“An evil deed,” said Asika, “and one that will bring bad luck upon all of us; but then, Bull-Head, our chief, is an evil man. Oh! I know it who am of the number of his Kaffir wives. Say, friend,” she went on, “will you walk a little way with me, as far as the first huts of the kraal, for there are ghosts in the wood, and I fear to pass it alone at night.”
“I dare not, Asika,” he answered, “for I am set here on guard.”
“Have no fear, friend, the chief is within, seeing to the comfort of his new wife.”
“Well, I will come with you a little way if you wish it, but I must be back immediately,” he said, and the listeners heard them walk off together.
“Now, Zinti,” whispered Sihamba, “lead me through the hole in the rock.”
So he took her by the hand and felt along the face of the cliff till he found the bush which covered the entrance. To this he climbed, dragging her after him, and presently they were in the secret krantz.
“We have found our way into the spider’s nest,” muttered Zinti, who grew afraid; “but say, lady, how shall we find our way out of it?”
“Lead on and leave that to me,” she answered. “Where I, a woman, can go, surely you who are a man can go also.”
“I trust to your magic to protect us—therefore I come,” said Zinti, “though if we are seen our death is sure.”
On they crept across the glen, till presently they heard the sound of the small waterfall and saw it glimmering faintly through the gloom and drizzling rain. To their left ran the stream, and on the banks of it stood something large and round.
“There stands the new hut where Swallow is,” whispered Zinti.
Now Sihamba thought for a moment and said:
“Zinti, I must find out what passes in that hut. Listen: do you lie hid among the rocks under the bank of the stream, and if you hear me hoot like an owl, then come to me, but not before.”
“I obey,” answered Zinti, and crept down among the reeds, where he crouched for a long time up to his knees in water, shivering with cold and fear.
WHAT PASSED IN THE HUT
Going on to her hands and knees Sihamba crawled towards the hut. Now she was within ten paces of it and could see that a man stood on guard at its doorway. “I must creep round to the back,” she thought, and began to do so, heading for some shrubs which grew to the right. Already she had almost reached them, when of a sudden, and for an instant only, the moon shone out between two thick clouds, revealing her, though indistinctly, to the eyes of the guard. Now Sihamba was wearing a fur cape made of wild dog’s hide, and, crouched as she was upon her hands and knees, half-hidden, moreover, by a tuft of dry grass, the man took her to be a wild dog or a jackal, and the hair which stood out round her head for the ruff upon the animal’s neck.