At this moment, looking up, Benita saw a figure gliding out of the darkness into the ring of light, so silently that she started, for it might well have been one of those ghosts in whom Jacob Meyer did not believe. In fact, however, it was the old Molimo, who had a habit of coming upon them thus.
“What says the white man?” he asked of Benita, while his dreamy eyes wandered over the three of them, and the hole in the violated tomb.
“He says that he does not believe in spirits, and that he defies them,” she answered.
“The white gold-seeker does not believe in spirits, and he defies them,” Mambo repeated in his sing-song voice. “He does not believe in the spirits that I see all around me now, the angry spirits of the dead, who speak together of where he shall lie and of what shall happen to him when he is dead, and of how they will welcome one who disturbs their rest and defies and curses them in his search for the riches which he loves. There is one standing by him now, dressed in a brown robe with a dead man cut in ivory like to that,” and he pointed to the crucifix in Jacob’s hands, “and he holds the ivory man above him and threatens him with sleepless centuries of sorrow, when he is also one of those spirits in which he does not believe.”
Then Meyer’s rage blazed out. He turned upon the Molimo and reviled him in his own tongue, saying that he knew well where the treasure was hidden, and that if he did not point it out he would kill him and send him to his friends, the spirits. So savage and evil did he look that Benita retreated a little way, while Mr. Clifford strove in vain to calm him. But although Meyer laid his hand upon the knife in his belt and advanced upon him, the old Molimo neither budged an inch nor showed the slightest fear.
“Let him rave on,” he said, when at length Meyer paused exhausted. “Just so in a time of storm the lightnings flash and the thunder peals, and the water foams down the face of rock; but then comes the sun again, and the hill is as it has ever been, only the storm is spent and lost. I am the rock, he is but the wind, the fire, and the rain. It is not permitted that he should hurt me, and those spirits in whom he does not believe treasure up his curses, to let them fall again like stones upon his head.”
Then, with a contemptuous glance at Jacob, the old man turned and glided back into the darkness out of which he had appeared.
BENITA PLANS ESCAPE
The next morning, while she was cooking breakfast, Benita saw Jacob Meyer seated upon a rock at a little distance, sullen and disconsolate. His chin was resting on his hand, and he watched her intently, never taking his eyes from her face. She felt that he was concentrating his will upon her; that some new idea concerning her had come into his mind; for it was one of her miseries that she possessed the power of interpreting the drift of this man’s thoughts. Much as she detested him, there existed that curious link between them.