Instantly every man within hearing prostrated himself and lay still. Then Jeekie strode up and down among them shouting out:
“Little Bonsa has come back and brought to you, Man-eaters, a fat offering, an offering of the dwarf-people whom you hate, of the treacherous dwarf-people who when you walk the ancient forest path, murder you with their poisoned arrows. Praise Little Bonsa who delivers you from your foes, and hearken to her bidding. Send on messengers to the Asiki saying that Little Bonsa comes home again from across the Black Water bringing the White Preacher, whom she led away in the day of their fathers. Say to them that the Asiki must send out a company that Little Bonsa and the Magician with whom she ran away, may be escorted back to her house with the state which has been hers from the beginning of time. Say to them also that they must prepare a great offering of pure gold out of their store, as much gold as fifty strong men can carry, not one handful less, to be given to the White Magician who brings back Small Swimming Head, for if they withhold such an offering, he and Little Bonsa will vanish never to be seen again, and curses and desolation will fall upon their land. Rise and obey, Chief of the Ogula.”
Then the man scrambled to his feet and answered:
“It shall be done, O Priest of the Yellow God. To-morrow at the dawn swift messengers will start for the Gold House of the Asiki. To-night they cannot leave, as we are all very hungry and must eat.”
“What must you eat?” asked Jeekie suspiciously.
“O Priest,” answered the chief with a deprecatory gesture, “when first we saw you we hoped that it would be the white man and yourself, for we have never tasted white man. But now we fear that you will not consent to this, and as you are holy and the guardian of the god, we cannot eat you without your own consent. Therefore fat dwarf must be our food, of which, however, there will be plenty for you as well as us.”
“You dog!” exclaimed Jeekie in a voice of furious indignation. “Do you think that white men and their high-born companions, such as myself, were made to fill your vile stomachs? I tell you that a meal of the deadly Bean would agree better with you, for if you dare so much as to look on us, or on any of the white race with hunger, agony shall seize your vitals and you and all your tribe shall die as though by poison. Moreover, we do not touch the flesh of men, nor will we see it eaten. It is our ‘orunda,’ it is consecrate to us, it must not pass our lips, nor may our eyes behold it. Therefore we will camp apart from you further up the stream and find our own food. But to-morrow at the dawn the messengers must leave as we have commanded. Also you shall provide strong men and a large canoe to bear Little Bonsa forward towards her own home until she finds her people coming out to greet her.
“It shall be done,” answered the chief humbly, “Everything shall be done according to the will of Little Bonsa spoken by her priest, that she may leave a blessing and not a curse upon the heads of the tribe of the Ogula. Say where you wish to camp and men shall run to build a house of reeds for the god to dwell in.”