"O, Mahomet," said he, "tell me of this N'bosini of which men speak, and in which all native people believe, for my lord M'ilitani has said that there is no such place and that it is the dream of mad people."
"Thus says M'ilitani, my lord Tibbetti will come on your feast day and you shall honour him; as for the stick, it stands till Sandi says it shall not stand. The palaver is finished." He paced up and down the deck when the men had gone, his hands behind him, his brows knit in worry. "Four times have I been asked to cut down Sanders' pole," he mused aloud. "I wonder what the idea is?"
It was a letter in Arabic in Bosambo's characteristic and angular handwriting. "From Bosambo, the servant of the Prophet, of the upper river in the city of the Ochori, to M'ilitani, his master. Peace on your house. "In the name of God I send you this news. My lord with the moon-eye, making inquiries about the N'bosini, came to the Ochori and I told him much that he wrote down in a book.
"This is a bad palaver," said Bosambo, "for it seems to me that when little chiefs do that which is wrong, it is an ill thing; but when great kings, such as your master Iberi, stand at the back of such wrongdoings, that is the worst thing of all, and though this M'bisibi is a wise man, as we all know, and indeed the only wise man of your people, has brought out this devil-child, and makes a killing palaver, then M'ilitani will come very quickly with his soldiers and there will be an end to little chiefs and big chiefs alike."
"Yet his fetish stands," insisted the old man; "all day and all night his dreadful spirit watches us; for this we have all seen that the very lightnings of M'shimba M'shamba run up that stick and do it no harm. Also M'ilitani and Moon-in-the-Eye " "They are fools," a counsellor broke in. "Lord M'ilitani is no fool, this I know," interrupted a fourth. "Tibbetti comes and brings no soldiers.
"This day I go back to M'ilitani, carrying word of the N'bosini," said he, and Bosambo's jaw dropped, though Bones did not notice the fact. "Presently I will return, bringing with me silver of the value of a hundred English pounds, and you shall lead us to this strange city."
"He will lead you to a place more terrible," said M'ilitani, significantly, and sent a nimble climber into the trees to fasten a block and tackle to a stout branch, and thread a rope through. It was so effective that M'bisibi, an old man, became most energetically active. Lokali and swift messengers sent his villages to the search.
"Get me food," said the imperious stranger, "after, you shall make a bed for me in your inner room, and sit before this house that none may disturb me, for it is to my high purpose that no word shall go to M'ilitani that I stay in your territory." "M'gani, I am your dog," said Bosambo, and stole forth from the hut like a thief to obey.
Hamilton dropped his hand on his revolver butt, and for a moment there was murder in his eyes. "M'ilitani, there is a bad palaver in the N'bosini country," said the gossip-chief of the Lesser Isisi, and wagged his head impressively. Hamilton of the Houssas rose up from his camp chair and stretched himself to his full six feet.
He walked slowly up the cut steps in the hillside and sat upon the stool to the chief's right; and no sooner had he seated himself than, without preliminary, he began to speak. And he spoke of Sanders, of his splendour and his power; of his love for all people and his land, and also M'ilitani, who these men respected because of his devilish blue eyes.
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