Henry Adams.

Perils in the Transvaal and Zululand

But that was not the worst, resumed Hardy after a pause. There was something like a trial in his instance, and, besides, he might really have been killed by a wild beast, though the circumstances were full of suspicion. The usage of Usumanzi was a much grosser outrage. No charge was made against him, nor did he receive so much as a hint that the king was displeased with him. But the Isamisi, or prophets, whom, to do them justice, both Chaka and Dingaan had discouraged, had gained considerable influence with Cetewayo, and they resented Usumanzis conversion, and more particularly when they found that he still adhered to his new creed after Mr Garnetts disappearance.

I wonder he didnt leave the country, remarked Ernest Baylen.

He was advised to do so, said Hardy, but he was a brave man, and said he had done no wrong, and that he put his trust in the God he had newly learned. Nothing was heard about him for some time. But one morning, quite early, I was roused by a number of Zulus living in an adjoining kraal, who told me that the king had sent an Impi to eat up Usumanzi. His house had already been surrounded, and himself, and every one belonging to him, even to the infants in arms, assegayed. The cattle were being driven off at that moment. In an hour or two Usumanzis kraal had been entirely destroyed by fire, and the ashes scattered in all directions. In a short time not a trace was left of his habitation.

And was no complaint made of such an outrage? asked Margetts.

Who was there to make it? inquired Hardy. Usumanzis relatives, if there were any of them left, were too thankful to have escaped notice, and were little likely to do anything that might cause them to share his fate. Perhaps you think that I might have made some representations to the Governor of Natal; but I had already incurred suspicion, and received a hint to keep quiet. The Government were unwilling at that time to come to a rupture with Cetewayo. I knew, too, that I should be required to produce witnesses; and not one of the Zulus, who knew the facts, could have been induced, by love or money, to say a word on the subject. Most probably they would have said, if they had been brought into a court of justice, that Usumanzis kraal had caught fire accidentally. No. He knew in this instance that he was safe, and you may be assured that, let him profess what he will, there is no possibility of inducing Cetewayo to respect the rights of his own subjects, or those of other nations, except by putting him down by force of arms. And as for that He appeared to be about to add something more, but checked himself, and addressed his host. It must be time for us to go to bed, Mr Bilderjik, he said. We have a long days work before us to-morrow, and must start early. I suppose you mean to set off for Helpmakaar the first thing in the morning?

Helpmakaar? repeated the farmer. No, I shall not set out for that in the morning, if I do it at all to-morrow.

You have forgotten that we have left one of our waggons in a damaged condition on the other side of the Mooi.

To be sure, so I had. How stupid of me! But if we are not going to be fellow-travellers to-morrow, I should like to have a little talk with you, Baylen, before we turn in for the night. Will you walk with me to the hotel in the village; I can say what I want while we are on the way there.

Mr Baylen assented. They said good-night to their host, and stepped out into the porch, and thence passed through the little garden into the wide street of the picturesque little town, with its white houses each shaded by its green verandah and its double row of fruit trees already beginning to spread a pleasant shade. At that hour it was quite deserted, and Hardy presently began,

I thought it better not to tell you my reason for riding over from Umvalosa to meet you. I did not want to alarm the ladies.

What has happened? asked Baylen anxiously.

No injury has been done to your property or your servants, said Hardy. But beyond Umvalosa, from a little distance outside the town, as far as Utrecht, or nearly as far, there is nothing but ruin and destruction.

The storm two days ago, do you mean? suggested Baylen.

No; this storm has been of mans making, said Hardy. Umbelini you know him?

Every one knows him too well, was the answer. If he fell into my hands, I should be disposed to make short work with him.

He wouldnt come off much better in mine, said Hardy, if I caught him redhanded, as the saying is. He pretends to act independently of Cetewayo; but nobody doubts he is really under his orders. Well, he has made a raid on the district we have been speaking about, with a large force of Zulus. They have burnt to the ground every house in it; driven off the whole of the cattle, and murdered every man, woman, and child that came in their way.

The district between Utrecht and Umvalosa? said Baylen. What can have made Umbelini, or rather Cetewayo, choose that? Why, that is the very district which was in dispute, and which the English have awarded to him! That is strange!

Well, the English have awarded it to him, no doubt, assented Hardy. But they didnt give it to him out and out, as he expected perhaps. The rights of the settlers living in it were to be respected. Probably Cetewayo wishes to show his contempt for their decision. At all events, there is no doubt that he is showing studied disregard of Sir Henry Bulwers demands. There is this business of the violation of the English territory, and the murder of the two women by Sirayo. His answers about that amount really to an insult. It is what I have long supposed, that, although he will not himself attack the English, he wants to provoke them to attack him.

I suppose it must be so; and the English will be driven to declare war. But about this raid by Umbelini. How far has it spread? Is it likely to spread further? Will it reach Umvalosa?

It has not got there yet, and I dont think it will. The place is incapable of resisting an attack; but I think Umbelini has already got as much spoil as he can carry away. Besides, the English forces are advancing to Rorkes Drift, and he will avoid any collision with them.

If Umvalosa is not attacked, we might rest as usual on our way there. It is one days journey, you know, from Horners Kraal.

Rest? What, at Rogers station, Dykemans Hollow?

Yes; we always rest there. I know Mr Rogers is away in England. But we should be made welcome all the same.

Not a doubt of it. But you would find his station deserted. When they heard of Umbelinis approach, his head men packed his waggons with his household goods and valuables, and drove away his cattle.

And where have his waggons and cattle been driven to? inquired Mr Baylen. To my station to Horners Kraal?

No; Rogers men thought of going there; but the cattle and the contents of the waggons would be a tempting plunder. Umbelini, who is notorious for his rapacity, might have sent some of his men in pursuit. No; they have gone off to Rorkes Drift, to be under the protection of the British force assembling there. And that is where Mrs Baylen and all your party and waggons must go, if you take my advice as soon, that is, as you have recovered the one which has been left on the bank of the Mooi.

The troops assembling at Rorkes Drift! Ah, so you said just now. Then what we heard at Durban must be true; and an ultimatum has been sent to Cetewayo.

So I am told; and that thirty days have been allowed him in which to send an answer. If he does not do so, Zululand is to be invaded at three different points. One column, under Colonel Pearson, is to cross the Lower Tugela, and move on by Ekowe. A second, under Colonel Evelyn Wood, is to enter by crossing the Blood river, near Kambula. The third, commanded by Lord Chelmsford himself, will set out from Rorkes Drift, and penetrate to the interior by Isandhlwana Hill. If Cetewayo falls back, as they expect, before them, the columns will meet at Ulundi. There he must fight them or surrender. That is what I am told; but of course it is only rumour.

Well, Cetewayo certainly intends to fight us, and I hope the plan of operations may be successful. But it does not concern me, and I am anxious to be out of it. Cant we go on, resting at any place where we can find shelter, at Umvalosa or elsewhere, and get to Horners Kraal? There we shall be well out of it all.

I really dont think you can, Baylen. I dont think youd be troubled by Umbelini and his Zulus. As soon as Wood and his men move to their station on the Blood river, he is sure to take himself off, and will not return while Wood and his troops remain in that neighbourhood. But the country is full of lawless characters of all kinds, escaped convicts, bush robbers, and adventurers who have lost everything at the diamond fields. There is no legal authority to keep them in control no sufficient authority, at all events, and they would murder any one for the value of a tobacco pipe. It would not be safe for the ladies of your party, at all events, to attempt the journey, unless with a military escort, until order has been restored.

And I suppose there is a general flight to Rorkes Drift?

There were a great many on their way there yesterday. I passed young Vander Heyden and his sister, accompanied by Frank Moritz, as I rode out.

Vander Heyden and Moritz! Why, they were in Durban a week or so ago!

Yes; but they travelled faster than you. They reached Vander Heydens house Bushmans Drift, as it is called just in time to see it all in a blaze, and the Zulus plundering and killing every one they encountered. Henryk and the others had just time to escape. If they had got there a few hours earlier, they would have been shot or assegayed too.

And they have gone now to Rorkes Drift?

Yes; I exchanged a few words with Moritz. He was hot enough about what he had witnessed. But he was calmness itself to Vander Heyden. He did not say a word; but he looked like a man who meant to do something terrible, when the time came. I fancy some one, of whom he was very fond, must have been killed. But I did not like to ask. I gathered, however, that he was not going to Rorkes Drift for protection, but for revenge on those miscreants. Bitterly and notoriously as he dislikes the English, he means to join their army as a mounted volunteer. The Lord have mercy on the Zulus that come in his way, for he will have none. He is an experienced soldier, and will be a valuable recruit.

Well, said Baylen, I dont know that I can greatly blame him. I shall not be at all surprised if a great many should be found to follow his example. It is certainly high time that a stop should be put to these atrocities. Well, Hardy, I shall follow your advice. I shall send off the waggon with Mrs Baylen and Clara, with Matamo to take care of them, to-morrow morning, and I shall follow with the other as soon as we have got it out of the Mooi. I suppose the road to Rorkes Drift is open and safe, is it not?

Well, for it to be that, Umbelini and his Zulus must have withdrawn. I expect to hear with certainty about that to-morrow morning, and will come down and tell you about it before I start. Mrs Baylen must not set off until the road is safe.

Many thanks. By-the-bye, I forgot to ask whether you have suffered much loss yourself from this Impi?

Not very much, thank you. I had fortunately sold off my stock a short time ago, and I had the money with me. My servants also got notice in time, and made their escape, with most of the articles of any real value. The house has been burnt and wrecked; but I daresay I shall get compensation when the war is over. Meanwhile, I mean to follow Vander Heydens example, and take service with the mounted volunteers.

Chapter Ten

Baylen returned to the pastors house too late to impart any of the information he had received to the rest of the family; and, besides, he judged it better that they should all get a sound nights rest, undisturbed by perplexities and alarms. He was up, however, by daybreak, and soon afterwards Hardy arrived with the information that Umbelini and his warriors had all returned to their mountains without having approached Umvalosa. No doubt this was due to the fact that some of Colonel Evelyn Woods men were on their way to the Blood river. But the condition of the Transvaal, between Umvalosa and Horners Kraal, was even worse than he had described it. If Mr Baylen could obtain an escort of soldiers for the first ten miles or so, it might be safe for him to go, but not otherwise.

Very well, said Mr Baylen. I shant be able to get that not for some time, at all events. And I am more likely to get it at Rorkes Drift than anywhere else. So the plan I agreed on with you last night shall hold good. I shall send Matamo to get the waggon ready as soon as possible. When I have seen that off, the boys and I will go down to the Mooi. Mr Rivers, what will you and Mr Margetts like to do? It will be of no use your going to Mr Rogers station, after what Hardy has told us, and I dont think it will be any better if you went to Spielmans Vley. It is very improbable that you would find the Mansens there.

True, sir, said George; so I was thinking myself. But I should learn there what had become of them, and I am most anxious to join my mother as quickly as possible.

Spielmans Vley? interposed Hardy. What, Ludwig Mansens old station, do you mean, near Landmans Drift, where I live?

Yes, answered George. Mrs Mansen is my mother.

Really! ah, and Mrs Mansens daughter is named Rivers, and you are like her. I have been puzzling my head for a long time who of my acquaintances it was whom you were so like. I know Mrs Mansen and her second husband very well. But I thought that her only son had been lost at sea.

So she believes, said George. I was wrecked, and nearly all hands were lost.

She will be very happy when she learns the truth. But it will be no use for you to go to Spielmans Vley to find her. Six months ago, almost immediately after Mr Rogers departure, there came news that Mrs Mansens uncle, who lived near Zeerust, had died, and bequeathed all his property to her. It is a valuable and productive farm, I am told, and I fancy Mansen did not like the look of things in these parts, and resolved to move to Zeerust. He sold Spielmans Vley, and moved off as soon as he could to his new place. He has been gone a good many weeks. He has probably before this settled down at Umtongo, as Christopher Wylies farm was called.

And where is Zeerust? asked George, a good deal disturbed at these tidings. Zeerust! wasnt that the place you were saying something about last night, Mr Baylen?

Yes, answered the person addressed. I believe I mentioned Zeerust, in the story I told you about Matamo. It is a long way there three or four hundred miles, I should think. And it was, in the days when I was speaking about, a very dangerous journey. But I have no doubt it is much easier now. You mustnt be cast down, my lad, he continued kindly, observing how much George appeared to be distressed. You are a stout young fellow, with a head on your shoulders, and a brave heart to boot. You will get there, I have no doubt, quite safe. Dont you think so, Hardy?

I have no doubt of it, answered the person addressed. The only thing is that I dont think Mr Rivers can attempt the journey just now.

Why not? asked George. I heard what you said about Mrs and Miss Baylen, and I quite agreed in it, but there will be no ladies in our party, and I can make my hand guard my head. At least, I have never failed to do so yet.

I dont doubt it, Mr Rivers, said Hardy. But the danger to you would not be only from ruffians and robbers; there would be risk from wild animals to any one not acquainted with the country. There are not many lions or rhinoceroses or elephants in those parts, no doubt; you seldom or never meet with them about there in these days. But there are plenty of leopards and buffaloes, and, what is more dangerous, deadly serpents puff-adders, ondaras, cobras, and the like. And you may catch marsh fever any day, if you sleep in the swamp neighbourhood. You would require one skilful guide at least, and it would be better if you had two or three. Now these are not to be had at present. You must wait till this war is over, which we may hope will not be a long one. Then perhaps Mr Baylen here will lend you Matamo and Utango. They would take you across safely enough.

I think that might be managed, assented Farmer Baylen. Hardys advice is good. You will do wisely to wait till this war is ended.

I have no doubt of his kindness, or of yours either, sir, said George; but I own that this delay, coming after so many months of expectation, does vex me. How long do you think it will be before the war is over, Mr Hardy?

That is hard to say, answered Hardy. It depends on how our troops are handled, and how quickly they may be able to force on a battle.

You have no doubt as to what will be the issue of the battle, when it does take place? suggested Redgy.

Well, no. Against disciplined English troops, unless there were great incapacity or great cowardice, the blind courage of these Zulus would avail little. But there can hardly be incapacity, for Colonels Wood and Pearson are undoubtedly able officers, and Lord Chelmsford has the name of being a good general though that has not been so clearly proved. And such a thing as cowardice in English soldiers is unheard of. I am not so sure, however, about the Natal contingent. There is such a terror of Cetewayo among the natives, that, but for the presence and example of English troops, I do not feel certain that they could be got to face the Zulus. However, the chances are that a few weeks will see the Zulu king defeated and put down.

Well, I dont think I can do better than take your advice, said George. I suppose Redgy and I had better go with your party to Rorkes Drift, if you will allow us. Perhaps I may be of some use there.

Perhaps you may indeed, suggested Hardy. Why, you and Mr Margetts had better join the mounted volunteers, as I mean to do. They would be delighted to have you, and in a few weeks time before the fighting begins at all events you will have had nearly all the drilling that would be required.

That is not a bad idea, returned George. I wonder I did not think of it before. What do you say to it, Redgy?

Why, that it has been running in my head all the morning, said Margetts. You see you and I have been taught to ride pretty well. They wont require of you to have a seat like a life-guardsman in Piccadilly, with the tips of your toes in the stirrup, out here. And we know how to shoot too, and are pretty good hands at single-stick, and will soon learn the use of our swords. We should soon be qualified for the rough and ready work out here. I should like to see these Zulu fellows bowled over, I must say.

Very good! then thats settled, said George. Well ride over with the waggon to Rorkes Drift this morning, and offer ourselves as volunteers; and I think we had better go and saddle our horses at once, as I see they are inspanning the oxen already. We have only to take our leave of Mr and Mrs Bilderjik, and thank them for their hospitality.

You need not take leave of me yet, Mr Rivers, said the Swedish pastor. I am going, with Mr Baylens leave, to make one of the party to the Drift, and Mrs Bilderjik will accompany me.

I hope you dont imagine there is any danger here from the Zulus, remarked Hardy. As I have told my friend Baylen, the Zulu Impi has been already withdrawn, nor is there the least chance of its return.

I do not imagine there is, said Mr Bilderjik. Nor has Umbelini anything to do with my movements. But I think my brother pastor at Rorkes Drift and his wife will have more on their hands for some time to come than they can manage, and that they will be glad of our help. I can be better spared here, where my schoolmaster will do all that is required in ordinary, and I shall ride over occasionally myself. I am going to fetch my horse, and will ride with you. You may be glad of my presence as a guide, and also, it is possible, to answer questions that may be asked. There are a great many suspicious characters about, and the officers in command require explanations before they allow any one to pass.

I forgot that, said George, and so, I suppose, did Mr Baylen.

No, I imagine he reckoned on your riding by the side of the waggons, in which case you would of course have passed as belonging to his party. But you would find it very dull work, keeping by the side of the waggon the whole way.

In another half-hour they had all set out Baylen and his sons to the Mooi, and Hardy to Umvalosa. The large waggon jolted off with the ladies seated in it. The missionary and the two young Englishmen cantered off in advance, Haxo, the Hottentot groom and stableman, following on a Kaffir pony.

: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28