and Grampa were worried. Whenever they discussed worrying matters,
they spoke in Zulu so that they would keep worrying matters away from
their two Grandchildren, Yvonne, fourteen years old, and Elizabeth,
Granny and Grampa did not know was that Yvonne and Elizabeth had long
ago secretly signed up for volunteer not-for-credit classes at school
in Conversational Zulu. And so, when her Grandparents were in worried
discussion about Elizabeth, Yvonne heard all of it, and became
Elizabeth had graduated from High School, she enlisted as an Army
Cadet. She would be away from home for about ninety days at training
camp. Granny and Grampa had been very proud of her. Yvonne, too, was
proud of her sister in whose footsteps she was determined to follow
after she graduated.
had promised to write regularly. Two weeks had passed, but no letter
had arrived from Elizabeth. When the Grandparents had gone downtown
to enquire at the recruiting office, the office was no longer there.
The police were not aware of the closing.
next morning, Saturday, not a school day, at breakfast, Granny and
Grampa were worried and sad, but they pretended to be happy so as not
to make Yvonne sad. But in their Zulu bits of conversation, they
expressed depression and fear. Yvonne, while sincerely enjoying the
breakfast Granny had made, was hard-pressed to pretend to be happy
about Granny and Grampa and Elizabeth.
nobody in the family knew was that Lady, the family pet dog, was,
too, bilingual in Zulu and English. And, she did not go to school to
learn to be bilingual.
had had enough of all the uncertainty about Elizabeth. She had
decided to do something about it. And, she had guessed accurately at
what Yvonne's response to her invitation would be. Lady's wisdom went
far beyond understanding all human languages.
breakfast, Lady walked out into the backyard, and waited for Yvonne
to appear. Yvonne appeared, doing one of her chores, not taking
notice of Lady. Lady ran around Yvonne a few times. That was their
usual signal to play. Yvonne was not quite in the mood. "Later,
made her irresistible move. She ran a few steps, stopped, turned her
head and looked at Yvonne, and gave a friendly growl. It did not
fail, as it never ever had. Yvonne paid attention. Lady trotted
farther away a few steps, and looked back at Yvonne, again. The game
girl to another, Yvonne intuitively knew Lady was about to go find
Elizabeth. "You wait here, Lady, while I go make an excuse to
Granny and Grampa.
dashed back into the home. Her excuse was that she and Lady were
going down to the river to play. That was an almost daily pastime
with Lady and the children. Granny and Grampa welcomed it. Yvonne and
Lady ran out the backyard gate, Lady in the lead, and along the alley
to where stone steps led down to the river.
shallow river was shallow all the way to the next town, miles away.
They ran, sometimes in the river, sometimes on the shore. Not for
even a second did Yvonne doubt that Lady knew where she was headed.
some point, Lady left the river and ran up a hill into a thick
forest. Yvonne hesitated only because the trees in the forest were so
close together, she would not find it easy to move through them.
You sure?" Lady paused, looked back at Yvonne and wagged her
tale. Yvonne plunged ahead.
inside the forest, Lady stopped. Yvonne caught up. Lady moved slowly
and cautiously. Yvonne, too. They came to a clearing. There was a
cabin. Standing guard, armed with a rifle, was Elizabeth.
was about to let out a cry of surprise, but Lady bumped her aside.
Yvonne stifled her surprise. Lady furtively approached Elizabeth.
Elizabeth could not believe she was seeing Lady. "Lady? Is that
ran up to Elizabeth. Elizabeth put aside her rifle on the ground, and
hugged Lady. Yvonne called out, to Lady more than to Elizabeth. "May
I come out, now?" "Yvonne? That you?" The sisters
hugged. Lady strutted away a few steps and sniffed around.
was thoroughly happily confused. "What are you two doing here?"
"Elizabeth, something is wrong. Granny and Grampa cannot locate
the people who recruited you. Their downtown office is closed. Even
the police do not know anything about them." "How did you
get here?" "Lady brought me here. We have to go home,
Elizabeth." "Yvonne, I cannot just leave. I signed a
contract. Granny and Grampa co-signed with me." "Elizabeth,
that contract is not worth anything if your recruiters are not
looking into the distance, growled. Elizabeth and Yvonne paid
attention. They heard a vehicle approaching. Lady took up an attack
posture, and stared in the direction of the approaching vehicle. The
hair on her back, from head to tail, stood up like spikes. That was
sign enough for Elizabeth.
hissed to Yvonne, "Let's get out of here!" They dashed into
the forest. Elizabeth called out, "Lady. Come on!" Yvonne
paused for a second to say, "Let her be, Elizabeth. She will
delay them. She knows the way home." The sisters fled to the
sat on her haunches, waiting for the vehicle. She was casually
scratching one of her ears when a jeep came into view. In it were two
uniformed soldiers, armed with rifles. They slowed down when they saw
Lady sitting in the middle of the road, alternatively looking at them
and scratching her ears. They stopped.
dog?" "Looks tame enough." "Hey, doggie, get out
of the way." Lady trotted up to the vehicle, and jumped onto the
hood, and lay on her belly. "Really? It wants to play."
"Later. I have to replace the sentry. Drive on."
vehicle moved along slowly with Lady lying on her belly on the hood.
It stopped when they arrived where Elizabeth had been standing guard.
is the sentry?" They got out of the vehicle and looked around.
One of them called out to Elizabeth, "Soldier! Where are you?"
"Here is her rifle." "I don't like this."
jumped off the hood onto one of the soldiers. When he was on his back
on the ground, screaming, his arms paralyzed in terror, Lady
positioned the tip of her nose a dog's breath away from the tip of
the soldier's nose. Their eyes met.
snarled; bared her teeth; opened her mouth wide enough to give him a
clear view of her mighty uvula and tonsils. His fear was so deep and
so all inclusive, his left eyelid would never be able ever again to
close completely; his other eyelid would twitch forevermore. Ever
and ever again, nightmares would interrupt his sleep. In that moment
he suffered, as well, lower bodily, unprintable, unspeakable, stinky,
other soldier took up a defensive stance, and, in his mindless terror
forgetting which end was which, he grasped his loaded rifle by the
barrel with both hands, as if it were a baseball bat.
dashed away and disappeared into the forest.
two were thoroughly discombobulated. "That is not an ordinary
dog!" "What did it do to the sentry?" "I do not
want to know." "We have to find her body!" "We
have to get out of this business, and out of this country, and never
scrambled back into the vehicle, and sped away.
author's name in
of the message we
won't know where to send it.)