“Yes, yes,” said Sihamba, “good words, but the Sight is still the Sight for those who have the power to see. Not that I wished you to see, indeed I did not wish it, nor did I think that you would be turned from your purpose by that which you have seen. Father and mother of Swallow, you are right, and now I will tell you the truth. What you beheld in the water was nothing but a trick, a clever trick of the little doctoress, Sihamba, by the help of which and others like it, she earns her living, and imposes on the foolish, though she cannot impose upon you, who are wise, and have the Lord of the skies for a friend. So think no more of it, and do not be angry with the little black monkey whose nature it is to play tricks;” and with a motion of her foot she upset the bowl of water, and collecting the pieces of mirror hid them away in her skin pouch.
Then we went, but as I passed through the thorn trees I turned and looked at Sihamba, and lo! she was standing in the moonlight, her face lifted towards the sky, weeping softly and wringing her hands. Then for the first time I felt a little afraid.
The marriage morning of Ralph and Suzanne broke brightly; never have I seen a fairer. It was spring time, and the veldt was clothed with the fresh green grass and starred everywhere with the lily blooms that sprang among it. The wind blew softly, shaking down the dewdrops from the growing corn, while from every bush and tree came the cooing of unnumbered doves. Beneath the eave of the stoep the pair of red-breasted swallows which had built there for so many years were finishing their nest, and I watched them idly, for to me they were old friends, and would wheel about my head, touching my cheek with their wings. Just then they paused from their task, or perhaps it was at length completed, and flying to a bough of the peach tree a few yards away, perched there together amidst the bright bloom, and nestling against each other, twittered forth their song of joy and love.
It was at this moment that Sihamba walked up to the stoep as though to speak to me.
“The Swallow and the Swallow’s mate,” she said, following my eyes to where the little creatures swung together on the beautiful bough.
“Yes,” I answered, for her fancy seemed to me of good omen, “they have built their nest, and now they are thanking God before they begin to live together and rear their young in love.”
As the words left my lips a quick shadow swept across the path of sunlit ground before the house, two strong wings beat, and a brown hawk, small but very fierce, being of a sort that preys upon small birds, swooped downwards upon the swallows. One of them saw it, and slid from the bough, but the other the hawk caught in its talons, and mounted with it high into the air. In vain did its mate circle round it swiftly, uttering shrill notes of distress; up it went steadily as pitiless as death.