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The Bridgeport evening farmer. [volume] (Bridgeport, Conn.) 1866-1917, March 19, 1909, Image 10

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THE FARMER : MARCH 19, 1909.
THE LADY OF THE HEAVENS.
Copyright, 1908, by H. Rider Haggard
XL.D0UGLA!
U MM
$3P0 13.50
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J to
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UlnibKUd C.t&logve fr
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(Continued.!
Amid such scenes as these they pass
ed .through the town of Umgugundh
lovu into which Rachel had been
brought in order that the people might
see that their Inkosazana had return
ed, and on to that kraal upon the hill,
where she had spent all those weary
weeks until Richard came. She reach
ed it as the sun was setting, and al
though she did not seem to know any
of them was received with joy and
adoration by the women who had been
her attendants. Here she slept that
night, for they thought that she must
be too weary to see the King at once;
moreover, he desired first to receive
the report-; of Tamboosa and the cap
tains, and to learn all that had hap
pened in this strange business.
Next morning-, whilst Rachel sat by
the pool in which once she had seen
the vision of Richard. Tamboosa and
an escort came to bring her to Din
gaan. When they told her this, she
said neither yea nor nay, but. refusing
to enter a litter they had brought,
walked at the head of them back to
the Great Place, and. watched by thou
sands, through the locust-etrewn
streets to the Intunkulu. the House of
the King. Here, in front of his hut,
and surrounded by his Council, sat
Dingean and the indunas who rose to
greet her with the royal salute. She
advanced towards them slowly, looking
more beautiful than ever she had d ine.
but with wild, wandering eyes. They
set a stool for her. and she sat down
on the stool, staring at the ground.
Then as she said nothing. Dingaan,
who seemed very sad and full of fear,
commanded Tamboosa to report all
that had happened in the ears of the
Council, and he took up his tale.
He told of the journey to the Tugela.
and of how the Inkosazana and the
white lord, Dario. had crossed the
river alone but a few hours after
Jbubesi. ordering him to follow next
day. also alone, with the white ox that
bore her baggage. He told how h?
had done so, and on reaching Ramah
had found the white Umfundu-si and
his wife lying dead in their room, and
on the floor of it a Zulu of the men
who had been sent with Ibubesi. also
dead, and in the garden of the house
a man of the people of Ibubesi, dying,
who, with his iast breath narrated to
him the story of the taking of the In
kosazana and the white lord, by
Ibubesi. He told of how he had run
to the town of Mafooti. to find out the
truth, and of the message that he had
sent by the herd boy to Ibubesi and
his -people. Lastly he told all the rest
of that story, of how he had come back
to Zululand "as though he had wings. "
and finding the regiment that had es
corted the Inkosazana still in camp
near the river, had returned with them
to attack Mafooti. which they discov
ered to be deserted by its people.
While he described how by the flare
of the lightning they saw the Inkosa
zana standing on tfie roof of a hut,
how they captured the wild beast,
Ibubesi, how they learned that the
Spirit of Inkosazana was "wandering."
and the dreadful words she said, the
burning of Mafooti, and the fearful
death of Ibubesi by fire, all the Coun
cil listened in utter silence. Then they
listened also whilst he showed how evil
after evil had fallen upon the regi
ment, evil by fire and water and sick
ness, as evil had fallen upon the land
also by the plague of locusts.
At length Tamboosa's story was fin
ished, and certain men were brought
forward bound, who had been the cap
tains of the band that went w th Ish
maei, among them those who had kill
ed, or caused to- die, the white teacher
and his wife.
Upon the stern command of the King
theso men also told their story, saying
that they had not meant to kill the.
white man and that- what thy d d
was done at the word of Ibubesi whom
they were ordered to obey in all thin is.
but who. as they now understood, had
dared to lay a plot to capture the In
kosazana for himself. When they had
finished the Ming rose and poured out
his wrath on them, because through
their deeds the Sriirit of the Inkosa
zana had been driven away, and her
curse laid uion the land, where al
ready it was at -work. Then he com
manded thit they should be led
thence, all of them, and put to a ter
rible death, andWvith them those cap
tains of the regiment who had spoken
against the following of the people of
Mafooti, who should, he said, have
been destroyed, every one.
At his words executioners rushed in
to seize thes wretched men. and then
it was that Rachel, who all this while
had sat as though she heard nothing,
lifted her head and spoke for the first
time.
"Set them free, set them free!" she
commanded. "Vengeance is from
Heaven, and Heaven will pour it out
in plenty. Not on my hands, not on
my hands shall be the blood of those
who sent the Spirit of the Inkosazana
to wander in the skies. Who was it
that bade an impi run to Ramah, and
what did they there in the house ot
those who gave me birth? When the
Master calls, the dogs must search and
kill. Set them free, lest there be more
blood between the Inkosazana and her
people of the Zulus."
When he heard these words, spoken
in a strange, wailing voice, Dingaan
trembled, for he knew that it was he
who had bidden his dos to run.
"Let them go." he said, "and let the
land see them no moe forever."
So those men " went thankfully
enough, and the land saw them no
mere. As they passed the gate other
men entered, starved and hungry
looking men. whose bones almost
pierced their skins, and who carried i i
their hands remnants of shields that
locked as though they had been gnaw
ed by rats. They saluted the King
with feeble vo'ces. and squatted down
upon the ground.
"Who are these skeletons," he asked
angrily. "hj dare to break in upon
my Council?"
"King.'' answered their spokesman,
"we are captains of the Nobambe, the
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Nodwenge, and the Isansu regiments
whom thou didst send to destroy the
chief. Madaku and his people, who
dwell far away in the swamp land to
the north n?ar where the Great River
runs into the sea. King, we cou.d not
come at this chief because he fled
away on rafts and in boats, he and h 6
people, and we lost our path among
the reeds where again and again we
were ambushed, and many of us sank
in the swamps and were drowned. Al
so vt found no food and were forced
to live upon our shields," and he held
up gnawed fragments in his hand. "So
we perished by hundreds, and of ail
who went forth but twenty-one times
ten remain alive."
When Dingaan heard this he groan
ed, for his arms had been defeated and
three of his best regiments destroyed.
But Rachel laughed aloud, the terrible
laugh at which all who heard it shiv
ered. "Did I not say." she asked, "that
Heaven w-ould Dour out its vengeance
in plenty because of the b'ood that
runs between the Spirit of the Inkosa
zana and her people of the Zulus?"
"Truly this curse works fast and
Well." exclaimed Dingaan. Then turn
ing to the men, he shouted: "Be gone,
you starved rats, you cowards who do
not know how to fight, and be thank
ful that the Great Eleohant (Chaka)
is dead, for surely he would have fed
your upon shields until you p?rish?d.
So these captains creot away also.
Ere they were well gone a man ap
proached craving audience, a fat man
who wore a woeful countenance, for
tears ran down his bloated cheeks.
Dingaan knew him well, for every
w?ek he saw him, and sometimes oft
ener.
"What is it. Movo. keeper of the
kine." he asked anxiously, "that yf1
W"TOR 111 JIL lilt; iuu .1 iii.v cuuucii :
"O. King." answered the fat man
"pardon me. .but. O King, my t'ding?
are so sad that I availed myself of my
privilege, and pushed past the guards
at thy gate.
"Those who will bear ill news ever
rujj quickly," grunted the King. "Stop
that weepi ig and out with it. Movo."
."Shaker of the Earth! Eater up of
Enemies!" said Movo. "thou thyself
art eaten up, or at least thy cattle
are. the cattle that I love. A sore sick
ness has fallen on the great herd, the
royal herd, the white herd with the
twisted horns, and," here he paused to
sob. "a thousand of them are dead,
and many more are sick. Soon th re
will be no herd left." and he wept out
right. Now Dingaan leapt up in his wrath
and struck the man so sharply with
the shaft of the spear he held that it
broke upon his head.
"Fat fool that you are." he exclaim
ed. "What have you done to my cat
te? Speak, or j-ou shall be slain Car
an evil-doer who has bewitched them."
"Is it a crime to be fat. O King,"
answered the indignant Movo. rubbing
his skull, "when others are so much
fatter?" and he looked reproachful!y at
Dingaan's enormous person. "Can I
help it if a thousand of thy oxen are
now but hides for shields?"
"Wfll you answer, or will you taste
the other end of the. spear?" asked
Dingaan, grasping the broken shaft
just above the blade. "What have
you done to my cattle?"
"O King. I have done nothing to
them. Can I help it if those accursed
beasts choose to eat dead locusts in
stead of grass, and foam at the mouth
and choke? Can the cattle help it if
all the irrass has become locusts so
that there is nothing else for them to
eat? I am not to. blame, .and the cattle
are not to blame. Blame the Heavens
above, -to whom thou, or rather," he
added hastily, "some wicked wizard
must have given offence, for no such
thing as. this has been known before in
Zululand."
Again Rachel broke in with her wild
laughter, and said:
"Did I. not tell thee that vengeance
would be poured down in plenty, pour
ed down like the rain. O Dingaan?
Vengeance on the King, vengeance on
the people, vengeance on the soldiers,
vengeance on the corn, vengeance on
the kine, vengeance on the whole land,
because blood runs between the spirit
of the Inkosazana and the race of the
Ama-zulu. whom once she loved!"
"It is true, it is true. White One. but
why dost thou say it so often?" groan
ed the maddened Dingaan. "Why show
the whip to those who must feel the
blow? Now. you Movo. have you
done?"
"Note quite, O King." answered the
melancholy Movo. still rubbing his
head. "The cattle of all the kraals
around are dyinj: of this same sick
ness, and the crops are quite eaten, so
that next winter everyone must perish
of faming."
"Is that all. O Movo?"
"Not quite. O King, since messengers
have come to me. as head keeper of
the kine. to say that all the other royal
herds within two days' journey are
also stricken, although if I understand
them right, of some other pest. Also,
which I forgot to add "
"Hunt out this bearer of ill tidings,"
roared Dingaan. "hunt him out. and
send orders that his own cattle be
taken to fill uo the holes in my blan
ket ."
Now some attendants sprang on the
luckless Movo and began to beat him
with their sticks. Still. before he
reached the gates he succeeded in
turning round weeping in good earnest
and shouted:
"It is quite useless. O King, all my
cattle are dead. too. They will find
nothing but the horns and the hoofs,
for I have sold the hides to the shield
makers." Then they thrust him forth.
He was gone, and for a while there
was silence, for despair filled thf hear s
of the Kinff and his Councillors, as
they gazed at Rachel dismayed, won
dering within themselves how they
might be rid of her and of the evils
which she had brought upon them be
cause of the blood of her people which
lay at their doors.
Whilst they still stared thus in sil
ence yet another messenger came run
ning through the gate like one in great
haste.
"Now I am minded to order this fel
low to be killed before he opens his
mouth." said Dingaan. "for of a surety
h- also is a bearer of ill-tidings.
-Vav. O Kine." cried out the man in
alarm, "my news is only that an em-
K,ssy waits without."
"From whom?" asked Dingaan an
xiously. "Thi- white Amaboona?"
"Nay, O King, from the queen of
the Ghost people to whom tlru didst
despatch Noie, daughter of Seyapi, a
while ago."
Hearing th" name Noie. Rachel lifted
her head, and for the first time her
face grew human.
"I rmt-mler," IB&id Dingaan. "Ad
mit the embassy."
Then followt-d a long pause. At
length l lie gate opened and through it
appe&rttd Noie herself, clad in a garb
lit' spotless white. and somewhat travel
worn, but beautiful as ever. She was
i --corted by four gigantic men who
were naked except for their moochas.
but wore copper ornaments 011 their
wrists and anklis. and great rings of
copper in Iheir earn. After her came
three litters v. h ireof the srass cur
tains were tightly drawn, carried by
bearera of the same size and race, and
after the.se a bodyguard of fifty sol
diers of a like stature. This strange
and barbarous-looking company ad
vanced slowly. whi'st the Council
stared at them wondering, for never
before had they seen people so huge,
and arriving in front of the King set
down the litters, staring back In an-
swer with their great round eyes.
As they came Rachel rose from her
stool and turned slowly so that she
and Noie, who walked in front of the
embassy, stood face to face. For a
moment they gaved at each other, then
Noie. running forward, knelt before
Rachel and kissed the hem of her robe,
but Rachel bent down and lifted her
up in her strong arms, embracing her
as a mother embraces a child.
"Where hast thou been. Sister?" she
asiked. "I have sought thee long."
"Surely on thy business. Zoola," an
swered Noie, scanning her curiously.
"Dost thou not remember?"
"Nay, I remember naught, Noie, save
that I have sought thee long. My
spirit wanders, Noie."
"Lady," she said, "my people told
me that it was so. They told me
many terrible things, they who can
see afar, they for whom distance has
no gates, but I did not believe them.
Now I see with my own eyes. Be at
peace, Lady, my people will give thee
back thy Spirit, though perchance
thou must travel to find it, for in
their land all spirits dwell. Be at
peace and listen."
"With thee, Noie, I am at peace,"
replied Rachel, and still holding her
hand, she reseated herself upon the
tool.
"Where are the messengers?" asked
Dingaan. "I see none."
"King." answered Noie, "they shall
appear."
Then she made signs to the escort of
giants, some of whom came forward
and drew the curtains of the litters,
whilst others opened huge umbrellas
of split cane which they carried in
their hands.
"Now what weapons are these?"
asked Dingaan. "Daughter of Sey
api, you know that none may appear
before the King armed."
"Weapons against the sun, O King,
which my people hate."
"And who are the wizards that hate
the sun?" queried Dingaan again in
an astonished voice. Then he w-as
silent for out of the first litter came
a little man, pale as the shoot from a
bulb that has grown in darkness, with
large, soft eyes like the eyes of an
owl, that blinked in the light, and long
hair out of which all the colour seem
ed to have faded.
As the man, who, like Noie, was
dressed in a white robe, and in size
measured no more than a twelve-year
old child, set his sandalled feet upon
the ground, one of the huge guards
sprang forward to shield him with the
umbrella, but being aw-kward(, struck
his leg against the pole of the litter
and stumbled against him, nearly
knocking him to the ground, and in
his efforts to save himself, letting fall
the umbrella. The little man turned
on him furiously, and holding one hand
above his head as though to shield
himself from the snu, with the other
pointed at him, speaking in a low
sybillant voice that sounded like the
htes of a snake. Thereon the guard
fWl to his knees, and bending down
with outstretched- arms, beat his fore
head on the earth as though in prayer
for mercy. The sight of this giant
making supplication to one whom he
could have killed' with a blow, was so
strange that Dingaan, unable to re
strain his curiosity, asked Noie if the
dwarf was ordering the other to be
killed.
"Nay, King." answered Noie. 'for
blood is hateful to these people. He
is saying that the soldier has offended
many times. Therefore he curses him
and tells him that he shall wither like
plucked leaf and die without seeing
his home again."
And will he die?" asked Dingaan.
Certainly, King; those upon whom
the Ghost-people lay that curse must
obey the curse. Moreover, this man
deserves his doom, for on the journey
he killed another to take his food."
"Of a truth a terrible people!" said
Dingaan uneasily. "Bid them lay no
curse on me lest they should see more
blood than they wish for."
"It is foolish to threaten the Great
Ones of the Ghost-folk. King, for they
hear even what they seem not to un
derstand." answered Noie quietly.
"Wow!" exclaimed the King, "let my
words be forgotten. I am sorry that
I troubled them to come so far to visit
me."
(To be Continued.)
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