Thereon they rose and went without argument, only lifting their right hands above their heads and murmuring, “_Ikosikaas! Umame!_ (Chieftainess! Mother!) we hear you.” Yes, they called Tabitha “Mother!”
It was all very wrong, thought Dorcas, but she supposed, being a pious little person, that she must bear her burden and trust to Providence to free her from it, and she closed her eyes to wipe away a tear.
When Dorcas opened them again something very strange seemed to have happened. She felt wide awake, and yet knew that she must be dreaming because the room had disappeared. There was nothing in sight except the bare rock upon which the house stood. For instance, she could see the gorge behind as it used to be before they made it into a garden, for she recognised some of the very trees that they had cut down. Moreover, from one of the caves at the end of it issued a procession, a horrible procession of fierce-looking, savage warriors, with spears and knobkerries, who between them half dragged, half carried a young woman and an elderly man.
They advanced. They passed within a few feet of her, and observing the condition of the woman and the man, she saw that these must be led because for a certain reason they could not see where to go,–oh! never mind what she saw.
The procession reached the edge of the rock where the railing was, only now the railing had gone like the house. Then for the first time Dorcas heard, for hitherto all had seemed to happen in silence.
“Die, _Umtakati!_ Die, you wizard, as the King commands, and feed the river-dwellers,” said a deep voice.
There followed a struggle, a horrible twisting of shapes, and the elderly man vanished over the cliff, while a moment later from below came the noise of a great splash.
Next the girl was haled forward, and the words of doom were repeated. She seemed to break from her murderers and stagger to the edge of the precipice, crying out:
“O Father, I come!”
Then, with one blood-curdling shriek, she vanished also, and again there followed the sound of a great splash that slowly echoed itself to silence.
All had passed away, leaving Dorcas paralysed with terror, and wet with its dew, so that her night-gear clung to her body. The room was just as it had been, filled with the soft moonlight and looking very comfortable.
“Thomas!” gasped his wife, “wake up.”
“I _am_ awake,” he answered in his deep voice, which shook a little. “I have had a bad dream.”
“What did you dream? Did you see two people thrown from the cliff?”
“Something of that sort.”
“Oh! Thomas, Thomas, I have been in hell. This place is haunted. Don’t talk to me of dreams. Tabitha will have seen and heard too. She will be driven mad. Come to her.”
“I think not,” answered Thomas.
Still he came.
At the door of Tabitha’s room they found the woman Ivana, wide-eyed, solemn, silent.
“Have you seen or heard anything, Ivana?” asked Thomas.
“Yes, Teacher,” she answered, “I have seen what I expected to see and heard what I expected to hear on this night of full moon, but I am guarded and do not fear.”
“The child! The child!” said Dorcas.
“The _Inkosikazi_ Imba sleeps. Disturb her not.”
Taking no heed, they thrust past her into the room. There on her little white bed lay Tabitha fast asleep, and looking like an angel in her sleep, for a sweet smile played about her mouth, and while they watched she laughed in her dreams. Then they looked at each other and went back to their own chamber to spend the rest of the night as may be imagined.
Next morning when they emerged, very shaken and upset, the first person they met was Ivana, who was waiting for them with their coffee.
“I have a message for you, Teacher and Lady. Never mind who sends it, I have a message for you to which you will do well to give heed. Sleep no more in this house on the night of full moon, though all other nights will be good for you. Only the little Chieftainess Imba ought to sleep in this house on the night of full moon.”
So indeed it proved to be. No suburban villa could have been more commonplace and less disturbed than was their dwelling for twenty-seven nights of every month, but on the twenty-eighth they found a change of air desirable. Once it is true the stalwart Thomas, like Ajax, defied the lightning, or rather other things that come from above–or from below. But before morning he appeared at the hut beneath the koppie announcing that he had come to see how they were getting on, and shaking as though he had a bout of fever.