leap high into the air, and then to fall in lifeless lumps
on the earth.
The retreat was but momentary, for with a hideous
roar the Kafirs stopped suddenly, and then came
" Go, Morton," cried Risk : " take Miss Delton and
make for Itsobi."
" The horses are all here," hoarsely answered Morton.
" Come along."
Then the three rushed out from the shelter of the
hut, and, firing another volley, they made for the
Morton rushed first for Miss Delton's door, but she
was already standing beside the horses, and seeing them
IN THE SILENCE OF THE NIGHT 45
come up, she hastily slipped the halter rein in one
animal's mouth and sprang on its back. She had, in
the meantime, also loosened the other three, and she
called out to them as they reached her that she had
Almost simultaneously the three sprang on their
horses, and turned them away ; but the danger was
not yet over. The maddened Kafirs were now but a
few yards behind, and numbers could be seen closing
around them in a great circle.
Lashing the animals with the ends of the reins, they
tore away. Whiz, whiz, sang a score of assegais past
them, but somewhat wide. On they tore, with the
infuriated mob behind them, and the human cordon
closing in front of them only about fifty yards away.
Whiz, plick ! And three of them knew that one of
their number had fallen. It was Ferror, they knew,
for they heard him call out bravely to them to ride on.
His horse was unhurt, for it raced past them and
through the crowd in front.
Miss Delton rode in the middle, and Morton on her
left. She was calm and collected, and guided her horse
with a firm hand.
" Now, Miss Delton, keep straight on," cried Morton,
as they approached the crowd. " Fire, Risk," and the
two revolvers cracked out sharply amongst the roar
Now they were right in amidst the crowd. Assegais
whizzed past like rain, and Morton felt a stinging
sensation in his left arm ; then something like red-
hot iron struck his head : but on they went, until they
had passed through, and the crowd was once more
yelling behind. But they were now out of reach of the
assegais, and felt almost safe.
" Are you all right, Miss Delton ? " asked the two boys
almost in one breath, as, after riding at a mad gallop
in silence for ten minutes or more, they drew rein to
allow the horses to blow.
" Yes, thanks," she answered in low, sweet tones,
46 AT MOSETI'S BIDDING
" but I think my horse is hurt" Scarcely had she
spoken the words when the animal began to totter.
To save Miss Delton from a fall, Morton put out his
right arm and skilfully lifted her off her animal and
placed her before him, and he had only just done this
when her horse fell to the ground and rolled over, dead.
Then on they went again, and did not stop until they
felt that they had put a good many miles between
themselves and the savage horde.
" Are you hurt at all, Morton ? " asked Risk, as they
'Yes, I am, but not much. How did you fare ? "
" Oh, pretty badly," Risk answered. " I have a cut
across the face, and my foot is rather damaged."
Miss Delton was on the ground in a second. " Oh, do
let me dress both your wounds," she said. " You have
both been so brave and so good."
Hastily turning to Morton, she was startled to see his
face was one mass of blood.
" Oh ! How terrible ! " she cried, and making him
dismount from his horse she hastily set about bandaging
his wounded head with strips of her handkerchief.
Then she tore up his and Risk's handkerchiefs in the
same way, and bound up their other wounds.
None of these were serious, but they were all fear-
fully painful, and they had both lost a large quantity of
blood and felt weak.
" Let us hurry away now," she said ; then, turning
round to look in the direction of Engwenza, she ex-
claimed, " See, they are burning the huts. Oh, what
a merciful escape ours has been," and she shuddered at
the thought of the terrible death they had escaped.
Then they mounted again and rode on slowly, so as
to spare the horses as much as possible, for Itsobi was
still far off.
On they rode in silence, for each of the three seemed
too much engaged with his or her own thoughts to
They all were thinking of their marvellous escape,
IN THE SILENCE OF THE NIGHT 47
and of poor Ferrer's sad end, for none of them doubted
but that the cruel savages had killed him as he fell.
Morton's thoughts turned to the sweet girl seated on
the horse before him, and his heart seemed almost to
stand still with horror as he thought what her end
would have been had she fallen into the wretches'
" Ugh ! " he exclaimed under his breath, and shud-
dered ; but she heard him and looked up.
Risk had fallen back a few yards, and was almost
oblivious to the couple riding in front, so engrossed
was he in his thoughts.
" What is it, Mr. Morton ? Are your wounds
troubling you ? " she asked anxiously.
" No, Miss Delton, it was only a thought."
" Won't you tell me, Mr. Morton ; or is it something
which you would rather not say ? "
" No, Miss Delton, it was not. I did not mean you
to hear the expression, and in fact, I was not aware that
I had uttered it, until you asked. The truth is, the
horrible thought of what would have happened to you,
had you been caught, came into my mind."
" Oh ! You and Mr. Risk are so good, always to be
thinking of me and not of yourselves. But don't think
about these terrible things now ; let us forget them for
And Morton suddenly realised that his duty lay in
removing her thoughts from their present unhappy lot,
and he hastened to turn the subject to other things.
On they rode, speaking as they went on all sorts
of subjects, until they realised that the morning was
beginning to dawn.
Risk now trotted up to them, and bade them halt
for half an hour or so.
" We are only about thirty minutes' ride from Itsobi ;
but the horses are tired, and as there is no fear of
the natives here, we might as well let the poor animals
The rest over they again mounted, and soon they
48 AT MOSETl'S BIDDING
saw the few scattered white houses of the village lying
Here they were joyfully received, for the villagers,
having heard through friendly natives of the attack
on Dale's station, had mourned all its inhabitants
as dead ; and knowing that Engwenza lay right in the
way to Itsobi, they had feared that the same fate had
befallen its inhabitants. A relief party would have been
sent out, but the men who constituted the garrison of
the village were few, and an attack on it was hourly
Miss Delton was welcomed by the magistrate's
wife, Mrs. Warren, who took her into her house,
while Morton and Risk were quartered with the other
men in the fort.
HAROLD MORTON and Ivor Risk were, as
has already been said, with the other men who
formed the defence force of Itsobi, in the laager which
had been made on a little hill immediately outside the
village, and which commanded an excellent outlook
on one side.
At the back of the village, and between it and a
rather high hill with two conical shaped peaks, ran
the Xosi river, a little stream at present not more
than about twenty-four yards wide, but which, in time
of flood, overflowed its banks and formed a very
wide and turbulent river. The road from Itsobi to
the next village crossed the river by means of a
roughly constructed wooden bridge, and then continued
up and over the hill between the two peaks.
At the top of the hill, just where the road passed
over it, one of the outposts was stationed ; and although
from this point the enemy, if they contemplated an
attack from that quarter, could not be discerned until
they were right on to it, as from here the road wound
round and round several spurs of this and other hills,
still it afforded the best spot for an outlook on that
side of the village and gave at least some safeguard
to those in the village, against a sudden attack from
that quarter ; for though there would be but a poor
chance for the sentry stationed there, should the enemy
come up that way, yet he would be able to warn the
50 AT MOSETI'S BIDDING
inhabitants of the village by firing off his rifle. Con-
sequently, there were very few who cared to volunteer
for a post so dangerous, and those who did actually
go never felt very confident that they would return
Had the garrison been any stronger, sentries would
also have been posted on each side of the hill ; but
aS it was, the total strength numbered only twenty
men, of whom half were scarcely more than boys.
It had been arranged that at the first sound of
warning the entire population would go into the laager,
which had been well provisioned in every way, even
to a supply of water, which was kept in three large
The defence force of the village consisted, as has
been said, of twenty men, of whom the magistrate was
captain ; and, indeed, a better man for the position could
not have been found, for he had served in several of the
earlier Kafir wars, where he had gained some distinction.
At the very first sign of unrest among the natives he
had communicated with the Colonial Government,
asking that reinforcements might be sent immediately ;
but matters had developed so rapidly that he feared the
messenger he had sent had either not got through with
the despatch or else had deserted to the enemy.
The day after the fugitives from Engwenza had
arrived, Mr. Warren was walking up and down on his
stoep smoking, when Morton came up to the garden
gate, and seeing him, Mr. Warren walked down the
path to meet him.
" Well, Mr. Morton, and how are you after yesterday's
adventures ? " he asked, as he shook the newcomer by
the hand. *
" I am well, thanks, Mr. Warren, and have come to
give you a report of the affair, and also to inquire after
" Poor girl," muttered Mr. Warren, shaking his head
sadly " poor girl ! She has gone through very trying
times, and has had some very narrow escapes. I have
IN ITSOBI 51
known her for some two or three years now, and both
my wife and I are very much attached to her." Then,
seeing Morton looked interested, he continued : " I
knew her father years ago, when we were at school
together, and afterwards, when I was appointed to
Barkly, I renewed the acquaintance. Dorothy was then
a little girl of let me see " reflecting for a rrioment
" well, she is about twenty now, and that was nine years
ago ; yes, she was then a little dot of eleven. Her
father died shortly after I left Barkly to take up this
appointment, and a few years ago she came down here
as governess to Dale's kiddies. Whenever she comes
to Itsobi she always stays with us ; for if she did not
my wife would be grievously offended. She is also
passionately attached to my wife and my two youngsters,
and I must admit I am awfully fond of the little girl,
and felt very anxious about her."
" And how is she to-day, Mr. Warren ? " Morton
Mr. Warren marked the half-suppressed eagerness in
the tone of the question.
" She is well as far as her health is concerned ; still,
as must be expected, her spirits are not of the very
brightest at present ; but she'll get over it all in good
time. Time never fails to heal the wounds, however
sore they are. But come, tell me all you know about
the attack on Dale's place and on yours, so that
I may report to headquarters when I have the
So Morton told all that he knew of the affair, and
then Mr. Warren, after they had discussed several
matters, made some excuse to go inside on the pretext
of looking for something, and left Harold sitting there.
A few minutes later the door leading on to the stoep
opened, and, thinking that it was Mr. Warren, Morton
looked up ; but he was mistaken, for instead of the
magistrate, there stood Miss Delton, looking, in the cool
white dress which she had evidently borrowed from
Mrs. Warren, more beautiful than ever. Her face was
52 AT MOSETI'S BIDDING
sad and bore traces of her sorrows ; but seeing Morton,
her eyes lighted up.
" Good morning, Mr. Morton. I did not expect to
see you, as I thought you would be busy in the laager.
Mr. Warren told me that some one wanted to see me on
the stoep, and I thought it was Mrs. Warren, for she
walked down to the library about half an 'hour ago."
Harold placed a chair for her, and together they sat
conversing for some time on almost every conceivable
subject but the events which had so recently transpired.
Harold, knowing how deeply that subject affected her,
very wisely steered as far clear of it as he could ; and
she, perceiving this, felt more and more drawn to him
because of his thoughtfulness.
Presently Mrs. Warren returned, and Miss Delton
introduced her to Harold.
Mrs. Warren was a middle-aged lady of a very cheer-
ful and engaging disposition, and she soon made Harold
feel as if he had known her for years instead of but
for a few minutes.
After conversing with them for a short while she
went inside, and as she entered the door she looked
back and called out to Miss Delton to make Mr.
Morton stay for tea, which Miss Delton promptly did ;
and though Morton demurred in a half-hearted way,
as if he felt it to be his duty to do so, and urged that
he might be needed at the fort, a little persuasion soon
brought consent from him.
After tea the four sat out on the stoep again, for
it was hot inside the house.
" Go and sing something for us, Dorothy dear," Mrs.
" Certainly, Mrs. Warren," answered the girl, always
ready to oblige others, as she rose from her chair.
" You must be very tired of all my old songs by
" No, dear, you know we are not ; and besides, it is
so long since you last sang to us. Sing anything you
IN ITSOBI 53
" Shall I turn the pages for you, Miss Delton ? "
" No, thanks, Mr. Morton ; I'll sing something that I
know, and so will not need your services."
Then she went in, and soon through the open door
of the sitting-room, which was also the dining-room,
her clear sweet soprano voice came softly.
The song she sang was indeed an old one, but it
was none the less sweet for that, and the voice, which
rendered it with so much expression, seemed to feel
each word. In parts, where the words brought her
thoughts to what she had just undergone, her voice
shook audibly with emotion, and when she reached
Some have gone from us for ever,
Longer here they might not stay,
They have reached a fairer region, far away,
she broke down completely, and, covering her face
with her hands, she sobbed as if her heart would break.
Mrs. Warren rose and went in to her. " Don't cry,
darling. Come, my child, don't ! You have been so
brave don't give way now." Then, sitting down, she
drew the poor girl to her knees, and lovingly stroked
her beautiful soft hair. Gradually the sobbing grew
less and less, until it ceased altogether.
" Now go and dry your tears, dearie, and come
outside to us again. You need not be ashamed of
your tears, darling." And, as Miss Delton went away
to her room, Mrs. Warren rejoined her husband and
Morton on the verandah.
" We had better not have any more singing to-night,
Robert," she said to her husband. " Poor Dorothy is
too much upset. It was thoughtless of me to have
asked her to sing ; but I thought it would serve to
take her thoughts away from other things."
It was a long time before Miss Delton came out
again, and when she did Morton was just about to go.
After shaking hands with Mrs. Warren and Miss
Delton, he walked down to the gate, Mr. Warren
accompanying him so far.
54 AT MOSETl'S BIDDING
" I am afraid I'll have to ask you and Mr. Risk
to. undertake the guard on that hill to-morrow night,
Mr. Morton, as the other men have already all had
a turn, and I may tell you none of them fancy it
particularly," Mr. Warren said, as they were about
" Oh, certainly, Mr. Warren ; we are ready for any
service you may appoint."
" Well, then, I'll see you to-morrow morning, and we'll
talk the matter over. By the way," he added, just as
he was turning away, and coming again towards the
gate, " have you ever done any military service ? I ask
the question because I happened to see some plans
which you made hurriedly for the trenches this morning,
and they struck me as evincing some knowledge of
" Yes, I do know something of military work, as I have
been through Sandhurst ; but I only tell you this, Mr.
Warren, because you have asked me the direct question,
and I will feel greatly obliged to you if you don't
mention the matter to any one else. I was going in for
the army, but for some reason had to alter my plans
at the last moment, just as I was about finished."
" All right, I'll promise not to say anything ; but now
I will tell you my reason for wanting to know. I want
you to act as my lieutenant, and if anything should
befall me, you will assume entire command. Now,
good night ! You must be tired."
" Good night, Mr. Warren."
Then, turning, Morton walked sharply to the tent in
the laager which he and Risk were occupying together.
THREE weeks passed, and nothing very startling
had occurred, beyond the fact that a party of
Kafirs numbering about fifty had been seen near to the
The garrison had exchanged a few shots with them,
but they were too far away for those within the laager
to see whether any harm had been done to them. One
man in the laager had had his arm struck by a bullet,
but beyond that no one was even touched, and the man
had almost quite recovered, for, as the range had been
a very long one, the bullet was nearly spent when it
The party had evidently been sent out from the main
force to reconnoitre, for, after hovering about for a little
while at a respectful distance, they had gone off again.
Most of the Kafirs were on foot, but a large number
were mounted, and what was more serious was the fact
that many of them appeared to be armed with fire-arms.
Mr. Warren had had a message saying that a party
of the F.A.M.P. were coming as soon as possible to
the assistance of the village, as it was thought that the
Kafirs might be troublesome there ; but the letter
continued, " It is not anticipated that there will be
any determined attack made on your village, as the
enemy appear to be giving their attention to other
parts of the country."
By this Mr. Warren knew that his letter had not
reached its destination, for had it done so the reply
56 AT MOSETI'S BIDDING
would have come immediately in the form of ample
reinforcements ; whereas, from the letter he gathered
that the small force which actually was coming had
been sent merely as a precautionary measure, and not
because the authorities feared danger as far as Itsobi
He immediately despatched another messenger, urging
that a sufficiently strong force might be sent at once to
assist in garrisoning the place, and to work in the
district in order to quell the rebellion there.
Morton had only seen Miss Delton a few times since the
evening he had spent at the magistrate's house. How-
ever, he promised himself that he would see her on the
morrow, and the thought brought a look of pleasure
into his face, and, as he busied himself with the kettle,
he whistled merrily.
" You appear happy, Harold," said Risk. " I can't
see any particular cause for happiness, when a man has
to act as his own blooming cook."
" Oh, it's a new experience, and not bad fun for a
" Bless the fun ! I am getting sick of the job, and I
wish that scoundrel Roro were here to make the coffee.
I will do as many guards as are necessary, but I'm
bothered if I like this work."
And so the conversation rambled on as they worked,
and despite Ivor's grumbling, they managed to grill
some very respectable chops, which the trouble they
had had in making caused them to enjoy more even
than if Roro had prepared them.
After supper they sat with the other men around the
camp fire, talking and smoking, and so the evening
passed. As their turn for guard duty would come on
at about three in the morning, Risk and Morton turned
in early to bed, and were soon sound asleep.
"Wake up, Harold."
Morton flew out of bed as Ivor caught him by
his arm and called to him.
At the door of the tent he saw a figure standing,
which by the light of the moon, he recognised as
" Mr. Warren has come down from his house to
tell us that some Kafirs how many he does not know
himself evading the sentries, came to his house and
carried Miss Delton off," Ivor said hastily.
" My God ! " Morton exclaimed, and stood staring
at Mr. Warren as the latter proceeded to tell hurriedly
how, about fifteen minutes ago, he had been awakened
by the sound of horses galloping away, and going to
his window he was just in time to see a troop of
mounted Kafirs disappear. But in that brief glance,
he saw a woman's figure, which he recognised as
Dorothy's, on one of the horses, in the arms of a
" Which direction did they take ? " asked Morton,
" They went north-west, as if riding towards
" Then I shall follow them at once," Morton said ;
and his firm accents told plainer than words that, come
what might, he was going.
" And I go with you, Harold," interposed Risk.
"Well, I can't and won't dissuade you fellows.
Would to God that I could accompany you ; but my
duty lies here, and here I must stay until the relieving
force arrives ; and if it comes to-morrow, I shall send
a party after you. Well, I must hurry back home.
Call there before you leave."
Ivor had in the meantime gone off to fetch the
horses, and, borrowing a couple of saddles from the
men whom he had awakened for that purpose, he soon
had the animals saddled and bridled, and brought them
to the tent. Morton, with rifle strapped over his
shoulders, was ready, and immediately they mounted
and rode off to the Residency.
Here they stayed but a few minutes, and while
Morton ran in to say good-bye to Mrs. Warren,
5$ At MOSETl's BlDDtNCJ
Mr. Warren gave Ivor some advice as to how they
should act, and where they would most likely trace
Morton soon came out, and brought with him a
large parcel of sandwiches which Mrs. Warren had
hastily cut, and a flask of brandy.
Hastily dividing the parcel, they mounted and again
moved off, this time at a brisk gallop.
Mr. Warren stood watching the retreating figures
until he could no longer see them, and then, as the
sound of the galloping horses became fainter and fainter
until it quite died away, he went inside and flung
himself down on the couch in great grief.
" What will become of her ? " he moaned ; and his
sorrow-stricken wife could give him no answer, for she
was asking the same question over and over again to
" Come, let us go to bed again ; we can do no good
sitting here, and we may be needed in the morning."
Then they retired to bed again, but not to sleep ;
for they could not ease their minds of the new and
terrible anxiety which had fallen upon them. They
were both deeply attached to Dorothy Delton, and
now, when she had been taken away from under their
very roof, their grief knew no bounds. They both
knew the natives and what cruelty they were capable
of, and as they thought of the many and cruel atrocities
which these same people had perpetrated on former
occasions, they felt fearful lest the same and worse
might now befall Dorothy Delton.
How Morton and Ivor could possibly save her
neither of them could think. Indeed, Mr. Warren
wondered whether he had done right in allowing them
to go ; but then he knew that it would have been
cruelty to have kept at least one of them back, and
now, as he and his wife lay in bed, with sleep far away
from them, he told her of his suspicions in regard
to Morton and Dorothy, and to his surprise she told
him that she too had observed matters, and not only
as far as Morton was concerned ; but that she was
inclined to think that Dorothy was equally as deeply
After galloping on for some time, during which
neither spoke a word, Ivor suggested that they should
draw rein for a few minutes.
" We must make our plans, Harold, before we go
any farther. What do you propose?"
" I propose finding her and killing as many of those
accursed rebels as possible," answered Morton, and Risk
saw that his face was set firmly, and white with anxiety.
" Well, we must first find in which direction they