"Rima! Rima!" I cried. "Speak again. Is it you? Come to me here."
Again that low, warbling sound, or series of sounds, seemingly from a distance of a few yards. I was not disturbed at her not replying in Spanish: she had always spoken it somewhat reluctantly, and only when at my side; but when calling to me from some distance she would return instinctively to her own mysterious language, and call to me as bird calls to bird. I knew that she was inviting me to follow her, but I refused to move.
"Rima," I cried again, "come to me here, for I know not where to step, and cannot move until you are at my side and I can feel your hand."
There came no response, and after some moments, becoming alarmed, I called to her again.
Then close by me, in a low, trembling voice, she returned: "I am here."
I put out my hand and touched something soft and wet; it was her breast, and moving my hand higher up, I felt her hair, hanging now and streaming with water. She was trembling, and I thought the rain had chilled her.
"Rima — poor child! How wet you are! How strange to meet you in such a place! Tell me, dear Rima, how did you find me?"
"I was waiting — watching — all day. I saw you coming across the savannah, and followed at a distance through the wood."
"And I had treated you so unkindly! Ah, my guardian angel, my light in the darkness, how I hate myself for giving you pain! Tell me, sweet, did you wish me to come back and live with you again?" She made no reply. Then, running my fingers down her arm, I took her hand in mine. It was hot, like the hand of one in a fever. I raised it to my lips and then attempted to draw her to me, but she slipped down and out of my arms to my feet. I felt her there, on her knees, with head bowed low. Stooping and putting my arm round her body, I drew her up and held her against my breast, and felt her heart throbbing wildly. With many endearing words I begged her to speak to me; but her only reply was: "Come — come," as she slipped again out of my arms and, holding my hand in hers, guided me through the bushes.
Before long we came to an open path or glade, where the darkness was not profound; and releasing my hand, she began walking rapidly before me, always keeping at such a distance as just enabled me to distinguish her grey, shadowy figure, and with frequent doublings to follow the natural paths and openings which she knew so well. In this way we kept on nearly to the end, without exchanging a word, and hearing no sound except the continuous rush of rain, which to our accustomed ears had ceased to have the effect of sound, and the various gurgling noises of innumerable runners. All at once, as we came to a more open place, a strip of bright firelight appeared before us, shining from the half-open door of Nuflo's lodge. She turned round as much as to say: "Now you know where you are," then hurried on, leaving me to follow as best I could.