mounted on a horse by herself, she was better able to
see things as she travelled along.
The Kafir who had had her in his arms on the night
of her capture, and whom she had snubbed so severely,
did not trouble her with any further attentions, for
which she was not sorry ; and the others addressed but
few words to her, though they kept up an incessant
chatter amongst themselves.
They had dismounted on many occasions during the
time they had been on the road, and though the food
which they prepared and ate at their halts was rather
coarse, being for the most part broth of a kind and
76 AT MOSETl'S BIDDING
grilled meat, Dorothy was not fastidious, and ate what
was given her, if not with relish, at any rate with thank-
fulness. No event occurred to cause any excitement
during the ride, and the country appeared so deserted
that it was hard for Dorothy to imagine that it was in
a state of war.
Sometimes they passed through country which was
thickly dotted with huts ; but at times hours passed
without a single appearance of a human habitation.
The natives, however, seemed to have deserted their
homes, for few huts appeared to be occupied at all, and
then only by old men, women, and children. Of cattle
there were none, for these had evidently been driven off
by the men to feed the army, or perhaps in order to
keep them from falling into the hands of the enemy.
Thus they travelled for another day and night, never
resting for more than four or five hours.
Dorothy noticed, when the day dawned, that the
country through which they were now travelling was
different to that through which they had gone up to
then. The undulating veldt, with its low-lying hills
and valleys, had given place to high mountains, with
precipitous sides ; dense bush grew in the deep
gorges which ran down the sides of the mountains,
while the country between was also thickly wooded.
The little party were following along a narrow track,
which was covered with loose stones which at some
previous time must have come clattering down from the
neighbouring heights. Numerous troops of baboons
appeared, and went chattering away as soon as the
From the conversation of the men Dorothy learned
that they were now approaching Moseti's kraal, and
would be there some time during the afternoon, and
with the knowledge that what she most dreaded was so
near at hand her fears increased ; but, brave girl that
she was, she realised that this was not the time to give
way, and she determined to keep a brave face and heart
as long as she could. She would still hope for delivery,
MOSETI'S MOUNTAIN KRAAL 77
and when the time came, if come it did, she would be
ready if necessary to assist her rescuers by being pre-
pared to take advantage of whatever opportunity might
Suddenly a halt was called, and the man who had
taken her from the magistrate's house, and who appeared
to be the leader of the party, came forward to her.
" You must now follow me," he said, and not deigning
to answer him a word, she turned her horse after him
and followed. They left the path by which they had
been travelling and made their way through the bush.
It was hard work, and the branches of the trees through
which they passed scratched Dorothy's face and caught
in her hair, causing her severe pain ; however, in less
than twenty minutes they got almost clear of the bush,
and Dorothy saw that they were at the foot of a very
high mountain, which to her appeared inaccessible. Her
guide drew rein, and then, putting his fingers to his lips,
he gave a loud shrill whistle, which echoed in the
mountains around. Then he dismounted and stood
silently waiting for a reply, which soon came from
the heights far up the mountain under which they
" Who calls below ? " asked the voice.
" It is I, Nonga, the messenger whom Moseti sent to
do his bidding."
" That is well ; and hast thou done what was given
to thee to do?"
" Ay ; and I bring now to Moseti what he most
desired a white woman, fair as the fairest flower ;
whose eyes are as the sky on a summer's day, and
whose hair is as the gold of the sunset. Moreover,
she is the daughter of Warren the magistrate, him
whom Moseti hates."
" Thou hast done well, O Nonga, messenger of
Moseti, so enter now with her whom thou hast
There was silence for a moment, and then a sound
which seemed to come from inside the mountain near
78 AT MOSETI'S BIDDING
to where they stood reached Dorothy's ear. It was as
the sound of many feet walking in measured treads.
Nearer and nearer the footsteps came, until they
seemed right on them. Then they ceased for a moment,
while a grating noise was heard as if coming from
behind a gigantic slab of rock which lay in front of
them, buried in the mountain.
Suddenly this rock moved slightly ; then again it
moved, and then it seemed to disappear altogether into
the mountain, while in its place there was a large
black hole, sufficiently large for both riders to enter.
" Follow me," said Nonga ; but Dorothy almost
involuntarily drew her horse back.
Before she had time to recover herself, and to realise
how hopeless any sort of resistance would be, a dozen
half-naked men rushed out of the cave and drew horse
and rider in. Then, looking back, Dorothy saw that
numbers of blacks were again fitting the stone into
They were now in absolute darkness, and while Dorothy
was still wondering what was expected of her, she
heard Nonga's horse move off, the sound of its unshod
feet echoing loudly, by which she knew that the chamber
they were in was a lofty one. Almost simultaneously
with the sound of Nonga's horse walking off,
Dorothy felt her horse being taken by some one and
led on, while some one else took her by the arm,
possibly fearing that she might slip off her horse
unseen and unheard in the darkness. Thus they
proceeded at a slow pace for fifteen minutes or more.
All the while Dorothy felt, by the motion of her horse,
that they were proceeding up a gradual incline.
Then they stopped for a moment, and some of the
men lighted torches, by the light of which she saw
that they were in the depths of an immense cavern.
The pathway along which they had come dipped down
until it lost itself in the uttermost blackness below. In
front of where they now halted, and distant about
twenty paces was the wall of the cavern.
MOSETl'S MOUNTAIN KRAAL 79
Vast stalagmites rose from the floor until they
almost met the long stalactites which hung from the
roof above. The lights of the torches flashed brightly
amongst these, and as their rays were caught and
reflected from one to the other, it appeared as if
thousands of lights had been lit in the gigantic hall.
It seemed as if the whole interior of the cavern was
filled with a vast forest of these crystal columns, save
only in the pathway up which they had come.
The sound of water dropping from the roof, and
trickling in little streams along the floor, fell upon the
ear, and as they proceeded the atmosphere became
oppressive and moist.
For a few moments they halted in order to allow
the purring horses to recover their wind, and then,
following one of the men with a torch in his hand,
they turned to the left through a narrow path amongst
the gigantic pillars.
The incline grew steeper as they proceeded, and
the travellers had to guide their horses skilfully away
from the calcareous formations on the floor, at the
same time eluding the many overhead beams of
stalactite and rock which threatened to strike their
heads as they passed. The air was now growing more
and more rare, and Dorothy found it difficult to breathe.
They had been travelling so long, and always in an
upward direction, that she felt sure they must now
be near the top of the mountain. They appeared
to be travelling up along the inside of the mountain,
and must now be very many hundred feet above the
spot from where they had first entered into the cave.
Dorothy wondered how it was that she and Nonga
had been kept waiting for so short a time for the stone
to be moved away, after the voice high on the mountain
had bidden them enter. Surely the men who had
opened the door for them could not have done the
journey to the door from the summit in so short a
time, seeing that the journey up had taken so long.
She looked about her, and found that only a dozen
80 AT MOSETI'S BIDDING
or so were with them, whereas the stone at the entrance
had been moved away by scores. By this she decided
that a large number evidently remained below, near
the door always, to move the stone or guard the en-
trance as directed by the voice on the mountain, which
was evidently the voice of the signalman, and she
further reasoned that this signalman must have some
means of communicating his orders speedily to those
On they now went through the labyrinth of pillars.
Now for ten or twenty yards the way would be free
from impediments ; presently they would come to with-
in a yard of the wall ; then the path would lead them
away from it for a moment or two, only to bring them
almost within touch of it again at the next turn. Now
her horse would stumble against a stone, or one of those
peculiar crystal growths ; then a native would be heard
to curse aloud as his head came in contact with an
overhead substance : and so they proceeded, ever on-
ward and upward.
Suddenly the passage was blocked by a gigantic
boulder. They appeared to have taken a turn which
brought them directly on to the face of the wall, and
all dismounted. A dark narrow aperture like the hole
of a porcupine appeared just under this rock, and
Nonga, after handing his horse to one of the men,
signalled to Dorothy to follow him, and going upon
hands and knees he entered the hole. As she entered
behind him she saw four or five of the men following
her, while the remainder, having taken charge of the
horses, were leading them down along the way whence
they had come.
Feeling her way carefully, mindful lest she might
strike her face against the sharp edges of rock through
which she passed, Dorothy crept on in silence for some
time, wondering as she went where she was being taken
to. She had abandoned all hope of delivery now, for
how would any one ever learn her whereabouts?
And how, even did they trace her to where they
MOSETl'S MOUNTAIN KRAAL 8l
had entered the mountain, could they ever follow
her, unguided, into these inmost recesses of the earth ?
Her heart was heavy, and her body sore after her long
and tiring exertions.
Just as she was feeling that she could get no farther
and must give up, her limbs being cramped and her
knees and hands raw and bruised with this creeping,
she became conscious that she had less difficulty in
breathing, and she determined to continue still for a
while. They had crept forward and upward, now
turning to the right, then to the left, times innumerable ;
and now, as they proceeded, despite the fact that
Nonga's body almost blocked the passage, the air was
becoming decidedly fresher at every separate forward
step. Then, far away between Nonga's back and the
roof, Dorothy saw a small white light, and she saw
by the increasing light that the remainder of the
passage was perfectly straight, and ended in the open
At length the aperture was reached, and Dorothy,
following Nonga, stepped forth once more into the
daylight. She was for a moment dazzled and felt
dizzy ; but when she had recovered herself somewhat
she found that, though still some distance from the
summit of the mountain, they were many hundreds of
feet above the valleys below. The side upon which they
stood went almost perpendicularly down, and she saw
that from that side at least there could be no hope
of rescue ; for who could climb a straight, steep face
like that ? The other side the side which overlooked
the way she and her captors had come, and which was
above the door was, she knew, equally steep and in-
A few moments' rest, and then, at a signal from
Nonga, on they went. The path now lay before them
along the outside of the mountain, like a spiral stairway.
When two or three turns had been made they reached
the side of the mountain under which the door was
situated, and as she looked from the dizzy heights
82 AT MOSETI'S BIDDING
Dorothy easily recognised the country below, through
which she and her escort had ridden.
A few feet away from the pathway along which they
were walking, on a platform of rock overlooking the vast
expanse of country, stood a Kafir. He scarcely looked
up as the party approached, so intent was he upon
something he appeared to be watching down below.
As they reached the spot upon which he was standing,
Dorothy stepped aside from the path on to the platform,
and followed with her eyes the direction he was looking,
Nonga scowled furiously at her and putting out his
hand he gripped her arm, and drew her again into the
pathway beside him ; but she had already seen what
she desired. Far down the mountain, standing on a
narrow ledge which she wondered how he had ever
reached, stood another naked form ; some hundreds of
feet below him stood another ; and though she had not
had time to look, she knew that there were others all the
way down at intervals, until the signalman to whom
Nonga had spoken terminated the line of communication.
From the base, where she and Nonga had stood before
entering the mountain, to where the signalman was stand-
ing she judged must be inaccessible ; but as they had only
heard the voice and had not seen the figure, she could
not tell with accuracy that this was so. The last
man could communicate with the interior of the cave
by some means or another, she felt convinced ; but
how, she knew not. Still pondering the matter in
her mind, it suddenly occurred to her that some path
must exist down this steep side, or else how could the
men whom she had seen, and the others whom she
knew were lower down, ever reach their posts ; and the
thought brought her that same hope which is in the
heart of the drowning man, who clutches madly at
straws, feathers, and such like to save himself from
Could she not, if she could but escape the vigilance
of her captors, make her way down along the path ?
But how pass these sentries ? how find that path ? and
MOSETl'S MOUNTAIN KRAAL 83
how, having found it, and having safely passed those
watchers, could she hope to descend that last inaccessible
portion ? The Kafirs evidently knew no way, and how
could she ? But her thoughts were suddenly brought
back from wild possibilities of the future to the very
real present. The party had arrived at a narrow
passage between two rocks, and passing through this,
they found themselves in a basin-like formation on the
top of the mountain.
The area of the basin was not more than about three
acres in extent ; but into this small space were crowded
at least a hundred Kafir huts. Four of these, somewhat
larger than the others, were placed in the centre of a
large circle, round which was a high palisade formed of
upright stakes driven into the ground. Round this
circle were the other huts, while again round these lay
the wall or sides of the basin.
Nonga directed the other men to leave him here, and
he and Dorothy proceeded to one of the large huts in
the centre of the circle, where he delivered her up to a
native woman, who was sitting outside pounding away
at some Kafir corn in a large wooden bowl.
HAVING handed Dorothy over in this way,
Nonga entered another hut of the centre group,
and Dorothy walked forward to the woman and held
out her hand ; for something in the face of the
other told her that here she would at any rate receive
The woman took her hand and then led her into
the hut, where she motioned her to a seat while she
busied herself preparing food.
Dorothy was worn out with fatigue ; but she ate
heartily nay, almost greedily at what was placed before
her, while her companion looked upon her with a look
of sincerest sympathy.
" My heart is with thee, O white lady," said she
at length, when Dorothy had satisfied the first cravings
of hunger ; " for I too am here, a captive, like unto
Dorothy put out her hand and touched that of her
" So, my friend," she answered, " and how comes
it that thou, a woman of the same race as these
people, dost call thyself a captive when amongst thine
own ? "
" Oh ! " she replied. " I am truly of these people,
still, what 1 have said is truth. I, Kakani, the daughter
of Telena, a man rich in goods and cattle, was sought
in marriage by one Tosi. He too had cattle ; \but
MOSETl'S BIDDING 85
another, a great captain in the army of the king,
rich beyond knowledge and well in favour with the
king, sought me too. My father would that I should
have this man, Nonga by name he who stole thee
from thy father's house and brought thee hither. Tosi
I loved, and he loved me far beyond the love of men
of his race. Tosi I trust; but Nonga I hate and
abhor. Nonga, whose very name is black with the
deeds he has committed, whose approach is enough
to make little children run and hide behind their
mothers, and whose look makes the boldest heart
to tremble, to him was I given. But before he could
take me I escaped from my home, and, guided by
Tosi, I travelled through the regions through which
you came and sought an audience with Moseti, who is
the king's greatest captain.
" I laid my case before him, and he listened for a
while with patience ; but when I told him that I had
been given to Nonga by my father, he grew angry, and
turned upon me with a scowl.
" ' Knowest thou not,' he asked, ' that thou art the
property of thy father, and by the laws he can give thee
to whomsoever he wills? How daredst thou then to
break from him to whom thy father had given thee ? '
" For a moment there was silence while I thought
what reply I should give ; but before I had framed
speech wherewith to reply, Tosi, who had been standing
quietly near, stepped forward and answered for me,
" ' True is it, O Great One ; true are the words which
thou hast spoken. The laws have rightly decreed
that the right is the father's to give the hand of his
daughter to whomsoever it pleaseth him to give it ;
but there is a right before which other rights are as
nothing, and that right is thine, O Great One. We
acknowledge thine as being above the rights of fathers
or aught else, and to the Father of Fathers are we
come to hear thy word and to plead for what we
desire. Moreover, O Great o the Great, I, Tosi,
86 AT MOSETI'S BIDDING
would beseech thee to hearken further to me, whilst I
ask thee to grant me, in thy great goodness, this one
favour that I would ask of thee. Give her unto me
and I will serve thee all my days.'
"He stopped for a moment, and falling down low he
raised his arms, and continued at first in a subdued
voice, raising it and lowering it to suit the words he
"'O Great One, the land is darkening; thick black
storm clouds rise behind the mountains and are
slowly but surely growing greater as they come
nearer. The distant rumblings of thunder are heard,
with ever and anon a flash of fire in them to show
the fierce destruction which they carry in their black-
ness. The storm comes, and thou, O Great Moseti,
first chief in the land, next to our Great Father, will
need the arms of thy warriors, and not one from all
thy hosts canst thou spare. Ay, thou mayest say
that thou hast many who will stand by thee in the
hour of storm ; but there is not in all thy thousands
one who will be as true to thee and to our Great
Father, Kreli ; none who will stand nearer thee in
the hour of danger than I, Tosi, the son of Anela.
Give her to me, O Great Chief; Leader of all People,
Dweller in Highest Parts of the Earth, and I will
be thy slave when all who now serve thee have fled.,
In victory I will extol thee, and if defeat or disaster
be thy lot, still will I stand beside thee yea, even
should death overtake thee, then shall that death be
wrought over my body.'
" I saw that Tosi's speech pleased Moseti, and I looked
eagerly at him, for his lips had already moved to utter
the words, Take her and go in peace, when there was a
loud uproar, and Nonga, followed by a number of his
warriors, entered the kraal and presented himself at
the feet of the chief.
" There was silence for a while, and then Moseti
" ' Rise, Nonga,' he said. ' Tell thy tale, whilst yet
MOSETI'S BIDDING 87
the words of this woman and of Tosi are fresh in my
" Then rose Nonga, and addressing the chief, he told
him how I had been given to him by my father, accord-
ing to the laws of the king ; further, how I had escaped
from him and fled to Moseti.
" The chief listened and looked grave. Tosi's speech
had pleased him, and he would fain have given me to
him ; but Nonga was high in the king's favour, and he
would not give him offence, for he knew that Nonga's
influence amongst the people was great, for he was a
great warrior, and further, they feared him greatly.
He hesitated for a moment ; then he turned to Nonga
and spoke these words :
" ' Thou art my right hand, a great captain amongst
the king's warriors, and thou, Nonga, hast served the
king and me with zeal and integrity all thy days.
This woman is, as thou hast said, thine by the laws
made by those who were great when we were still
wandering among the stars ; and to thee doth she
rightly belong.' He paused a moment, and during that
time I trembled, for I dreaded what might fall from
his lips next ; then he continued, ' Here stands one,'
indicating Tosi, ' who acknowledges thy right, but he
pleads, that while the father has the right of the giving
of his daughter's hand to whom he wills, the chief has
a right beyond that. To give her to both I cannot.
She has sought protection from me, therefore I must
give it to her. I will therefore set thee a task, and to
thee, Tosi, will I set another. Then to him who carries
out my commands first will I give the hand of Kakani.'
" Here Nonga rose, as if to speak ; but Moseti
motioned him to be silent. Then he continued :
" The place Itsobi lies beyond those distant hills,
and I would have you go there now. There dwells
Warren, the magistrate, who gave the warning to the
people in the Colony to send their soldiers to destroy
us. We caught the messenger, and his body now hangs
rotting on the tree to which our warriors tied him.
88 AT MOSETI'S BIDDING
Now would I have Warren likewise ; but he remains
behind his stronghold. Seize one of his women-kind,
his wife or his daughter, and bring her here. Then
will Warren follow ; and then shall I have him to die
before me, while the children of Kreli laugh at his
death. Go, Nonga ; bring her to me, and when the
moon is full in the skies I will take her to wife, for
I love the fair faces of the white women ; and when I
take her, then shall I give Kakani unto thee.'
" Then, turning to Tosi, he gave him this command.
' Go thou, Tosi, down through the great cavern,
into the plain below, and then alone and unaided find
thy way back to this from beyond the mountain, by the
path now long forgotten, and which is known only to
the spirits of the Great Departed Ones. If thou art
here, when the moon shows its face full, and Nonga has
not yet returned, then shall Kakani be thine. But if
Nonga shall have returned and have done my bidding
before thee, then shall she be his.' "
Here Kakani stopped and wept bitterly, for she
realised all too fully that Nonga had won and she was
his prize. It was now Dorothy's turn to comfort her,
and she did so by telling her own history.
"Be not disheartened, my friend," she said to the
weeping girl. "Our fates are hard, but we may still
have freedom ; and then we will be joined by our lovers
and will flee from Kafirland." She then explained that
she was not Mr. Warren's daughter, as had been sup-
posed by Nonga owing to the fact that she was in
Then, tired and weary, Dorothy lay down and fell
asleep, while Kakani walked towards her own hut some
Dorothy was awakened from her sleep by hearing
some one talking in a low voice next to her hut. How
long she had been asleep she knew not ; but she felt
that it must be long past midnight.
" So thou hast brought her, Nonga," said a voice, deep
and gruff; and she heard another voice, which she
MOSETl'S BIDDING 89
recognised as being Nonga's, answer : " Yes ; I have
done thy commands and herein doth she lie. Now