulse, and then Rivers
leaped down and joined his companions, who had taken their places by the
fire.

The night came on clear and bright, as is the night of those regions,--
the moon, a dazzling globe of crystal; the stars studding the sky with
brilliant specks of light.  The three friends affected to converse
carelessly together, intermingling their talk with bursts of merriment.
But every ear was in reality strained to catch the distant tramp of
horses' feet--the more keenly because the hour had now indeed come when
Margetts' return was not only possible, but might be reasonably looked
for.  Anxiously they watched the moon as it sank slowly down the heaven,
disappearing at last behind the distant mountain range, and comparative
darkness succeeded, which under the shadow of the cliffs rendered
objects even at a little distance scarcely distinguishable.  Then they
rose, and somewhat noisily bade the Hottentots good-night, desiring them
to keep a careful watch.  Moving off to their own waggon, they crept
stealthily behind and round under its cover to the other which was
reserved for Annchen and her attendant, and got inside, joining Matamo
and Haxo, who were anxiously expecting them.  They had lighted a
lantern, whose light just showed the interior of the waggon.

"Hark! what was that?" exclaimed Hardy, as a sound resembling that of
the discharge of a gun was heard at some distance.  "Can that be
Margetts' signal?"

"It is most unlikely that he would discharge his gun," said Rivers.  "It
would have the effect of putting these ruffians on their guard.  He
knows that we have no need to be warned."

"True," said Hardy; "but if he is coming at all it ought to be soon.  It
is nearly half-past eleven.  These fellows will make their attack almost
immediately now.  Ha! listen!  Yes, I hear them coming!"

Even as he spoke, a hand was laid on the shutter by which the back of
the cart was closed, and attempt made to pull it open.

Vander Heyden put his head out.  "What are you doing here?" he asked.
"This is my sister's sleeping-place."

"I know that, Mr Vander Heyden, and I know you, and you too know me.  I
am Langley Cargill, of the Nassau Regiment--your equal by birth and
station.  I design your sister no harm, but to make her my wife.  Give
her up to me, and I will ensure her safety and the most honourable
treatment."

"_I_ would as soon give her into the hands of Satan!" cried Vander
Heyden fiercely.  "You and your ruffians will do wisely to move off at
once, or we will fire on you without mercy."

"Then take the consequences of your own folly.  Fire into the waggon,
boys!" he shouted; "we'll soon make an end of this."

A dozen guns were discharged, and the leaden hail came rattling between
the ribs of the tilt above them.  It did not produce much effect, as all
those within had thrown themselves on the floor, where the solid sides
of the waggon, strengthened by the recent defences, prevented the
bullets from penetrating.  The next moment the fire was returned with
more effect.  Two of the pretended soldiers were shot dead on the spot,
Bostock and one of his men were severely wounded.

"Rush up and smash the shutters in before they can load again?" shouted
Bostock, regardless of his wound.  He caught up a heavy piece of timber,
which shattered the stout boards at a blow, and was about to mount to
the attack, followed by his comrades, when a volley of musketry was
suddenly poured in, which stretched two or three more of the banditti on
the ground, and a voice was heard calling them to surrender, or no
quarter would be shown.

Vander Heyden and his companions leaped from the waggon to shake hands
with Margetts and Evetts, who, with a couple of dozen of his men, had
now completely surrounded the robbers, nearly all of whom indeed were
either killed or wounded.  But the danger was not entirely at an end, as
they had supposed.  Bostock had been pierced by a second bullet, and it
was plain that he had received his death-wound.  But his fierce spirit
still bore him up.  He heard Evetts' challenge with a scornful laugh.

"Surrender?" he cried.  "Not I, at all events.  I believe I am done for
this time, but there is still some fight left in me.  Henryk Vander
Heyden, I told you I should one day return your fire; there is time to
do so yet."

He raised himself with difficulty, and, levelling his revolver, fired at
his antagonist, who was only a few feet from him.  With fell
satisfaction he noted that the shot had taken effect.  Then he fell back
and expired without a groan.

CHAPTER NINETEEN.

"Are you much hurt?" cried Rivers, rushing up to Vander Heyden and
raising him, while Hardy supported him on the other side.

"I don't know, I hardly felt it," he answered.  "I don't think it struck
the ribs."

"We must get his coat off and stop the bleeding," said Hardy.  "If you
will hold him, I will unfasten the coat.  Bring the lantern closer."

"Leave him to me, sir," said a voice behind.  "I know something of
surgery, as a man has need to do who lives in this country."

Both Rivers and Hardy turned round in great surprise.  The speaker was
Mr Prestcott.

"Ah, you wonder to see me here!  I had no intention of leaving home when
we parted, but I was summoned to Heidelberg two days afterwards, and was
on my way to Mr Evetts when Mr Margetts met me.  We must cut the coat
away.  If the wound is where I suspect, it would give him great pain to
take it off his shoulders.  Ah, I thought so," he continued when the
sleeve had been cut away and the shoulder had been laid bare.  "You have
had a narrow escape, sir.  The bullet struck the cartridge-belt which
was hanging round your neck, and glanced off, passing out through the
fleshy part under the arm-pit, just missing the rib.  But it is a nasty
wound too.  You will have to lie quite quiet for some time, and be
careful that the bleeding does not burst out again.  There must be some
proper person to nurse him."

"His sister, Miss Vander Heyden, is here, sir," said Rivers.  "She is in
the waggon yonder.  She does not know anything about this yet."

"You had better go and warn her," said Mr Prestcott; "then we will
carry him to the waggon."

His instructions were obeyed.  Annchen was of course terribly
distressed, but repressed her emotion, and instantly set about the
necessary preparations.  The boxes were removed from the waggon, and as
soft a bed as possible made upon the floor of dried grass and reeds,
over which several rugs were laid.  The waggon fortunately stood in a
sheltered place under two large trees, whither it had been moved to
render it as secure from attack as possible.  Annchen and Rose undertook
the nursing; and Mr Prestcott engaged to send over the necessary
medicines from Heidelberg.

"He must be kept as quiet as possible, remember.  I suppose there are
enough here," glancing round as he spoke at the Hottentot servants, as
well as at Matamo and Haxo, "to secure him against disturbance or
attack."

"There will be no further fear of attack," said George, to whom this
remark appeared to be addressed.  "This wretched Bostock is dead, and
all the rest of the gang have either been killed or are prisoners.
Stay, though," he added; "I see Gott is prisoner, and Van Ryk was hanged
at Rorke's Drift; but I am afraid Sullivan has escaped."

"It will be a pity if he has," remarked Lieutenant Evetts.  "I hear at
Heidelberg that the whole gang has been for months past the pest of the
neighbourhood."

"Sullivan has not escaped," said Margetts; "I can account for him.  He
had been set to watch for me as I returned to the camp, and pick me off,
I suppose; but he fell into his own trap."

"Ha, that must have been the shot, then, that we heard," said Rivers.
"What made you so long in returning, Redgy?  We were getting alarmed."

"Well, I missed the track," said Margetts, "and had ridden past
Heidelberg.  By good luck I met Mr Prestcott, who was riding in to see
Mr Evetts, and he took me with him.  It was after all no loss of time,
I believe, for he knew where to find Evetts, which I did not.  And
during our ride to Heidelberg, he told me something, George, which you
will be interested to hear.  But first I will tell you about Sullivan.
Evetts got his men together, and Mr Prestcott volunteered to come with
us, wanting to identify some of the gang, who had more than once stolen
his property.  When we got within a mile or two Evetts scattered his
men, and told them to move up with as little noise as possible.  One of
them in this manner got past Sullivan without being seen by him.  He
chanced to look back, and saw Sullivan just levelling his gun at me, and
he anticipated the shot by sending a bullet through the back of his
skull.  He was lying dead by the roadside when I passed, and I
recognised him as Sullivan, notwithstanding his disguise."

"Talking of his disguise," observed Rivers, "I wonder where they got the
soldiers' uniforms from.  I know there are fellows among them who are
clever enough at staining Europeans so as to look like natives; but how
did they come by the uniforms?"

"That is a question easily enough answered," remarked Lieutenant Evetts,
who had now joined the party.  "The Zulus stripped soldiers enough at
Isandhlwana to fit out a regiment or two, and for months afterwards they
were to be had for anything the Zulus could get for them.  But I must
say the get-up, on the whole, was not bad."

"No," assented Hardy; "and the fellows who wore the uniforms had all, I
fancy, been really in the army at one time or another.  Certainly the
corporal had."

"Yes," said Rivers.  "When I first spoke with the man I thought I knew
his face, and probably I had seen him in the ranks.  That was one of the
circumstances that for a long time prevented me from entertaining any
suspicion."

"By-the-bye, George," said Margetts, "I have forgotten to ask you how
you discovered Bostock.  I thought, as I told you, there was something
strange about the party, but did not suspect Bostock was among them, and
his disguise was so perfect that I can hardly believe he is the fellow
lying dead yonder.  There was no time to ask you when you sent me off to
Heidelberg; but I should like to ask you how you recognised him."

"It was your remark and his limp that first made me suspect him," said
George.  "He has always limped since he received the wound on board the
_Zulu Queen_.  I happened to know he had received another wound a few
months since--a bullet-wound on the wrist.  I went and stood close at
hand while the pretended corporal was putting the handcuffs again on the
prisoners' wrists; and there was the scar of the wound plain enough.  I
saw Bostock glance suspiciously at me, as he saw I was scrutinising his
wrist, and I had some trouble to keep myself from showing that I had
discovered him.  But you were saying, Redgy, that Mr Prestcott had told
you something which I should be interested to hear.  May I ask what it
was?"

"Well, Mr Rivers," said Prestcott, "it was simply that I am well
acquainted with your mother.  In the course of my business I make
frequent journeys to Zeerust, and know old Ludwig Mansen and his family
quite well.  I was there not many weeks ago.  It is odd that his name
did not come up in the course of our conversation about Zeerust.  I did
not particularly notice yours, or it would certainly have done so.  You
wrote to her some time ago, did you not?"

"Yes," said George, "eight or nine months ago; but I have never received
any reply to my letter."

"Ah, I supposed so.  The man to whom you gave it was several months in
getting to Umtongo, which was the name of Mansen's farm.  Then she could
get no messenger to carry her reply for several weeks, and it must have
reached Rorke's Drift somewhere about the beginning of June.  But it
appeared you had left the Natal Volunteers, and it was thought you were
going to join some other corps; but that was not known for certain.  She
is in a terrible state of alarm now, that you have been killed at
Ginghilovo, or Ulundi, or one of the smaller battles."

"Well, her anxiety will soon be relieved now," observed Margetts.

"I trust so.  But in that case Mr Rivers must not wait to accompany Mr
Vander Heyden to Zeerust Mr Vander Heyden cannot be moved for three
weeks, and then he must travel very slowly.  I do not suppose he can get
to his destination under a month, at the very earliest."

"Of course I shall not wait for that," said Rivers.  "I shall ride
across country, if I can find a guide.  I suppose it will not occupy
very long, Mr Prestcott?"

"No, sir.  Your horse, if that is your horse yonder, would take you
there in four days--probably in three, but certainly in four."

"And as for a guide," interposed Hardy, "you will not find a better in
all the Transvaal than Matamo.  He knows the whole of this country as
well as I know the paths about my own farm.  I am sorry that I myself
cannot remain here; I have another engagement to fulfil at Newcastle.
But I will undertake to return before Mr Vander Heyden can reach
Zeerust.  Meanwhile Mr Margetts will stay here and look after the
party."

"Must that be so?" asked George.  "I should have liked Redgy to
accompany me."

"It must be, I am afraid," said Hardy.  "I am sorry that my engagement
must be kept."

"I am sorry too," said Margetts; "but of course we cannot leave Vander
Heyden here alone.  When shall you set out, George?"

"To-morrow, if Matamo is prepared," was the answer.  "But we must lie
down now and take some rest.  The dawn must be close at hand."

"I shall return with my party and the prisoners at once," said
Lieutenant Evetts; "and I suppose you also, Mr Prestcott, will
accompany me."

"Yes," said Mr Prestcott.  "The medicines and lint ought to be sent out
at once."

They parted, and our travellers, lying down, took some hours' repose.
Then George summoned Matamo, and inquired of him whether he knew the way
to Umtongo, and would undertake to guide him thither.

"The way to Umtongo," repeated Matamo.  "I know it quite well.  I have
been there two, three times.  I could ride it in the dark."

"That's all right, then," said George.

"Yes, sir; we can get there in three days,--Koodoo's Vley one day,
Malapo's Kloof two days, Umtongo three days.  But they will be long
days."

"Then had we not better start at once?"

"Yes, sir, or we shall not reach Koodoo's Vley to-night.  I will go and
get everything ready."

In two hours they set off, the Bechuana appearing to be in high spirits.
The track he pursued led through a country wilder than any George had
yet seen.  It ran for some miles along the banks of a small but most
picturesque stream, the banks of which were clothed with trees of every
variety.  The mimosa predominated, but it was intermingled with
date-trees and Kaffir plums and huge cacti, with their swordlike leaves,
and acacias already coming into flower.  Overhead hoopoes and parrots
kept up a never-ending chorus, while countless tribes of monkeys and
squirrels leaped and chattered among the branches.  Occasionally there
sprang up, with the whirring noise so familiar to the sportsman, a covey
of red-brown partridges.  Notwithstanding that they were well supplied
with provisions, George's instinct could not forego the opportunity.  He
let fly right and left with both barrels.  Two partridges dropped dead
just in front of them, while others flew off wounded.  Matamo dismounted
and secured them, and they proved a most appetising addition to their
supper when they halted a few hours after.

"How far are we from Koodoo's Vley?" said Rivers, as he leaned back
against the sloping bank, after having made a delicious meal.

"Koodoo's Vley?  About three hours' ride.  Give the horses a long rest,
and we shall get there before the moon goes down."

George relapsed into thought.  The excitement of the last few hours had
left no time for reflection, but now the recollection of what had passed
between himself and Annchen came vividly back.  He had long felt assured
that, notwithstanding the distance at which he had always been kept from
her, she was not indifferent to him, but now he had had a distinct
assurance to that effect from her lips.  For a moment the doubt crossed
him whether, in the few hurried words he spoke to her before the attack,
he had not in some measure broken his promise to Vander Heyden.  There
had been little time for reflection, and his had been dictated by a
sudden impulse.  But no.  He felt sure it had not been so.  His promise
to Vander Heyden had been that he would not ask her to be his wife, and
he had not asked her.  Doubtless she would expect him to follow up his
declaration by a formal offer, but it must rest with her brother whether
that must be made.  On the whole, he had good hope, when he recalled the
particulars of Vander Heyden's interview with him, that he would
withdraw his opposition.  At all events, there was no need to be
down-hearted about it, and perhaps the less his thoughts rested upon it
the better.

He turned to Matamo, who was sitting on the other side of the fire,
sorely disturbed, apparently, at the long silence to which George's
reverie had consigned him.  He responded at once to George's advances,
who inquired of him whether he had known Mr Prestcott before he met him
a few days previously.

"Do I know Mr Prestcott?  Yes, sir, I have known him a long time.  Very
good Baas, is Mr Prestcott.  He tells pretty stories."

"More pretty than true, hey, Matamo?" suggested George.  "Did you hear
his story about the lion and the powder-flask?"

"Yes, sir; I have heard that more than once.  It gets nicer every time
it is told.  Mr Hardy, too, he tells a nice story about the cobra in
the tree, but not so nice as my story about the big boa."

"Your story--an adventure of your own, like the leap off the
hippopotamus's head, eh?  Let us hear it by all means, Matamo."

"Yes, sir.  It happened a great many years ago.  I had been sent on an
errand to the Kasal Mountains.  A fat old Dutchman seized me, and would
not believe my story, but made a slave of me.  If I said a word, he tied
me up to the cart-wheel and flogged me with the jambok.  One day he sent
me after an ox that had strayed.  He was always afraid that I should run
away, and if I was any time out, came to meet me with the jambok ready
in his hand.  I couldn't find the ox anywhere, but I thought I saw
something moving in a thick bush, and I fancied it might be the stray
beast.  I forced my way inside, and trod on what I thought was the end
of a log.  But it was a great boa, not a log.  The boa put up its head
and was going to spring; but I ran like a springbok, and the boa after
me.  I never went so fast in my life, but the boa went faster.  Just on
the edge of the wood, I saw the fat Dutchman coming with the whip.  When
the Dutchman saw the boa, he too turned and ran.  But I ran faster than
the Dutchman anyhow.  The boa thought he was better eating than a lean
Bechuana boy, and he caught him round the waist and twisted himself all
about him.  The Dutchman was so big that the boa only went twice round
him.  He bellowed for help so loud that every one could hear him, so
there was no need for me to tell them."

"What did you do then, Matamo?"

"I ran away as fast as I could, and went home to Mr Baylen."

"I suppose the Dutchman was killed, wasn't he?"

"Yes, sir.  The big snake ground him up like corn in a mill,--jambok and
all," added Matamo significantly.

"Well, you must tell that story to Mr Prestcott and Mr Hardy.  I don't
think either of them could beat it."

"Ah, but I had another escape, from a rhinoceros, closer than that,"
said the Bechuana, evidently much gratified at George's approval.

"Closer than that!" said George.  "It must have been a near one, then,
indeed.  Let us hear it, by all means."

"It was in the rocky country above Standerton," said Matamo.  "I was
hunting, and had to climb some steep crags two or three hundred feet
high, and in some places as steep as a wall.  I got to the top, and sat
down to rest under a small tree that grew close to the edge of the
precipice.  Presently I got up and went on to the wood, where there were
plenty of elands and antelopes.  All of a moment a big female rhinoceros
broke out and ran at me.  I put up my gun and hit her just in the right
place, and she dropped.  I was going to load again, when I saw close
behind her the male rhinoceros, and he made a rush at me.  There was no
time to load.  I threw my gun away, and ran for it as hard as I could.
But the precipice was right in front, and no room to turn to the right
or the left.  The rhinoceros is very swift of foot.  He was close behind
me as I approached the edge.  I thought we should both go over together,
but just at the last moment I seized the bole of the tree and swung
myself round.  The rhinoceros couldn't catch hold of the tree, and
couldn't stop himself.  Over he went in a moment, and I heard him strike
the ground three hundred feet down.  I went below and took a look at
him.  He was smashed to atoms."

"That was a close shave too," said George.  "But come, Matamo, it is
time we were off again.  The horses must be fully rested."

They remounted, and proceeded for several hours.  But for some reason
they did not make good progress.  The horse ridden by the Bechuana
appeared to be completely tired out, and could with difficulty be urged
to an easy trot.  The moon had set while they were still fully three
miles from Koodoo's Vley, and Matamo declared it would not be safe to
proceed further that night.

He off-saddled his horse with more care than usual, and, instead of
knee-haltering and turning him out to graze as usual, secured him by a
headstall under the shelter of some trees, and brought him some grass
and water.  But the animal, though it drank thirstily, seemed unable to
eat, and presently lay down, too much exhausted, apparently, by its
day's journey to stand.

"Bad job this, Mr Rivers," said Matamo, after carefully noting the
horse's condition.

"What do you think is the matter with him?" inquired Rivers.

"The horse-sickness, sir.  I've been afraid of it for an hour or two,
but there is no doubt of it now.  It is less common at this time of the
year, but it happens sometimes."

"Can't anything be done?" asked George.  "I know this horse-sickness is
a strange malady, which no one seems to understand.  But is there really
no cure for it?"

"None that I have ever heard of," was the answer.  "Yes, he's getting
worse.  He'll die; nothing can cure him."

"Has he been bitten by the tsetse, do you think?" asked George.

"The tsetse? no, sir.  The tsetse is not found here; there is no mistake
about it, where it is found.  I know it well, and its buzz too.  It is
certain to kill any horse it attacks, or ox either."

"Doesn't it hurt a man, then?" inquired George.

"It never bites a man, or a donkey, or a mule.  But what this poor brute
has is the horse-sickness, and nobody knows either the cause or the cure
of that."

An hour or two afterwards Matamo's predictions were verified.  As the
darkness came on, the poor brute's malady got worse.  Its flanks heaved;
it drew its breath with ever-increasing difficulty; its tongue lolled
from the jaws, which were tightly clenched on it.  Then violent
convulsions came on, and it expired.

"What is to be done now, Matamo?  Can you go on with me on foot?" asked
George.  "We could ride alternately, you know; of course we should not
go nearly as fast, but we should get there in time."

"I am very sorry, Mr Rivers, but I can't go.  Mr Baylen wants me back.
I must have returned to Horner's Kraal the very day after the party
reached Lichtenberg."

George remembered that Mr Baylen, while they were at Colenso, had told
him that the time of the year when he could never spare Matamo was the
spring.  At the time when he made George the offer of the Bechuana's
services, there had been no idea of the journey to Zeerust being delayed
so long.  He felt, therefore, that he ought not to urge Matamo to remain
longer with him.  But, on the other hand, if he returned to Heidelberg
with Matamo, and obtained another guide, at least a week would be lost.
Knowing his mother's anxiety and distress, he was most unwilling to
protract them.  Besides, he could remain only a certain time at Umtongo,
and he would not cut that any shorter, if he could help it.

"Do you think I could find my way by myself, Matamo, if you gave me full
directions?" he asked.

"I am not able to say that, sir.  I will tell you the way as well as I
can.  But if you go on to Koodoo's Vley, you will find the Kaffirs'
kraal, which is close to it, and they will show you the way to Mansen's
farm, if you pay them money.  The Kaffirs will go anywhere for money,
and they know the place well."

With this George was obliged to be contented, and, having obtained the
most minute directions as regarded the road to Koodoo's Vley, which lay
only two miles off, he said goodbye to the Bechuana on the following
morning and rode off alone.  There was no difficulty in finding his way,
Matamo's directions having been very clear, and the landmarks easy to
find.  He proceeded, however, cautiously, and in about two hours reached
the Vley, which he clearly enough recognised, as well as the Kaffir
kraal, standing, as Matamo had described it, on the banks of a small
stream and in an open glade surrounded by a wood.  But, to his great
disappointment, it was wrecked and deserted.  Either there had been a
quarrel with some hostile tribe, or a Dutch commando had been sent
against it.  But, whichever may have been the case, all its inhabitants
were gone.  George searched all round, but could nowhere find one single
Kaffir.

He was now greatly troubled.  Relying on Matamo's assurance of meeting
with a guide, he had not even taken any instructions from him as to the
way to his mother's house.  He only knew in a general way that it lay to
the north-west.  He would at once have ridden back and endeavoured to
overtake Matamo, but he reflected that the Bechuana, being now on foot,
would probably take a shorter way to Heidelberg, which he had been
unable to follow while on horseback.  There was only, in fact, the
alternative of going on, in what he knew must be at least the right
direction, or return to the town.  After a long debate, he determined on
the former course.  He took out his pocket compass, and turned his
horse's head directly to the north-west.

He rode on for seven or eight hours, and presently the aspect of the
country changed.  An open stretch of veldt succeeded to the mingled
forest and scrub and jungle through which he had been passing.  The
grass grew up to his horse's hocks, and in some places up to its
shoulder.  Suddenly there came a rush through the grass, and a
hartebeest, closely pursued by a pack of wild dogs, rushed by him George
had not hitherto come much into contact with these creatures, which,
however, are to be found in large numbers in these regions.  They are
curious animals, more resembling hyenas than dogs, though the specially
distinctive mark of the hyena, the drooping off at the hind-quarters, is
not to be found in them.  But in the stripe, and the bushy tail, and the
peculiar-shaped ear, they closely resemble the hyena.  They are not so
cowardly as the last-named creatures, and are in consequence more
dangerous to encounter.

The hartebeest was evidently almost exhausted.  It was not likely that
it could run another mile; and George, who had omitted to take any
provision with him, expecting to get his dinner at the Kaffir kraal,
resolved to follow and rescue the carcase from the wild dogs, whom a
shot from his rifle would probably disperse, or, at all events, keep at
a distance, while he cut off the meat he required.  He spurred his horse
accordingly, and started in pursuit.  But the ground was soft, and for
some time he gained but little on his quarry.  The hartebeest held on
with more vigour than he had expected, and at last, when he had got
within distance, a sudden stumble of his horse caused him altogether to
miss his mark.  He was obliged to stop and reload, and the ground thus
lost was difficult to regain.  It was not until after a full hour's
pursuit that he saw the hartebeest, unable to go any further, at last
turn round in despair and face his enemies.  Rivers had now sufficient
time to take aim at the leader of the pack with his first barrel, and
the hartebeest with the second.  Both shots were successful.  The
hartebeest dropped instantly, with a ball through its heart, and the dog
rushed off with a yell of pain, falling dead before it had gone a
hundred yards.  But the rest of the troop did not take to flight, as
George had expected.  Probably the pursuit of the prey had been
stimulated by hunger, which now rendered them insensible to danger.
After a moment's hesitation they rushed on the carcase, while one or
two, bolder than the rest, sprang on his horse, from which he had
alighted to drive off the dogs with his hunting-knife.  Terrified at the
attack, the steed broke loose from George's hold, galloping off at full
speed, and pursued by the greater part of the pack.  George shouted and
endeavoured to follow, but became instantly aware of the hopelessness of
the attempt.  The horse was already a hundred yards off, galloping at
the utmost of its speed, in the hope of distancing its pursuers.  The
darkness, too, was rapidly coming on.  It would plainly be impossible
for him to recover his horse that night, as it would presently be too
dark to discern any objects at a distance.  He must provide himself as
well as he was able with food and shelter for the night.  Hastily
reloading, he first rid himself of the two or three dogs that were
busily engaged in mangling the body of the hartebeest.  Next with his
hunting-knife he cut down a quantity of bushes, part of which he piled
up as a shelter against the wind, which began to blow with some
sharpness as the dusk came on.  The rest of the wood he set alight by
the help of the matches in his belt, and presently succeeded in kindling
a tolerable fire.  Then he cut off some meat from the carcase of the
hartebeest, of which there was a good deal left, notwithstanding the
ravages of the dogs.  By these means, and by obtaining water from a
clear rivulet, which he found flowing at a little distance, he contrived
to satisfy his hunger and thirst.  He sat down in the shelter which he
had provided for himself, and looked up at the sky above him.  It was a
delicious night.  The constellations of the Southern Hemisphere are not
in themselves as beautiful, as those with which we of the northern
regions are familiar.  But their liquid brilliancy, seen against the
background of the deepest blue, renders the general aspect of the
heavens far more lovely and imposing.  The sense also of entire
loneliness came upon him with profound solemnity.  He was here far--he
knew not how far--from all human help and sympathy.  Whatever good or
evil fortune might befall him was his concern and his only.  The utter
helplessness of man so situated impressed him painfully.  We seldom
realise the full meaning of passages of Holy Writ until some striking
circumstance of our lives bring them home to us, and George felt for the
first time how profound a meaning was contained in these words: "It is
not good for man to be alone."

CHAPTER TWENTY.

George awoke chilled and cramped with the night air, and was preparing
leisurely to get up and commence the search after his missing steed,
when his eye lit on an object a few feet of him, which caused him
instantly to leap to his feet.  A snake, which had probably been
attracted to the spot during the night by the warmth of his fire, was
just raising its head, as if preparing to dart upon him, spitting venom
at the same time from its open jaws.  His rapid backward spring just
enabled him to avoid its fangs.  But some of the poison had been spurted
on to his face, and he instantly felt a sharp sting of pain.  His first
act was to crush the head of the reptile with his heel, and then to
sever its neck with his knife.  It was of a dark brown, almost a black
colour, and six or seven feet long.  George had never seen one of the
kind before, but recognised it from the descriptions that had been given
him as the picakholu, the most venomous, it was said, of any known
serpent, and called by the natives the "spitting snake."  George noticed
that the fangs were still distilling poison in a considerable quantity,
notwithstanding that the neck had been completely severed.  He felt a
good deal of pain in the places where the poison had fallen, and
especially in the white of the left eye.  He hurried to the spring,
which was fortunately only at a short distance, and, kneeling down,
plunged his head again and again into the water, hoping in that manner
to get rid of the painful smart.  This gave him some slight relief, and
he hoped that, as no poison could have mixed with his blood, the pain
would gradually wear itself out.

The first thing, of course, was to find his horse.  He had hoped that if
it had succeeded in shaking off the wild dogs, it would return to the
spring to drink.  But though he did not doubt that it would soon
outstrip them, they having been evidently completely exhausted by the
long previous chase, there might be water nearer to the point at which
the animal found itself after its escape, and in that case of course it
would make for it.  Taking up his gun, he began following the track of
the animal's hoofs, which were clear enough to be traced in the soft
grass of the veldt.  After an hour's search, the grass was exchanged for
a long arid stretch of sand, diversified by scrub and stone.  Here the
hoofs of the horse and the lighter prints of the dogs' feet were still
more plainly to be distinguished.  The sand became looser and looser as
he advanced.  It was evident that the horse must have grown rapidly more
exhausted, as its feet plunged almost to the fetlock at every step.  At
last he came upon the carcase of the animal itself, which had evidently
been torn down by the pack and devoured.  There had plainly been a
furious struggle, one or two of the dogs having been killed by the dying
efforts of the horse.

Rivers was now seriously alarmed.  He must retrace his steps as well as
he was able to the spring, and seek again to relieve the burning pains
in his face, which under the scorching heat of the sun stung him more
sharply than even at first.  Then he must make his way on foot, keeping
as before to the north-west, and hope to fall in with some traveller, or
reach the shelter of some friendly habitation.  He was well aware that,
if all these chances failed him, his life on earth would soon be ended.
He began his return across the sandy waste, and, after several hours of
painful exertion, succeeded in reaching the spring, by the side of which
he sank down completely exhausted.  Long and copious draughts somewhat
restored him; and as the cool of the evening came on, he got up and
resumed his journey, making another meal before he started on what
remained of his morning's repast.  He walked on for a mile or two,
leaning on his gun, and hardly sensible of the objects round him.  At
last he got to a part of the wood where the trees seemed to have been
cut away, and a broader path, almost approaching to a road, cut out.  He
staggered for some distance along this track, and then his senses
completely deserted him, and he dropped to the ground, his gun going off
as he fell, though happily without injury to himself.

When he opened his eyes again, he looked around him with great surprise.
He was lying on a comfortable bed, in a tolerable-sized room; which,
though different in many respects from any chamber he had hitherto
occupied, was nevertheless evidently of European construction.  There
was a sash window, looking out, so far as George could distinguish, upon
a garden.  The walls were of plank, planed and fitted together with some
neatness; the floor of mud, beaten hard and smeared with cow-dung.
There were no tables or chairs, no chests of drawers, or washing
apparatus, but there was a bench and one or two solid chests.  The bed
itself was tolerably clean, and there were sheets, but of coarse
material.  By his side, on a shelf, were a tea-cup and spoon and several
bottles.

With some difficulty he recalled the incidents which had taken place
previously to his fainting fit,--the poison spirted on his face by the
snake, his search after his horse, and his subsequent journey through
the wood.  But all seemed dim and confused, and as if it had taken place
a long while ago.  He lay thinking for a long time, or rather in a state
of half consciousness, in which dream and reality were blended together.
Then he closed his eyes and again fell asleep, waking up a second time,
also to his confused fancy after a long period of inaction.  He found
himself lying on the same bed and in the same room, but this time he was
not alone.  There was an old man sitting by his bedside and watching him
apparently with some curiosity.  He was a Dutchman,--that was plain from
his physiognomy alike and his dress,--and probably a man of some
substance.  His clothes were of the usual material, but of a good
quality, and had not been much worn.  His features were rather harsh,
but not repulsive, and his demeanour quiet and self-possessed.  He
noticed the change in George's appearance, and proceeded to express his
satisfaction in English, which was not quite idiomatic, but nevertheless
was intelligible.

"The Englishman is better; is he able to talk?"

"Thank you, I feel much better," said George.  "Will you please to tell
me where I am, and how I came here?"

"I heard your gun, and found you in a swoon.  This is my house; it is
called Malopo's Kloof."

"I am very thankful," said George.  "How long have I been ill?"

"It is more than five weeks since I found you--five weeks last Monday."

"Five weeks!" repeated George, becoming dimly conscious of strange, wild
scenes, among which he seemed to have passed an immeasurable period of
time,--gallops over interminable plains, struggles with armed assassins,
writhings of wounded snakes, and the like phantasmagoria of a sick
fancy, succeeding and intermingling with one another.  "Five weeks!
Have I had a fever?"

"A marsh fever, and a very bad one.  I thought several times the
Englishman would die," said the old man.

"And who has been my doctor?" inquired Rivers, only able to recall two
figures that were not quite shadowy and unreal,--the figure of the man
before him, and another younger than he.  "Who have been my doctor and
my nurse?"

"You have had no doctor: there is none in these parts.  Rudolf and I
nursed you," was the answer.  "We put on cool bandages and gave you cool
drinks--nothing else."

"And I have to thank you for my life then!" exclaimed George, feebly
stretching out his hand, and becoming aware for the first time how thin
and wasted it had become.

"We could not let the Englishman die," said the old man simply.  "But
you must be quiet--you are not strong enough to talk."  Putting a glass
containing some mixture which tasted deliciously cool and refreshing to
his lips, the Dutchman now withdrew, and Rivers was soon once more
buried in slumber.

He woke again after a long interval, feeling stronger, and so went on
for a week or two more, gaining strength continually, until at last he
was permitted to get up and sit for an hour in the garden, which was now
in the prime of its beauty and luxuriance.  Mynheer Kransberg--that he
presently discovered to be his host's name--had been one of the earliest
settlers in the Transvaal, long before the country bore that name, and
when it was only inhabited by the native tribes.  He had been quite a
young man, though possessed of good means, when the Dutch first broke
out into resistance to the English rule.  Aware of the hopelessness of
rebellion, and unwilling to take part against his countrymen, he had
withdrawn with a considerable following of his own dependants into the
then unknown regions lying to the north of the Orange river.  Here he
had purchased land of one of the native chiefs, built his house, and
enclosed his farm, and here he had lived ever since, through all the
numerous changes which the country had undergone, paying as little heed
to them as if he had belonged to another planet.  He had never married,
or felt any inclination to do so.  He had ridden about his fields, and
reared his cattle and sent them to market, and brewed his Dutch beer,
year after year, with a placid contentment which is rarely witnessed,
even in a Dutchman.  If he was indolent he was at all events extremely
good-tempered, and his oldest servants scarcely ever remembered to have
seen him ruffled.

He had lived alone until within the last few years, never seeming to
experience the want of a companion.  But about two years since his
solitude had been broken in upon by the arrival of his nephew, Rudolf
Kransberg, a tall, gawky youth of two-and-twenty, who came to claim his
help and protection.  His father, a merchant in Graham's Town, had died
insolvent, and his son, calling to mind for the first for a great many
years his uncle in the Transvaal, had made a journey hither, in the hope
of gaining a kind reception.  In that he had not been disappointed.  The
old man heard of his arrival, and of the misfortunes which had befallen
his brother, without exhibiting the smallest emotion, but at the same
time he gave the young man shelter and maintenance, allowed him, in
fact, to live in his house, treating him in all respects as though he
had been his own son.  Rudolf, who in many respects resembled his
relative, accepted the situation with equal complaisance, and they had
now lived together two years in perfect contentment, not a word having
been exchanged between them as to the older man's disposal of his
property or the younger one's prospects in life, till within the last
few weeks, when Rudolf had consulted his uncle on the subject of a
marriage which he was anxious to contract.

The two were sitting in the garden in a Dutch summer-house which old
Kransberg had run up with his own hands some forty years before.  It was
generally thought that the old man liked the society of his nephew, and
especially during the smoking of the evening pipe, though he never
expressed any feeling to that effect, or, indeed, to any effect
whatsoever, unless compelled by absolute necessity.  He was therefore
somewhat surprised when one evening Rudolf took his pipe from his lips,
and after rolling out a long puff of smoke, addressed his uncle.

"My uncle, there is something I would ask you.  May I speak?"

The old man similarly removed his pipe, emitting a corresponding puff,
and then answered briefly, "Ya."

"My uncle, I am four-and-twenty."

He paused, but his uncle not considering this to require a verbal
acknowledgment, only nodded.

"My uncle, it is time I was married."

This apparently was regarded as calling for a reply.  The pipe
accordingly was again removed, and Mynheer inquired "Whom?"

"Thyrza Rivers."

Another long silence followed this communication, after which the old
man remarked, "Englishwoman."

"True," assented the nephew, roused by his feelings to unusual prolixity
of speech; "but she has always been bred up in our ways.  And her
father-in-law is a good man."

Old Kransberg again gave an affirmative nod.  "Go over and ask her," he
said.

Rudolf nodded in his turn, and so the conversation ended.

It was on the day following this that Mynheer Kransberg, as he was
proceeding after supper to smoke his usual pipe in the summer-house, was
startled by the discharge of a gun at a short distance.  As the reader
has heard, the country had been for some time infested by bands of
ruffians, who committed great depredations in the neighbourhood.  The
old man's first idea was to summon his servants and send them out to see
after the marauder, but, casting his eyes along the road, he saw the
figure of a man lying prostrate, having apparently been shot.
Straightway he summoned two of his Hottentots and desired them to bring
the wounded man or his body, as the case might be, into the house.  It
was soon discovered that there was no wound, but the stranger had a
dangerous attack of fever of some kind, and was in imminent danger of
his life.  Without more words he had him consigned to the bed in his
guest-chamber, where he and his nephew nursed him with all possible
kindness, until he had recovered his consciousness, as the reader has
heard, and appeared to be in a fair way of recovery.  George soon made
acquaintance with both uncle and nephew.  No great effort, indeed, was
necessary to form such an acquaintance.  All that was required was to
sit still and smoke, exchanging, it might be, two words in the course of
every hour.  During all this time Rudolf's courtship had been held in
abeyance.  As it was necessary for him to stop at home and assist his
uncle in nursing, it was not possible he could be spared to ride over
twenty miles to Umtongo.  If the swain had been a Frenchman or an
Italian, or even an Englishman, it might have been argued that his
attachment to the lady was not a very ardent one.  But that would have
been to mistake the case.  Rudolf was very sincere in his devotion, and
was anxious that his visit should not be delayed any longer, and he had
ordained in his own mind that he would set forth on his errand the
following day, when he was greatly startled by a question which his
guest put to him.

George had been sitting, as the reader has heard, in his host's garden,
enjoying the scent of the delicious flowers, when he saw Rudolf
Kransberg advancing towards him.  The young Dutchman bestowed a nod upon
him, his usual greeting, and then, sitting down on the bench beside him,
lighted his pipe and began to smoke.  Presently George inquired whether
Rudolf could tell him of a farmhouse in that neighbourhood called
Umtongo, the residence of a farmer named Ludwig Mansen.

Rudolf was so startled that he actually dropped his pipe.  He stooped,
however, to pick it up again, before he repeated the words, "Umtongo!
Ludwig Mansen!"

"Yes," said George, supposing that his companion did not understand him.
"I was on my way to his house when I was taken ill.  The farm must lie
at no very great distance.  Perhaps you may be able to tell me where it
is."

"You going there!" ejaculated Rudolf with more animation.

"Yes, I was going there, and I want to go there now."

"It will not be fit for you to go for a long time yet," returned the
Dutchman, relapsing into silence, from which he could only be roused to
make monosyllabic replies.  A minute or two afterwards, indeed, chancing
to see his uncle in the distance, he got up and went to join him.

George was perplexed, but the demeanour of his hosts had puzzled him
from the first.  He saw, however, that they meant kindly by him, and
supposed that Rudolf was simply afraid that he might bring on a relapse
by venturing on a long ride in his present weak condition.  He knew,
indeed, he was not fit to make the attempt yet.  Impatient, therefore,
as he was to rejoin his mother and sister, he resolved to remain quiet
for a few days more.  He was more ready to do this, because he felt his
strength returning to him every day, and it was evident from Rudolf's
manner that his stepfather's house lay at no great distance.

He was a good deal surprised when, on the following evening, Rudolf
Kransberg, who had been absent all day, returned to Malopo's Kloof, but
with a companion.  He was sitting alone in the arbour, the time for old
Kransberg's pipe having not yet arrived, when a well-known figure
suddenly presented itself, and the voice of Redgy Margetts greeted him.

"Hooray, old fellow! this is glorious indeed!  Why, here have we been
scouring the country for you for weeks past, and your mother and
Thyrza--your mother and your sister," added Redgy, correcting himself,
"have put off going into mourning for you day after day, only because
they couldn't bear to think you were dead.  And here have you been alive
all the time, only twenty miles from us.  Old Kransberg, they say, never
holds any intercourse with his neighbours, and it must be so, or he must
have heard of the hue and cry that has been raised.  Matamo had gone
back to Horner's Kraal, and we only heard from some people in Heidelberg
of his having parted company with you somewhere near Koodoo's Vley.  We
searched the whole country, Hardy and Haxo and I, and some of Ludwig
Mansen's men, and we found at last the skeleton of your horse; we knew
it by your saddle.  And by the spring, where it was quite clear you had
camped for the night, there were the remains of one of the most venomous
snakes in the country.  We were afraid you had been bitten by it, and
had staggered somewhere into the bush and died.  There would have been
small chance for you, they said, if it had bitten you.  But it doesn't
matter, happily, what we thought, only I should like to know if you are
able to tell me the true history of the matter."

"You shall hear presently," said George.  "But first of all I want to
know about my mother.  Is she looking well?"

"Well, I never saw her before, you know," said Redgy, "and of course she
has been in great distress about you; but as regards looks, I'm sure
she's an extremely handsome woman, and she will soon now be at her best
again.  You should have seen what a difference there was in her when we
found out all about you from young Kransberg."

"Young Kransberg," repeated George.  "I supposed he guessed the truth,
then, from what I told him yesterday, and rode over to tell you about
me."

"Hem! no," said Margetts shortly; "that wasn't the object of his visit.
He didn't know that you were in any way connected with Mrs Mansen--
didn't know what your name was indeed.  He only mentioned quite casually
at dinner that a young Englishman had been found close to his uncle's
house, nearly two months ago, who had been seized with a bad attack of
marsh fever.  We all caught at it at once, and felt almost sure, from
his description, that the person of whom he had been speaking must be
you.  But Mrs Mansen couldn't bear to be kept in suspense a moment, and
I offered to ride over here the moment dinner was over; and Rudolf
Kransberg," added Redgy with something of a chuckle, "was obliged to
accompany me."

"Well!" said Rivers.  "But there's plenty more I want to know.  I
haven't seen my sister since she was quite a child.  She must be grown
up now."

"Yes, she is grown up," assented Redgy shortly.  "And she promised to be
pretty?"

"That's a matter of opinion," said Redgy with evident embarrassment.
"Some people, I believe, do think her so."

"But you don't, eh?" said George, glancing at him in some surprise.
"But never mind that, I shall soon be able to judge for myself.  There
are other things I want to know about.  What has become of--of the
Vander Heydens?"

"Oh, they are all right," said Margetts.  "Vander Heyden recovered
rapidly, and got home in three weeks after the time you left us.  Their
place is only a few miles from Umtongo.  They have been continually over
there to see your mother and sister.  Miss Vander Heyden and Miss Rivers
have struck up a very close friendship, and I must do Vander Heyden the
justice to say that nobody has been more active in the search after you
than he was."

"He's a good fellow," said George, "though he is a Dutchman, and hates
the English, and is as proud as Lucifer into the bargain.  Well, and
Hardy--what of him?"

"Hardy is at Pieter's Dorf--that's the name of Vander Heyden's place.
He has designed a capital house, which they have already begun building.
It will go on all the faster now that the search for you is happily
over.  Well now, it's my turn, George, to ask questions.  Do you think
you are strong enough to be moved?  Mr Mansen proposes to send over his
light bullock waggon for you.  Of course you couldn't sit in the saddle
for twenty miles, and won't be fit to do so for some time yet.  But you
might be able to bear the motion of the waggon.  You look quite as
strong as Vander Heyden did, and you haven't so far to go."

"I should think I certainly might," said George.  "I don't know whether
it is in consequence of seeing you and hearing your good news, but I
feel ever so much better than I did this morning."

"Very good," said Margetts.  "Then I will ride back at once and tell
them to send the waggon.  It will take one day to come here, then you
can go back the next.  That will be the day after to-morrow, you know."

"Very good.  I must of course consult my kind host.  But I don't fancy
he will make any difficulty.  We shall have to arrange, also, what I am
to pay him for my lodging and nursing.  I must have been a considerable
expense, as well as trouble to him."

Margetts took his leave, and George went in quest of Mynheer Kransberg,
whom he found in his usual seat in his summer-house.  He listened in
silence to George's proposed arrangements, as well as to his thanks for
the great kindness shown him.  But when his guest inquired how much
money was due for the lodging and attendance he had received.  Mynheer
Kransberg answered quietly,--

"There is nothing due.  This is not an inn."

"I am aware of that," returned Rivers, colouring a little, for he had
entertained the idea that all Dutchmen were eager to make any profit in
their power, and had spoken accordingly.  "But I must have occasioned
some considerable outlay, and besides have given your servants and
yourself and nephew, a great deal of trouble," he pursued.

"We do not, any of us, grudge it," said the old man in the same tone as
before.  "We do not want money for doing a simple act of Christian
charity.  You have rendered me your thanks--that is enough."

"I do indeed render them most heartily," said Rivers, "and I shall never
lose the recollection of your generous kindness."

During the journey in Farmer Mansen's ox-waggon, which occupied nearly
the whole of the day, he had time to reconsider the opinion which he had
formed respecting the Boers, and which had been very much the same that
is entertained by Englishmen generally.  There is undoubtedly a strong
prejudice felt against them.  They are believed to be selfish,
cold-blooded, and cowardly,--harshly oppressive to the helpless, but
descending to falsehood and trickery in their dealings with those whom
they dare not openly defy.  A good deal of disgust also is felt at the
strictness of their religious profession, which is thought to be
inconsistent with their harsh and worldly conduct.

That there is some truth in these censures is not to be denied.  They
have been for many generations slaveholders, and no nation ever yet
escaped the degradation which that most odious of all customs entails.
Slaveholders become inevitably selfish, unjust, and brutal, and incline
to become cowardly also.  It is the coward only that oppresses the weak,
and they who habitually oppress the weak cannot but become cowards.  But
the Boers have virtues to which justice has not been done.  They are
kind-hearted and generous to all except the blacks.  No nation exceeds
them in industry, in simplicity of life, and in the practice of domestic
virtues.  The profound respect rendered to parents, the faithful
affection subsisting between husband and wife, the anxious care bestowed
on their children, the loyal attachment and devotion to their country,
might put to shame many who are their severest censors.  And their
religious profession is sincere enough, however blinded their eyes may
have become as regards some obvious Christian duties.

Prayer is offered in almost every Dutch household morning and evening to
Almighty God.  The Sunday is given up to the strictest religious
observances; the periodical communions are punctually and reverently
attended.  If the curse of slavery could be torn out by the roots, and
the natives recognised by them as of equal value with themselves in the
sight of Heaven, there would be few worthier races to be found on the
face of the earth than they.

CHAPTER TWENTY ONE.

"Here is a letter for you, George," said Mrs Mansen, as the former
entered the parlour at Umtongo, about three months after his arrival at
his mother's house.  "It looks like Mr Rogers' handwriting.  But I
believe Mr Rogers is still in England."

"It is from him, though," said George when he had finished reading the
letter.  "He has returned to Dykeman's Hollow--has been there about a
fortnight, he says."

"What has made him come back so much sooner than he had intended?  He
wrote us word that his business in England was prospering, but he would
be obliged, he thought, to remain another twelvemonth."

"Ah, but there is, it appears, a total change of things in England.
Another Government has come in, and is likely to reverse altogether the
policy of the old one.  He says, too, that a lot of people have taken up
Cetewayo's cause, and declare that he is a very ill-used man, that he
never hurt or wronged anybody, and if we had left him alone, he would
have left us."

"Do they?" said Mrs Mansen.  "I wish some of them had been Cetewayo's
neighbours, as we were."

"Well, the upshot is, that Mr Rogers thought it was of no use for him
to stay any longer in England, so he has come back.  And now he wants me
to go back to Dykeman's Hollow, and take up my old work as schoolmaster
and teacher."

"Well, I hoped you were going to settle here," said Mrs Mansen.  "There
is as much need for your services here as there could be at Dykeman's
Hollow.  And my husband would be willing, as you know, to give you a
part of this farm to look after,--quite as large as you could manage,--
and to build you a house to live in, or rather, I should say, enlarge
the small house at Droopsdorf.  Two more rooms would make it a
comfortable house."

"He and you are very kind, mother.  But, you see, I engaged myself to
Mr Rogers, and I ought to keep to my engagement."

"Yes, but that was a year and a half ago, and things have happened since
then which make all the difference.  Mr Rogers didn't know that we had
removed from Spielman's Vley, and that you, by engaging yourself to him,
would be, not half an hour's ride from us, but a good week's journey at
least, and you didn't know it, and couldn't guess it, either."

"No doubt that is true, mother; and I must allow that if I had known
that there would be all the width of the Transvaal between you and me, I
shouldn't have made the agreement.  But, you see, I did make it."

"Yes, but I don't think Mr Rogers could refuse to cancel it.  It would
be very unhandsome of him if he did.  Then again, I don't suppose he has
heard of your long illness.  He thinks you have been living with us
nearly six months, as Mr Margetts has; whereas for three months, or for
two at all events, you didn't come here at all, and for a good month
more you were quite an invalid.  I haven't had more than two real months
of you yet, my dear boy, and after so long a separation,--I may say
after what seemed like a recovery of you from the grave--I can't afford
to part with you.  Isn't that reason, Thyrza?"

"Yes," answered Thyrza.  "I think Mr Rogers would at least give you a
longer holiday, if he didn't consent to your staying here altogether.  I
know father thinks so too."

"I am sure I don't want to leave you," said George, looking
affectionately at his mother and sister.  "I have never been made so
happy by anything as by finding you."

Mrs Mansen and her daughter were indeed two relatives of whom any one
might be proud.  The mother was a little past middle age, but was still
strikingly handsome, and though her dress differed in some particulars
from that of an English lady, she would have passed muster, both as
regards appearance and manners, in good English society.  Her daughter
nearly resembled her in height and feature; and if the reader could have
seen her, he would not have been surprised that even the ponderous
Rudolf Kransberg should have been captivated by her charms.  She was a
lively girl in her nineteenth year, and, as yet, fancy-free.  It had
never occurred to her that Mynheer Rudolf had viewed her with any
sentiment of admiration; and we are afraid that, if the idea had entered
her head, it would have had no other effect than that of affording her
unmixed amusement.

"And it isn't father only," pursued Thyrza, "who wants you to remain at
Umtongo.  There's another person--"

"Redgy Margetts, I suppose," interrupted George.  "I have no doubt he
likes his quarters well enough--"

"Mr Margetts!" broke in Thyrza hastily, and with a little accession of
colour; "I wasn't thinking about him.  I don't suppose he knows his mind
on that subject or any other.  No, it is a different person
altogether--"

"My dear Thyrza," interposed Mrs Mansen, "there is your father out in
the garden, beckoning.  He wants you, I am pretty sure.  Go out and
speak to him."

Thyrza departed, and Mrs Mansen, after a pause of a minute or two,
addressed her son in a tone of some embarrassment.

"I am sorry you said that about Mr Margetts," she said--"sorry for two
reasons.  In the first place, I fancy--if indeed it is only fancy--that
he is attracted by Thyrza."

"Redgy is as easily attracted by a handsome girl as a bee is by a
honeysuckle," said George; "but his attachment does not generally last
much longer."

"I hope you may be right," returned his mother; "but I own I think
otherwise.  I grant Thyrza either does not see, or does not much care
for, his preference.  But how long that might continue, I do not know."

"Well, mother, even if it were so, what objection is there to Redgy
Margetts?  He is a gentleman by birth, well educated, and a capital
fellow every way.  Thyrza might do much worse."

"No doubt.  But he is, I understand, in no position to marry.  He is a
younger son, with no fortune, only a precarious allowance, and his
family would probably be opposed to such a marriage."

"That is true," assented George; "but then Redgy is too honourable a
fellow to engage Thyrza's affections, if he did not see his way to
marrying her."

"Very likely.  He would not intentionally make her fond of him.  But he
might do so, nevertheless.  No, George, it is certainly better that _he_
should leave Umtongo; and my idea is that he should go and take your
place at Dykeman's Hollow."

"We had both better go," said George.  "There is a reason--"

"Yes, I think I understand it," interrupted Mrs Mansen.  "And I was
going to say I was sorry you introduced Mr Margetts' name, because it
led to Thyrza's remark.  You would not like her to speak to you on the
subject.  But may not I do so?"

George again coloured and walked once or twice across the room.  Then he
spoke.

"I do not affect to misunderstand you, mother.  I know to whom Thyrza
meant to refer.  But--"

"But hear me for a moment, George.  I can understand your unwillingness
to address Miss Vander Heyden, knowing, as you do, her brother's rooted
dislike to the English.  But you do not know all that I know.  When the
brother and sister reached their home, several months ago, we were just
beginning to be seriously anxious about you.  Rumours reached us, first,
that you had been one of a party attacked near Heidelberg, and secondly,
that you had left your friends on the day after the attack, and had set
out for Umtongo.  What had become of you during the last month?  Of
course we were anxious and alarmed, and the alarm soon spread.  Miss
Vander Heyden herself came over here to inquire.  Her distress had
completely broken down all the barriers of reserve.  She did not,
indeed, tell us of her attachment to you, but it was impossible for us
not to see it.  After another month of continual inquiry, we were all
convinced that you must have perished in the bush.  Then Annchen spoke
to me--she could not, in fact, keep it to herself.  Considering you as
no longer belonging to this world, she told me of the vows of affection
which had been interchanged between you."

"They never ought to have been," said George.  "I was to blame.  But I
should be still more culpable if I allowed myself to be influenced by
what you have told me.  It cannot be, and that is all I have to say.

"Yet," he resumed a few minutes afterwards, "I am not sorry that we have
had this conversation, painful as it has been.  You know now my main
reason for wishing to return to Dykeman's Hollow.  It has been very nice
being with you and Thyrza.  But Umtongo is too near Pieter's Dorf for me
to fix my residence there.  Perhaps, by and by, when she has married and
gone away--"

"There is but little chance of her marrying any one, unless it is
yourself, George," interposed Mrs Mansen.

"That may be so--I cannot say.  But as our wishes can never be
fulfilled, it is unwise--indeed, it would be cruel in me, were I to
reside where my continual presence must needs be continually thrust upon
her."

"Only one word more, George.  Is your scruple founded on your want of
money?  Do you know that Umtongo is my property, not my husband's, and
that it will of course one day come to you?  I have already said that we
would provide you with a house and an income at once.  But the future
also would be provided for.  Mr Vander Heyden could not allege--"

"My scruples, as you term them, have no connection with money.  You must
urge me no more.  I must go, and at once.  I shall speak to Margetts
without delay," he continued.  "He, too, will be sorry to leave Umtongo.
But I shall be much surprised if he does not fall in with my suggestion
at once."

Meanwhile Thyrza, who had joined her stepfather in the garden, was
having an interview with him which altogether took her by surprise.  Old
Ludwig Mansen--he was always called _old_ Ludwig, though he wanted a
year or two of fifty--was a man very generally respected and beloved.
To the shrewdness of the Dutchman and his placid temper, he added a
generosity and unselfishness which are not so common with that people.
He was particularly fond of his stepdaughter, and was just now greatly
pleased at a piece of information imparted to him a few days before,
which he considered to be the best possible thing for her, and of which
he was now going to apprise her.

On the previous Monday he had ridden into Zeerust, to attend a meeting
convened for the purpose of protesting against the annexation of the
Transvaal, which had taken place several years previously, but which had
become every year more odious in the eyes of the Boers.  At Zeerust, to
his great surprise, he had met old Kransberg, who also had ridden in
from Malopo's Kloof.  Mansen knew that his neighbour cared no more about
the annexation than he did himself.  Influenced probably by his English
connections, he did not regard the rule of Queen Victoria with any
aversion, and knew that, although the English might administer the law
with little regard to Boer prejudices, they would at least administer it
justly.  As for old Kransberg, he had seen too many changes of
government to care much who governed the country, so long as they
maintained law and order.  This was so well known to Ludwig, that he
could hardly believe his eyes, when, on turning from a bridle path into
the road near Zeerust, he fell in with Kransberg leisurely riding along
in the same direction.

Zeerust is one of the loveliest spots in the whole of the Transvaal.  It
lies in a valley nearly surrounded by hills, which rise to a
considerable height on the north, east, and south, while towards the
west the level plain extends into the far distance, beyond the range of
human vision.  It differs from many other valleys of the same country in
being supplied abundantly with water throughout the entire year.  The
vegetation is in consequence always of the freshest green, and every
kind of tropical fruit and grain is cultivated, and yields a rich
return.

The town, into which the neighbours rode, is not large, but consists of
solid, substantial houses, with the great Dutch Presbyterian
meeting-house towering in its centre.  In the market place adjoining,
the horses and waggons of the Boers from the neighbourhood were grouped
together, while their owners were flocking in to take part in the
meeting.  Mansen and Kransberg did not join them.  At the request of the
latter they betook themselves to the principal inn, where, with much
solemnity, but no unnecessary expenditure of words, he made his
communication to his neighbour.  His nephew Rudolf, it appeared, had
arrived at the conclusion that a marriage between himself and Ludwig's
stepdaughter would be a desirable arrangement, if it could be arrived
at, and he desired permission to pay formal addresses to her if
agreeable to her parents.  Old Ludwig replied, with equal gravity, that
he would inform his wife of the proposal, and answer to it should be
sent in due season.  The two Gerontes then adjourned to the Town Hall,
and listened with imperturbable stolidity to the speeches delivered.

Ludwig rode home, as has been intimated, much pleased with what he had
heard; but he did not proceed, immediately on his arrival at Umtongo, to
pass on the news, as an English parent would probably have done.  He
took an opportunity, a day or two afterwards, when there was nothing of
importance to attend to, of communicating it to his wife.  A debate was
held, at which it was agreed that a message should be sent to Malopo's
Kloof, inviting young Rudolf Kransberg to pay a visit at Umtongo on the
following Monday, and that, shortly before his arrival, Thyrza should be
apprised of his visit and its purport.

Mrs Mansen therefore had had a twofold object in sending her out of the
room: first, to stop her malapropos remarks about Annchen Vander Heyden,
and secondly, that she might be informed respecting Rudolf's visit.
Thyrza herself, however, did not anticipate any more important
communication than that possibly her stepfather had purchased a new
dress for her in Zeerust.  She was a good deal surprised when he
inquired of her what might be her exact age.

"Nineteen last December, father," she answered.

"Nineteen," he repeated gravely; "it is an early age at which to marry."

"I daresay it would be," she answered, somewhat startled; "but then, I
am not going to marry."

"You do not know that," he observed gravely.  "An offer of marriage has
been made for you--in most respects a suitable one."

"An offer of marriage to me!" repeated Thyrza in astonishment.

"I did not say _to_ you, but _for_ you," he replied; "the offer will not
be made to you just yet."

"And who is to make it?" inquired the damsel hastily.

"You know my neighbour, Mynheer Kransberg of Malopo's Kloof?"

"Yes, but I suppose _he_ doesn't want to marry me?" cried Thyrza.

"Why, no, my daughter," returned Ludwig with a broad smile; "he is
somewhat past the age of matrimony.  Nay, it is his nephew Rudolf."

"Rudolf Kransberg!" again exclaimed Thyrza; "_he_ wishes to marry me!"

"Even so," rejoined Ludwig.  "Does the idea surprise you?"

"I should as soon have expected the wooden soldier outside your
summer-house to make love to me!"

"Nay, Thyrza," said Mansen in a displeased tone, "this does not become
you.  He is a worthy youth, and deserves due consideration."

"Well, but I may tell him, as soon as he comes--I suppose he _is_
coming?"

"He comes to-day," answered Ludwig.

"Well, then, I may tell him I can't marry him, and there will be an end
of it."

"By no means; matters cannot be settled so hastily.  Do you remember
that he came over here about three months ago?"

"Oh yes, when we found out that George was at his uncle's house.  I
remember that quite well."

"Well, it appears that he came over with credentials from his uncle
then, intending to address you.  But Mr Margetts, not suspecting his
purpose, insisted on riding back with him at once.  If he had known the
object of his visit, Mr Margetts would not have so taken him away."

Not feeling quite so sure of that, Thyrza remained silent for a minute
or two, and then rejoined--

"But if he has put off any renewal of his visit for more than three
months, he cannot be very much in earnest about this."

"You do not understand our ways.  We do not do things in a hurry.  No,
Thyrza, you must receive him with all consideration, and must not, at
all events, reject him before he makes his offer."

"And how long will it be before he makes it?"

"I cannot say; probably some months.  He will come over occasionally, at
intervals, and then you will receive him in the proper manner."

"And what is the proper manner?" inquired Thyrza, who was growing more
and more discomposed at every fresh detail.

"Why, when he arrives, you will of course shake hands with him, and then
he will probably say no more to you till after supper.  Then he will
remain in the parlour; and then you will wait till we are gone to bed,
and then go to him--"

"Gracious, father, you are not serious!"

"Perfectly so, Thyrza.  The room will be dark, but you will take a piece
of candle with you, which you will light; and the interview between you
will last until the candle has burned out.  Then you will retire to bed,
and he will ride home.  That is the usual custom."

"And who is to provide the piece of candle?"

"You must do that.  But stop a moment, Thyrza.  The candle must be
sufficiently long to allow of a proper interview.  I have heard of young
women taking not more than half an inch of candle--"

"I shouldn't have taken a quarter of an inch--" muttered under her
breath--"if it had rested with me."

"I must insist that a proper-sized candle is used--not less than three
inches long.  Your mother will provide it, and place it on your table.
And here is the young man coming," he added; "I hear his horse's steps
outside."

Thyrza fled to her room, resolved, at all events, not to encounter her
swain before supper-time.  Meeting George and Redgy an hour or two
afterwards, she confided to them her troubles, and implored them at all
events to keep her unwelcome suitor engaged until she was obliged to
meet him at supper.

"See him while a bit of candle is burning!" exclaimed Margetts, to whom
the custom seemed as _outre_ as it had to Thyrza.  "Why don't you take a
bit of candle as thin as a crown-piece?  You'd soon have done with him
then."

"Ah, I thought of that," said Thyrza; "but they won't allow it.  My
mother has looked up a piece of candle long enough for an hour and a
halfs interview and laid it on my dressing-table.  I must take that with
me; and however I am to endure an hour and a half of it I cannot think."

"Well, you must make the best of it," said Redgy.  "George, I think you
had better take her out for a walk till supper-time.  I'll go in and
entertain the enamoured gentleman, if he requires entertainment."

On entering the parlour, however, it did not appear that the _soupirant_
for Thyrza's favour either expected or desired any entertainment.  He
had duly arrived, looking very stiff and solemn in his new leather and
buckram suit, and, after shaking hands with everybody all round, had
seated himself in the corner, where he had remained ever since without
speaking a word to any one.  So he continued the entire afternoon and
evening, until the supper-hour arrived, and he took his place at the
table with the others, but carefully keeping the whole length and
breadth of the table between himself and the object of his affection.
Not a syllable did he utter during the meal; and Thyrza had come to
believe that he had changed his mind and did not intend to address her,
when suddenly, a few minutes before the party broke up for the night, he
moved across the room and whispered in her ear, though loud enough for
every one to hear, "I say, we'll sit up to-night!"

The dispersion of the party delivered Thyrza from the necessity of
replying, and presently every one had retired to his chamber, excepting
Rudolf Kransberg, who remained in the parlour, which was now pitch dark,
and George and Redgy, who lingered in the passage.

"I say, George," said Margetts, "shouldn't you like to see the
courtship?"

"Well," answered Rivers with a smile, "I must say I should.  But of
course that is impossible."

"No, it is not," rejoined the other.  "Look here: the big dresser runs
right through the wall, and there is a cupboard behind that communicates
with it, through the cracks in the door you can see everything that
passes."

"Wouldn't Thyrza dislike it?" suggested George.

"No.  I'll be bound she would be as much amused as we are.  It isn't as
though she cared a straw for him."

"Well, that is not unlikely," rejoined Rivers.  "Come along then.  I
must own I am curious to see it."

"Creep in here," said Margetts, opening a door in the wall, "and mind
you don't make any noise.  There are some holes in the dresser through
which we shall be able to see."

Almost as he spoke, the door of the parlour opened, and Thyrza was seen
standing on the threshold, with the bit of candle in one hand and a
match-box in the other.  She proceeded to light the former, and placed
it in an empty candlestick on the table, and then seated herself--not,
as her swain had probably hoped, on the large heavy, wooden-legged sofa
which ran along one side of the table, but in the large arm-chair,
usually occupied by her mother.

Rudolf, though somewhat disappointed at the position thus taken up,
glanced, nevertheless, with approbation at the bit of candle provided,
which, in his view of the matter, intimated that the lady was not
disposed to abridge the length of the interview.  He seated himself in a
chair, as near as he could contrive to his inamorata, and looked
admiringly at her.

"I say," he said, after a silence of some ten minutes or so,--"I say, I
think you are very nice.  I admire you greatly."

"You are very obliging," said Thyrza demurely.

There was another pause, after which Rudolf spoke again.

"I say, I mean to come over here very often to see you."

"Indeed?" replied Thyrza with a glance at the candle.  Alas! not a
quarter of it had yet been expended.

"You don't dislike me, do you, Miss Rivers?" inquired her suitor, after
a third and still longer interval.

"I don't know why I should," was the answer.

Deriving some confidence, apparently, from this extremely guarded
expression of opinion, Rudolf made a further venture.

"I should like to give you a kiss," he said.

Not meeting with any response, and proceeding perhaps on that most
delusive of all proverbs, that silence gives consent, he rose from his
place and leaned over her chair, out of which she started with very
evident alarm.  Believing this to be only feigned reluctance, he pressed
forward to urge his entreaty, when suddenly there came a loud explosion.
The candle flew all to pieces out of the socket, scattering the tallow
in all directions, and the room was left in complete darkness.  George
and Margetts could hear Thyrza making her escape through the door, while
the unlucky lover, wiping the grease from his clothes, made his way to
the stable, and rode off as fast as his horse could carry him.

"Redgy, you villain!" exclaimed George, after they had retreated to
their room and given vent to their laughter,--"Redgy, you villain, that
was your doing!"

"It was the plug of gunpowder, not I," pleaded Redgy.  "Mrs Rivers
oughtn't to have left the candle all that time on Thyrza's
dressing-table."

"Did Thyrza know anything of the trick?" asked George.

"On my honour, she did not."

"Well, it is a good job we are going to-morrow, or there might be a
serious row about this."

CHAPTER TWENTY TWO.

It was a Sunday evening late in December, about nine months after the
departure of George Rivers and his friend from Umtongo.  George, who
wore a suit of clerical black, had just returned from a long ride to
Spielman's Vley, where he had passed the day.  He was now a deacon,
having been ordained by the Bishop of Praetoria a month or two
previously.  The weather was delicious, but very warm, and George was
glad to sit down by his friend's side in a charming little summer-house
which they had built under the shade of a tall eucalyptus planted by Mr
Rogers when he first came to the Transvaal, forty years before.

"Well, George, what sort of a congregation had you?" inquired Margetts;
"and how did you get on with your sermon?"

"I had a very good congregation," was the reply.  "The farmer who bought
Spielman's Vley of my stepfather is an Englishman, an emigrant from a
Berkshire village.  He and his wife and grown-up children were all
there, and so were nearly all the farm-servants whom he had brought with
him.  He told me very earnestly how it delighted him to hear the Church
service.  It was like a voice from Old England, he said, and he couldn't
tell me how glad they all were that a clergyman would come over from
Umvalosa every alternate Sunday now, instead of once a month."

"And I daresay, when he was in Berkshire, he didn't think much of the
Church service," suggested Margetts.

"No, he often didn't go, he told me, and cared very little for it when
he did.  And it was the same with his labourers.  They seldom miss the
service here.  Well, it is to be hoped that they will not come to
neglect it again, now it is once more within their reach."

"But how about the `natives' service'?" asked Redgy.  "Could you get on
with that?"

"I am afraid I made a good many blunders," said Rivers, "especially in
the sermon.  However, nothing but practice will set that right."

"You think an interpreter doesn't answer?"

"No, I am pretty sure it doesn't.  You know what Lambert told us about
his interpreter, when he first went to preach to the Kaffirs in the
Knysna."

"No, I didn't hear the story."

"Lambert said he was puzzled how to address them, when it occurred to
him that `Children of the Forest' was a title that would be sure to take
their fancy, and he accordingly began his discourse to them in that way.
He thought he had done it rather well, until one of his friends, who
had heard him, and who was a good Kaffir scholar, told him that the
interpreter had rendered his `Children of the Forest' as `Little men of
big sticks.'  That story determined me never, anyhow, to employ an
interpreter."

Redgy laughed.  "I think you are right," he said, "and your Kaffir
certainly improves.  By-the-bye, did you see Hardy?  His house is only
seven or eight miles off from Spielman's Vley, and I am told he always
goes over when there is service there."

"I believe he does, but he was not there to-day.  Mr Bacon told me he
had gone to Durban--went about a week ago."

"Indeed.  Do you know what took him there?"

"I fancy he was sent for to make some report of the state of things in
this neighbourhood.  You know he now holds an official position of some
importance."

"Yes, which you might have had if you had liked it, George.  He has the
credit of having given them warning at Rorke's Drift in time to prepare
themselves for the defence of the place.  But it was you who brought
them that information."

"I did not want the post, Redgy; and, if I had, Hardy was the person
really entitled to it.  I did not know the way from Isandhlwana to
Rorke's Drift, and could not have found it.  And to say the truth, I
should not have thought of the garrison at Rorke's Drift, if he had not
reminded me of it.  No, he fully deserved his appointment, and I am
heartily glad he got it.  But I believe, when he gets to Durban, he will
warn the Government that the Transvaal is not merely in a condition of
discontent and disloyalty, but on the verge of an armed outbreak."

"Do you think it goes so far as that, George?  An armed outbreak means a
war with England, remember.  What possible hope can they have in
succeeding in that?"

"No reasonable hope, of course.  The hundredth part of England's power
would be enough to crush them.  I don't suppose the Boers could bring
5000 men into the field, and England could easily send five times that
number, or twenty times that number, if she chose.  The Boers have but
little discipline or material of war, or knowledge of strategy.  England
is a first-rate power in all those respects.  It would be as absolute
madness for the Transvaal to go to war with England, as it would be for
a terrier dog to provoke a lion to fight with it.  But, however great
the madness, it does not follow that they will not do it."

"What can induce them?"

"Their profound ignorance of the relative strength of the two countries.
I was talking with a Boer of some intelligence, who, I found, really
believed that Holland was one of the Great Powers in Europe--the equal,
if not the superior of England.  He knew nothing of history, apparently,
since the times of Van Trompe and Admiral Blake.  He fancied Isandhlwana
had only been redeemed by a desperate and exhausting effort, which would
make it impossible for us to engage in any other war for a generation to
come.  The accidental circumstance that a quantity of newly-coined money
had been sent out here to pay the troops was enough to convince him that
England was bankrupt, and driven to expend its last guinea.  People who
know no more than that of the true state of things may perpetrate any
act of folly."

"No doubt, George; and I daresay also they argued that the disasters at
Isandhlwana and Intombe proved that the English were not so formidable
in the field as their own troops had always been.  They had repeatedly
fought these Zulus, remember, and always with complete success."

"Exactly; no doubt they did, and do, so argue.  They were always on
their guard, and we were taken off ours, and that made all the
difference.  But though the Dutch might practise their rude tactics with
success on the natives, they will hardly get the English to approach
them and be shot down after the same fashion.  That is reckoning rather
too much on even an Englishman's contempt for his enemy.  But they mean
mischief, these Boers.  They are flocking down this way from all parts
of the Transvaal.  Whom do you think I saw to-day, of all people in the
world?"

"I don't know, indeed--not old Kransberg, I suppose?"

"Not _old_ Kransberg, but I did meet the young one--our friend Rudolf.
What should bring him here, or Gottlob Lisberg, or Hans Stockmar, or
Julius Vanderbilt, or half a dozen other fellows from near Zeerust, whom
I have seen about in the course of the last week, unless what they say
is true, and they are going to rebel against the English Government."

"It looks like it, I'm afraid.  But about Rudolf Kransberg--did you come
to speech of him?  How did he receive you?"

"I didn't come to speech of him, as he didn't say a single word.  He
received me as Dido did Aeneas in the infernal regions."

"What! he bears us some grudge for the trick played on him at Umtongo?"

"I am not at all sure that he realises the fact that any trick was
played on him.  From what Lisberg told me,--Lisberg is very intimate
with him, you know,--he fancies the explosion was the work of the Evil
One, and that we are in league with him.  You know Thyrza wrote us word
that he had never turned up at Umtongo again.  My mother thought it very
odd, but she apparently still believes he is a suitor for Thyrza's
hand."

"I suppose Thyrza herself has a pretty shrewd suspicion of the truth."

"I suppose she has, but if she guessed that Rudolf had taken up that
notion, she would be quite content to let him entertain it.  But the
upshot, I fancy, is that Rudolf owes us one, and will pay it if he has
the opportunity.  He is as thorough a specimen of the sullen Boer as I
know, and your sullen Boer is not a pleasant article.  But, Redgy," he
added, after a few minutes' silence, "there is a matter which I have
once or twice wished to speak to you about, but have always put it off.
I have a fancy that you really do care for Thyrza, notwithstanding your
chaff about her.  We are very old friends, and out here, cut off from
all the rest of the world, we are like brothers.  I wish you would tell
me the plain truth about this matter."

"Well, old fellow, where is the use of telling it?  I don't see how any
one could live as long as I did in your sister's society, and not care
for her.  She is simply the sweetest and most beautiful creature I have
ever seen.  But where is the good of my saying this, George?  I can't
ask her to marry me; I have nothing but a precarious allowance of a
hundred pounds a year, and I am not likely to have anything more, unless
I can make it myself out here."

"But if Thyrza likes you--"

"I don't know that she does," broke in Margetts.  "I have fancied once
or twice that she does.  But most likely it was all fancy."

"I am only saying, if she _does_ like you, she will have something.
Umtongo belongs to my mother, not to Mr Mansen."

"But Umtongo will come to you, George," said Margetts, surprised.

"I shall not want it.  I shall never marry; and this life here suits me
much better than such a farm as Umtongo, though, no doubt, that is a
very good farm."

"No doubt," assented his friend.  "I see what you mean, and I believe I
understand you, when you say you won't marry.  But, in the first place,
I hope you are mistaken there; and, in the next, supposing everything
else arranged as you wish, Thyrza and I could never deprive you of your
inheritance.  No, George; I mean to stay here and work as I am doing
now.  I shall never make a parson; I'm not cut out for that.  But I
think I shall do well enough at farming and teaching; and, by and by, if
your sister doesn't marry a Boer, I may be in a position to ask her."

"Be it so, Redgy.  I believe you are right, and this had better not be
mentioned again.  And here, in good time, comes Mr Rogers.  He is back
from Newcastle earlier than I had expected."

Mr Rogers, whose acquaintance the reader made in the first chapter of
this story, was an extremely worthy man.  It would have been well for
both England and South Africa if there had been more like him.  Left an
orphan when quite young, and possessed of a considerable fortune, he had
always disliked the ordinary round of English social life, and desired
the freer air and habits of a new country.  As soon as he could overcome
the reluctance of his guardian to the step, he had visited the colonies,
and chosen out from among them the border country of Natal and the
Transvaal.  There he had bought a large farm,--large even for farms in
that country,--and built two or three different stations on various
parts of it.  Spielman's Vley and Rylands were two of these, and here he
placed men whose views accorded with his own.  Ludwig Mansen, though a
Dutchman, had been one of these; and it was with considerable regret
that he heard, soon after his arrival in England, of Mrs Mansen's
succession to her uncle's property near Zeerust and their removal
thither.  Notwithstanding his affection for colonial life, he was an
Englishman to the backbone, and the blunders made by Colonial
Secretaries, one after another, sorely disturbed him.  In particular,
the gigantic mistake of the annexation of the Transvaal so troubled him,
that he made an expedition to England in the hope of persuading the
Government to reconsider that disastrous measure.  There was no doubt it
was, for the moment, advantageous to the Boers, as a sentence of penal
servitude would be less unwelcome to a convicted prisoner than a
sentence of death.  But when the danger of being hanged had passed away,
it was not likely that penal servitude would be cheerfully accepted.
Foreseeing the inevitable mischief that would ensue, Mr Rogers had
urged the repeal, or, at all events, some modification of the decree.
But the new Government could not be induced to pay any heed to South
African matters, being completely absorbed by domestic and Continental
questions; and Mr Rogers went back to Umvalosa, to do the best he could
under the circumstances of the case.

On the present occasion he had not returned from Newcastle (whither he
had gone, as was his practice, to help in the church services on a
Sunday) in the happiest frame of mind.  Everywhere he saw the plainest
indications of the mischief he had anticipated.  Newcastle was full of
Boers, who had come in from the more distant parts of the Transvaal, and
their feelings and intentions could not be mistaken: not only was revolt
designed, but it was close at hand.  He greeted George and Redgy with
his usual kindness, but his depression and vexation were evident.

"Did you know that your stepfather and mother, as well as your sister,
were on the way here?" he asked, addressing Rivers.

"No, sir, I had no idea of it.  I haven't had a letter for the last
fortnight; and Thyrza, from whom I heard three weeks ago, said nothing
of any such intention."

"No; I imagine it must have been a hasty thought.  But they are
certainly on their way to Newcastle, and will arrive in a day or two at
furthest."

"Who told you of it, sir?" asked George.  "Perhaps it is some mistake."

"No, that can hardly be.  It was Henryk Vander Heyden who informed me.
I met him in the street at Newcastle, where he arrived two days ago.
Mansen, with his wife and daughter, were to follow him very shortly.
Miss Vander Heyden is to travel in their company.  Her brother thought
it better."

"What are all the ladies coming for?" inquired Redgy.  "They are not
going to fight the English, anyhow."

"No," said Mr Rogers; "but it may not be safe for them to stay behind.
Nearly all the able-bodied men among the Boers will take part in the
rising.  The Kaffirs and Hottentots would have it their own way, and
they might insult or injure the white women.  I think Vander Heyden, and
your stepfather too, George, are quite right to bring their ladies with
them."

"I suppose Vander Heyden is very hot about this," suggested Rivers.

"Yes, he is determined enough, and he is a dangerous opponent to the
English.  He is a good officer; especially, he understands his
countrymen's mode of fighting, and knows from experience what are the
faults into which our officers are likely to fall.  And he is a
desperate man into the bargain."

"How so, sir?  I do not understand you."

"Don't you know the story of the girl who was killed by the Zulus not
long before the battle of Isandhlwana?"

"Yes; I heard something about it, I believe, from Mr Baylen or Hardy, I
don't remember which.  Some female relative of his was killed in a very
brutal manner.  But they are always brutal, these Zulus."

"It was too sad a matter to be much spoken about.  The lady, Lisa van
Courtlandt, had been engaged to him for some years, and he is said to
have been greatly attached to her.  She had been murdered just before he
came up, and the sight of her mangled corpse drove him, they said,
almost mad.  It wasn't merely for the purpose of avenging her death that
he enlisted in our army--at least, so it is thought.  He wanted, poor
fellow, to get knocked on the head himself."

"Well, that explains what I couldn't understand before," said
Margetts,--"why he was so terribly vexed when it was settled that he was
to remain at Rorke's Drift.  He was for a time almost beside himself."

"And that, too, may account for his desperate exposure of himself during
that night of the encounter with the Zulus," added Rivers.  "I never saw
a man so utterly insensible to danger; and he hardly seemed rejoiced the
next morning at his escape.  Poor fellow, he has had a hard lot in life!
Well, I agree with you, Mr Rogers; I have no doubt he will fight
desperately enough in this outbreak, if it really is going to take
place."

"That, I am afraid, there is no doubt of.  Vander Heyden told me as
much.  He wanted to know whether you and Margetts meant to volunteer
again to serve in the English army.  If you did, he said, you should
leave the Transvaal immediately, or you might be arrested.  He offered
to give you a pass which would carry you across the frontier.  That was
very kind and generous."

"What did you tell him, sir?" asked Rivers.

"Oh, I said that you were now in orders, and, of course, would not think
of fighting; as for you, Mr Margetts, I said I did not know what you
might do, but I would ask you, and let him know if you required his
help."

"I am obliged to him," said Margetts; "but I have no idea of
volunteering again.  I consider this to be quite a different matter from
the Zulu war, where it was a question whether barbarous or lawless
cruelty should be put down.  Unless I am myself interfered with, I shall
not interfere in this business."

"I am glad to hear you say so," said Mr Rogers.  "Then we shall all
remain quietly here.  I shall invite the Mansens to come and stay at
Dykeman's Hollow, and I think they will come.  It will be quieter and
more comfortable for them than Utrecht or Newcastle, which are
overcrowded.  I have no doubt Vander Heyden, who has a high command,
will be able to secure us from molestation."

Mr Rogers was not disappointed in either expectation.  In a few days
Mrs Mansen and Thyrza arrived; while Ludwig joined the assembled
council of Boers which was now sitting at Heidelberg, exerting himself
to prevent the rising which was evidently on the point of taking place.
Simultaneously with the appearance of the ladies came a note from Vander
Heyden, endorsing a protection from Praetorius for all the inmates of
Mr Rogers' household.  Not long afterwards the standard of rebellion
was openly displayed, and Ludwig joined his family at the Hollow.  The
Boers in all parts of the Transvaal now took the field with their
Westley Richard rifles, and all through the Transvaal the English were
obliged to fly for refuge to towns or villages, where they were besieged
by the Boers.

Resolved not to provoke the animosity, or even the distrust of his
neighbours, Mr Rogers kept himself and all his employes within the
bounds of his own domains, not even sending a letter or a message to
Newcastle, lest it might be supposed to have some political purpose.  He
advised his guests also to observe the same prudent demeanour.  No doubt
Mynheer Mansen was a Dutchman, and one very generally respected; but his
wife and stepdaughter were English, and they were the guests of an
Englishman; and at this time national feeling, as it might be termed,
ran so high that the merest trifle might be enough to cause a general
outbreak.  The Mansens would have had no inclination to act otherwise
than as he advised, even if their sense of what was due to him as their
host had not forbade them to do so.  They regarded the strife that was
in progress as a vexation and a calamity; and whatever might be the
issue of it, they were anxious to see an end put to it.

But the ladies felt the time hang heavily on their hands; and when one
day had been expended on a visit to George and Redgy's cottage and
garden and an inspection of their farmyard and stock, and another to the
church and school where he ministered and taught, they were at a loss
how to employ themselves, until their host, by a happy inspiration, one
day late in January suggested a visit to Kolman's Kop, a most
picturesque spot on the very edge of Mr Rogers' estate, from which a
wide prospect might be obtained of that part of the Orange Free State
known as Harrismith.  The road from Bloemfontein to Newcastle ran close
beside it, and was visible for a long distance from the summit of the
Kop, though the latter was so thickly wooded as to screen any visitors
to it from being themselves seen by passing travellers.

To this spot it was agreed that an expedition should be made on the
following day; and the whole party, inclusive of Mr Rogers, who acted
as guide, set out after breakfast, on horses and mules, having sent some
Kaffirs on before them to make the needful preparations.

Kolman's Kop was situated on one of the spurs of the Drakensbergs, not
ascending so high as to be bleak or chill, yet high enough to command a
magnificent view of the landscape beneath, and there are few countries
in the world in which so vast a panorama is visible from the higher
lands as in the Orange Free State.  It is not, indeed, an unbroken
level, like the low country of the Netherlands, being continually varied
by hill and ridge.  But these hardly anywhere rise to any considerable
height, so that from the slopes of the Drakenberg the eye may range in
every direction, until the horizon line melts into the distance.  It is
a fertile and picturesque territory, watered by noble rivers, whose
banks, for the most part, are fringed with foliage, rich with corn lands
and fruit orchards, and pastures where sheep and oxen and horses are
bred abundantly.  The land on that side of the Drakensbergs being
considerably more elevated than on that of Natal, the climate is cooler
and more agreeable to European residents.  A general cry of admiration
broke from the visitors as they caught sight of it, and sitting down on
the trunk of a fallen tree, they proceeded more leisurely to examine its
beauties.

"Well, sir, the Dutch have not much to complain of here, at all events,"
observed Redgy after a lengthened survey of the scene.  "No wonder they
halted here when driven from their homes by the English.  I should have
thought, for my part, that they might have been very thankful to the
English for driving them here!"

"Well, so they might, Margetts," remarked Mr Rogers, "if they had
thought that the English had been anxious to find out pleasant quarters
for them.  But I am afraid the English thought of one thing only, and
that was clearing them out of their old abodes.

"Yes," he resumed; "the Dutchman has made himself comfortable enough
here, if John Bull will only leave him alone.  But that John Bull is too
philanthropic to do--ha, Mansen?"

"There is no talk of annexing the Free State, is there?" asked old
Ludwig with a smile.

"Why, no, Ludwig.  The annexation of the other hasn't proved an
encouraging experiment, or I think it likely that it would have been
proposed."

"Well, sir," observed George, "that annexation took place with the free
consent of the Boers, and it was designed in kindness to them."

"Was it?" returned Mr Rogers; "I have my doubts about that latter.  No
doubt the Boers agreed to it, or rather didn't object to it, at the
time.  But it was very much like pulling a drowning man out of the
water, on condition of his being your bond-servant for evermore.  He
would agree rather than be drowned, but I doubt whether you could call
that his free consent.  It was rather his forced consent, to my mind."

"What would you have had England do, sir?" asked Redgy.

"Help the Transvaal out of its difficulties, without insisting on
annexation," answered Mr Rogers.  "The policy would have been as wise
as it would have been kind."

"And you would have given them their independence back when they asked
for it after the Zulu war, I suppose?" said Margetts.  "Would you give
it them now?"

"I should certainly have given it on the occasion you name, when they
asked for it.  It had then become clear that they did not really desire
the annexation; and the only reasonable ground there could have been for
it was shown by that request not to exist.  I think compliance would
have been as wise as it would have been just, and would have gone far to
smooth away all difficulties.  It is, of course, a very different thing
now.  England cannot give to armed menace what she has refused to
peaceful entreaty.  Compliance would be even worse than the previous
refusal."

"Well, sir," urged Margetts, "no one, to be sure, could think that the
Boers would ever really get the upper hand in a regular war with
England.  I speak with all possible respect to Mr Mansen, but that is
surely impossible."

"No one who understands the strength and resources of the two countries
could think it possible," returned Mr Rogers.  "But the Boers possess
very little information on the subject, and the coloured races still
less.  They would all think that England yielded now, because her
weakness, not her magnanimity, obliged her.  But I still trust there
will be no war.  Enough of this.  What is it you have been looking at so
intently, Thyrza, for the last ten minutes?"

"I think it is a man on horseback," said Miss Rivers; "but the object is
so far off that I cannot distinguish what it is."

She pointed as she spoke to a black speck, on the road that led from
Winberg to Newcastle, which was moving towards them.

They all watched it for several minutes, and then Mr Mansen said, "You
have a long sight, Thyrza.  It _is_ a horseman, and he is riding fast.
He will pass almost close to us."

"It is an English soldier, or a man who has been one," exclaimed Rivers
presently; "there is no mistaking his seat on horseback."

The rider continued to approach until he had arrived almost immediately
under the spot where they were sitting.  Then George and Redgy started
up, simultaneously exclaiming, "It is Hardy, I declare! let us go down
and speak to him."

CHAPTER TWENTY THREE.

Rivers and Margetts hurried down the steep descent without pausing to
pick their way, and reached the bottom just as the traveller, whose
horse was evidently tired out, passed them at a broken-winded canter,
which was the utmost speed, apparently, to which the unlucky animal
could be urged.

"Hallo!" shouted George,--"hallo, Hardy, if it really is you!  Here are
two old friends of yours, who would like to have some talk with you, if
you can spare them the time."

The horseman drew his rein in evident surprise.

"What!  Rivers, Margetts!" he exclaimed.  "Well, this is a piece of good
luck.  I was just thinking that the best thing I could do would be to
ride round by Dykeman's Hollow and ask you to help me.  What brings you
here?"

"Oh, we have been confined within the bounds of Rogers' property for
several weeks, and we made up a party to-day to come here, more for
something to do than anything else."

"And why are you confined within the bounds of Dykeman's Hollow?" asked
Hardy; "and who has confined you?"

"Well, it is more prudence than necessity," said George.  "We don't want
to provoke the Dutchmen to attack us."

"You talk riddles," said Hardy, "but I have no time to solve them.  Can
you tell me where Praetorius,--the great man among the Boers,--can you
tell me where he is to be found?"

"I don't know with any certainty," said George; "I expect he has gone
southward with the others."

"Southward! what do you mean?" exclaimed Hardy hastily.  "What can he
have gone south for?"

"Well, he didn't tell me," said Redgy, "but I think I can form a pretty
good guess for what he has gone.  It is to attack the English troops."

"English troops!" repeated Hardy in evident anxiety and alarm; "what
English troops?  I did not know that there were any in this
neighbourhood."

"We hear that Sir George Colley is marching to the relief of Praetoria
with, some say 1000, some 1500 men.  Mr Rogers thinks he has got as far
as Newcastle, if not still farther north," said Rivers.

"The relief of Praetoria!" again cried Hardy.  "Is Pretoria besieged?
Do you mean that the rebellion has actually broken out?"

"No doubt of that," replied Margetts; "that is an old story now.  The
English have for two or three weeks past been besieged by the Boers in
all the large towns,--Praetoria, Potchefstroom, Standerton,--and there
has been sharp fighting in several places.  About the end of December,
250 men belonging to the 94th Regiment were killed or taken prisoners at
Bronker's Spruit, near Middelburgh."

"How did that come about?" asked Hardy.

"Well, I suppose Colonel Anstruther didn't know that there was any
chance of his being attacked,--didn't know, in fact, that any outbreak
was likely to take place,--or his neglect of precautions would seem to
be of a piece with what we remember.  He was marching, with a number of
waggons and 250 men, as Redgy said, along the road, his train being half
a mile long, when, at a place called Bronker's Spruit, two Dutchmen rode
up to him and handed him a paper, which was found to be a letter from
Joubert, who calls himself the Boer General.  It stated that war had
been declared between the Republic of the Transvaal and England, and
called on him to surrender his men and waggons.  I suppose Colonel
Anstruther hardly thought that the summons was seriously meant; at all
events, there was no superior force visible, to which he would be unable
to offer resistance, and he only replied by forming his men in column
and desiring them to move on, but--"

"But Joubert had planted his sharpshooters under cover everywhere round,
and they opened their fire on the soldiers before they knew of their
presence."

"That was it, certainly.  In ten minutes half the men had been shot
down.  They were entangled in a marsh, and had not been able to get
sight of any enemy to shoot at in return."

"Exactly; and then, I suppose, Colonel Anstruther surrendered?"

"Precisely; that is what he did, and he and his surviving men were taken
prisoners."

"He could do nothing else.  But I am afraid this will prevent any good
being done by my mission.  You say this occurred some weeks ago?"

"Yes," said Margetts; "the catastrophe near Middelburgh took place on
the 28th of last month, and this is the 28th of January."

"Why, the 28th of last month was just about the time when I set out for
Bloemfontein!" cried Hardy.  "It is most extraordinary that I never
heard this before!"

"What have you been to Bloemfontein for?" asked Rivers.

"I was sent there by the authorities at Natal," answered Hardy, "in
consequence of a message from the Colonial Office in England.  The
Colonial Secretary wanted to come to terms with these Boers.  I suppose
he thought (as every one else thought) that the annexation had been a
most foolish procedure, and that it would be better to come to some
reasonable understanding with the Boers than keep up an irritating
quarrel with them."

"Small blame to him for that," said George.  "Well, go on."

"He thought that Brandt, the President of the Orange Free State, would
be a good person to mediate between us and the Boers, and he sent me
with a letter to him."

"Did you see him?" asked Margetts.

"Yes; I had two or three very satisfactory interviews with him.  He
seemed quite sincere in the desire he expressed of preventing bloodshed,
and I am the bearer of a letter from him to Praetorius, which, as I was
in hopes, would prevent any outbreak of hostilities.  He certainly did
not know, when I left Bloemfontein, that fighting was going on.  I
should be almost afraid it will be too late now."

"Is it not extraordinary that no message was sent either from Durban or
London, to stop any proceedings until the result of the negotiations
with Mr Brandt were known?" asked Rivers.

"It seems so to me, certainly," replied Hardy; "but very likely there
are reasons for it, of which I know nothing.  Well, anyhow, I had better
carry President Brandt's letter to Praetorius.  It is only carrying out
my orders, and cannot do any harm."

"Not to any one but yourself, Hardy," said Margetts; "but I am not sure
it would be safe for you to put yourself in the way of these Boers.  The
leaders among them seem to behave well enough, but many of the
subordinate officers, if one may call them so, are rude and brutal, and
might shoot any Englishman who approached them, without inquiry and
without listening to any representations."

"You are right, Redgy, I am afraid," said Rivers.  "I think Hardy had,
at all events, better go with us to Dykeman's Hollow and consult Mr
Mansen.  He might go with him to Praetorius, and he is so well known to
the Boers--indeed, he is one of them himself--that there could be no
danger in his company."

"Are the Mansens at Dykeman's Hollow?" asked Hardy.

"Yes, they are Mr Rogers' guests; but they are nearer to us than that.
They are up on the Kop yonder, though the trees hide them from our
sight.  Leave your horse here in Redgy's keeping, and I will go with you
up to the Kop."

Hardy accordingly dismounted, and he and George were just commencing the
ascent, when three or four men, whose uniform showed that they belonged
to the 58th Regiment, came running down one of the narrow passes at the
utmost of their speed, close to the spot where the three friends were
standing.  They had evidently just escaped from some great danger.
Their trousers were covered with mud, so that the regimental stripe
could hardly be distinguished; their jackets were cut and stained with
blood; two of them had lost their caps, and all had thrown away their
arms, which would have impeded their flight.  As they reached the corner
of the road, they came in sight of George and Hardy, and would have
turned another way, if the last-named had not called to them.

"Hallo, my lads!" he shouted; "what has happened, and where are you
running to?"

Hearing themselves addressed in English, the fugitives stopped, and one
of them, a corporal from his dress, answered,--

"There has been a brush with the enemy at Laing's Nek, if you know where
that is."

"I know it well enough," returned Hardy; "it is a narrow defile, filled
with rocky boulders--just the sort of place where these Dutchmen would
take up a position, quite out of sight, and shoot down our soldiers at
their leisure.  You don't mean to say, I suppose, that you attacked the
Boers there?"

"Yes, we did, sir," answered the corporal, "and to our cost.  Half our
men were killed or wounded in no time, and we couldn't see a single
Dutchman to fire at in return.  The rest contrived to retreat to the
camp, or there wouldn't have been a man left alive.  We were cut off by
a party of mounted Boers, and offered to surrender to them.  But they
paid no heed, and fired on us, killing all but two or three.  They are
after us still, I expect.  They couldn't follow us on horseback up the
mountain paths, but they are riding round, I believe, by another road.
Can you shelter as?"

"I suppose in strictness we oughtn't to," said Margetts.  "But we can't
see our countrymen shot down in cold blood; I'd rather take the chance
of being shot myself.  Come along with me, my lads; you can hide in the
caves under Kolman's Kop.  The Boers, unless they come from this
neighbourhood, won't know anything about them; and they will hardly
venture in there after you, if they do.  Only we must make all possible
haste."

He mounted Hardy's horse and rode off at a trot, the men following him
as well as they were able.

Rivers and Hardy watched them as they hurried along under the side of a
steep cliff, and then turned into a narrow defile.

"He is right, I suppose," said George; "we are bound not to interfere;
but if the laws of civilised warfare are set aside, as it seems they are
by these Boers, they cannot expect us to observe them so rigidly as
giving these poor fellows up to be shot would amount to.  Don't you
think so?"

"We have only their word that the Boers would give no quarter," said
Hardy, "and it may be that they didn't understand what our fellows said.
Still, I can't blame Margetts, if that is what you mean.  But we had
better make our way to Dykeman's Hollow, hadn't we?  I suppose your
friends will have gone home by this time."

"All right!" said Rivers; "come this way."

They began climbing the steep path, and were nearly half-way up when
they heard voices calling to them, and looking down saw a party of
mounted Boers, who were levelling their rifles at them and shouting to
them to descend.

"What do you want with us?" called out Hardy in Dutch.  "We are not
soldiers, and have nothing to do with this war!"

"You are English--I can tell that by your speech," answered the man who
had hailed them.  "I want to ask some questions of you, to which I mean
to have an answer.  You had better come down at once, or we will send
some bullets to fetch you."

This was evidently no idle threat Half a dozen Boers had already taken
their aim, and the path at the point at which the Englishmen had been
stopped was without shelter of any kind.  There was no help for it.
They had to retrace their steps, and presently found themselves face to
face with the leader of the Boers, who proved to be no other than
Rivers' old acquaintance, Rudolf Kransberg.

"Ha! it is you, Mynheer Rivers?" he remarked with a scowl.  "You are an
English soldier, I think, though your companion said you were not."

"I _was_ an English soldier in the Zulu war," returned George; "but I
left the army at its conclusion, and am now a clergyman of the Church of
England."

"I don't care for that.  I want to know whether you have seen some
runaways from the battle that has been fought at Laing's Nek.  We are in
pursuit of them, and they must, I think, have passed this way."

"We have told you that we are not belligerents," replied George; "you
have no right to question us."

"Ha!  I see you will not answer, because you have seen your countrymen,
and know where they are.  As to having no right, we will see about that.
We are at war with the English, and the English are our enemies, though
they may choose to say they are not.  I shall make you my prisoner.  And
this person," he continued, turning to Hardy, "who is he?"

"I am an Englishman, like Mr Rivers," answered Hardy; "like him, too,
not a belligerent.  Your President, Mynheer Praetorius, would not, I am
sure, approve your proceedings."

"You think so, hey?  Well, you may see him at Laing's Nek, and find out
how much respect he will have for your rights?"

"We are quite willing to be taken before him," said Hardy.  "We will
accompany you to the camp, and answer, without objection, any questions
he may put to us."

Rudolf appeared to be somewhat puzzled by this suggestion, but saw no
reason why he should not agree to it.  Indeed, it had already occurred
to him that George Rivers was the stepson of Ludwig Mansen, a man well
known to, and respected by, the Boer leaders.  Any violence used towards
a near relative of his would probably be condemned by his superiors.
And he further reflected that he had no kind of evidence that these two
Englishmen had really encountered the soldiers, or knew where they were.
It was also evidently no use to attempt any further pursuit of the
runaways, every trace of whom had disappeared.

"Very well," he said, after a few minutes of silence, "you shall go with
us to Laing's Nek, and if the President is still there, and chooses to
see you, he will do so.  You can ride on the saddles of two of the men,
but, I warn you, you will be shot without mercy if you make the
slightest attempt to escape."

They mounted accordingly, and the party rode off.  George, who
understood Hardy's manoeuvre, by which he would get access to Praetorius
without attracting general attention, which it was his special object to
avoid, made no demur to the arrangement.  He further reflected that, as
soon as he reached the Boer camp, he could ask for an interview with
Vander Heyden, who would, no doubt, at once set him at liberty and grant
him an escort to Dykeman's Hollow.  Nothing worse, therefore, was likely
to happen to either of them than a ride to the Dutch camp and a few
hours of detention there; and to this he was so far from objecting, that
he was particularly anxious to learn from an authentic source what had
really taken place and was likely to ensue.

They rode in profound silence, the Boers being habitually taciturn, and
George and Hardy anxious under present circumstances to say as little as
possible.  Presently the narrow defile running between lofty rocks and
along the margin of mountain streams was passed, and they entered the
broken and wild country which extends between Newcastle and the border
of the Transvaal.  After an hour's ride, which would have been
protracted to twice that length but for the Boers' knowledge of the
ground, they reached the camp, where some five or six thousand men had
established themselves.  George was at once struck with the difference
between it and the camps to which he had been accustomed.  There was an
utter absence of the military discipline to which he had been used.  It
bore more the appearance of a great camp meeting, at which every person
provided for his own lodging and maintenance; and yet there was a
readiness to carry out the orders of the general officers in command,
which seemed to take the place of the regular routine of a camp.  As
they rode over the ground where the battle had been fought that morning,
they passed numbers of men employed in the melancholy duties which
follow only too surely on an armed encounter.  Wounded men were being
conveyed on stretchers to the farmhouses and inns, which had been turned
into temporary hospitals; others, whose injuries were too severe to
permit of removal, were being ministered to on the ground as well as
circumstances allowed; while several parties were engaged in digging
graves to receive the dead bodies which lay scattered in all directions.
One of these companies was working under the direction of Henryk Vander
Heyden; and the latter no sooner perceived the two Englishmen than he
rode up to them, and, after a friendly salutation, inquired what had
brought them to Laing's Nek.

"This gentleman, Mynheer Kransberg,--I am not aware of his military
rank,--but he has brought us here as his prisoners," replied Rivers.

"Prisoners!  You have not been--"

"We have not been interfering in military matters at all," interposed
George.  "We had given you our parole not to do so, and, I need not say,
have not broken it.  We told Mr Kransberg so."

"Then how comes this, Lieutenant Kransberg?" said Vander Heyden
haughtily.  "Mr Rivers holds a protection which at my instance was
granted to him by the President, which exempts him from all interference
on the part of the military authorities."

"He did not produce it," said Kransberg sullenly.

"He had no time to do so," interposed Hardy.  "But if you would grant me
one moment, Commandant Vander Heyden,--that, I believe, is your proper
title,--I will explain why the protection was not shown to Mynheer
Kransberg.  It was because I wished to avail myself of his escort
hither.  I am the bearer of a letter from Mr Brandt, the President of
the Orange Free State, to your President, Mynheer Praetorius, which he
was in hopes would prevent the outbreak of war.  I regret to find I have
arrived too late for that."

"I regret also, Mr Hardy, to say that you have.  We have been attacked,
and we have driven back our enemies with heavy loss.  But we should have
preferred to gain our object without spilling of blood."

"Just so," said Hardy; "and you would prefer to gain it now without
further bloodshed?"

"Undoubtedly," assented Vander Heyden.

"Then will you obtain me an audience with the President, at which I can
still present this letter?  If the terms it proposes should be
acceptable to him, an armistice may be agreed on, and the question of a
settlement between the English Government and that of the Transvaal may
be discussed."

"I would take you to him this instant," returned the Dutchman, "were it
in my power to do so.  But he is not at present in the camp.  He has
to-day gone northwards on business of urgent importance, nor can I say,
without inquiry, when he will return.  In his absence I fear the
Vice-President and the Commandant-General Joubert could not discuss--
certainly could not decide--a question of this importance.  But if you
will come with me, I will take you to General Joubert's quarters."

"I will go at once; but I should like to ask Rivers what he proposes to
do, or rather, what you advise so far as he is concerned."

"He can, of course, return to Dykeman's Hollow if he wishes it, and I
will send an escort with him.  But I believe they are greatly in want of
clergymen to attend the sick and dying in the English camp.  Perhaps, if
he knew that, he would prefer going there.  I need not say he will be at
full liberty to do so.  But we can speak to him after you have seen
Mynheer Joubert.  We had better lose no time in going thither."

Hardy accordingly followed Vander Heyden across the rugged and stony
ground on which the action had been fought that morning, to a tent--it
was the only one in the camp--where the Commandant-General had fixed his
quarters.  No difficulty was made about obtaining an interview, and
Hardy almost immediately found himself in the presence of the rebel
leader, as well as in that of another bearded and grave-looking
personage, who, he was informed, was Kruger, the Vice-President of the
newly-proclaimed Republic.

Hardy looked with interest at the Boer general, who, although he had not
at that time attained all the celebrity now attaching to his name, had
already achieved some brilliant successes.  His family, as Hardy
subsequently learned, was of Huguenot extraction, having migrated to the
Cape at the time of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes.  But
intermarriages with the Dutch in succeeding generations had had their
effect, and Joubert had all the appearance of a genuine Boer.  Like his
fathers, he had followed the calling of a farmer, and had had no
experience of warfare, except with native tribes.  But he was possessed
of rare military ability, and if he had had the advantage of
professional training, would have made a great general.

In personal appearance he was of middle height and powerful frame, with
an unusually dark complexion, a beard and moustache, and features
expressing intelligence and good humour.  He was apparently somewhat
advanced in years, though he had not passed the vigour of life.  He
received Hardy with civility, and, after he had heard his story,
expressed his regret, as Vander Heyden had done, that the President was
not in the camp, so that the matter might be immediately dealt with.
Praetorius was expected back very shortly, and then instant attention
should be given to it.

"Meanwhile, be assured," he said, "that we desire peace with England,
and are willing to concede everything to her, except our national
independence.  You may not, perhaps, be aware that when the Volksraad
declared that the Transvaal Republic was again established, it passed
several resolutions, which may well form the basis of negotiations with
the agents of the British Government."

"I have only just arrived in the country after an absence of several
weeks," said Hardy, "and have therefore had no opportunity of learning
what those resolutions were."

"They are soon recited," said Joubert.  "The first proclaimed a general
amnesty for all past offences.  The second ratified all the acts of the
British Government up to the date of the proclamation, and the third
declared that questions relating to foreign policy might be made matter
of special discussion.  I think you will allow that these resolutions
are not framed in any spirit hostile to your Government."

"I must allow that they are not," replied Hardy.  "I should certainly
hope that they might form the basis of negotiations satisfactory to both
parties.  That was also the opinion of the President of the Orange Free
State."

"I may add, it is also the opinion of our countrymen in Holland, who
have sent an urgent entreaty to the Queen of England that our national
independence may be restored to us.  The same sentiment has been
expressed in other European countries.  But I should hardly have thought
that such a petition would require foreign support, when it had once
been submitted to the English people.  They have ever been the first,
the most uncompromising of all nations in the assertion of their own
liberty.  Why should they grudge to others that which they value so
highly themselves?"

"You speak well, sir," said Hardy.  "I am unable to deny the force of
your appeal.  We may hope that when the President returns,
communications may be opened with the English Government which may lead
to a settlement honourable and satisfactory to both parties.  But
meanwhile, ought not all hostile operations to be suspended?  They could
not facilitate any negotiations that might be set on foot, but they
might seriously impede them."

"If the English general proposes an armistice, it will certainly be
agreed to," said Joubert.  "On our side we have no need to make any such
proposition.  If we are not attacked, we shall not ourselves make any
attack.  The British have only to do the same, and all fighting will be
suspended.  But, of course, if we are assailed, we shall repel the
assault."

Hardy bowed and took his leave.  On returning to the place where he had
left George Rivers, he found that the latter had already taken his
departure for the British camp, where, as the reader has heard, his
services were greatly needed.  A few days passed without any resumption
of hostilities, when, on the 8th of February, Sir George Colley
unexpectedly sallied out of his camp, and the action at Hooge's Chain,
between Laing's Nek and Newcastle, on the banks of the Ingogo, was
fought, with a result as discreditable and damaging to the English arms
as that of Laing's Nek had been.

"What has come to our generals and soldiers I cannot think," said Hardy
to George, when he encountered him after the battle on the field,
whither both had gone to minister to the wounded and dying.  "They seem
to me absolutely to court defeat.  The only comfort is, that they will
hardly make a third attempt after two such calamitous failures."

CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR.

It seemed as if Hardy's anticipations were going to be fulfilled.  For
more than a fortnight after the disaster on the banks of the Ingogo,
both armies remained quietly in their camps, though both were largely
reinforced.  Negotiations had been opened with the English Government,
which bore every appearance of an amicable solution of difficulties.  On
the afternoon of the 26th of February, Hardy went down to the British
lines, with a white flag despatched by Joubert with him, to take some
letters to George which had arrived from Dykeman's Hollow.  It was some
time before he could find his friend, the whole camp being in a state of
extraordinary bustle and confusion.  Officers and men were hurrying
about; one of the guns had been brought out, the horses already
harnessed, and the gunners and drivers belonging to it were all in
readiness, it appeared, for some immediate movement.  Every face bore
token that something of grave importance was about to take place.

"What does this mean, George?" asked Hardy as they shook hands.  "Sir
George Colley cannot anticipate an attack.  Everything in the Boer camp,
which I have only just left, is quite quiet, and the peace negotiations
are proceeding prosperously."

"I cannot tell you, Hardy, what it does mean," answered George.  "I hear
vague rumours, but they are not to be trusted.  One thing, however, is
certain, and that is that Sir George Colley cannot get over his defeats
by these Boers.  I fancy he at first entertained the same contempt for
them which English people generally feel.  He thought that they were a
race of cowards, who would shoot down helpless savages from a safe
distance, but dared not face soldiers in a field of battle."

"We have already agreed that that is a mistake," observed Hardy.  "Their
mode of fighting is quite different from ours.  They have no disciplined
troops, as we have; and if they were to face us, as Sir George expects,
on a field of battle, must inevitably suffer defeat.  But they are brave
and resolute men, and fight after their own fashion; which is as
dangerous and disastrous to our troops as our mode of lighting would be
to them."

"Exactly," said Rivers; "and Sir George has chosen to fight after their
fashion instead of ours, and these disasters have been the consequence.
But that does not reconcile him to them.  He is afraid that peace will
be made before he has any opportunity of redeeming his military
reputation, which he thinks has been terribly damaged by Laing's Nek and
the action on the Ingogo.  He wants to give them one tremendous
thrashing before peace is concluded and the opportunity is lost."

"I can well understand that," said Hardy, "though I think he is quite
wrong.  But do I understand you to mean that the preparations which I
see going on are for another attack on the Boers?  Really I do not think
that would be a defensible proceeding.  If there has been no formal
suspension of hostilities, there is a tacit understanding to that
effect, which the Boers have most faithfully adhered to."

"I am afraid the preparations do mean that," answered George, "though,
of course, I have made no inquiries, nor has any one volunteered the
information.  I think Sir George means to attack the Boer camp again,
though probably he will choose a different quarter from which to assail
it."

"It is to be hoped he will, at all events," rejoined Hardy, "unless he
wishes exactly the same results to follow as before.  Well, we shall
soon know what is going to happen, for here come Sir George and his
staff.  They are evidently about to set out somewhere."

"Come to the high ground on the west of the camp," suggested Rivers.
"You can see the whole road to the Dutch lines from it, and some of the
waggons immediately under Amajuba hill."

"Amajuba hill," repeated Hardy.  "Is that the name of that steep hill
yonder, with a flattish top, which completely overlooks the camp?  I
wonder the Dutch have not occupied it, I must say.  Sir George's
position here wouldn't be tenable if they did.  But then, to be sure,
they have no cannon.  Well, I may as well go with you as you propose,
for, of course, if your conjecture is correct, I should not be allowed
to leave the English camp."

They took up their position accordingly, and presently saw the troops,
seven or eight hundred in number, move out with the gun which Hardy had
seen an hour or two before, the most complete silence being observed.
The darkness was already coming on when they set out, and before long it
became impossible to distinguish any object, except those close at hand.

"Sir George must intend a night attack," said Hardy; "but, independently
of all other considerations, the Boers are less likely to be thrown into
confusion by that than our own troops are.  They are taught to fight
independently of one another.  Every man takes up his own position and
shifts for himself.  If they are disturbed in the middle of the night,
they will simply get up,--ready dressed, for they always lie down in
their clothes,--take their rifles, pick out the securest spot they can
find, and open fire on any enemy they see.  Well, George, we had better
stay here awhile and see what comes of this.  If night fighting is
intended, we shall soon know all about it."

Rivers assented.  They were as conveniently placed as they could well be
for learning what was going on.  There was a hollow in the rock large
enough to shelter them from wind and rain, if either should come on, and
a quantity of moss and heather would make a comfortable bed, if they lay
down to sleep.  They agreed that they would keep alternate watch through
the night, so that nothing that might occur should escape their notice.

The night, however, passed without disturbance, and when the morning
dawned it revealed an unexpected spectacle.  The British force was
clearly to be discerned, by the first beams of the sun, stationed on the
top of the Amajuba hill, the ascent of which must have occupied the
hours of darkness.  It must have been a most difficult and perilous
undertaking, and it seemed wonderful that it could have been
accomplished in the dark, and without arousing the vigilance of the
Boers, who were encamped in the immediate vicinity.  There they were,
however,--the scarlet uniforms forming bright spots against the
background of rock and sky,--and the brass gun, which, by a marvel of
engineering skill, had been dragged up the precipitous steeps, sparkling
in the sun, as it was fixed in its position, commanding the camp of the
sleeping Boers below.

"How in the world can they have managed that?" exclaimed Rivers.
"Nothing but a bird, I should have thought, could get up there.  The
gun, of course they must have hoisted up after them.  It is a most
daring exploit; but I suppose Sir George has got the upper hand of them
now."

"I am not so sure of that," rejoined Hardy.  "I grant you this is as
bold and venturous a feat as ever has been attempted in war.  But I
don't know that it will succeed against these Boers.  You see, though
they have taken possession of the heights, they have not intrenched
themselves.  The broken masses of rock furnish a cover behind which
sharpshooters may hide themselves while they fire on the enemy.  But the
Boers will be able to fire up at them quite as securely as they will be
able to fire down at the Boers.  And if the Boers, whose numbers greatly
exceed theirs, clamber up on all sides, under cover of the fire of their
friends, there is nothing to keep them back.  Our men will be
overpowered by weight of numbers.  I wish I could see them begin to
intrench themselves, but there is no sign of it.  I hope we are not
going to see the Isandhlwana disaster acted over again."

"I suppose they must have been too tired, when they got up there last
night to throw up intrenchments," remarked George.

"Very likely indeed," returned Hardy, "but they do not appear to be too
tired this morning.  If they are wise, they will not begin firing until
they have made their position safe."

Meanwhile on the summit of the hill there was triumph and rejoicing.
The soldiers had felt keenly the defeats which they had again and again
sustained at the hands of an enemy for whom they had entertained a
traditional contempt, and who, they were persuaded, if they could once
bring them to a fair encounter, would fly before them.  But they had
been shot down from behind cover, without the chance being given them of
returning their adversaries' fire.  But here, at last, the tables were
turned.  They occupied now the vantage-ground from which the foe might
be assailed without the risk of suffering retaliation.  A genuine
British cheer broke forth as the gun opened on the slumbering Dutchmen
below, followed by bursts of merriment as the sleepers started up in
alarm and confusion, rushing in all directions to find protection from
the deadly hail from above.  But they did not take to immediate flight,
as their assailants had expected.  Niching themselves in the hollows of
the rocks or behind the mountain ridges, they opened a fire from all
directions on the occupants of the hill, obliging these to keep close
behind the cover of the rocks as the only mode of escaping the storm of
musketry that continued to be poured upon them.  No attempt, however,
was made to dislodge them, and it was obvious that, if they retained
their position on the crest of the hill, the Boer camp must be broken
up, leaving the way open for the British troops to enter the Transvaal.

But the English had been once more deceived by the skilful manoeuvring
of their enemies.  Under cover of a tall cliff which interposed between
them and Amajuba hill, the Boer leaders were determining their plan of
operations.

"I am sure one of the paths is practicable," Vander Heyden was saying.
"It is on the opposite side to that by which the English made their way
to the top, and I think it most likely that they know nothing of it.  It
is completely sheltered from their fire until you are close to the top,
and there is a hollow near that where a number of men may be massed.
Our adversaries, with their usual contempt for their enemies, have
omitted to intrench themselves or fortify their position.  There would
probably not be more than half a dozen men keeping guard at the point in
question.  A rush of a dozen or twenty would force the way in, and then
the others would follow.  As there is no shelter or means of escape
except down the steep sides of the hill, they must all surrender or be
killed."

"Do you yourself know the way up the path, Vander Heyden?" asked the
Boer general.

"Yes," answered Henryk; "I have twice been up to the top that way to
make an examination of the English camp."

"Then I think you are the man to lead the assault.  What say you?"

"I desire nothing better," returned Vander Heyden, the dark light, which
had become habitual with him at seasons of danger, flashing in his eyes.

"Good.  Who is there prepared to follow you?"

There was no lack of volunteers; and Vander Heyden's only difficulty
consisted in his unwillingness to reject any.  Presently the number was
made up.  Orders were given to the sharpshooters in ambush to pour their
fire more hotly on every crevice of the rocks above, so as to engage as
much as possible the attention of the garrison.

Then Vander Heyden, rifle in hand, crept cautiously and silently up the
rocky ladder, pausing continually to allow those behind him to approach
closely to him, until the hollow place, of which he had spoken, was
reached, and a dozen of his most trusted followers assembled in it.
Then the word was given.  The foremost of the party rushed round the
corner of the rock, poured in a close fire, and pressed on to force the
passage.  For the moment they succeeded, but the next a shout was
raised, and a bayonet charge met the assailants, bearing them back and
almost forcing them down the rocky descent.  But more of the Dutchmen
had now come on the scene.  A second volley cleared the way, and the
assailants rushed in in ever-increasing numbers.  Presently the whole
plateau had become a battlefield, and the English, outnumbered and borne
back by the overwhelming mass of Boers, were either shot down, or made
their escape by the steep mountain paths, followed by their victorious
enemies, who stabbed and shot them down without mercy.  If the guns from
the camp had not opened their fire and checked the pursuit, it is
probable that scarcely any of the British soldiers who had climbed those
heights on the previous evening would ever have descended them again,
unless as corpses carried to interment.

About the centre of the plateau a group of Boers were gathered round an
English officer, who had been struck by a bullet which apparently had
instantly killed him.  Vander Heyden directed them to take off the
leather helmet which partially concealed his features.

"It is he!" he exclaimed, as his order was obeyed.  "That is the English
general; that is Sir George Colley."

He had scarcely uttered the words when a stray bullet struck him in the
breast, and he fell to the ground beside his prostrate enemy.  His
companions raised him in their arms and earned him down the hill to a
room in an adjoining farmhouse, where his wound was examined by a
surgeon.  The latter shook his head after a brief inspection.  The
bullet had not touched either heart or lungs; but the internal
haemorrhage could not be stopped, and life could not be long protracted.
Vander Heyden himself was aware of his condition.  He made no other
request than that a flag of truce might be sent to the English lines,
asking permission for the Reverend George Rivers, who was serving, he
was informed, as a chaplain in the camp, to visit him on his deathbed.
The request was granted; and in an hour's time after the conclusion of
the fight Rivers entered the chamber where he was lying.

Vander Heyden raised himself as well as he was able to greet him, and
desired that the room might be cleared.

"George," he said when this had been done, "I am glad you have come.
There is no time to lose, for I feel that death is very near.  You
remember our conversation about my sister many months ago near Intombe."

"It is not likely that I should forget it," answered George.

"I told you two things--first, that my father had forbidden me to give
her in marriage to an Englishman; and secondly, that if she did marry
one, she would forfeit the whole of her inheritance."

"That is what you said."

"And I said no more than the fact.  But I thought even then, and I am
now more fully persuaded of it, that my father was mistaken in the
resolution to which he came.  The English had been harsh and unjust to
us.  But every Englishman is not harsh and unjust; and if my sister has
chosen--as in my heart I believe she has--a generous and upright man, it
is hard that she should be denied her wish merely because he was an
Englishman."

He paused a moment to recover breath, and then went on.

"Men alter strangely.  A twelvemonth ago I thought it impossible I could
ever feel as I do now.  And if I had married, and had children to follow
in my steps, I do not think I could have so altered.  But that hope died
out and could never be revived, and Annchen's future was all I had to
care for.  She does not know my change of feeling.  When I took leave of
her last night, I felt assured that I was parting from her for the last
time, though I could not tell her so; but this letter will convey to her
my dying wishes.  I have drawn up a fresh will, by which everything is
left to her and to you.  Give me your hand."

They exchanged a cordial grasp.  "Now, Rivers," he continued, "we will
speak no more of this.  But you must remain with me to the end."

There is no need to dwell on what followed.  Vander Heyden lingered for
an hour, and then passed away quietly, without pain, remaining conscious
to the last.  When all was over, George gave the order, as his friend
had desired him to do, for the conveyance of the body to the
burying-ground at Utrecht, where the remains of the hapless Lisa van
Courtlandt had been deposited.  He himself accompanied the corpse as
chief mourner, and saw the funeral rites performed.  Then he proceeded
to Newcastle, and sought an interview with Annchen, with whom his mother
and Thyrza were now staying.  They had gone over, by his request, to
convey to her the melancholy tidings, and had remained at her earnest
entreaty to comfort her.

She did indeed feel unutterably desolate.  Her brother and Frank Moritz
had been her only near relatives, and of both these she had been
bereaved; and the man who, she felt, might have been nearer and dearer
than any, was hopelessly separated from her by Henryk's decree.  His
wishes had always been law to her while he lived; and, now that he had
been taken from her for ever, her only satisfaction in life would be to
fulfil his pleasure.  When the message was brought to her that George
desired an interview, she was at first unwilling to grant it.  It was
possible that he might renew his suit, considering all obstacles to
their union as being now removed; and if so, their meeting would be
needlessly painful.  It was only when Thyrza told her that her brother
was the bearer of a letter, which Henryk had sent her from his dying
bed, that she consented to receive him.

She was sitting near the window when he entered.  Her black dress
rendered the dazzling fairness of her complexion more remarkable.  Even
the look of unutterable sadness seemed to enhance her beauty.  He went
slowly up to her, took her hand and pressed it to his lips, and then
without speaking, placed the letter in her hands.  Her tears fell fast
over it as she opened it, and it seemed as if they must have prevented
her from deciphering its contents; for she twice read it through without
appearing to understand its purport.  At last a faint flush on her cheek
and a strange light in her eye told him that she had realised the
meaning of her brother's words.  She sat for a few minutes with her eyes
fixed on the ground, and then looked up into her lover's face, as if
seeking there a confirmation of the wondrous joy that had broken thus
suddenly upon her.  His smile seemed to satisfy her.  She rose and threw
herself into his arms.

"Oh, George," she exclaimed, "is it wicked, at a time of sorrow like
this, to feel so happy?"

"It is what he wished," answered Rivers.  "It was the thought which
comforted him at the last."

A few days afterwards, Annchen joined the family circle at Dykeman's
Hollow, when it was found that she was not the only bride to whom
congratulations were due.  George had taken an early opportunity of
explaining to his mother and stepfather--to whom the former referred
him--the change that had taken place in his circumstances.  He was now,
or would shortly be, the owner of Pieter's Dorf and Vander Heyden's
other property, and, for a resident in that country, a very wealthy man.
It was his wish to surrender all interest in his mother's estate in
favour of Thyrza.  At the same time he pleaded the cause of his friend
Redgy Margetts.  He had known, he said, for some time past that he was
deeply attached to Thyrza, and had reason to believe that she was not
indifferent to him.  If that should prove to be the case, might not a
second marriage take place?  Mr Rogers had been consulted, and had
declared himself so well satisfied with Margetts, that he was willing to
put him into the farm hitherto occupied by George--which was already in
a thriving state, with every prospect of improvement.  Here he and
Thyrza might live, until the time came when Umtongo would be their own.

Farmer Mansen heard his stepson to the end,--he had never, indeed, been
known to interrupt any one,--and then answered that he and his wife had
already spoken together on this subject, and had no fault to find with
Mr Margetts.  But it would be impossible for them to accept him as a
suitor for Thyrza, because Mynheer Rudolf Kransberg had been received in
that capacity, and no decisive answer had as yet been given him.  To
this George replied that he had had some conversation with Thyrza on the
subject, and she had informed him that young Kransberg had never visited
her since the day when he himself had left Umtongo, and as that was
fully nine months ago, Thyrza had concluded he had abandoned all idea of
seeking her as his wife.

"She is too hasty," remarked Ludwig.  "Nine months are no unreasonable
time for a Dutch suitor to delay; we do not do things in this country in
a hurry.  She cannot allow the addresses of a new suitor, until the old
one has been formally dismissed."

"But, good gracious! how long is that to go on?" pleaded George.  "He
may pay another visit six months hence, and another a twelvemonth after
that.  And Thyrza may be an old maid before she has the opportunity of
relieving herself from the attentions of her admirer by refusing him."

"You do not understand our customs," said Ludwig sedately.  "We do
everything deliberately."

This reply George was obliged to transmit to Margetts, by whom, it needs
not to say, it was not received with much satisfaction.  Redgy, in fact,
propounded a variety of schemes for bringing Rudolf von Kransberg up to
the scratch, the mildest of which was lassoing him after the fashion of
the South American hunters and conveying him in that condition to
Thyrza's presence, when she would avail herself of the opportunity of
giving her inamorato his _conge_.  All these were rejected by George and
Thyrza, and the dissatisfaction of the baffled suitor every day waxed
more grievous to behold, when one day he chanced to encounter Hardy in
the street at Newcastle, and learned from him that Rudolf Kransberg was
not only paying his addresses to Gretchen Groetweld, the plump and
comely daughter of the Landrost of Lichtenberg, but, it was generally
believed, had been accepted by her.

"I met him riding down the street," said Hardy, "dressed in his best
holiday suit, and a large nosegay in his buttonhole.  He was mounted on
a showy horse,--`the courting horse,' as they call it,--which he made
amble and prance down the street to the great admiration of the
spectators.  Presently he drew up at Mynheer Groetweld's door, when the
worthy burgess greeted him with ceremonious politeness and requested him
to enter.  I heard from the Landrost, who delayed a few minutes to speak
to me, that Mistress Gretchen is well satisfied with her sweetheart, and
the formal betrothal is straightway to take place."

This intelligence, which was presently confirmed by Mynheer Groetweld
himself, overcame even Ludwig Mansen's punctilio; and Reginald Margetts
and Thyrza were allowed to plight their troth to one another.

Mr Rogers, who had always felt a warm interest in the Mansens, and who
latterly conceived a still warmer regard for Rivers and Margetts, was
much pleased at the course which events had taken.  Notwithstanding the
recent death of Henryk Vander Heyden, it was not thought advisable to
postpone for more than a few weeks Rivers' and Annchen's wedding; and
the Mansens agreed that Redgy and Thyrza should be married on the same
day, the chapel attached to Mr Rogers' house being chosen as the place
where both ceremonies were to be performed.

The guests were limited to the near relatives of the brides, the only
exception being Hardy, who arrived on the wedding morning, bearing the
intelligence that the terms between the English Government and the Boers
had been finally arranged.  The suzerainty of the Queen was to be
maintained, but, apart from this, the most complete independence was
conceded to the Transvaal Republic, all the terms for which they had
stipulated being fully granted.

"Well," said Mr Rogers, "I never thought I should live to regret the
reversal of that most mischievous and ill-judged of measures, the
annexation of the Transvaal, but I have lived to regret it nevertheless.
It appears to me that every blunder that was possible has been made.
First of all, advantage is taken of a temporary reverse to impose on a
nation a yoke which they are supposed to desire, but which they really
dislike.  Then, when reasonable and respectful petitions are presented,
pointing out that the step is to the injury of both countries, and
praying that it might be undone, they are curtly refused.  Then, when
the aggrieved citizens take up arms to compel the recognition of their
rights, an attempt is made to crush them by force of arms, but the
campaign is conducted in such a manner as to give them an easy and
certain victory.  I don't suppose the Tenth Legion of Caesar, or the Old
Guard of Napoleon, or Wellington's Peninsular veterans, could have done
anything but stand to be killed, if they had been led into action as our
soldiers were.  And lastly, when the prestige of England has suffered so
seriously that a victory (which could easily have been gained) has
become imperatively necessary for its restoration, all that had been
refused to moderate entreaty is granted to defiant and almost insolent
demand!  I don't suppose the injury that has been done to British
ascendancy in South Africa will be undone in less than fifty years, if
it is undone then!  Well, things are at their worst now; and when they
have come to the worst, then the proverb says they will begin to mend!
That must be our comfort, for I am afraid we have no other!"

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

THE END.





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