the case in this valley, and we were therefore obliged

rain and cloudlove2023-12-07 12:30:52 97724 4

'You say the scheme is ripe,' I said; 'how ripe?'

the case in this valley, and we were therefore obliged

Arcoll looked at the clock. 'In half an hour's time Laputa will be with 'Mpefu. There he will stay the night. To-morrow morning he goes to Umvelos' to meet Henriques. To-morrow evening the gathering begins.'

the case in this valley, and we were therefore obliged

'One question,' I said. 'How big a man is Laputa?'

the case in this valley, and we were therefore obliged

'The biggest thing that the Kaffirs have ever produced. I tell you, in my opinion he is a great genius. If he had been white he might have been a second Napoleon. He is a born leader of men, and as brave as a lion. There is no villainy he would not do if necessary, and yet I should hesitate to call him a blackguard. Ay, you may look surprised at me, you two pragmatical Scotsmen; but I have, so to speak, lived with the man for months, and there's fineness and nobility in him. He would be a terrible enemy, but a just one. He has the heart of a poet and a king, and it is God's curse that he has been born among the children of Ham. I hope to shoot him like a dog in a day or two, but I am glad to bear testimony to his greatness.'

'If the rising starts to-morrow,' I asked, 'have you any of his plans?'

He picked up a map from the table and opened it. 'The first rendezvous is somewhere near Sikitola's. Then they move south, picking up contingents; and the final concentration is to be on the high veld near Amsterdam, which is convenient for the Swazis and the Zulus. After that I know nothing, but of course there are local concentrations along the whole line of the Berg from Mashonaland to Basutoland. Now, look here. To get to Amsterdam they must cross the Delagoa Bay Railway. Well, they won't be allowed to. If they get as far, they will be scattered there. As I told you, I too have laid my train. We have the police ready all along the scarp of the Berg. Every exit from native territory is watched, and the frontier farmers are out on commando. We have regulars on the Delagoa Bay and Natal lines, and a system of field telegraphs laid which can summon further troops to any point. It has all been kept secret, because we are still in the dark ourselves. The newspaper public knows nothing about any rising, but in two days every white household in South Africa will be in a panic. Make no mistake, Mr Crawfurd; this is a grim business. We shall smash Laputa and his men, but it will be a fierce fight, and there will be much good blood shed. Besides, it will throw the country back another half-century. Would to God I had been man enough to put a bullet through his head in cold blood. But I could not do it - it was too like murder; and maybe I shall never have the chance now.'

'There's one thing puzzles me,' I said. 'What makes Laputa come up here to start with? Why doesn't he begin with Zululand?'

'God knows! There's sure to be sense in it, for he does nothing without reason. We may know to-morrow.'



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