In the end, as may be guessed, Dorcas, who was a good and faithful little soul, accompanied her husband to the Sisa country. Tabitha went also, rejoicing, having learned that in this happy land there was no school. Dorcas found the journey awful, but really, had she but known it, it was most fortunate, indeed ideal. Her husband, who was a little anxious on the point, had made the best arrangements that were possible on such an expedition.
The wagon in which they trekked was good and comfortable, and although it was still the rainy season, fortune favoured them in the matter of weather, so that when they came to the formidable river, they were actually able to trek across it with the help of some oxen borrowed from a missionary in that neighbourhood, without having recourse to the dreaded rope-slung basket, or even to the punt.
Beyond the river they were met by some Christian Kaffirs of the Sisa tribe, who were sent by the Chief Kosa to guide them through the hundred miles or so of difficult country which still lay between them and their goal. These men were pleasant-spoken but rather depressed folk, clad in much-worn European clothes that somehow became them very ill. They gave a melancholy account of the spiritual condition of the Sisas, who since the death of their last pastor, they said, were relapsing rapidly into heathenism under the pernicious influence of Menzi, the witch-doctor. Therefore Kosa sent his greetings and prayed the new Teacher to hurry to their aid and put a stop to this state of things.
“Fear nothing,” said Thomas in a loud voice, speaking in Zulu, which by now he knew very well. “I _will_ put a stop to it.”
Then they asked him his name. He replied that it was Thomas Bull, which after the native fashion, having found out what bull meant in English, they translated into a long appellation which, strictly rendered, meant _Roaring-Leader-of-the-holy-Herd_. When he found this out, Thomas flatly declined any such unchristian title, with the result that, anxious to oblige, they christened him “Tombool,” and as “Tombool” thenceforward he was known. (Dorcas objected to this name, but Tabitha remarked sagely that at any rate it was better than “Tomfool.”)
This was to his face, but behind his back they called him _Inkunzi_, which means bull, and in order to keep up the idea, designated poor Dorcas _Isidanda_, that being interpreted signified a gentle-natured cow. To Tabitha they gave a prettier name, calling her _Imba_ or Little Flower.
At first Dorcas was quite pleased with her title, which sounded nice, but when she came to learn what it meant it was otherwise.
“How can you expect me, Thomas, to live among a people who call me ‘a mild cow’?” she asked indignantly.
“Never mind, my dear,” he answered. “In their symbolical way they are only signifying that you will feed them with the milk of human kindness,” a reply which did not soothe her at all. In fact, of the three the child alone was pleased, because she said that “Opening Flower” was a prettier name than Tabbie, which reminded her of cats.
Thenceforward, following a track, for it could not be called a road, they advanced slowly, first over a mountain pass on the farther side of which the wagon nearly upset, and then across a great bush-clad plain where there was much game and the lions roared round them at night, necessitating great fires to frighten them away. These lions terrified Dorcas, a town-bred woman who had never seen one of them except in the Zoo, so much that she could scarcely sleep, but oddly enough Tabitha was not disturbed by them.
“God will not let us be eaten by a lion, will He, Father?” she asked in her simple faith.
“Certainly not,” he answered, “and if the brute tries to do so I shall shoot it.”
“I’d rather trust to God, Father, because you know you can never hit anything,” replied Tabitha.
Fortunately, however, it never became necessary for Thomas to show his skill as a marksman, for when they got through the bushveld there were no more lions.
On the fourth day after they left the river they found themselves upon gentle sloping veld that by degrees led them upwards to high land where it was cold and healthy and there were no mosquitoes. For two days they trekked over these high lands, which seemed to be quite uninhabited save by herds of feeding buck, till at length they attained their crest, and below them saw a beautiful mimosa-clad plain which the guides told them was the Sisa Country.
“The Promised Land at last! It makes me feel like another Moses,” said Thomas, waving his arm.
“Oh, isn’t it lovely!” exclaimed Tabitha.
“Yes, dear,” answered her mother, “but–but I don’t see any town.”