Chapter XXIX. Winkleman's Safari Arrives

The Leopard Woman watched the safari file down the distant hill and lose itself beneath the green plumes of the papyrus swamp. By all right she should have rejoiced. Against every probability she had succeeded. The stars had worked for her. Though the prearranged plan had not carried in any of its details, nevertheless the sought-for result had been gained. She had herself done little to detain Kingozi; yet he had been detained; and here was Winkleman, belated but in time, to carry out triumphantly the wishes of the Imperial Government. But her heart was like lead.

After the first droop Kingozi had straightened beneath the blow, and now sat bolt upright, staring straight before him, as a king might have sat alone on his throne. Whatever was coming, he would front it serenely.

The head of the safari appeared at the foot of the slope. It seemed a trifle uncertain as to where to go next, but catching sight of Kingozi's tents, it turned up the hill. Cazi Moto's keen eyes were searching out every detail; those of the Leopard Woman had suddenly become suffused with tears.

"It is a rich safari, bwana," Cazi Moto reported; "many loads." His voice sharpened with surprise, but he did not raise his tones. "Simba is there," said he.

"Simba! So they caught him," muttered Kingozi. "Well, that play failed. Do you see the white man?" he asked.

"No, bwana. The white man has not yet come. But Simba now sees us, and is coming."

"He is guarded?"

"No, bwana; he is alone."

"Jambo, bwana," said Simba's voice a moment later.

Something in his tone caught Kingozi's ear.

"Yes, Simba?" was all he replied.

"All has been done as you ordered, bwana. This is the fourteenth day, and I am here to tell you."

Kingozi caught his breath sharply.

"Bwana Nyele was captured?"

"Mali-ya-bwana holds him prisoner at a certain water."

"There was no trouble?"

"None, bwana. All happened as you told. This magic is a very great magic," said Simba piously.

Kingozi paused.

"The safari," he suggested at last. "I am told of a safari; indeed, I can hear it. What of that? No orders were given as to a safari."

"That is true, bwana," explained Simba earnestly, "but this is a very great safari. It has tents and potio, and chakula[17], and blankets and beads and wire and many other things to a quantity impossible to say. And it came to my mind that shenzis like these things, as do all men, and that in this shenzi country my bwana might make use of them; so I brought them with me for your use, bwana."

[Footnote 17: Chakula--white man's food.]

"You had no trouble bringing this great safari?" asked Kingozi.

"I used again the magic bone," replied Simba.

"Simba, you jewel!" cried Kingozi in English, "you've saved the day! I should think shenzis did like these things! And oh, haven't I needed them! You old tar-baby, you!"

And Simba replied as usual to this incomprehensible gibberish with his own full stock of English:

"Yes, suh!"

"You have done well, very well," Kingozi shifted to Swahili. "I am pleased with you. For this work you shall have much backsheeshi--a month's wages extra, and twenty goats for your farm, and any other thing that you want most. What is it?"

Simba appeared to hesitate and boggle.

"Speak up! I am Very pleased."

"This is a very great thing I would ask," said Simba in a low voice.

"It is a great thing you have done."

"Bwana," cried Simba earnestly. "It is this: I would have the magic bone for my own. For it is a very great magic," he added wistfully.

Kingozi choked back an impulse to shout aloud.

"It is yours," he said gravely.

"Oh, bwana! bwana!" choked Simba. "Assanti! assanti sana!"

His sob was echoed at Kingozi's elbow.

"Oh," cried the Leopard Woman, "I know I should be sorry that this has come this way! But I'm not; I am glad!"