“I am glad,” said Nombe, “since I was not here to attend upon her, having been summoned to speak with the Master.”
Then she sat down and looked at me like a thunder storm.
“I nursed you when you were so ill, Macumazahn,” she began, “but now I learn that for the milk with which I fed you, you would force me to drink bitter water that will poison me.”
I replied I was well aware that without her nursing I should long ago have been dead, which was what caused me to love her like my own daughter. But would she kindly explain? This she did at once.
“You have been plotting to take away from me the lady Heddana who to me is as mother and sister and child. It is useless to lie to me, for the Master has told me all; moreover, I knew it for myself, both through my Spirit and because I had watched you.”
“I have no intention of lying to you, Nombe, about this or any other matter, though I think that sometimes in the past you have lied to me. Tell me, do you expect the Inkosi Mauriti, the lady Heddana and myself to pass the rest of our lives in the Black Kloof, when they wish to get married and go across the Black Water to where their home will be, and I wish to attend to my affairs?”
“I do not know what I expect, Macumazahn, but I do know that never while I live will I be parted from the lady Heddana. At last I have found some one to love, and you and the other would steal her away from me.”
I studied her for a while, then asked—
“Why do you not marry, Nombe, and have a husband, and children to love?”
“Marry?” she replied. “I am married to my Spirit which does not dwell beneath the sun, and my children are not of earth; moreover, all men are hateful to me,” and her eyes added, “especially you.”
“That is a calf with a dog’s head,” I replied in the words of the native proverb, meaning that she said what was not natural. “Well, Nombe, if you are so fond of the lady Heddana, you had better arrange with her and the Inkosi Mauriti to go away with them.”
“You know well I cannot, Macumazahn. I am tied to my Master by ropes that are stronger than iron, and if I attempted to break them my Spirit would wither and I should wither with it.”
“Dear me! what a dreadful business. That is what comes of taking to magic. Well, Nombe, I am afraid I have nothing to suggest, nor, to tell you the truth, can I see what I have to do with the matter.”
Then she sprang up in a rage, saying—
“I understand that not only will you give me no help, but that you also mock at me, Macumazahn. Moreover, as it is with you, so it is with Mauriti, who pretends to love my lady so much, though I love her more with my little finger than he does with all his body and what he calls his soul. Yes, he too mocks at me. Now if you were both dead,” she added with sudden venom, “my lady would not wish to go away. Be careful lest a spell should fall upon you, Macumazahn,” and without more words she turned and went.