Hannah Erasmus

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Character Profile

Name: Hannah Erasmus
Date of Birth:
Nationality: African


Born among the Tswana people in Africa and given the name Lethabo, Hannah Erasmus was captured as a child in a slave raid in which her entire human family was either killed or enslaved. She was shipped to Brazil, where she worked as house slave. This probably saved her life, as field slaves did not last long. Her master's name was branded on her forehead over the tattoo given to her as a child. She was freed and married Rev. Josiah Erasmus and bore him two children.

The Erasmus family travelled to Cape Town on the HMS Allegiance as Laurence's guests with the intention of becoming missionaries in Africa. Their presence on the ship led to a quarrel between Laurence and Captain Tom Riley, whose family owned slaves.

Hannah showed herself to be unafraid of dragons, something Laurence found passing odd. She and her husband set up in a mission, teaching black children to read and preaching the gospel. To the consternation of the Dutch settlers, their work throve.

When the British aviators went out into the jungle looking for the mushroom believed to be the cure for the Dragon Plague, Mrs. Erasmus and her husband came along to act as translators, as they knew at least a little of the local language. Thus, they were present when the aviators found a large cave of the mushrooms - which they did not recognize as intentionally cultivated - and were attacked by a group of native humans and dragons. One of the dragons, Kefentse, recognized the tattoo on Hannah's forehead. Unfortunately, this led to Rev. Erasmus' death. When he identified himself as coming from a rival group, the Lunda, Kefentse ordered him killed, probably believing that Hannah was his captive.

Kefentse told Hannah - or Lethabo, as he called her - that he was her great-grandfather. According to African custom, this would mean that he was the dragon who was believed to have taken on the spirit of Lethabo's human great-grandfather after that man's death. (See Dragon eggs.) After the slave raid in which Lethabo's human family was destroyed, Kefentse searched for them until he came to the edge of the sea, when he knew they were gone - as he believed, forever.

When Kefentse found Lethabo again, he was anxious and jealous about losing her a second time. Since he considered himself to be her elder, he brushed aside her requests to be let go as those of a child who did not know any better. Rather, he wanted her to bring her daughters to him. He also wanted Laurence to locate and bring the other enslaved members of Lethabo's family, but Lethabo explained that they were almost certainly dead by this time.

Eventually, Lethabo agreed with Kefentse that she would return to Cape Town to find her daughters and then wait for him there. She told Laurence that she would rather see her daughters raised as proud children of the Tswana than as beggars in England.