Residential home purchase leverage ratio has dropped for five consecutive quarters, and house price growth will narrow

发表于 2023-09-22 17:04:23 来源:Return to basics and return to true nature

that he was exhausting himself in a series of bull-dog springs similar to those prompted by his frenzy on first discovering themselves. At each of these futile outbursts the two mocking fiends shouted and roared with laughter. But they little knew how near they were laughing for the last time. Three rifles were covering them at a distance of fifty yards—three rifles in the hands of men who were dead shots, and whose hearts were bursting with silent fury. Josane, seeing this, took occasion to whisper under cover of the lunatic’s frenzied howls:“The time is not yet. The witch-doctress is for me—for me. I will lure her in here, and when I give the word—but not before—shoot Hlangani. The witch-doctress is for me.”The identity of the two figures was distinct in the light. The hideous sorceress, though reft of most of the horrid accessories and adornments of her order, yet looked cruel and repulsive as a very fiend—fitting figure to harmonise with the Styx-like gloom of the scene. The huge form of the warrior loomed truly gigantic in the sickly lantern light. “Ho, Umlilwane, thou dog of dogs!” went on the latter. “Art thou growing tired of thy cool retreat? Are not the serpents good companions? Haul Thou wert a fool to part so readily with thy mind. After so many moons of converse with the serpents, thou shouldst have been a mighty soothsayer—a mighty diviner —by now. How long did it take thee to lose thy mind? But a single day? But a day and a night? That was quick! Ho, ho!” And the great taunting laugh was echoed by the shriller cackle of the female fiend.“Thou wert a mighty man with thy fists, a mighty man with thy gun, O Umlilwane!” went on the savage, his mocking tones now sinking to those of devilish hatred. “But now thou art no longer a man—no longer a man. Au! What were my words to thee? ‘Thou hadst better have cut off thy right hand before shedding the blood of Hlangani for it is better to lose a hand than one’s mind.’ What thinkest thou now of Hlangani’s revenge? Hi!”How plain now to one of the listeners were those sombre words, over whose meaning he had so anxiously pondered. This, then, was the fearful vengeance promised by the Gcaléka warrior. And for many months his wretched victim had lain here a raving maniac—had lain here

around, a hungry gleam in their eyes, the Kafirs impatiently watch each roasting morsel. Then, hardly waiting until it is warmed through, they drag the meat from the fire. Assegais are plied, and soon the huge joints are reduced to strips of half-raw flesh, and the champing of hundreds of pairs of jaws around each red blaze takes the place of the deep bass hum of conversation, as the savages throw all their energies into the assimilation of their unwonted meal. It is like a cannibal feast—the smoky flare of the great fires—the mighty slabs of red flesh—the fierce, dark figures seated around—the gleam of weapons in the firelight.(The unwonted meal. In former days, meat was very sparingly eaten among the Amaxosa races, milk and mealies being the staple articles of diet. When employed on such a scale as above described, it had a curiously stimulating effect upon a people habitually almost vegetarians. Hence it was looked upon as a preparation for war.)At length even the very bones are picked clean, and thrown over the feasters’ shoulders to the dogs. Then voices are raised and once more the kraal becomes a scene of wild and excited stir. Roused by a copious indulgence in an unwonted stimulant, the Kafirs leap to their feet. Weapons are brandished, and the firelight glows upon assegai points and rolling eyeballs. A wild war-song rises upon the air; then falling into circular formation, the whole gathering of excited warriors join in, beating time with their feet—clashing the hefts of their weapons together. The weird rhythm is led off in a high, wailing key by a kind of choragus, then taken up by the rest, rising louder and louder, and the thunder of hundreds of pairs of feet keeping regular time, make the very earth itself tremble, and the quivering rattle of assegai hafts is echoed back from the dark, brooding hills, and the volume of the fierce and threatening song, with its final chorus of “Ha—ha—ha!” becomes as the mad roaring of a legion of wild beasts, ravaging for blood. Worked up to a degree of incontrollable excitement, the savages foam at the lips and their eyeballs seem to start from the sockets, as turning to each other they go through the pantomime of encountering and slaying an imaginary foe; and even in the background a number of women have formed up behind the dancing warriors and with more than all the barbarity of the latter are playing at beating out the brains of the wounded with knob-kerries. The roar andrattle of the hideous performance goes up to the heavens, cleaving the solemn silence of the sweet African night. The leaping, bounding, perspiring shapes, look truly devilish in the red firelight. The excitement of the fierce savages seems to have reached a pitch little short of downright frenzy. Yet it shows no signs of abating. For they have eaten meat.Chapter Six.Hlangani, The Herald.Suddenly, as if by magic, the wild war-dance ceased, and the fierce, murderous rhythm was reduced to silence. Sinking down in a half-sitting posture, quivering with suppressed excitement, their dark forms bent forward like those of so many crouching leopards, their eyeballs rolling in the lurid glow, the Kafirs rested eagerly, awaiting what was to follow.A group of chiefs advanced within the circle of light. A little in front of these, prominent among them by reason of his towering stature and herculean build, was a warrior of savage and awe-inspiring aspect. His countenance bore an evil, scowling sneer, which looked habitual, and his eyes glowed like live coals. He wore a headdress of monkey skins, above which waved a tuft of plumes from the tail of the blue crane. His body was nearly naked, and his muscular limbs, red with ochre, were decorated with fringes of cows’ tails and tufts of flowing hair. On his left arm, above the elbow, he wore a thick; square armlet of solid ivory, and in his hand he carried a large, broad-bladed assegai. One shoulder was swathed in a rude bandage, the latter nearly concealed by fantastic hair adornments.A hum of suppressed eagerness went round the crowd of excited barbarians as this man stood forth in their midst. It subsided into a silence that might be felt as he spoke:“I am Hlangani, the son of Ngcesiba, the Herald of the Great Chief Sarili (Or Kreli), the son of Hintza, of the House of Gcaléka. Hear my word, for it is the word of Sarili, the Great Chief—the chief paramount of all the children of Xosa.

Residential home purchase leverage ratio has dropped for five consecutive quarters, and house price growth will narrow

“This is the word of the Great Chief to his children of the House of Ngqika (Or Gaika). Lo, the time has come when the Amanglézi (English) seek a quarrel with us. We can no longer live side by side, say they. There is no room for the Ama-Gcaléka in the land they have hitherto dwelt in. They must go.“So they have located our dogs, the cowardly Amafengu (Fingoes), our slaves and our dogs, on the next land to ours, that we may have a continual plague to scourge us, that our sides may be wrung with the pest of these stinging flies, that our name may be spat upon and laughed at by those who were our own dogs. Thus would these English provoke us to quarrel.“Who were these Amafengu? Were they not our dogs and our slaves? Who are they now? Still dogs—but not our dogs. Who will they be shortly? Not our dogs—not our slaves—but—our masters! Our masters!” roared the fierce savage, shaking the broad assegai which he held, until it quivered like a band of flame in the red firelight. “The sons of Gcaléka will be the slaves of their former slaves—the dogs of their former dogs. Not the sons of Gcaléka only, but all the children of Xosa. Not the House of Gcaléka only, but the House of Ngqika. Who is doing this? The Amanglezi! Who would tread upon the necks of our chiefs and place the fetters of their lying and hypocritical creeds upon the limbs of our young men till the latter are turned into slaves and drunkards? The Amanglezi! Who would stop the mouths of our amapakati (Councillors) and drown the collective wisdom of our nation in floods of fire-water? The Amanglezi. Are we men—I say? Are we men?”A low suppressed roar ran through the circle of fierce and excitable barbarians as the orator paused. Again sounded the ominous rattle of assegai hafts. It needed all the self-control of their habitually self-contained race to restrain them from breaking forth anew into their frenzied war-dance. But a wave of the speaker’s hand availed to quell the rising tumult and he continued:“This is the ‘word’ of the rulers of the Amanglézi. The time has come when the Amaxosa races must be subdued. They are growing too numerous. They are waxing too strong. Their power must be broken. Wemust begin by breaking up the influence of the chiefs. We must put down chieftainship altogether. Hear ye this, ye sons of Ngqika? Hear you this, O Matanzima, warrior son of Saudili, the Great Chief of the House of Ngqika? Hear you this, O Nteya—pakati of the race of Ngqika? Hear you this, O Nxabahlana, of the House of the Great Chief, you who have led our bands to war before the very birth of many of the young men I see before me? Hear ye this, Maquades and Mpanhla and Sivuléle, and you, Panganisi and Untíwa, of the House of Seyolo of the House of Hlambi, golden mouthed in council—in the battle-field flames of consuming fire? Hear ye this, all ye gathered here before me this night—tried warriors, and young men who have never seen war. The children of Xosa are growing too strong. They must be subdued. The power of their chiefs must be broken. Such is the word of the rulers of the Amanglezi.”This time, as the orator paused, there was no restraining the fierce excitement of his hearers. Each warrior named, who had greeted the mention of himself with a low, but emphatic “há”—now sprang to his feet. No further example was needed. Again, the wild rhythm of the war-song rose upon the night; again the fierce thunder-roll of the tread of hundreds of feet shook the ground. Again the circle of firelight was alive with grim, threatening forms, swaying in measured time, to the unearthly chant, to the accompaniment of the shaking of fantastic adornments, to the quivering rattle of assegai hafts. For some minutes this continued—then when the excitement was almost at its height, a mysterious signal was given and the whole wild crowd dropped quickly into its listening attitude again.“Such is the word of the Amanglezi,” went on the speaker. “Now hear the word of Sarili, your father, the Paramount Chief, the father of all the children of Xosa. Hear the word of the Great Chief conveyed by the mouth of Hlangani, the herald—‘Lo, the time has come when we must unite in the strength of brethren. The Amanglézi are urging our very dogs on to provoke us. The Amafengu are located on our borders, to taunt and jeer at our young men—to lure our young women over into their kraals that the very name of Gcaléka may be debased and defiled. Not a day passes that this does not happen. Why do we not revenge this? Why do we not execute a sudden and fearful vengeance upon these dogs whospit at our name and nation? We dare not. The Amanglézi say: “Your dogs are now our dogs. Touch them and we shall send armies of soldiers and you will be eaten up”—But, dare we not? Dare we not? Answer me, all ye children of the race of Xosa! I, Sarili, your father, call upon you—I, Sarili, your chief. Answer! Show that the war-fire of our free and warrior race is not dead. It has been smouldering for many years, but it is not dead. It is ready to break forth as the destroying lightning leaps from the black thunder-cloud. It is ready to blaze forth in its strength and to consume all within its reach.“‘Where is my father, Hintza? Where is he who was lured into the white man’s camp by fair promises and then shot down? Do I not hear his spirit calling unto me day and night. I cannot sleep, for the spirit of my father is crying for vengeance. It is crying day and night from the depths. Yet, not to me only. Who was Hintza? My father, yet not my father only. The father of all the sons of Xosa!“‘Lo, the white Governor has summoned me, your chief, to meet him. He has invited me, your chief, with fair promises to visit him at his camp. Shall I go, that I, Sarili, may meet with the same dealing that laid low my father, Hintza? I will, indeed, go, but it will be with the whole array of the fighting men of the Amaxosa at my back.“‘Hear my “word,” my children of the House of Nteya, pakati of the race of Ngqika. Hear my “word” as spoken through the mouth of Hlangani, my herald. Receive these oxen as a present from your father to his children. Eat them, and when you have eaten and your hearts are strong, stand prepared. Let the war-cry roll through the mountains and valleys of our fair land. Let the thunder of your war-dances shake the earth as the reeds by the water side quiver beneath the rushing of the storm wind. Let the trumpet tongues of your war-fires gleam from the mountain tops—tongue roaring to tongue—that the Amanglezi may hear it and tremble; for the spirit of Hintza, my father, which has slumbered for years, is awake again and is crying for vengeance—is crying and crying aloud that the time has come.’”The speaker ceased. A dead silence fell upon his hearers—a weird silence upon that tumultuous crowd crouching in eager expectancy in the

Residential home purchase leverage ratio has dropped for five consecutive quarters, and house price growth will narrow

red firelight. Suddenly, upon the black gloom of the night, far away to the eastward, there gleamed forth a streak of flame. Then another and another. A subdued roar ran around the circle. Then, as by magic, a crimson glare fell upon the serried ranks of expectant listeners, lighting up their fantastic war panoply as with the light of day. From the hill top above the kraal there shot up a great tongue of red flame. It leaped high into the velvety blackness of the heavens. Splitting up into many a forking flash it roared in the air—the gleaming rays licking up into a cloud of lurid smoke which blotted out the stars in its reddening folds. The distant war signal of the Gcaléka chieftain was answered.“Ha!” cried Hlangani, in a voice of thunder. “Ha! Now will the heart of your father, Sarili, be glad. Now have ye proved yourselves his children indeed, oh, sons of Ngqika! Now have you proved yourselves men, for the trumpet tongues of your war-flames are crying aloud—tongue roaring to tongue upon the wings of the night.”With the quickness of lightning the warriors had again thrown themselves into formation, and now worked up to a pitch of uncontrollable excitement, the unearthly cadence of the war-song rose into a fiendish roar, and the thunder of the demon dance rolled and reverberated among the hills, while lighting up the fierce array of grim, frenzied figures in its brooding glare, the huge beacon, high above on the hilltop, blazed forth sullenly upon the night in all its menacing and destructive significance.Suddenly, as if by magic, the mad orgy of the savages was suspended. For advancing into their very midst—fearlessly, boldly, contemptuously, even—rode a solitary horseman—a white man, an Englishman.Chapter Seven.In the Lion’s Den.Every eye was bent upon the new arrival. With a quick, instinctive movement the savages closed around the foolhardy Englishman. Therewas a scowl of deadly import upon each grim face. Hundreds of assegais were poised with a quiver of suppressed eagerness. The man’s life seemed not worth a moment’s purchase.“Out of my way, you schepsels!” he cried roughly, urging his horse through the sullen and threatening crowd, as though so many hundreds of armed and excited barbarians worked up to the highest pitch of blood-thirstiness were just that number of cowering and subservient slaves. “Out of my way, do you hear? Where is Nteya? I want Nteya, the chief. Where is he?”“Here I am, umlúngu (White man). What do you want with me?” answered Nteya—making a rapid and peremptory signal to restrain the imminent resentment of his followers. “Am I not always here, that you should break in upon me in this violent manner? Do I go to your house, and ride up to the door and shout for you as though you were stricken with sudden deafness?”The chief’s rebuke, quiet and dignified, might have carried some tinge of humiliation to any man less overbearing and hot-headed than Tom Carhayes, even as the low growl of hardly contained exasperation which arose from the throng might have conveyed an ominous warning. But upon this man both were alike thrown away. Yet it may be that the very insanity of his fool-hardiness constituted his safety. Had he quailed but a moment his doom was sealed.“I didn’t come here to hold an indaba,” (Talk—palaver) he shouted. “I want my sheep. Look here, Nteya. You have put me off very cleverly time after time with one excuse or another. But this time you are pagadi (Cornered). I’ve run you to earth—or rather some of those schepsels of yours. That young villain Goníwe has driven off thirty-seven of my sheep, and two of your fellows have helped him. I’ve spoored them right into your location as straight as a line. Now?”“When was this, Umlilwane?” said Nteya, imperturbably.“When? When? To-night, man. This very night, do you hear?” roared the other.

Residential home purchase leverage ratio has dropped for five consecutive quarters, and house price growth will narrow

“Hau! The white man has the eyes of twenty vultures that he can see to follow the spoor of thirty-seven sheep on a dark night,” cried a mocking voice—and a great shout of derisive laughter went up from the whole savage crowd. The old chief, however, preserved his dignified and calm demeanour.“You are excited, Umlilwane,” he said—a faint smile lurking round the corners of his mouth. “Had you not better go home and return in the morning and talk things over quietly? Surely you would not forget yourself like a boy or a quarrelsome old woman.”If a soft answer turneth away wrath, assuredly an injunction to keep cool to an angry man conduceth to a precisely opposite result. If Carhayes had been enraged before, his fury now rose to white heat.“You infernal old scoundrel!” he roared. “Don’t I tell you I have spoored the sheep right bang into your kraal? They are here now, I tell you; here now. And you try to put me off with your usual Kafir lies and shuffling.” And shaking with fury he darted forth his hand, which still held the heavy rhinoceros hide sjambok, as though he would have struck the chief then and there. But Nteya did not move.“Hau!” cried Hlangani, who had been a silent but attentive witness to this scene. “Hau! Thus it is that the chiefs of the Amaxosa are trampled on by these abelúngu (whites). Are we men, I say? Are we men?” And the eyes of the savage flashed with terrible meaning as he waved his hand in the direction of the foolhardy Englishman.Thus was the spark applied to the dry tinder. The crowd surged forward. A dozen sinewy hands gripped the bridle, and in a moment Carhayes was flung violently to the earth.Stunned, half-senseless he lay. Assegais flashed in the firelight. It seemed that the unfortunate settler’s hours were numbered. Another moment and a score of bright blades would be buried in his body.But a stern and peremptory mandate from the chief arrested each impending stroke.

“Stop, my children!” cried Nteya, standing over the prostrate man and extending his arms as though to ward off the deadly blows. “Stop, my children! I, your chief; I, your father, command it. Would you play into the hands of your enemies? Be wise, I say. Be wise in time.”Sullenly the crowd fell back. With weapons still uplifted, with eyes hanging hungrily upon their chief’s face, like tigers balked momentarily of their prey, the warriors paused. And the dull, brooding glare of the signal fire flashing aloft upon the hilltop fell redly upon that fierce and threatening sea of figures standing over the prostrate body of their hated and now helpless enemy. But the word of a Kafir chief is law to his followers. There was no disputing that decisive mandate.“Rise, Umlilwane,” went on Nteya. “Rise, and go in peace. In the evening, when the blood is heated, it is not well to provoke strife by angry words. In the morning, when heads are cool, return here and talk. If your sheep are here, they shall be restored to you. Now go, while it is yet safe.”Carhayes, still half-stunned by the violence of his fall, staggered to his feet.“If they are here!” he repeated sullenly. “Damn it, they are here!” he blazed forth in a fresh access of wrath. Then catching the malevolent glance of Hlangani, and becoming alive to the very sinister and menacing expression on the countenances of the other Kafirs, even he began to realise that some degree of prudence was desirable, not to say essential. “Well, well, it’s the old trick again, but I suppose our turn will come soon,” he growled, as he proceeded to mount his horse.The crowd parted to make way for him, and amid ominous mutterings and an unpleasantly suggestive shaking of weapons towards him, he rode away as he had come. None followed him. The chief’s eye was upon his receding figure. The chief’s “word” had been given. But even protected by that safe conduct, he would be wise to put as much space as possible between himself and that sullen and warlike gathering, and that, too, with the greatest despatch.We’ve got no show at all. Ugh-h!”Something cold had come in contact with his hand. He started violently. But it was only the clammy surface of a projecting rock.And now the whole of the gloomy chamber resounded with shrill and angry hissing, as the disturbed reptiles glided hither and thither—was alive with waving necks and distended jaws, glimpsed shadowy on the confines of the disk of light which shot into the remote corners of the frightful den. Curiously enough, not one of the serpents seemed to be lying in the pathway itself. All were on the ledges of rock which bordered it.“Keep silence and follow close on my steps,” said Josane shortly. Then he raised his voice and threw a marvellously strange, soft melodiousness into the weird song, which he had never ceased to chant. Eustace, who was the first to recover to some extent his self-possession, and who took in the state of affairs, now joined in with a low, clear, whistling accompaniment. The effect was extraordinary. The writhing contortions of the reptiles ceased with a suddenness little short of magical. With heads raised and a slight waving motion of the neck they listened, apparently entranced. It was a wonderful sight, terrible in its weird ghastliness—that swarm of deadly serpents held thus spell-bound by the eerie barbaric music. It really looked as though there was more than met the eye in that heathenish adjuration as they walked unharmed through the deadly reptiles to the refrain of the long-drawn, lugubrious chant.“Harm us not, O Snake of Snakes! Do us no hurt,O Inyoka ’Nkúlu!”Thus they passed through that fearful chamber, sometimes within a cou of yards of two or three serpents lying on a level with their faces.Once it was all that even Eustace, the self-possessed, could do to keep

himself from ducking violently as the head of a huge puff-adder noiselessly shot up horribly close to his ear, and a very marked quaver came into his whistling notes.As the cavern narrowed to its former tunnel-like dimensions the serpentsgrew perceptibly scarcer. One or two would be seen to wriggle away, he and there; then no more were met with. The sickening closeness of the air still continued, and now this stood amply accounted for. It was due to the foetid exhalations produced by this mass of noisome reptiles congregated within a confined space far removed from the outer air.“Faugh!” ejaculated Hoste. “Thank Heaven these awful brutes seem to grown scarce again. Shall we have to go back through them, Josane?”“It is not yet time to talk of going back,” was the grim reply. Then he had hardly resumed his magic song before he broke it off abruptly. At the same time the others started, and their faces blanched in the semi-darkness.For, out of the black gloom in front of them, not very far in front either, there burst forth such a frightful diabolical howl as ever curdled the heart’s blood of an appalled listener.Chapter Forty Five.A Fearful Discovery.They stood there, turned to stone. They stood there, strong men as they were, their flesh creeping with horror. The awful sound was succeeded by a moment of silence, then it burst forth again and again, the grim subterraneous walls echoing back its horrible import in ear-splitting reverberation. It sounded hardly human in its mingled intonation of frenzied ferocity and blind despair. It might have been the shriek of a lost soul, struggling in the grasp of fiends on the brink of the nethermostpit.“Advance now, cautiously, amakosi,” said Josane. “Look where you are stepping or you may fall far. Keep your candles ready to light. The Home of the Serpents is a horrible place. There is no end to its terrors. Be prepared to tread carefully.”His warning was by no means superfluous. The ground ended abruptly across their path. Suddenly, shooting up, as it were, beneath their very feet, pealed forth again that frightful, blood-curdling yell.It was awful. Starting backward a pace or two, the perspiration pouring from their foreheads, they stood and listened. On the Kafir no such impression had the incident effected. He understood the position in all its grim significance.“Look down,” he said, meaningly. “Look down, amakosi.”They did so. Before them yawned an irregular circular hole or pit, about thirty feet deep by the same in diameter. The sides were smooth and perpendicular; indeed, slightly overhanging from the side on which they stood. Opposite, the glistening surface of the rock rose into a dome. But with this hole the cavern abruptly ended, the main part of it, that is, for a narrow cleft or “gallery” branched off abruptly at right angles. From this pit arose such a horrible effluvium that the explorers recoiled in disgust.“Look down. Look down,” repeated Josane.The luminous disk from the lantern swept round the pit. Upon its nearly level floor crawled the loathsome, wriggling shapes of several great serpents. Human skulls strewn about, grinned hideously upwards, and the whole floor of this ghastly hell-pit seemed literally carpeted with a crackling layer of pulverised bones. But the most awful sight of all was yet to come.Gathered in a heap, like a huge squatting toad, crouched a human figure. Human? Could it be? Ah! it had been once. Nearly naked, save for

a few squalid rags black with filth, this fearful object, framed within the brilliantly defined circle of the bull’s-eye, looked anything but human. The head and face were one mass of hair, and the long, bushy, tangled beard screening almost the whole body in its crouching attitude imparted to the creature the appearance of a head alone, supported on two hairy, ape-like arms, half man, half tarantula. The eyes were glaring and blinking in the light with mingled frenzy and terror, and the mouth was never still for a moment. What a sight the grizzly denizen of that appalling hell-pit— crouching there, mopping and mowing among the gliding, noisome reptiles, among the indescribable filth and the grinning human skulls! No wonder that the spectators stood spell-bound, powerless, with a nerveless, unconquerable repulsion.Suddenly the creature opened its mouth wide and emitted that fearful demoniacal howl which had frozen their blood but a few moments back. Then leaping to its feet, it made a series of desperate springs in its efforts to get at them. Indeed it was surprising the height to which these springs carried it, each failure being signalled by that blood-curdling yell. Once it fell back upon a serpent. The reptile, with a shrill hiss, struck the offending leg. But upon the demoniac those deadly fangs seemed to produce no impression whatever. Realising the futility of attempting to reach them, the creature sank back into a corner, gathering itself together, and working its features in wild convulsions. Then followed a silence—a silence in its way almost as horrible as the frightful shrieks which had previously broken it.The spectators looked at each other with ashy faces. Heavens! could this fearful thing ever have been a man—a man with intellect and a soul —a man stamped with the image of his maker?“He is the last, Amakosi,” said the grave voice of Josane. “He is the last, but not the first. There have been others before him,” designating the skulls which lay scattered about. “Soon he will be even as they—as I should have been had I not escaped by a quick stroke of luck.”“Great Heaven, Josane! Who is he?” burst from the horror-stricken lips of Shelton and Hoste simultaneously. Eustace said nothing, for at that moment as he gazed down upon the mouldering skulls, there cameback to him vividly the witch-doctress’s words, “They who look upon ‘The Home of the Serpents’ are seen no more in life.” Well did he understand them now.“The man whom you seek,” was the grave reply. “He whom the people call Umlilwane.”An ejaculation of horror again greeted the Kafir’s words. This awful travesty, this wreck of humanity, that this should be Tom Carhayes! It was scarcely credible. What a fate! Better had he met his death, even amid torture, at the time they had supposed, than be spared for such an end as this.Then amid the deep silence and consternation of pity which this lugubrious and lamentable discovery evoked, there followed an intense, a burning desire for vengeance upon the perpetrators of this outrage; and this feeling found its first vent in words. Josane shook his head.“It might be done,” he muttered. “It might be done. Are you prepared to spend several days in here, Amakosi?”This was introducing a new feature into the affair—the fact being that each of the three white men was labouring under a consuming desire to find himself outside the horrible hole once more—again beneath the broad light of day. It was in very dubious tones, therefore, that Shelton solicited an explanation.“Even a maniac must eat and drink,” answered Josane. “Those who keep Umlilwane here do not wish him to die—”“You mean that some one comes here periodically to bring him food?”“Ewa.”“But it may not be the persons who put him here; only some one sent by them,” they objected.“This place is not known to all the Gcaléka nation,” said Josane.


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