Benita, an African romance eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 230 pages of information about Benita, an African romance.

“Say you the agreement while we listen,” answered the Molimo.

“Good,” said Mr. Clifford.  “It is this:  That you shall find us food and shelter while we are with you.  That you shall lead us into the secret place at the head of the hill, where the Portuguese died, and the gold is hidden.  That you shall allow us to search for that gold when and where we will.  That if we discover the gold, or anything else of value to us, you shall suffer us to take it away, and assist us upon our journey, either by giving us boats and manning them to travel down the Zambesi, or in whatever fashion may be most easy.  That you shall permit none to hurt, molest, or annoy us during our sojourn among you.  Is that our contract?”

“Not quite all of it,” said the Molimo.  “There is this to add:  first that you shall teach us how to use the guns; secondly, that you shall search for and find the treasure, if so it is appointed, without our help, since in this matter it is not lawful for us to meddle; thirdly, that if the Amandabele should chance to attack us while you are here, you shall do your best to assist us against their power.”

“Do you, then, expect attack?” asked Meyer suspiciously.

“White man, we always expect attack.  Is it a bargain?”

“Yes,” answered Mr. Clifford and Jacob Meyer in one voice, the latter adding:  “the guns and the cartridges are yours.  Lead us now to the hidden place.  We have fulfilled our part; we trust to the honour of you and all your people to fulfil yours.”

“White Maiden,” asked the Molimo, addressing Benita, “do you also say that it is a bargain?”

“What my father says, I say.”

“Good,” said the Molimo.  “Then, in the presence of my people, and in the name of the Munwali, I, Mambo, who am his prophet, declare that it is so agreed between us, and may the vengeance of the heavens fall upon those who break our pact!  Let the oxen of the white men be outspanned, their horses fed, their waggon unloaded, that we may count the guns.  Let food be brought into the guest-house also, and after they have eaten, I, who alone of all of you have ever entered it, will lead them to the holy place, that there they may begin to search for that which the white men desire from age to age—­to find it if they can; if not, to depart satisfied and at peace.”

IX

THE OATH OF MADUNA

Mr. Clifford and Meyer rose to return to the waggon in order to superintend the unyoking of the oxen and to give directions as to their herding, and the off-saddling of the horses.  Benita rose also, wondering when the food that had been promised would be ready, for she was hungry.  Meanwhile, the Molimo was greeting his son Tamas, patting his hand affectionately and talking to him, when suddenly Benita, who watched this domestic scene with interest, heard a commotion behind her.  Turning to discover its cause, she perceived three great man clad in full war panoply, shields on their left arms, spears in their right hands, black ostrich plumes rising from the polished rings woven in their hair, black moochas about their middles, and black oxtails tied beneath their knees, who marched through the throng of Makalanga as though they saw them not.

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Benita, an African romance from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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