“Answer,” roared Jan, speaking for the first time, and in such a fierce voice that Gaasha sprang to his feet and began to run away.
“Come back, Gaasha, come back,” I called, and he came doubtfully, for Gaasha was not very brave, and ever since he had wished to shoot him he trembled even at the sight of Jan. “Be silent, you fool,” I whispered to the latter as the lad drew near, then said aloud, “Now, Gaasha.”
“Lady,” he answered, “it is indeed as I have told you; the Baas gave me the snuff a long time ago; he took it out of the ear-boxes of the dead men at Vetchkop. He gave it to me. I did not steal it. He will say so himself.”
“Never mind the snuff, Gaasha,” I said in a voice half-choked with doubt and anxiety, for the sight of Ralph’s piteous face and the strangeness of it all were fast overwhelming me, “but tell us what is the name of this chieftainess whom you have heard is now the ruler of your tribe?”
“Her name, lady,” he answered, much relieved, “why it is well known, for though she is small, it is said that she is the best of doctoresses and rain-makers.”
Now Jan could no longer be restrained, for stretching out his great hand he gripped Gaasha by the throat, saying:
“Accursed swartzel, if you do not tell us the name at once I will kill you.”
“Madman,” I exclaimed, “how can the lad speak while you are choking him?”
Then Jan shifted his grip and Gaasha began to cry for pity.
“The name, the name,” said Jan.
“Why should I hide it? Have I not told it? Baas, it is Sihamba Ngenyanga.”
As the words passed his lips Jan let go of him so suddenly that Gaasha fell to the ground and sat there staring at us, for without doubt he thought that we had all gone mad.
Jan looked up to the skies and said, “Almighty, I thank Thee, Who canst make dreams to fly to the heart of a man as a night-bird to its nest through the darkness, and Who, because of what I saw in the eyes of Sihamba, didst turn aside my gun when it was pointed at the breast of this Kaffir.”
Then he looked at Ralph, and was quiet, for Ralph had swooned away.
SWART PIET SETS A SNARE
It was a strange life that Suzanne led among the Umpondwana during the two years or more that, together with Sihamba, she ruled over them as chieftainess. Upon the top of the mountain was a space of grass land measuring about five hundred morgen, or a thousand acres in extent, where were placed the chief’s huts and those of the head men and soldiers, surrounding a large cattle kraal, which, however, was only used in times of danger. The rest of the people dwelt upon the slopes of the mountain, and even on the rich plains at the foot of it, but if need were they could all retreat to the tableland upon its crest. Here they might have defied attack for ever, for beneath