“I hear that Tombool will not be turned from his purpose. I hear that he will still build his house upon this rock. So be it. Let him do so and see. But this I say, that Imba, the Floweret, shall not be haunted by the _Isitunzi_ (the ghosts of the dead) who wail in the night,” said Menzi.
He advanced to Tabitha, and holding his hands over her he cried out:
“Sweet eyes, be blind to the _Isitunzi_. Little ears, do not hear their groans. Spirits, build a garden fence about this flower and keep her safe from all night-prowling evil things. Imba, little Flower, sleep softly while others lie awake and tremble.”
Then he turned and departed swiftly.
“Dear me!” said the Bishop. “A strange man, a very strange man. I don’t know quite what to make of him.”
“I do,” answered Thomas, “he is a black-hearted villain who is in league with the devil.”
“Yes, I dare say–I mean as to his being a villain, that is according to our standards–but does your daughter–a clever and most attractive little girl, by the way–think so? She seemed to look on him with affection–one learns to read children’s eyes, you know. A very strange man, I repeat. If we could see all his heart we should know lots of things and understand more about these people than we do at present. Has it ever struck you, Mr. Bull, how little we white people _do_ understand of the black man’s soul? Perhaps a child can see farther into it than we can. What is the saying–‘a little child shall lead them,’ is it not? Perhaps we do not make enough allowances. ‘Faith, Hope and Charity, these three, but the greatest of these is charity’–or love, which is the same thing. However, of course you are quite right not to have been frightened by his silly talk about the _Isitunzi_, it would never do to show fear or hesitation. Still, I am glad that Mrs. Bull did not hear it; you may have noticed that she had gone on ahead, and if I were you I should not repeat it to her, since ladies are so nervous. Tabitha, my dear, don’t tell your mother anything of all this.”
“No, Bishop,” answered Tabitha, “I never tell her all the queer things that Menzi says to me when I meet him, or at least not many of them.”
“I wish I had asked him if he had a cure for your local fever,” said the Bishop with a laugh, “for against it, although I have taken so much that my ears buzz, quinine cannot prevail.”
“He has given me one in a gourd, Bishop,” replied Tabitha confidentially, “but I have never taken any, because you see I have had no fever, and I haven’t told mother, for if I did she would tell father” (Thomas had stridden ahead, and was out of hearing), “and he might be angry because he doesn’t like Menzi, though I do. Will you have some, Bishop? It is well corked up with clay, and Menzi said it would keep for years.”
“Well, my dear,” answered the Bishop, “I don’t quite know. There may be all sorts of queer things in Mr. Menzi’s medicine. Still, he told you to drink it if necessary, and I am absolutely certain that he does not wish to poison _you_. So perhaps I might have a try, for really I feel uncommonly ill.”
So later on, with much secrecy, the gourd was produced, and the Bishop had “a try.” By some strange coincidence he felt so much better after it that he begged for the rest of the stuff to comfort him on his homeward journey, which ultimately he accomplished in the best of health.
That most admirable and wide-minded prelate departed, and so far as history records was no more seen in Sisa-Land. But Thomas remained, and set about the building of the house with his usual vigour. Upon the Death Rock, as it was called, in course of time he erected an excellent and most serviceable dwelling, not too large but large enough, having every comfort and convenience that his local experience could suggest and money could supply, since in this matter the cheque-book of the suffering Dorcas was entirely at his service.
At length the house was finished, and with much rejoicing the Bull family, deserting their squalid huts, moved into it at the commencement of the hot season. After the first agitations of the change and of the arrangement of the furniture newly-arrived by wagon, they settled down very comfortably, directing all their energies towards the development of the garden, which had already been brought into some rough order during the building of the house.
One difficulty, however, arose at once. For some mysterious reason they found that not a single native servant would sleep in the place, no, not even Tabitha’s personal attendant, who adored her. Every soul of them suddenly developed a sick mother or other relative who would instantly expire if deprived of the comfort of their society after dark. Or else they themselves became ailing at that hour, saying they could not sleep upon a cliff like a rock-rabbit.
At any rate, for one cause or another off they went the very moment that the sun vanished behind the western hills, nor did they re-appear until it was well up above those that faced towards the east.