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being the Dutch for go or be off). “Katrine has taught her this. Bernhard, open the door quietly and look out, all the boys, I fancy, are behind the hut talking to this girl.
The door was slowly pushed on one side by Bernhard ; and there appearing no watchers near, he whispered to his companions the result of his examination.
Now for our lives,' said Hans, and for those of the girls. We will go very quickly, but silently, to the hut for our guns, then for our horses, and then for Katrine. Let us go.'
Bernhard led the way out of the hut, the door of which was so low that it was necessary to crawl out on all fours, Victor followed, and lastly, Hans, who stayed to fasten the wicker door in its former position. The three men then walked away towards the hut in which they believed their guns to be, and opening the door, Hans first entered. The inside of the hut was so dark that scarcely any thing was visible; but no sooner had Hans stood up and stretched out his arm, to feel the side of the hut, than his hand came in contact with the arm of a human being. In an instant his hand closed on this arm with a grip which indicated his knowledge that life or death depended now on every trivial circumstance; but before he could grasp the throat of whoever it was, a whispered voice exclaimed, 'Hans, it is I, here are your guns,' and Katrine's voice was immediately recognized by her lover. Bernhard and Victor had by this time entered the doorway, and were first alarmed, then delighted, to find Hans
talking to some one in the hut. As soon as Katrine had disengaged herself from her lover, who held her almost as firmly as he would have held an enemy, she explained to him what she believed to be their best chance of escape.
“We must leave this hut, and get out of the enclosure behind it,' she said ;'we can creep through an opening in the palisades, and then go round to the kraal where the horses are.
It will be difficult to secure them, for two Kaffirs are left in charge of them; but my sister is about there, looking out, and will tell us what is best to be done. All of you must put a blanket each over you, then, if you hide your hats, you will not be known in the dark from Kaffirs, at least till you are seen very close. Then we must lead the horses some distance before we ride
away, and we must ride northwards, away from the kloof near which we were taken this morning. All the men have gone south, so we may miss them. Do you see what to do, Hans ?' 'Yes,' whispered Hans, we will go out now.
Let me feel, are my powder-horn and bullets here ? Yes, they are untouched. Bernhard, you take these and take my gun; I will help Katrine along : then I have a plan.'
The three men wrapped in blankets crept from the hut without being observed ; the occupants of the various huts being engaged inside, cooking their evening meal. An opening large enough to allow of the four passing through, was found behind the hut; and in a few minutes
. Hans had conducted Katrine to a spot some fifty yards
outside the enclosure, where he stopped near a clump of bushes that offered concealment.
Now for the most difficult part of the affair,' said Hans, “to procure the horses. Are the men old or young, Katrine, who are watching them ?'
'Young,' said Katrine, "and inexperienced.'
*Then I will try a bold plan. If I call Help! you, Victor, come to me, whilst you, Bernhard, take care of Katrine ; but if I don't call, then go down to the stream when I come out whistling from the cattle-kraal. Where is your sister, Kate ?'
"She is close here, Hans, and will come when she hears one whistled note; she is hid I don't know where.'
Bring her to you, then, and now for the attempt,' said Hans.
To men used, as were these hunters, to make rapid plans, and execute them as quickly, no further explanations were needed; and the two who remained with Katrine waited patiently to see the result of Hans' scheme, trusting to his skill and knowledge to bring about a favourable result. The method which Hans intended to attempt was a bold one. He knew that, dark as it was, he could not be recognized unless he were examined closely. He also knew that the young Kaffir or Matabili men were ordered about in a very summary way by their elders, and no discussion was ever allowed when an order was given. He had ascertained, by the conversation of the boys outside of the hut, the name of
the chief of the kraal; and thus provided he walked boldly towards the kraal, with no effort at concealment As he approached he called in the Matabili language, • Where are you ??
'Here,' answered the two men.
• The chief wants to show the horses,' said Hans, in his best Kaffir ; 'bring them out, I am to take them.'
A murmur of surprise escaped the two men as they heard this order ; but fearing to dispute or question, they entered the kraal, and, unfastening the horses, led them out of the narrow gateway. . Hans covered himself almost completely with his blanket, and as the men came out he said, “Follow me, lead the horses this way.'
As among the followers of Moselekatse there were many renegades from the Zulus, and some from various tribes in all directions, the difference in Hans' pronunciation of several words was not noticed, or at least not paid particular attention to. And as he spoke in a tone of authority his orders were not questioned, though he was personally unknown to the two men in charge of the horses, who believed him to be some chief sent direct from Moselekatse.
When Hans had led the men some few yards from the bushes where his companions were concealed, he stopped and said, “Now leave the horses here ; I can take them alone. Go back and watch the cattle; the chief wants you to see that all is safe in the kraal.'
With that same tacit obedience which had before been shown by the men, and which would appear unaccount
able in those who did not know the Matabili character, the men who were directed to watch the horses actually gave them up to a stranger, the magic name of the Chief being sufficient to awe them. They, however, never dreamed of an enemy being near them; and the thought of the Dutchmen who had been so easily trapped in the morning putting so bold a scheme into practice, would have seemed little short of impossible; and thus the horses were given up without any suspicion.
One very low whistle had scarcely been given by Hans before Bernhard and Victor, with Katrine and her sister, were by his side.
“Get on this horse, Katie,' said Hans, “and your sister on that next me, and we can now escape.'
“No,' said Katrine, it will not do for us to ride. If any Matabili saw us on a horse, they would know we were prisoners escaping, but if they only saw the horses they might not suspect; but now, Hans, do you know which way to go in the dark ?'
It is difficult to find the way,' replied Hans, 'for I can see but a short distance ; still I can tell by those three stars close together that we are going north.'
“Yes, we are ; and I think I can find the path here. We shall have to pass a kraal about half a mile farther on. What shall we do if any men come out ?'
'We must tell them we are going to take the horses to the chief,' replied Hans, that may satisfy them.'
It may; but this is not the way to the chief's kraal, replied Katrine. "We shall be in danger there.'