“What is all that writing on the back of it?” asked Barbara, pointing to the long lines of rune-like characters which were inscribed within it.
“Not know, miss, think they dead tongue cut in the beginning when black men could write. But Asiki priests swear they remember every one of them, and that why no one can copy Little Bonsa, for they look inside and see if marks all right. They say they names of those who died for Little Bonsa, and when they all done, Little Bonsa begin again, for Little Bonsa never die. But p’raps priests lie.”
“I daresay,” said Barbara, “but take Little Bonsa away, for however lucky she may be, she makes me feel sick.”
“Where I put her, Major?” asked Jeekie of Alan. “In box in library where she used to live, or in plate-safe with spoons? Or under your bed where she always keep eye on you?”
“Oh! put her with the spoons,” said Alan angrily, and Jeekie departed with his treasure.
“I think, dear,” remarked Barbara as the door closed behind him, “that if I come to lunch here any more, I shall bring my own christening present with me, for I can’t eat off silver that has been shut up with that thing. Now let us get to business—show me the diary and the map.”
“Dearest Alan,” wrote Barbara from The Court two days later, “I have been thinking everything over, and since you are so set upon it, I suppose that you had better go. To me the whole adventure seems perfectly mad, but at the same time I believe in our luck, or rather in the Providence which watches over us, and I don’t believe that you, or I either, will come to any harm. If you stop here, you will only eat your heart out and communication between us must become increasingly difficult. My uncle is furious with you, and since he discovered that we were talking over the telephone, to his own great inconvenience he has had the wires cut outside the house. That horrid letter of his to you saying that you had ‘compromised’ me in pursuance of a ’mercenary scheme’ is all part and parcel of the same thing. How are you to stop here and submit to such insults? I went to see my friend the lawyer, and he tells me that of course we can marry if we like, but in that case my father’s will, which he has consulted at Somerset House, is absolutely definite, and if I do so in opposition to my uncle’s wishes, I must lose everything except L200 a year. Now I am no money-grubber, but I will not give my uncle the satisfaction of robbing me of my fortune, which may be useful to both of us by and by. The lawyer says also that he does not think that the Court of Chancery would interfere, having no power to do so as far as the will is concerned, and not being able to make a ward of a person like myself who is over age and has the protection of the common law of the country. So it seems to me that the only thing to do is to be patient, and wait until time unties the knot.
“Meanwhile, if you can make some money in Africa, so much the better. So go, Alan, go as soon as you like, for I do not wish to prolong this agony, or to see you exposed daily to all you have to bear. Whenever you return you will find me waiting for you, and if you do not return, still I shall wait, as you in like circumstances will wait for me. But I think you will return.”