"Well, you must risk it now or the girl will be killed. Twala is losing patience."
Recognizing the force of the argument, having cast one more despairing look at the bright face of the sun, for never did the most ardent astronomer with a theory to prove await a celestial event with such anxiety, I stepped, with all the dignity I could command, between the prostrate girl and the advancing spear of Scragga.
"King," I said; "this shall not be; we will not tolerate such a thing; let the girl go in safety."
Twala rose from his seat in his wrath and astonishment, and from the chiefs and serried ranks of girls, who had slowly closed in upon us in anticipation of the tragedy, came a murmur of amazement.
"Shall not be, thou white dog, who yaps at the lion in his cave; shall not be! Art thou mad? Be careful lest this chicken's fate overtake thee and those with thee. How canst thou prevent it? Who art thou, that thou standest between me and my will? Withdraw, I say. Scragga, kill her. Ho, guards! seize these men."
At his cry armed men came running swiftly from behind the hut, where they had evidently been placed beforehand.
Sir Henry, Good, and Umbopa ranged themselves alongside of me and lifted their rifles.
"Stop!" I shouted, boldly, though at the moment my heart was in my boots. "Stop! we, the white men from the stars, say that it shall not be. Come but one pace nearer and we will put out the sun and plunge the land in darkness. Ye shall taste of our magic."