“Because you are still in the world, you old fool, and not where you deserve to be,” I answered. “Because Mavovo’s Snake was a snake with a true tongue after all, and Dogeetah came as it foretold. Because we are all alive and well, and it is Imbozwi with his spawn who are dead upon the posts. That is why, Hans, as you would have seen for yourself if you had kept awake, instead of swallowing filthy medicine like a frightened woman, just because you were afraid of death, which at your age you ought to have welcomed.”
“Oh! Baas,” broke in Hans, “don’t tell me that things are so and that we are really alive in what your honoured father used to call this gourd full of tears. Don’t tell me, Baas, that I made a coward of myself and swallowed that beastliness—if you knew what it was made of you would understand, Baas—for nothing but a bad headache. Don’t tell me that Dogeetah came when my eyes were not open to see him, and worst of all, that Imbozwi and his children were tied to those poles when I was not able to help them out of the bottle of tears into the fire that burns for ever and ever. Oh! it is too much, and I swear, Baas, that however often I have to die, henceforward it shall always be with my eyes open,” and holding his aching head between his hands he rocked himself to and fro in bitter grief.
Well might Hans be sad, seeing that he never heard
the last of the incident. The hunters invented
a new and gigantic name for him, which meant “The
eat-up-their-enemies.” Even Sammy made a mock of him, showing him the spoils which he declared he had wrenched unaided from the mighty master of magic, Imbozwi. As indeed he had—after the said Imbozwi was stone dead at the stake.
It was very amusing until things grew so bad that I feared Hans would kill Sammy, and had to put a stop to the joke.
BROTHER JOHN’S STORY
Although I went to bed late I was up before sunrise. Chiefly because I wished to have some private conversation with Brother John, whom I knew to be a very early riser. Indeed, he slept less than any man I ever met.
As I expected, I found him astir in his hut; he was engaged in pressing flowers by candlelight.
“John,” I said, “I have brought you some property which I think you have lost,” and I handed him the morocco-bound Christian Year and the water-colour drawing which we had found in the sacked mission house at Kilwa.
He looked first at the picture and then at the book; at least, I suppose he did, for I went outside the hut for a while—to observe the sunrise. In a few minutes he called me, and when the door was shut, said in an unsteady voice:
“How did you come by these relics, Allan?”
I told him the story from beginning to end. He listened without a word, and when I had finished said: