Lesedi awoke. He was lying on his back looking up into the branches of an acacia tree. Vaguely wondering what the tree was doing in his hut, he sat up and looked around. Then the memories of the night before came flooding back. He wasn’t in his hut, he was in the cart. Everything looked very normal and peaceful around him. The donkeys were quietly grazing off to one side and he could hear some village noises in the background. Down on the ground sat his grandfather with a fire going and a pot of water on for tea. He was starting to wonder if it had all been a dream when Kgatwe popped his head out of his pocket.
“Well, that was quite a night. Good thing I was around to sort things out,” declared the little gecko.
Lesedi looked at him with his eyebrows raised and then across to Lorato. He saw a faint glimmer of amusement run across the old man’s face before he said, “Come and have some tea. We must get going before the villagers find out we are here and I have to start attending to their needs.” As he said this an old man walked out of the bush towards them.
“Oh no!” he said in his head, outwardly greeting the old man with courtesy and respect. Lesedi moved back a bit to allow them to talk but made sure he could still hear what was being said. He was a curious young man and liked to know what was going on in the grown-up world even if he didn’t always understand it. After all the formal greetings and enquiries into everyone’s health, which he could feel Lorato wanted to get over with as quickly as possible, the old man said, “There is trouble brewing in the north.” Lorato looked at him. He thought the trouble was in the west from The Hills. “They are planning to take our water.”
“Who are they? And how?” asked Lorato, his attention now focused. There had often been talk of the people in the north doing this but it had never come to much.
“The desert people of the north. They are building a wall which will stop the water coming through to us and they are being helped by Bosula.”
“Bosula!? But how will that benefit him? He wishes to take over the Delta because he has used up all the resources in The Hills. What use is the Delta without water?”
“I am sure he has a plan. Maybe he will take over the desert people as well, and then when we are all gone break the wall down and take over the Delta. The trouble is he is so powerful our people are helpless against him.”
“We are going to The Hills,” said Lorato.
“You are!?” Lesedi could see the fear in the old man’s eyes. “Is that wise?”
“I have business to do there, I have no option,” Lorato said, not explaining any further. There were many legends about the stone but nobody really knew whether it actually existed or not. He did not want them to know that it did exist and that at the moment it was in The Hills. That would just cause unnecessary panic.
“I wish you well. Maybe you can try and find out what Bosula plans to do,” said the old man, getting up. “The wall is half built and we can see the flow of the river getting less. If this continues we will have to move, to where I do not know.” The old man took his leave and walked slowly away, his head down and shoulders stooped.
Lesedi sat there stunned by what he had heard. He couldn’t imagine a world without water. It was all around him all the time—how could it just go away?
“Make it easier for me to get to my island,” chirped Kgatwe, apparently unperturbed by all this. He was sunning himself on a log next to Lesedi. “Quite frankly after last night I’ve had enough water.”
“It won’t be an island if there is no water,” snapped Lesedi. He felt annoyed that Kgatwe took this thing so lightly.
“Only joking,” said Kgatwe, jumping back into Lesedi’s pocket. “Let’s get going then.”
Lorato was busy packing up the cart. He whistled and James and Mary ran to take up their positions. He harnessed them and they took off down the dusty road. Lorato tried to keep to the back roads so that they weren’t seen by too many people. They were going really fast, really fast that is for a very fast motor car let alone a donkey cart. Lesedi held on tightly, the wind in his face, enjoying every minute of it. He had never been in a motor car and this was the fastest he had ever been. Kgatwe wasn’t that impressed and stayed hunkered down in Lesedi’s pocket. When people did see the cart they stopped and stared in awe. Then they saw it was Lorato’s cart and remembered what he had told them about the amazing new food he had found that gave his donkeys all this extra energy. They made a note to talk to him about it the next time they saw him. A few speedier donkeys around there would make a big difference.
They arrived at the ferry crossing just as it was getting dark. The last ferry had already left and they would have to spend the night there. Lorato was very tempted to fly over the river but there were a lot of people around who would most definitely see them, and if they landed in the middle of the big, wide, deep river here they might not get out as easily as they had the last time. So he found them a nice protected spot and they prepared to set up camp for the night.
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