“Truly you are brave,” laughed the little woman. “There is more courage in that white heart of yours than in those of all the Umpondwana. Well, sister, I also am brave, or at the least for these many moons I have set myself a task, nor will I shrink from it at the end, and that is to save you from Piet Van Vooren as once at a dearer price you saved me. Now, hearken, for myself I have no fear; as I have said, doubtless in this way or in that I shall win through, but it cannot be at your side. I must rejoin you afterwards. What, you refuse to go? Then, Lady Swallow, you send me down to death and your hands are red with my blood. I am weary, I will not live to see more trouble; life is hard and death is easy. Finish your own battle, Swallow, and fly out your flight alone,” and drawing a knife from her girdle Sihamba laid it upon her knee.
“Do you mean that you will kill yourself if I refuse your prayer?”
“Nothing less, sister, and at once, for I thirst, and would seek some land where there is water, or where we need none. It comes to this, then: if you consent I may live, if you refuse I must die.”
“I cannot do it,” moaned Suzanne. “Let us die together.”
Now Sihamba crept to her and whispered in her ear:
“Think of Ralph Kenzie and of what his life must be if you should die. Think of those children who will come, and of that first kiss of love found again which you must miss in death, whatever else it may have to give. Think of the knife’s point that you would change for it, or the last sick rush down a mountain height of space. Think of your husband. Hark! I hear him calling you.”
Then Suzanne yielded.
“O woman with a noble heart,” she murmured, “I listen to your tempting; may God forgive me and God reward you, O woman with the noble heart.”
Then they began the work, for much must be done before the daylight came. First Sihamba took a sharp knife, and with it cut off Suzanne’s beautiful hair close to the head, over which what was left of it curled naturally. To disguise it further, for though it was dark it was too fine for the hair of a native, she put grease upon it and powdered it with the blue dust that Kaffir women use. This done, the poor girl stripped herself, and with the help of Sihamba smeared all her body, every inch of it down to the soles of her feet, with the ink-like juice mixed with the black earth and grease, which when it was dry made her the colour of a Kaffir. Next Sihamba dressed her in a native woman’s moocha made of skin and beads, and gave her an old skin blanket to wear upon her shoulders and hide sandals for her feet, together with anklets of beads and copper wire. Then having examined her all over to see that no sign of her white skin could be seen through the pigments, and burned the long tresses of her hair, Sihamba went to the door of the hut.