In the midst of these scenes which passed outside her hut, sat Sihamba brooding. As chieftainess she still had about a pint of water stored in a jar, but though she had made Suzanne drink, herself she drank but little, for she would not consent to suffer less than those about her.
Now Sihamba’s eyes fell upon the child who was licking stones, and her heart was wrung with pity. Going into the hut she fetched most of the water in a gourd, and calling to the child, who staggered towards her, for she could scarcely walk, she gave it to her, bidding her drink slowly.
In a moment it was gone, every drop of it, and, behold! the dim eyes brightened, and the shrunken limbs seemed to grow round again, while the young voice, no longer high and cracked, praised and blessed her name. Sihamba motioned the child away, then she went into the hut to weep, only weep she could not, since her eyes were too dry for tears.
“Three more days,” she thought to herself, “and they will all be dead unless rain should fall. Yes, the cowards, and those whom their cowardice has betrayed will all be dead together.”
As she thought thus, Suzanne entered the hut, and there was tidings in her eyes.
“What is it, sister,” asked Sihamba, “and whence do you come?”
“I come from the high seat upon the edge of the cliff,” she answered, “where I have sat all day, for I can no longer bear these sights, and I have this to tell, that the Zulus are marching across the plain, but not towards Zululand, since they head for the Quathlamba Mountains.”
Now a fire of hope shot up in Sihamba’s eyes, but soon it died out again.
“It is a trick, it must be a trick,” she said, “for who ever heard of a Zulu loosing the prey that was in his hand? Never dare he do it save by the command of the king,” and she left the hut to be met by others running with the same tidings. Of these she sent some down the gorge to bring her report of what had happened, and with them Zinti, for she could not altogether trust the word of her own people.
Within an hour the messengers returned, and on their faces was a strange look which, clever as she was, Sihamba did not understand.
“Is the path clear?” she asked.
“No, chieftainess,” they replied, “it is still blocked, for though the Zulus have gone we know not where by order received from Dingaan, Bull-Head holds it with such of his own men as are left alive.”
“Had you speech with the white man?” she asked.
Now they looked about them like people who are ashamed, but at last the oldest of them spoke.