When Suzanne escaped from her nurse she struck inland, and thus it happened that her feet left no spoor upon the hard, dry veldt. Soon she found that the kloof she sought was further off than she thought for, or, perhaps, she lost her way to it, for the hillsides are scarred with such kloofs, and it might well chance that a child would mistake one for the other. Still she went on, though she grew frightened in the lonely wilderness, where great bucks sprang up at her feet and baboons barked at her as they clambered from rock to rock. On she went, stopping only once or twice to drink a little of the milk and eat some food, till, towards sunset, she found the kloof of which she had dreamed. For a while she wandered about in it, following the banks of a stream, till at length, as she passed a dense clump of mimosa bushes, she heard the faint sound of a child’s voice—the very voice of her dream. Now she stopped, and turning to the right, pushed her way through the mimosas, and there beyond them was a dell, and in the centre of the dell a large flat rock, and on the rock a boy praying, the rays of the setting sun shining in his golden, tangled hair. She went to the child and spoke to him, but he could not understand our tongue, nor could she understand his. Then she drew out what was left of the bottle of milk and some meal cakes and gave them to him, and he ate and drank greedily.
By this time the sun was down, and as they did not dare to move in the dark, the children sat together on the rock, clasped in each other’s arms for warmth, and as they sat they saw yellow eyes staring at them through the gloom, and heard strange snoring sounds, and were afraid. At length the moon rose, and in its first rays they perceived standing and walking within a few paces of them three tigers, as we call leopards, two of them big and one half-grown. But the tigers did them no harm, for God forbade them; they only looked at them a little and then slipped away, purring as they went.
Now Suzanne rose, and taking the boy by the hand she began to lead him homeward, very slowly, since he was footsore and exhausted, and for the last half of the way could only walk resting upon her shoulder. Still through the long night they crawled forward, for the kopje at the back of our stead was a guide to Suzanne, stopping from time to time to rest a while, till at the breaking of the dawn with their last strength they came to the house, as has been told.
Well it was that they did so, for it seems that the searchers had already sought them in the very kloof where they were hidden, without seeing anything of them behind the thick screen of the mimosas, and having once sought doubtless they would have returned there no more, for the hills are wide and the kloofs in them many.
THE STORY OF THE SHIPWRECK
“What shall we do with this boy whom Suzanne has brought to us, wife?” asked Jan of me that day while both the children lay asleep.