“None that I know of,” he answered; “but I have seen that the ground behind us is flat and open as far as the great peak which you saw rising on the plain away beyond the sky-line.”
“Good,” said Sihamba. “Let us head for the peak, since we have nowhere else to go, and if we are separated, let us agree to meet upon its southern slope. Now, Zinti, loose the mule, for we have our lives to save, and ride on, remembering that Death is behind you.”
HOW THE SCHIMMEL CROSSED THE RED WATER
When they turned their horses’ heads, Swart Piet and his men were not much more than a hundred paces from them, but in the wood they gained much ground, for he did not think that they would dare to leave it, and hunted for them there while they were racing over the open plain more than a mile away. At last he caught sight of them crossing a distant ridge, and the long chase began. For hour after hour they galloped on through the moonlight across the wide and rolling veldt until the moon sank, and they must pick their way as best they could in the darkness. Then came the dawn, and still they rode forward, though now the horses were beginning to grow weary, except the schimmel, who pulled upon his bit as though he were fresh from the stable. In front of them, some twenty miles away, rose the lofty peak for which they were heading, and behind lay the great expanse of plain which they had passed. Suzanne looked back over her shoulder, but there was no one in sight.
“Let us halt,” she said, “and rest ourselves and the horses.” So they pulled up by a stream and suffered the beasts to drink some water, though not much, while they themselves devoured biltong, of which they had a little in the saddle-bags.
“Why do we ride for the peak?” asked Suzanne.
“Because there are places where we may lie hid,” Sihamba answered, “and thence we can make our way down to the seashore and so back homewards, whereas here upon the plain we can be seen from miles away.”
“Do any people live on the peak?”
“Yes, Swallow; it is the home of the great chief Sigwe, the chief-paramount of the Red Kaffirs, who counts his spears by thousands, but I have heard that he is away to the north upon a war which he makes against some of the Swazi tribes with whom he has a quarrel.”
“Will the people of Sigwe protect us, Sihamba?”
“Perhaps. We shall see. At least, you are safer with them than in the hands of Swart Piet.”
At this moment, Zinti, who was watching the plain over which they had travelled, uttered a cry of warning. Looking back, they saw the reason of it, for there, crossing the crest of a wave of ground, not more than a mile away, were five horsemen riding hard upon their spoor.
“Swart Piet and four of his men,” said Sihamba, “and by my Spirit, they have fresh horses; they must have taken them from the kraal of the half-breed which we passed at daybreak, and that is why we lost sight of them for a while.”