entered one of their churches out of mere curiosity. They

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'So much for Prester John and his charm,' he said. 'Now I have to take up the history at a different point. In spite of risings here and there, and occasional rows, the Kaffirs have been quiet for the better part of half a century. It is no credit to us. They have had plenty of grievances, and we are no nearer understanding them than our fathers were. But they are scattered and divided. We have driven great wedges of white settlement into their territory, and we have taken away their arms. Still, they are six times as many as we are, and they have long memories, and a thoughtful man may wonder how long the peace will last. I have often asked myself that question, and till lately I used to reply, "For ever because they cannot find a leader with the proper authority, and they have no common cause to fight for." But a year or two ago I began to change my mind.

entered one of their churches out of mere curiosity. They

'It is my business to act as chief Intelligence officer among the natives. Well, one day, I came on the tracks of a curious person. He was a Christian minister called Laputa, and he was going among the tribes from Durban to the Zambesi as a roving evangelist. I found that he made an enormous impression, and yet the people I spoke to were chary of saying much about him. Presently I found that he preached more than the gospel. His word was "Africa for the Africans," and his chief point was that the natives had had a great empire in the past, and might have a great empire again. He used to tell the story of Prester John, with all kinds of embroidery of his own. You see, Prester John was a good argument for him, for he had been a Christian as well as a great potentate. 'For years there has been plenty of this talk in South Africa, chiefly among Christian Kaffirs. It is what they call "Ethiopianism," and American negroes are the chief apostles. For myself, I always thought the thing perfectly harmless. I don't care a fig whether the native missions break away from the parent churches in England and call themselves by fancy names. The more freedom they have in their religious life, the less they are likely to think about politics. But I soon found out that Laputa was none of your flabby educated negroes from America, and I began to watch him.

entered one of their churches out of mere curiosity. They

'I first came across him at a revival meeting in London, where he was a great success. He came and spoke to me about my soul, but he gave up when I dropped into Zulu. The next time I met him was on the lower Limpopo, when I had the pleasure of trying to shoot him from a boat.' Captain Arcoll took his pipe from his mouth and laughed at the recollection.

entered one of their churches out of mere curiosity. They

'I had got on to an I.D.B. gang, and to my amazement found the evangelist among them. But the Reverend John was too much for me. He went overboard in spite of the crocodiles, and managed to swim below water to the reed bed at the side. However, that was a valuable experience for me, for it gave me a clue.

'I next saw him at a Missionary Conference in Cape Town, and after that at a meeting of the Geographical Society in London, where I had a long talk with him. My reputation does not follow me home, and he thought I was an English publisher with an interest in missions. You see I had no evidence to connect him with I.D.B., and besides I fancied that his real game was something bigger than that; so I just bided my time and watched.

'I did my best to get on to his dossier, but it was no easy job. However, I found out a few things. He had been educated in the States, and well educated too, for the man is a good scholar and a great reader, besides the finest natural orator I have ever heard. There was no doubt that he was of Zulu blood, but I could get no traces of his family. He must come of high stock, for he is a fine figure of a man. 'Very soon I found it was no good following him in his excursions into civilization. There he was merely the educated Kaffir; a great pet of missionary societies, and a favourite speaker at Church meetings. You will find evidence given by him in Blue-Books on native affairs, and he counted many members of Parliament at home among his correspondents. I let that side go, and resolved to dog him when on his evangelizing tours in the back-veld.

'For six months I stuck to him like a leech. I am pretty good at disguises, and he never knew who was the broken-down old Kaffir who squatted in the dirt at the edge of the crowd when he spoke, or the half-caste who called him "Sir" and drove his Cape-cart. I had some queer adventures, but these can wait. The gist of the thing is, that after six months which turned my hair grey I got a glimmering of what he was after. He talked Christianity to the mobs in the kraals, but to the indunas* he told a different story.' *Lesser chiefs.

Captain Arcoll helped himself to a drink. 'You can guess what that story was, Mr Crawfurd. At full moon when the black cock was blooded, the Reverend John forgot his Christianity. He was back four centuries among the Mazimba sweeping down on the Zambesi. He told them, and they believed him, that he was the Umkulunkulu, the incarnated spirit of Prester John. He told them that he was there to lead the African race to conquest and empire. Ay, and he told them more: for he has, or says he has, the Great Snake itself, the necklet of Prester John.'



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