weird sounds of the war dance above him.
Salmo crept up until he stood behind him, and so
silent and cat-like had been his movements, that even
the trained ear of the sentry had detected nothing.
A minute passed, and yet another, and still neither
man moved ; then, as the sounds in the kraal above
swelled louder for an instant, Salmo crouched quickly
down, and the next moment he sprang like a leopard
at the throat of the sentry. There was no cry, scarce
even a sound, while, with hands tightly clasped round
the head of the other, Salmo twisted and broke his neck,
and then tore at his throat with his teeth. Then, lifting
the corpse up in his arms, he flung it far out into the
darkness of the night far below.
This was the only sentry whose presence Salmo
feared ; the others were far below and not in a direct
line down, or there might have been danger of their
having heard the body fall. Only two other sentries
were placed higher up, and their positions were far re-
moved from the secret track, so that, this man away,
the rest of the approach would be easy.
Then he returned whence he came, and, moving the
stone, which he had previously replaced, he crept down
and summoned the others by signal to follow him.
IN MOSETI'S KRAAL
DAY was drawing to a close, and the shadows of
the earth-wall surrounding Moseti's kraal on
the top of the mountain were lengthening as they stole
across the circle.
Fainter and fainter became the light, until finally
darkness had set in altogether, and the stars twinkled
brightly, like so many diamonds in the canopy of
Presently, the hut fires were lit all round the outer
circle, showing up brightly the whole place. Then two
or three natives entered the inner circle, each carrying
in his arms a large bundle of wood, which each, in turn,
deposited in the centre of the circle opposite to the
three large huts. Then back out of the circle they
went, only to return again within a few minutes laden
with more wood. This deposited, they made another
exit, and again returned, and so on until the pile of
wood in the centre had reached a very considerable
The fuel having been brought for the fire, the men
busied themselves with making other preparations for
the night's amusement, or feast, or whatever it might
be ; and, having apparently got all in order, they pro-
ceeded to ignite the fuel.
Scarce had the first spark shown itself, when into
the circle frorrv one of its many entrances sprang the
figure of a man, clothed with a leopard's skin round
his waist, while on his body hung many a gruesome
IN MOSETI'S KRAAL 119
trophy. In his hand he carried a long stick, which he
whirled madly round his head as he approached the
already brightly burning fire ; springing high in the air,
each bound bringing him nearer and nearer to the
fire, he came, singing as he proceeded :
" Come now, ye children of the king.
" He who rests upon the mountain top, watching
from this his nest, like unto the eagle, for his foes.
" Come, ye people, come and lay your faces low in
the dust, while enters in among you he who is your
life giver, he who is your father ; Moseti, the great
chief of the great king of the people, warrior of
warriors. Come, ye children "
So on sang, or rather ._ shouted, the man, and, in
obedience to his summons, the circle was soon lined
with the denizens of the mountain top. In a few
minutes the space in front of the chiefs hut was the
only vacant spot in the circle, excepting a space in
the centre close to the fire.
Presently the voice of the chiefs shieldbearer was
heard, announcing Moseti's entrance from his hut into
the arena, and as with one accord the assembly bowed
itself to the earth, while the singer left the fire and
approached the chief, bowing himself as he neared his
august master, and singing in a most subdued voice
as he approached :
" Welcome, O Great One, thy children await thee ;
See prone on the earth they before thee are bending,
For glory like thine their weak eyesight would blinden ;
Welcome, Moseti, right hand of the king."
And here followed a whole string of titles, each
illustrative of some deed done or supposed to have
been done by the chief, or of some characteristic
supposed to be possessed by him. All the assembly
joined in singing out these flattering names and titles,
and after looking highly pleased with himself for a
moment or two, the chief sat down upon the mat
which had been laid for him.
120 AT MOSETl'S BIDDING
Then the singer ceased his song, and at a signal
from Moseti there was silence for a short while, broken
only by the cracking of the wood in the fire. Then,
at another signal, the Kafir drums began to throb
softly all round the circle, gradually increasing in
sound and then dying away in soft cadence, only to
swell louder again the next moment, the entire crowd
humming softly the whole while. The effect produced
was weird, and yet not without a certain amount of
Dorothy started awake at the sound of the
drums, and at first could not remember where she
was ; then like a flash it all came back to her. She
lay listening to the strange sounds so near her for
a while, and then, growing used to them, she again
Meanwhile, the proceedings in front of Moseti's hut
Now a number of young girls entered the ring, and
danced to the sound of the humming and the regular
beat of the drums and clapping of hands. These
danced on until, exhausted, they disappeared through
the crowds, and others took their places.
After these a number of men, fully armed with
shields, assegais, and knobkerries, sprang into the ring
with loud shouts, holding their shields high above them,
while they whirled the kerries about, striking down-
ward here and there as if at some imaginary foe, and all
the while keeping up a continuous movement with their
feet. Louder and louder hummed the watching crowd,
and louder grew the shouts of the dancers and the beat
of the drums ; then it would sink for a minute only to
swell to a roar the next.
The dancers grew more and more excited as the
dance progressed, springing madly about the fire and
shouting the while. Every now and again, as if on a
signal, each man would bring his knobstick on the face
of his shield with a crash, and at the same time would
spring high up in the air, coming down simultaneously
IN MOSETI'S KRAAL 121
to the ground, making the whole arena appear to
The sight was indeed a fine one in some respects, and
still one which would have filled the stoutest heart with
feelings akin to fear. The great roaring fire, lighting
up the scene, showed the circle crowded all around with
numbers of naked men fully armed, while nearly two
score of men, dancing and shouting madly, their eyes
gleaming with excitement, completed the grotesqueness
of the scene.
At length, the dancers in turn took themselves off,
while loud roars of acclamation came from the throats
of the audience. Then, when the shouts were at their
loudest, a signal was given by the chief, and almost
instantly there was dead silence, while each one present
looked eagerly at Moseti, who had risen and was
walking towards the fire.
Moseti was certainly a fine-looking fellow, of that
there could be no doubt ; and even his veriest enemy
would have to concede that much. Taller than the
average man, his fine upright bearing seemed to give
him additional height. His limbs were well made, and
his broad chest gave further evidence of a fine physique.
He stopped for a moment as he reached the fire, and
then turned to face his hut door, around which his chief
headmen were gathered ; then he spoke, and his voice
was clear and rich, carrying without any apparent effort
on his part to the farthest part of the circle.
"When the jackals are hungry they go from their
holes into the veldt, and there they take what they find ;
so is it with the people of the race of the Gcaleka.
They are hungry, and they go forth to hunt ; but they
hunger not for bread and meat, but for the blood of the
white man, who would fain steal from the people what
is theirs their country. Is this not so, my children ?"
A chorus of assent was the reply, and Moseti
" Many moons have passed since the white man first
came amongst us. What did we do ? Did we kill them
122 AT MOSETI'S BIDDING
as they came ? No ; we killed them not, as we might
have done, for they were but few in number, while we
were many. We let them stay on ; we traded with
them : but we have done wrong. Every moon brings
with it fresh white men into our country, and already
they are overcrowding everything. The country is no
more ours, but theirs. They make the laws and we
must obey ; but the time has come when the people will
throw off the yoke of the white man, and stand again,
as they did in the time of their forefathers, a free
people, owning no master but their King."
Loud shouts again greeted this, while the drummers
beat their drums wildly.
" Now, again, is the hand of the white man lifted high
to strike the black. That hand will wither and fall.
The black wave from the land will wash into the sea
the white dross, and the land will once again belong
to those who dwelt in it when the sun, the moon, and
the stars were young." He paused for a moment, then
continued : " But all will not be slain, for there are some
amongst these white people who are beautiful to look
upon ; these will we take as wives for our young men,
and I, Moseti, will to-night, with the rising of the full
moon, take unto myself her who is in yonder hut."
The people assented to this again with cries and
shouts, and then the chief once more continued his
speech, which was listened to with great attention, and
cheered as occasion demanded.
" But the night draws on, my children, and soon
above the kraal the full moon will show her face ; that
face which to-night looks down upon many a blood-
stained spot on this our country, where our brothers
have laid in the dust these white-faced men, whose
blood we love. See ! Already the sky in the east smiles
at the coming of the moon, and on her coming will
Nonga, my right hand, take his prize, and I, Moseti,
will take mine."
The chief ceased speaking and walked back to his
seat, while the crowd yelled, the drums were beaten, and
IN MOSETI'S KRAAL 123
the hands of the multitude clapped. Then into the
arena again sprang the dancers, and began to shout
and dance, shaking their assegais and waving their
knobsticks about them.
Brighter grew the sky with the coming of the moon ;
still the dancers continued their mad frolicking, their
eyes gleaming in the light, while from every pore in
their bodies the perspiration literally poured.
Then the moon showed over the crest of the ridge,
and almost instantly the dancing ceased and the circle
began to empty itself, while numbers of the men set to
work to extinguish the fire. Nonga and Moseti were, in
a short while, the only two left in the circle, and for
a few moments they stood talking together ; then they
too turned and walked off, but not towards Moseti's hut.
Nonga walked to the hut on one side of the chiefs
where Kakani lay, and Moseti towards the hut wherein
Dorothy was quietly sleeping, oblivious to everything.
SPIRITS OR MFENE ?
UPON reaching the tunnel mouth again, Salmo told
Tosi by signals that the pathway, though very
much overgrown with bushes and other things, was still
in existence, and he further signalled that it was now
time to make the advance.
So the four crept quietly out into the open air,
leaving the tunnel uncovered so that there might be as
little delay as possible on their return. Then on they
went, treading softly lest some one below or above might
hear them. Salmo led the way, with Tosi a few yards
They had to exercise the greatest care in creeping
along the narrow ledge, for but one false step and he
who made it would fall headlong into the black,
yawning abyss which lay below.
Once Harold dislodged a large stone with his foot,
narrowly escaping falling himself by clinging on to a
small bush above him. The stone disappeared over the
ledge, and the four stood still for a minute listening
breathlessly. Then, after waiting for a considerable
time, they heard the stone striking the rocks far below,
the echoes of the sound coming up clearly to them.
Then it bounded along for a while, and again there was
silence as it skipped over another precipice and fell
some hundred feet farther down ; then the bounding,
rolling, and crashing continued, until it died away in the
distance, as the stone continued its headlong career.
SPIRITS OR MFENE? 125
The four stood silent, fearful lest their presence might
be discovered ; then from far down the mountain-side
came the voice of a man, but though the echoes carried
his voice up to them, the words were inaudible.
Then another voice, evidently belonging to a sentry
very much higher than the first speaker, replied ; but he
also was too far for them to hear plainly what he said,
though the word "Mfene"* could be heard frequently.
This speaker must have addressed a question to the
sentry above him, for soon they heard a voice replying,
and though its owner must have been some two
hundred feet below the four men on the ledge, the
echoes were so clear that the voice appeared to them
to be quite close underneath them.
Salmo felt anxious, for he knew that this man would
in turn address the one above him, and he, Salmo
knew, would answer no more questions ; so, approaching
Tosi, he hastily signalled to him to follow, at the same
time making him understand that the boys were to
remain where they were standing.
Tosi communicated this in a whisper to Ivor, and
then silently hastened after Salmo. The boys stood
still and listened to the voice below them, which was
replying to the questioner farther down.
" Yes, I heard it," said the voice. " But what spirit
throws stones about, I know not. Perhaps you are
right, it may be the mfene. But they are mad, to-night,
for / heard something fall some time ago. No, it is
not good. It is the spirit of Salmo, who, they say,
walks on the mountain side sometimes."
The answer came up from the man below, but, as
before, the words could not be distinguished ; then the
nearer speaker again replied.
" I will ask Takosa, who stands above me ; perhaps
he has seen the baboons, and can tell us if it be they.
For myself, I like not this lonely place. Give me a
lion or a man to fight, and I will face it as bravely as
any man, but to stand here on this lonely spot where
* Mfene = baboons.
126 AT MOSETl'S BIDDING
spirits walk, I like not. Takosa, Takosa ! Hi ! Takosa !
Art thou asleep?"
He was silent for a while, listening for a reply, and
during the interval the boys became fearful lest
Salmo and Tosi should walk unawares upon the man
Takosa whose place must be somewhat near.
Then again the silence of the night was broken by
the voice of the watchman. "Speak, Takosa," it
said, " or art thou slumbering when thou should'st be
watching ; or, perchance, have the spirits torn thy tongue
from thee, as thou didst at the chiefs bidding to Salmo,
ere he was cast into the Well of Death in the cavern
inside the mountain?"
The voice was somewhat tremulous, for the speaker
was evidently affected by not hearing Takosa reply.
For another moment there was silence, and then the
boys were startled by hearing a voice Tosi's voice
high above them, though somewhat perhaps a hundred
yards to the right of them.
" No, I sleep not," it answered, " but the terror of
hell is upon me. I, too, heard the stone fall, and I
heard the sound earlier in the night ; but these were
hurled by no human arms. I saw who it was. It was
Salmo, he whose tongue I tore out at the bidding of
Moseti. The spirit of Salmo stood before me, and in
his hand he carried his bleeding tongue. Speak not
further to me, for the spirit is still about and I am
in horror lest it should return. Move not from thy
place until the day breaks ; for the spirit, looking upon
me with its eyes shining like fire in the darkness,
signalled to me not to move from here, and I know
that if I move but one inch I shall fall dead. To-
morrow, when the sun is up, shall I leave this place,
and never again, even though disobedience to Moseti's
commands brings death, shall 1 come here."
Then the boys heard the man below telling the
sentry farther down. His voice was very shaky, and
he said little.
" The spirit of Salmo is wandering on the mountain
SPIRITS OR MFENE? I2/
side," the voice said. " It appeared to Takosa, and he
told me ; but there is fear in his voice, which hath
so changed it that, had I not known he stood above
me, I would not have recognised it. Tell thou to
those below that the spirits walk ; then keep silence."
The boys still stood on the narrow ledge waiting
for the return of Salmo and Tosi, and about five
minutes after hearing the voice, purporting to be
Takosa's, but which really was Tosi's, Ivor felt a hand
laid upon his arm, while Tosi whispered to him to
follow. Ivor in turn communicated this to Harold, and
they moved on.
When they had left the first ledge they met Salmo,
and then Tosi explained to -them in a whisper how
Salmo had slain the man Takosa earlier in the night,
and therefore, when he heard the man below just about
to shout to Takosa, he had feared that if no answer
were forthcoming the man might hasten up to see the
reason, and not finding Takosa there, might tell the
sentries above, and so alarm the kraal. For this reason
Salmo had made Tosi speak for Takosa and warn the
men below not to move. The sentries above had heard
the supposed Takosa's reply, and Tosi said he had
heard them pass the message from one to the other,
so that from them too there would be no danger,
for dread of Salmo's spirit would keep them in their
places, for all the Kafirs believed that Salmo was dead,
but, as he had occasionally shown himself at rare
intervals, there was a legend among the people that
his ghost haunted the mountain, and but few dared leave
the kraal after dark, and then only did they do so in
fear and trembling when forced to do duty as sentries.
Of all the people in the kraal, Tosi said, the chief
was the most frightened, and next to him was Takosa,
the man whom Salmo had killed ; for he it was who
had actually done the deed of tearing Salmo's tongue
The party halted for a few moments in order that the
boys might recover a little, for they were somewhat
128 AT MOSETl'S BIDDING
exhausted with standing so long in a cramped position
on the ledge, hanging on by hands and feet to keep
from falling, and this last little piece of the ledge had
been particularly rough, demanding great care and,
at the same time, exertion.
Then came the climb of the high rock which was
mentioned earlier, wherein footholds had been cut,
and then up a sharp acclivity which brought the party
to a small plateau, where again they rested for a
moment, so as to harbour their energies. A sharp turn
to the left, and once more they were on a narrow ledge,
which, however, was not very long ; and Tosi whispered
to Ivor, as they proceeded, that it was near here where
Salmo had killed the sentry.
A sharp turn, this time to the right, brought
them on to the face of the mountain, and the boys
wondered how they would ever get up ; but Salmo
knew what he was about, and stooping, he moved aside
the branches of a large bush, which appeared to grow
out of a crevice, and disappeared, it seemed, into it,
Tosi followed, and the boys after him.
It was, of course, pitch dark ; but as they groped
about with their hands, they found that they were able
to walk erect, and this they did until they came to some
stone steps, up which they climbed, feeling carefully
for each step. Then, after proceeding up for a few
moments, Salmo struck a light, and showed them that
they were upon a stone stairway in a narrow space,
though amply high enough for them to walk upright
in. Then the light was again extinguished, and they
proceeded upwards, now turning to the left, now to
the right ; then straight up for awhile, and then again
to right or left. After going up in this way for what
must have been quite twenty minutes, the stairs ceased,
and they walked along a level passage for some minutes,
and then the passage narrowed down so much that they
could barely squeeze along on hands and knees. To
make matters worse, the ground had grown very wet,
and the further they went the wetter it became; until
SPIRITS OR MFENE? 1 29
in a few moments they found they were creeping
through a pool which almost reached up to their
stomachs. A few yards ahead they could hear the
rushing, gurgling sound of water, falling and tumbling
over rocks and stones. A turn brought them to
what appeared to be the mouth of the tunnel, but
over it the water was rushing from somewhere above.
They were now almost on to it, and Salmo, without
even looking back, dashed through on hands and knees,
and the others followed.
When they got through they found themselves on
a small rock platform, upon which the water fell and
then dashed off again. They were all drenched to the
skin, and, besides that, the air on the mountain top was
cold ; but these matters were of small moment beside
the work which lay before them, so, after standing for
a few moments to gain breath, the party, headed by
Salmo, again proceeded.
The way he now took was directly along the side
of the mountain, the summit of which was not very far
off. . The sounds from the kraal seemed very close and
almost directly above them, but the way they were
going seemed to be leading them away from it.
The yells and shouts from the excited warriors in
the kraal above, as they proceeded with the dance,
were fearful, and Harold all the while was wondering
how Dorothy would be feeling. He pictured her with
eyes wet with weeping, crouching in the corner of
the hut, with fingers in her ears striving to keep the
hideous sounds from reaching her, and the thought
made him mad with the brutes who were causing her
so much agony.
Suddenly a voice brought him back to the present.
They had turned a corner, and there, before them, his
body showing clearly against the sky-line, stood a
" Who is it ? " he asked, never for a moment thinking
it was any but some of his own tribe, for who else could
come up that inaccessible mountain.
130 AT MOSETI'S BIDDING
" It is Salmo," answered Tosi ; and, before the poor
wretch could even turn to look or utter a cry, Tosi's
assegai had pierced him to the heart, and he fell where
he had stood. Salmo sprang forward, and, chuckling
to himself with demoniacal glee, he clubbed the dead
man several times with his kerrie, until the whole head
was battered in ; then, taking the body up in his strong
arms, he hid it in a large bush and proceeded.
Another sharp climb, another level plateau, yet
another climb upwards, and the top of the mountain
was reached. Then they turned and walked towards
the kraal ; then up the embankment or natural wall
which surrounded it, and here they lay, watching the
dance as it proceeded, scarcely fifty yards away from
WHEN THE FULL MOON ROSE
STRAIGHT towards Dorothy's hut walked Moseti,
and, in a few minutes, he stood within beside her,
as she lay.
" Come, thou most beautiful of women, thou fairest
of flowers," he said, leaning over her.
Dorothy awoke with a start and a scream, for, like a
flash, she realised the hopelessness of her position, for
that which she dreaded and feared most was about to
happen. She raised her hand to her mouth, but a more
terrible trial awaited her. She found that even the
comfort of death had been denied her, for in her sleep
she had dropped the roots which Kakani had given her.
Moseti bent down lower and pressed his coarse lips
on her soft cheek, and as he did so she uttered another
shriek and fainted away. Suddenly something darkened
the entrance and sprang upon Moseti from behind.
There was a dull cracking sound, and then with a moan
Moseti fell down, stunned and bleeding. Harold
entered, and, catching up Dorothy in his arms, he rushed
from the hut with her, and Salmo, who had struck the
chief down, followed.
Outside they met Kakani, who was standing with
hands clasped while Tosi and Ivor were engaged in
deadly conflict with Nonga, who, wild with rage, was
fighting desperately and yelling out to awaken the
At last Tosi got in a thrust, and Nonga fell wounded