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some yellow-wood trees, where we often met, she was to walk in that direction; so I think I am not wrong in believing she means to come to this place by her walking in this direction. There were not many days during the . last few months that Katrine did not see the flash of my mirror, and so it is not wonderful that she at once responded to the signal. There, she has gone, Victor has she not ?—into the kraal. Now, you look to the horses, I will watch here, and we shall soon have a report from Bernhard as to what he has seen high up the ravine; then, if all be safe and well, we may soon be on horseback, and on our way back to our friends; and then we need not fear any number of Matabili, for we can ride
away from them with ease, for both Katrine and her sister ride like Amazons. Ah, Bernhard, what news ?'
'I don't like so many 'small parties of the Matabili disappearing in the bush behind us; at least a hundred have gone in there this morning, and the bush runs quite up to our ravine; these men might stalk to within a few yards of us, and we not know of their approach; it is necessary that we should be watchful, for the horses have more than once snorted as though they smelt something strange and unpleasant, and my horse has reason to dread a Matabili ever since the gash he got in the flank in our last expedition against these people. How long will you stay here, Hans ?'
‘Only two hours more, Bernhard, so I trust.'
HE two hours which Hans had to wait before
he believed Katrine would come to the kloof
passed very slowly. Each minute seemed longer than would an hour pleasantly passed; and when only half the time had elapsed he began to feel uneasy, and to fear that he might be mistaken as regards the signals which Victor had seen. Long before the time had elapsed, however, Hans saw Katrine and her sister stroll out from the kraal and walk slowly along the paths which led in the direction of the ravine in which were her friends. She did not hurry, or seem at all eager, as though bent on an expedition of importance, but stopped oecasionally as though undecided in which way to journey, and as though not engaged on any special purpose.
Hans and his companions watched with the greatest interest every movement of the two girls, and also every group of Matabili that from time to time were seen moving from kraal to kraal. Several armed men had left the various little villages and had walked rapidly from one to the other, as though some business of war were on hand. About a dozen of these armed men were assembled, and seemed to be engaged in talking, near the kraal from which Katrine and her sister had first appeared ; they took, apparently, no notice of the two girls, who seemed at full liberty to wander where they chose. These men, after a short time, followed the same path as that which Katrine had chosen, but they appeared merely idling, for occasionally they stopped, sat down, and took snuff, whilst now and then one or two would engage in a mimic fight, and, striking each others' shields, would threaten with their spears as though engaged in a deadly combat.
At first these men scarcely attracted Hans' attention, so wholly was he engaged in watching Katrine ; but being accustomed to notice every thing, however unimportant it might appear, he soon became interested in the proceedings of these warriors. Katrine steadily advanced towards the ravine, and was now distant scarcely half a mile; but behind her, and within a quarter of a mile, were the armed Matabili, who Hans saw had steadily followed her and her sister, although they seemed otherwise engaged.
'Those men,' at length said Hans to his companions, “are following Katrine, and either do so as a means of watching that she does not escape, or else they know we are near and mean to attack us; there are but ten of them, and we can surely dispose of that number. Let Attempted Escape.
us look to our priming; but we should not fire a shot if we can escape without doing so, for a gun discharged would alarm the whole country, and our escape would be very difficult. See, the men are coming closer to Katrine, and they are calling to her. Hear what they say, Victor, “ Wena musa hamba kona,” they speak to her in Kaffir, and say, “You must not go there."
Cess ! if they lay hand on her I'll try a bullet at them even from here,' said Hans, as he observed two of the Matabili run towards Katrine and her sister.
The two Dutch girls were not, however, to be ordered like children. They knew perfectly well what was said to them, but did not intend to obey it. Taking advantage of the temporary concealment afforded by some bushes behind which she walked, Katrine seized her sister's hand and ran rapidly up the path into the ravine. Although unaware of this proceeding, yet the Matabili had intended to prevent the two girls from entering the ravine; and so the whole party ran forward in order to bring the two maidens back.
The Matabili, as well as the other tribes of South Africa, used a certain amount of courtesy towards young and handsome women, although their wives are treated very much as are slaves. Thus these men considered it rather a piece of coquetry that the girls should run away from them, and were apparently more amused than angry at it.
Thus, although Katrine and her sister were fully 200 yards in advance of their pursuers, yet the Matabili knew that the maidens could not escape them; for even if compelled to spoor them, these experienced hunters would soon re-capture their prisoners.
The point at which Katrine entered the ravine was distant about 300 yards from where Hans was concealed ; and thus, had he remained where he then was, the Matabili would undoubtedly have captured the girls before they could have reached him. Seeing this, he at once decided upon running down the ravine and intercepting the pursuers. The suddenness of a discharge of fire-arms, which he was now convinced must be done, would so alarm the Matabili, ignorant as they were of the number of their foes, that their retreat would be immediate, and he would thus be left in undisturbed possession of Katrine and her sister.
Without any explanation of his reasons to his companions, who were men that needed not that a plain fact should be made more plain by argument, Hans said Follow me,' and the three ran down the pathway to meet Katrine, who, to the delight of Hans, was soon visible, and safely held for a moment in his arms.
• The Matabili are coming,' exclaimed Katrine, 'ten of them : can you fight them?'
“Yes, double the number would be nothing, now you are with me, Katie.'
But, Hans, more are about. I fear so much for you. How can we escape from these brutal murderers? Oh, it was fearful! My poor father was butchered before my eyes, and I lived to see it; but where can these men be? they were close behind us just now.