A Deal And Its Consequences
My eyes were bandaged tight, and a thong was run round my right wrist and tied
to Laputa's saddle-bow. I felt the glare of the afternoon sun on my head, and my
shins were continually barked by stones and trees; but these were my only
tidings of the outer world. By the sound of his paces Laputa was riding the
Schimmel, and if any one thinks it easy to go blindfold by a horse's side I hope he
will soon have the experience. In the darkness I could not tell the speed of the
beast. When I ran I overshot it and was tugged back; when I walked my wrist was
dislocated with the tugs forward.
For an hour or more I suffered this breakneck treatment. We were descending.
Often I could hear the noise of falling streams, and once we splashed through a
mountain ford. Laputa was taking no risks, for he clearly had in mind the
possibility of some accident which would set me free, and he had no desire to
have me guiding Arcoll to his camp.
But as I stumbled and sprawled down these rocky tracks I was not thinking of
Laputa's plans. My whole soul was filled with regret for Colin, and rage against
his murderer. After my first mad rush I had not thought about my dog. He was
dead, but so would I be in an hour or two, and there was no cause to lament him.
But at the first revival of hope my grief had returned. As they bandaged my eyes I
was wishing that they would let me see his grave. As I followed beside Laputa I
told myself that if ever I got free, when the war was over I would go to Inanda's
Kraal, find the grave, and put a tombstone over it in memory of the dog that
saved my life. I would also write that the man who shot him was killed on such
and such a day at such and such a place by Colin's master. I wondered why
Laputa had not the wits to see the Portugoose's treachery and to let me fight him.
I did not care what were the weapons - knives or guns, or naked fists - I would
certainly kill him, and afterwards the Kaffirs could do as they pleased with me.
Hot tears of rage and weakness wet the bandage on my eyes, and the sobs
which came from me were not only those of weariness.
At last we halted. Laputa got down and took off the bandage, and I found myself
in one of the hill-meadows which lie among the foothills of the Wolkberg. The
glare blinded me, and for a little I could only see the marigolds growing at my
feet. Then I had a glimpse of the deep gorge of the Great Letaba below me, and
far to the east the flats running out to the hazy blue line of the Lebombo hills.
Laputa let me sit on the ground for a minute or two to get my breath and rest my
feet. 'That was a rough road,' he said. 'You can take it easier now, for I have no
wish to carry you.' He patted the Schimmel, and the beautiful creature turned his
mild eyes on the pair of us. I wondered if he recognized his rider of two nights
I had seen Laputa as the Christian minister, as the priest and king in the cave, as
the leader of an army at Dupree's Drift, and at the kraal we had left as the savage
with all self- control flung to the winds. I was to see this amazing man in a further
part. For he now became a friendly and rational companion. He kept his horse at