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Title: Nada the Lily
Author: Haggard, H. Rider (Henry Rider)
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Nada the Lily" ***

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NADA THE LILY

By H. Rider Haggard



DEDICATION

Sompseu:

For I will call you by the name that for fifty years has been honoured
by every tribe between Zambesi and Cape Agulbas,--I greet you!

Sompseu, my father, I have written a book that tells of men and matters
of which you know the most of any who still look upon the light;
therefore, I set your name within that book and, such as it is, I offer
it to you.

If you knew not Chaka, you and he have seen the same suns shine, you
knew his brother Panda and his captains, and perhaps even that very Mopo
who tells this tale, his servant, who slew him with the Princes. You
have seen the circle of the witch-doctors and the unconquerable Zulu
impis rushing to war; you have crowned their kings and shared their
counsels, and with your son’s blood you have expiated a statesman’s
error and a general’s fault.

Sompseu, a song has been sung in my ears of how first you mastered this
people of the Zulu. Is it not true, my father, that for long hours you
sat silent and alone, while three thousand warriors shouted for your
life? And when they grew weary, did you not stand and say, pointing
towards the ocean: “Kill me if you wish, men of Cetywayo, but I tell
you that for every drop of my blood a hundred avengers shall rise from
yonder sea!”

Then, so it was told me, the regiments turned staring towards the Black
Water, as though the day of Ulundi had already come and they saw the
white slayers creeping across the plains.

Thus, Sompseu, your name became great among the people of the Zulu, as
already it was great among many another tribe, and their nobles did you
homage, and they gave you the Bayete, the royal salute, declaring by the
mouth of their Council that in you dwelt the spirit of Chaka.

Many years have gone by since then, and now you are old, my father. It
is many years even since I was a boy, and followed you when you went up
among the Boers and took their country for the Queen.

Why did you do this, my father? I will answer, who know the truth. You
did it because, had it not been done, the Zulus would have stamped out
the Boers. Were not Cetywayo’s impis gathered against the land, and was
it not because it became the Queen’s land that at your word he sent them
murmuring to their kraals? (1) To save bloodshed you annexed the country
beyond the Vaal. Perhaps it had been better to leave it, since “Death
chooses for himself,” and after all there was killing--of our own
people, and with the killing, shame. But in those days we did not guess
what we should live to see, and of Majuba we thought only as a little
hill!

Enemies have borne false witness against you on this matter, Sompseu,
you who never erred except through over kindness. Yet what does that
avail? When you have “gone beyond” it will be forgotten, since the sting
of ingratitude passes and lies must wither like the winter veldt. Only
your name will not be forgotten; as it was heard in life so it shall be
heard in story, and I pray that, however humbly, mine may pass down with
it. Chance has taken me by another path, and I must leave the ways
of action that I love and bury myself in books, but the old days and
friends are in my mind, nor while I have memory shall I forget them and
you.

Therefore, though it be for the last time, from far across the seas I
speak to you, and lifting my hand I give your “Sibonga” (2) and that
royal salute, to which, now that its kings are gone and the “People of
Heaven” are no more a nation, with Her Majesty you are alone entitled:--

    Bayete! Baba, Nkosi ya makosi!
    Ngonyama! Indhlovu ai pendulwa!
    Wen’ o wa vela wasi pata!
    Wen’ o wa hlul’ izizwe zonke za patwa nguive!
    Wa geina nge la Mabun’ o wa ba hlul’ u yedwa!
    Umsizi we zintandane e ziblupekayo!
    Si ya kuleka Baba!
    Bayete, T’ Sompseu! (3)

and farewell!

H. RIDER HAGGARD.


To Sir Theophilus Shepstone, K.C.M.G., Natal. 13 September, 1891.

 (1) “I thank my father Sompseu for his message. I am glad that he has
    sent it, because the Dutch have tired me out, and I intended to
    fight them once and once only, and to drive them over the Vaal.
    Kabana, you see my impis are gathered. It was to fight the Dutch
    I called them together; now I send them back to their homes.”
     --Message from Cetywayo to Sir. T. Shepstone, April, 1877.

 (2) Titles of praise.

 (3) Bayete, Father, Chief of Chiefs!
    Lion! Elephant that is not turned!
    You who nursed us from of old!
    You who overshadowed all peoples and took charge of them,
    And ended by mastering the Boers with your single strength!
    Help of the fatherless when in trouble!
    Salutation to you, Father!
    Bayete, O Sompseu!



PREFACE

The writer of this romance has been encouraged to his task by a purpose
somewhat beyond that of setting out a wild tale of savage life. When he
was yet a lad,--now some seventeen years ago,--fortune took him to South
Africa. There he was thrown in with men who, for thirty or forty years,
had been intimately acquainted with the Zulu people, with their history,
their heroes, and their customs. From these he heard many tales and
traditions, some of which, perhaps, are rarely told nowadays, and in
time to come may cease to be told altogether. Then the Zulus were still
a nation; now that nation has been destroyed, and the chief aim of
its white rulers is to root out the warlike spirit for which it was
remarkable, and to replace it by a spirit of peaceful progress. The Zulu
military organisation, perhaps the most wonderful that the world has
seen, is already a thing of the past; it perished at Ulundi. It was
Chaka who invented that organisation, building it up from the smallest
beginnings. When he appeared at the commencement of this century, it was
as the ruler of a single small tribe; when he fell, in the year 1828,
beneath the assegais of his brothers, Umhlangana and Dingaan, and of his
servant, Mopo or Umbopo, as he is called also, all south-eastern Africa
was at his feet, and in his march to power he had slaughtered more than
a million human beings. An attempt has been made in these pages to set
out the true character of this colossal genius and most evil man,--a
Napoleon and a Tiberius in one,--and also that of his brother and
successor, Dingaan, so no more need be said of them here. The author’s
aim, moreover, has been to convey, in a narrative form, some idea of the
remarkable spirit which animated these kings and their subjects, and to
make accessible, in a popular shape, incidents of history which are now,
for the most part, only to be found in a few scarce works of reference,
rarely consulted, except by students. It will be obvious that such a
task has presented difficulties, since he who undertakes it must for a
time forget his civilisation, and think with the mind and speak with the
voice of a Zulu of the old regime. All the horrors perpetrated by the
Zulu tyrants cannot be published in this polite age of melanite and
torpedoes; their details have, therefore, been suppressed. Still much
remains, and those who think it wrong that massacre and fighting
should be written of,--except by special correspondents,--or that the
sufferings of mankind beneath one of the world’s most cruel tyrannies
should form the groundwork of romance, may be invited to leave this
book unread. Most, indeed nearly all, of the historical incidents
here recorded are substantially true. Thus, it is said that Chaka did
actually kill his mother, Unandi, for the reason given, and destroy an
entire tribe in the Tatiyana cleft, and that he prophesied of the coming
of the white man after receiving his death wounds. Of the incident of
the Missionary and the furnace of logs, it is impossible to speak so
certainly. It came to the writer from the lips of an old traveller in
“the Zulu”; but he cannot discover any confirmation of it. Still, these
kings undoubtedly put their soldiers to many tests of equal severity.
Umbopo, or Mopo, as he is named in this tale, actually lived. After he
had stabbed Chaka, he rose to great eminence. Then he disappears from
the scene, but it is not accurately known whether he also went “the way
of the assegai,” or perhaps, as is here suggested, came to live near
Stanger under the name of Zweete. The fate of the two lovers at the
mouth of the cave is a true Zulu tale, which has been considerably
varied to suit the purposes of this romance. The late Mr. Leslie, who
died in 1874, tells it in his book “Among the Zulus and Amatongas.” “I
heard a story the other day,” he says, “which, if the power of writing
fiction were possessed by me, I might have worked up into a first-class
sensational novel.” It is the story that has been woven into the plot of
this book. To him also the writer is indebted for the artifice by which
Umslopogaas obtained admission to the Swazi stronghold; it was told to
Mr. Leslie by the Zulu who performed the feat and thereby won a wife.
Also the writer’s thanks are due to his friends, Mr. F. B. Fynney, (1)
late Zulu border agent, for much information given to him in bygone
years by word of mouth, and more recently through his pamphlet “Zululand
and the Zulus,” and to Mr. John Bird, formerly treasurer to the
Government of Natal, whose compilation, “The Annals of Natal,” is
invaluable to all who would study the early history of that colony and
of Zululand.

As for the wilder and more romantic incidents of this story, such as the
hunting of Umslopogaas and Galazi with the wolves, or rather with the
hyaenas,--for there are no true wolves in Zululand,--the author can only
say that they seem to him of a sort that might well have been mythically
connected with the names of those heroes. Similar beliefs and traditions
are common in the records of primitive peoples. The club “Watcher of the
Fords,” or, to give its Zulu name, U-nothlola-mazibuko, is an historical
weapon, chronicled by Bishop Callaway. It was once owned by a certain
Undhlebekazizwa. He was an arbitrary person, for “no matter what was
discussed in our village, he would bring it to a conclusion with a
stick.” But he made a good end; for when the Zulu soldiers attacked him,
he killed no less than twenty of them with the Watcher, and the spears
stuck in him “as thick as reeds in a morass.” This man’s strength was
so great that he could kill a leopard “like a fly,” with his hands only,
much as Umslopogaas slew the traitor in this story.

Perhaps it may be allowable to add a few words about the Zulu mysticism,
magic, and superstition, to which there is some allusion in this
romance. It has been little if at all exaggerated. Thus the writer well
remembers hearing a legend how the Guardian Spirit of the Ama-Zulu was
seen riding down the storm. Here is what Mr. Fynney says of her in the
pamphlet to which reference has been made: “The natives have a spirit
which they call Nomkubulwana, or the Inkosazana-ye-Zulu (the Princess
of Heaven). She is said to be robed in white, and to take the form of
a young maiden, in fact an angel. She is said to appear to some
chosen person, to whom she imparts some revelation; but, whatever
that revelation may be, it is kept a profound secret from outsiders.
I remember that, just before the Zulu war, Nomkubulwana appeared,
revealing something or other which had a great effect throughout the
land, and I know that the Zulus were quite impressed that some calamity
was about to befall them. One of the ominous signs was that fire is said
to have descended from heaven, and ignited the grass over the graves
of the former kings of Zululand. ... On another occasion Nomkubulwana
appeared to some one in Zululand, the result of that visit being, that
the native women buried their young children up to their heads in sand,
deserting them for the time being, going away weeping, but returning at
nightfall to unearth the little ones again.”

For this divine personage there is, therefore, authority, and the same
may be said of most of the supernatural matters spoken of in these
pages. The exact spiritual position held in the Zulu mind by the
Umkulunkulu,--the Old--Old,--the Great--Great,--the Lord of Heavens,--is
a more vexed question, and for its proper consideration the reader must
be referred to Bishop Callaway’s work, the “Religious System of the
Amazulu.” Briefly, Umkulunkulu’s character seems to vary from the idea
of an ancestral spirit, or the spirit of an ancestor, to that of a god.
In the case of an able and highly intelligent person like the Mopo of
this story, the ideal would probably not be a low one; therefore he is
made to speak of Umkulunkulu as the Great Spirit, or God.

It only remains to the writer to express his regret that this story is
not more varied in its hue. It would have been desirable to introduce
some gayer and more happy incidents. But it has not been possible. It is
believed that the picture given of the times is a faithful one, though
it may be open to correction in some of its details. At the least, the
aged man who tells the tale of his wrongs and vengeance could not be
expected to treat his subject in an optimistic or even in a cheerful
vein.

 (1) I grieve to state that I must now say the late Mr. F. B. Fynney.



NADA THE LILY



INTRODUCTION

Some years since--it was during the winter before the Zulu War--a White
Man was travelling through Natal. His name does not matter, for he plays
no part in this story. With him were two wagons laden with goods, which
he was transporting to Pretoria. The weather was cold and there was
little or no grass for the oxen, which made the journey difficult; but
he had been tempted to it by the high rates of transport that prevailed
at that season of the year, which would remunerate him for any probable
loss he might suffer in cattle. So he pushed along on his journey, and
all went well until he had passed the little town of Stanger, once the
site of Duguza, the kraal of Chaka, the first Zulu king and the uncle of
Cetywayo. The night after he left Stanger the air turned bitterly cold,
heavy grey clouds filled the sky, and hid the light of the stars.

“Now if I were not in Natal, I should say that there was a heavy fall of
snow coming,” said the White Man to himself. “I have often seen the sky
look like that in Scotland before snow.” Then he reflected that there
had been no deep snow in Natal for years, and, having drunk a “tot” of
squareface and smoked his pipe, he went to bed beneath the after-tent of
his larger wagon.

During the night he was awakened by a sense of bitter cold and the low
moaning of the oxen that were tied to the trek-tow, every ox in its
place. He thrust his head through the curtain of the tent and looked
out. The earth was white with snow, and the air was full of it, swept
along by a cutting wind.

Now he sprang up, huddling on his clothes and as he did so calling to
the Kaffirs who slept beneath the wagons. Presently they awoke from
the stupor which already was beginning to overcome them, and crept out,
shivering with cold and wrapped from head to foot in blankets.

“Quick! you boys,” he said to them in Zulu; “quick! Would you see the
cattle die of the snow and wind? Loose the oxen from the trek-tows and
drive them in between the wagons; they will give them some shelter.” And
lighting a lantern he sprang out into the snow.

At last it was done--no easy task, for the numbed hands of the Kaffirs
could scarcely loosen the frozen reims. The wagons were outspanned
side by side with a space between them, and into this space the mob of
thirty-six oxen was driven and there secured by reims tied crosswise
from the front and hind wheels of the wagons. Then the White Man crept
back to his bed, and the shivering natives, fortified with gin, or
squareface, as it is called locally, took refuge on the second wagon,
drawing a tent-sail over them.

For awhile there was silence, save for the moaning of the huddled and
restless cattle.

“If the snow goes on I shall lose my oxen,” he said to himself; “they
can never bear this cold.”

Hardly had the words passed his lips when the wagon shook; there was a
sound of breaking reims and trampling hoofs. Once more he looked out.
The oxen had “skrecked” in a mob. There they were, running away into the
night and the snow, seeking to find shelter from the cold. In a minute
they had vanished utterly. There was nothing to be done, except wait for
the morning.

At last it came, revealing a landscape blind with snow. Such search as
could be made told them nothing. The oxen had gone, and their spoor was
obliterated by the fresh-fallen flakes. The White Man called a council
of his Kaffir servants. “What was to be done?” he asked.

One said this thing, one that, but all agreed that they must wait to act
until the snow melted.

“Or till we freeze, you whose mothers were fools!” said the White
Man, who was in the worst of tempers, for had he not lost four hundred
pounds’ worth of oxen?

Then a Zulu spoke, who hitherto had remained silent. He was the driver
of the first wagon.

“My father,” he said to the White Man, “this is my word. The oxen are
lost in the snow. No man knows whither they have gone, or whether they
live or are now but hides and bones. Yet at the kraal yonder,” and he
pointed to some huts about two miles away on the hillside, “lives a
witch doctor named Zweete. He is old--very old--but he has wisdom, and
he can tell you where the oxen are if any man may, my father.”

“Stuff!” answered the White Man. “Still, as the kraal cannot be colder
than this wagon, we will go and ask Zweete. Bring a bottle of squareface
and some snuff with you for presents.”

An hour later he stood in the hut of Zweete. Before him was a very
ancient man, a mere bag of bones, with sightless eyes, and one hand--his
left--white and shrivelled.

“What do you seek of Zweete, my white father?” asked the old man in a
thin voice. “You do not believe in me and my wisdom; why should I help
you? Yet I will do it, though it is against your law, and you do wrong
to ask me,--yes, to show you that there is truth in us Zulu doctors, I
will help you. My father, I know what you seek. You seek to know where
your oxen have run for shelter from the cold! Is it not so?”

“It is so, Doctor,” answered the White Man. “You have long ears.”

“Yes, my white father, I have long ears, though they say that I grow
deaf. I have keen eyes also, and yet I cannot see your face. Let me
hearken! Let me look!”

For awhile he was silent, rocking himself to and fro, then he spoke:
“You have a farm, White Man, down near Pine Town, is it not? Ah! I
thought so--and an hour’s ride from your farm lives a Boer with four
fingers only on his right hand. There is a kloof on the Boer’s farm
where mimosa-trees grow. There, in the kloof, you shall find your
oxen--yes, five days’ journey from here you will find them all. I say
all, my father, except three only--the big black Africander ox, the
little red Zulu ox with one horn, and the speckled ox. You shall not
find these, for they have died in the snow. Send, and you will find
the others. No, no! I ask no fee! I do not work wonders for reward. Why
should I? I am rich.”

Now the White Man scoffed. But in the end, so great is the power of
superstition, he sent. And here it may be stated that on the eleventh
day of his sojourn at the kraal of Zweete, those whom he sent returned
with the oxen, except the three only. After that he scoffed no more.
Those eleven days he spent in a hut of the old man’s kraal, and every
afternoon he came and talked with him, sitting far into the night.

On the third day he asked Zweete how it was that his left hand was white
and shrivelled, and who were Umslopogaas and Nada, of whom he had let
fall some words. Then the old man told him the tale that is set out
here. Day by day he told some of it till it was finished. It is not all
written in these pages, for portions may have been forgotten, or put
aside as irrelevant. Neither has it been possible for the writer of it
to render the full force of the Zulu idiom nor to convey a picture of
the teller. For, in truth, he acted rather than told his story. Was the
death of a warrior in question, he stabbed with his stick, showing how
the blow fell and where; did the story grow sorrowful, he groaned, or
even wept. Moreover, he had many voices, one for each of the actors in
his tale. This man, ancient and withered, seemed to live again in the
far past. It was the past that spoke to his listener, telling of deeds
long forgotten, of deeds that are no more known.

Yet as he best may, the White Man has set down the substance of the
story of Zweete in the spirit in which Zweete told it. And because the
history of Nada the Lily and of those with whom her life was intertwined
moved him strangely, and in many ways, he has done more, he has printed
it that others may judge of it.

And now his part is played. Let him who was named Zweete, but who had
another name, take up the story.



CHAPTER I. THE BOY CHAKA PROPHESIES

You ask me, my father, to tell you the tale of the youth of Umslopogaas,
holder of the iron Chieftainess, the axe Groan-maker, who was named
Bulalio the Slaughterer, and of his love for Nada, the most beautiful of
Zulu women. It is long; but you are here for many nights, and, if I live
to tell it, it shall be told. Strengthen your heart, my father, for I
have much to say that is sorrowful, and even now, when I think of Nada
the tears creep through the horn that shuts out my old eyes from light.

Do you know who I am, my father? You do not know. You think that I am an
old, old witch-doctor named Zweete. So men have thought for many years,
but that is not my name. Few have known it, for I have kept it locked in
my breast, lest, thought I live now under the law of the White Man, and
the Great Queen is my chieftainess, an assegai still might find this
heart did any know my name.

Look at this hand, my father--no, not that which is withered with fire;
look on this right hand of mine. You see it, though I who am blind
cannot. But still, within me, I see it as it was once. Ay! I see it red
and strong--red with the blood of two kings. Listen, my father; bend
your ear to me and listen. I am Mopo--ah! I felt you start; you start
as the regiment of the Bees started when Mopo walked before their ranks,
and from the assegai in his hand the blood of Chaka (1) dropped slowly
to the earth. I am Mopo who slew Chaka the king. I killed him with
Dingaan and Umhlangana the princes; but the wound was mine that his life
crept out of, and but for me he would never have been slain. I killed
him with the princes, but Dingaan, I and one other slew alone.

 (1) The Zulu Napoleon, one of the greatest geniuses and most wicked
    men who ever lived. He was killed in the year 1828, having
    slaughtered more than a million human beings.--ED.

What do you say? “Dingaan died by the Tongola.”

Yes, yes, he died, but not there; he died on the Ghost Mountain; he lies
in the breast of the old Stone Witch who sits aloft forever waiting for
the world to perish. But I also was on the Ghost Mountain. In those days
my feet still could travel fast, and vengeance would not let me sleep.
I travelled by day, and by night I found him. I and another, we killed
him--ah! ah!

Why do I tell you this? What has it to do with the loves of Umslopogaas
and Nada the Lily? I will tell you. I stabbed Chaka for the sake of my
sister, Baleka, the mother of Umslopogaas, and because he had murdered
my wives and children. I and Umslopogaas slew Dingaan for the sake of
Nada, who was my daughter.

There are great names in the story, my father. Yes, many have heard the
names: when the Impis roared them out as they charged in battle, I have
felt the mountains shake and seen the waters quiver in their sound. But
where are they now? Silence has them, and the white men write them down
in books. I opened the gates of distance for the holders of the names.
They passed through and they are gone beyond. I cut the strings that
tied them to the world. They fell off. Ha! ha! They fell off! Perhaps
they are falling still, perhaps they creep about their desolate kraals
in the skins of snakes. I wish I knew the snakes that I might crush them
with my heel. Yonder, beneath us, at the burying place of kings, there
is a hole. In that hole lies the bones of Chaka, the king who died for
Baleka. Far away in Zululand there is a cleft upon the Ghost Mountain.
At the foot of that cleft lie the bones of Dingaan, the king who died
for Nada. It was far to fall and he was heavy; those bones of his are
broken into little pieces. I went to see them when the vultures and the
jackals had done their work. And then I laughed three times and came
here to die.

All that is long ago, and I have not died; though I wish to die and
follow the road that Nada trod. Perhaps I have lived to tell you this
tale, my father, that you may repeat it to the white men if you will.
How old am I? Nay, I do not know. Very, very old. Had Chaka lived he
would have been as old as I. (2) None are living whom I knew when I was
a boy. I am so old that I must hasten. The grass withers, and the winter
comes. Yes, while I speak the winter nips my heart. Well, I am ready to
sleep in the cold, and perhaps I shall awake again in the spring.

 (2) This would have made him nearly a hundred years old, an age rarely
    attained by a native. The writer remembers talking to an aged Zulu
    woman, however, who told him that she was married when Chaka was
    king.--ED.

Before the Zulus were a people--for I will begin at the beginning--I was
born of the Langeni tribe. We were not a large tribe; afterwards, all
our able-bodied men numbered one full regiment in Chaka’s army, perhaps
there were between two and three thousand of them, but they were brave.
Now they are all dead, and their women and children with them,--that
people is no more. It is gone like last month’s moon; how it went I will
tell you by-and-bye.

Our tribe lived in a beautiful open country; the Boers, whom we call the
Amaboona, are there now, they tell me. My father, Makedama, was chief of
the tribe, and his kraal was built on the crest of a hill, but I was not
the son of his head wife. One evening, when I was still little, standing
as high as a man’s elbow only, I went out with my mother below the
cattle kraal to see the cows driven in. My mother was very fond of these
cows, and there was one with a white face that would follow her about.
She carried my little sister Baleka riding on her hip; Baleka was a
baby then. We walked till we met the lads driving in the cows. My mother
called the white-faced cow and gave it mealie leaves which she had
brought with her. Then the boys went on with the cattle, but the
white-faced cow stopped by my mother. She said that she would bring it
to the kraal when she came home. My mother sat down on the grass and
nursed her baby, while I played round her, and the cow grazed. Presently
we saw a woman walking towards us across the plain. She walked like one
who is tired. On her back was a bundle of mats, and she led by the hand
a boy of about my own age, but bigger and stronger than I was. We waited
a long while, till at last the woman came up to us and sank down on the
veldt, for she was very weary. We saw by the way her hair was dressed
that she was not of our tribe.

“Greeting to you!” said the woman.

“Good-morrow!” answered my mother. “What do you seek?”

“Food, and a hut to sleep in,” said the woman. “I have travelled far.”

“How are you named?--and what is your people?” asked my mother.

“My name is Unandi: I am the wife of Senzangacona, of the Zulu tribe,”
 said the stranger.

Now there had been war between our people and the Zulu people, and
Senzangacona had killed some of our warriors and taken many of our
cattle. So, when my mother heard the speech of Unandi she sprang up in
anger.

“You dare to come here and ask me for food and shelter, wife of a dog of
a Zulu!” she cried; “begone, or I will call the girls to whip you out of
our country.”

The woman, who was very handsome, waited till my mother had finished her
angry words; then she looked up and spoke slowly, “There is a cow by you
with milk dropping from its udder; will you not even give me and my
boy a gourd of milk?” And she took a gourd from her bundle and held it
towards us.

“I will not,” said my mother.

“We are thirsty with long travel; will you not, then, give us a cup of
water? We have found none for many hours.”

“I will not, wife of a dog; go and seek water for yourself.”

The woman’s eyes filled with tears, but the boy folded his arms on his
breast and scowled. He was a very handsome boy, with bright black eyes,
but when he scowled his eyes were like the sky before a thunderstorm.

“Mother,” he said, “we are not wanted here any more than we were wanted
yonder,” and he nodded towards the country where the Zulu people lived.
“Let us be going to Dingiswayo; the Umtetwa people will protect us.”

“Yes, let us be going, my son,” answered Unandi; “but the path is long,
we are weary and shall fall by the way.”

I heard, and something pulled at my heart; I was sorry for the woman
and her boy, they looked so tired. Then, without saying anything to my
mother, I snatched the gourd and ran with it to a little donga that was
hard by, for I knew that there was a spring. Presently I came back with
the gourd full of water. My mother wanted to catch me, for she was very
angry, but I ran past her and gave the gourd to the boy. Then my mother
ceased trying to interfere, only she beat the woman with her tongue all
the while, saying that evil had come to our kraals from her husband, and
she felt in her heart that more evil would come upon us from her son.
Her Ehlose (3) told her so. Ah! my father, her Ehlose told her true.
If the woman Unandi and her child had died that day on the veldt, the
gardens of my people would not now be a wilderness, and their bones
would not lie in the great gulley that is near U’Cetywayo’s kraal.

 (3) Guardian spirit.--ED.

While my mother talked I and the cow with the white face stood still and
watched, and the baby Baleka cried aloud. The boy, Unandi’s son,
having taken the gourd, did not offer the water to his mother. He drank
two-thirds of it himself; I think that he would have drunk it all had
not his thirst been slaked; but when he had done he gave what was left
to his mother, and she finished it. Then he took the gourd again, and
came forward, holding it in one hand; in the other he carried a short
stick.

“What is your name, boy?” he said to me as a big rich man speaks to one
who is little and poor.

“Mopo is my name,” I answered.

“And what is the name of your people?”

I told him the name of my tribe, the Langeni tribe.

“Very well, Mopo; now I will tell you my name. My name is Chaka, son of
Senzangacona, and my people are called the Amazulu. And I will tell you
something more. I am little to-day, and my people are a small people.
But I shall grow big, so big that my head will be lost in the clouds;
you will look up and you shall not see it. My face will blind you; it
will be bright like the sun; and my people will grow great with me; they
shall eat up the whole world. And when I am big and my people are big,
and we have stamped the earth flat as far as men can travel, then I will
remember your tribe--the tribe of the Langeni, who would not give me
and my mother a cup of milk when we were weary. You see this gourd; for
every drop it can hold the blood of a man shall flow--the blood of one
of your men. But because you gave me the water I will spare you, Mopo,
and you only, and make you great under me. You shall grow fat in my
shadow. You alone I will never harm, however you sin against me; this I
swear. But for that woman,” and he pointed to my mother, “let her make
haste and die, so that I do not need to teach her what a long time death
can take to come. I have spoken.” And he ground his teeth and shook his
stick towards us.

My mother stood silent awhile. Then she gasped out: “The little liar! He
speaks like a man, does he? The calf lows like a bull. I will teach him
another note--the brat of an evil prophet!” And putting down Baleka, she
ran at the boy.

Chaka stood quite still till she was near; then suddenly he lifted the
stick in his hand, and hit her so hard on the head that she fell down.
After that he laughed, turned, and went away with his mother Unandi.

These, my father, were the first words I heard Chaka speak, and they
were words of prophecy, and they came true. The last words I heard him
speak were words of prophecy also, and I think that they will come true.
Even now they are coming true. In the one he told how the Zulu people
should rise. And say, have they not risen? In the other he told how they
should fall; and they did fall. Do not the white men gather themselves
together even now against U’Cetywayo, as vultures gather round a dying
ox? The Zulus are not what they were to stand against them. Yes, yes,
they will come true, and mine is the song of a people that is doomed.

But of these other words I will speak in their place.

I went to my mother. Presently she raised herself from the ground and
sat up with her hands over her face. The blood from the wound the stick
had made ran down her face on to her breast, and I wiped it away with
grass. She sat for a long while thus, while the child cried, the cow
lowed to be milked, and I wiped up the blood with the grass. At last she
took her hands away and spoke to me.

“Mopo, my son,” she said, “I have dreamed a dream. I dreamed that I
saw the boy Chaka who struck me: he was grown like a giant. He stalked
across the mountains and the veldt, his eyes blazed like the lightning,
and in his hand he shook a little assegai that was red with blood. He
caught up people after people in his hands and tore them, he stamped
their kraals flat with his feet. Before him was the green of summer,
behind him the land was black as when the fires have eaten the grass. I
saw our people, Mopo; they were many and fat, their hearts laughed, the
men were brave, the girls were fair; I counted their children by
the hundreds. I saw them again, Mopo. They were bones, white bones,
thousands of bones tumbled together in a rocky place, and he, Chaka,
stood over the bones and laughed till the earth shook. Then, Mopo, in
my dream, I saw you grown a man. You alone were left of our people. You
crept up behind the giant Chaka, and with you came others, great men of
a royal look. You stabbed him with a little spear, and he fell down and
grew small again; he fell down and cursed you. But you cried in his ear
a name--the name of Baleka, your sister--and he died. Let us go home,
Mopo, let us go home; the darkness falls.”

So we rose and went home. But I held my peace, for I was afraid, very
much afraid.



CHAPTER II. MOPO IS IN TROUBLE

Now, I must tell how my mother did what the boy Chaka had told her, and
died quickly. For where his stick had struck her on the forehead there
came a sore that would not be healed, and in the sore grew an abscess,
and the abscess ate inwards till it came to the brain. Then my mother
fell down and died, and I cried very much, for I loved her, and it
was dreadful to see her cold and stiff, with not a word to say however
loudly I called to her. Well, they buried my mother, and she was soon
forgotten. I only remembered her, nobody else did--not even Baleka, for
she was too little--and as for my father he took another young wife and
was content. After that I was unhappy, for my brothers did not love me,
because I was much cleverer than they, and had greater skill with the
assegai, and was swifter in running; so they poisoned the mind of my
father against me and he treated me badly. But Baleka and I loved each
other, for we were both lonely, and she clung to me like a creeper to
the only tree in a plain, and though I was young, I learned this: that
to be wise is to be strong, for though he who holds the assegai kills,
yet he whose mind directs the battle is greater than he who kills. Now I
saw that the witch-finders and the medicine-men were feared in the land,
and that everybody looked up to them, so that, even when they had only
a stick in their hands, ten men armed with spears would fly before them.
Therefore I determined that I should be a witch-doctor, for they alone
can kill those whom they hate with a word. So I learned the arts of the
medicine-men. I made sacrifices, I fasted in the veldt alone, I did all
those things of which you have heard, and I learned much; for there is
wisdom in our magic as well as lies--and you know it, my father, else
you had not come here to ask me about your lost oxen.

So things went on till I was twenty years of age--a man full grown. By
now I had mastered all I could learn by myself, so I joined myself on to
the chief medicine-man of our tribe, who was named Noma. He was old, had
one eye only, and was very clever. Of him I learned some tricks and more
wisdom, but at last he grew jealous of me and set a trap to catch me. As
it chanced, a rich man of a neighbouring tribe had lost some cattle, and
came with gifts to Noma praying him to smell them out. Noma tried and
could not find them; his vision failed him. Then the headman grew angry
and demanded back his gifts; but Noma would not give up that which he
once had held, and hot words passed. The headman said that he would kill
Noma; Noma said that he would bewitch the headman.

“Peace,” I said, for I feared that blood would be shed. “Peace, and let
me see if my snake will tell me where the cattle are.”

“You are nothing but a boy,” answered the headman. “Can a boy have
wisdom?”

“That shall soon be known,” I said, taking the bones in my hand. (1)

 (1) The Kafir witch-doctors use the knuckle-bones of animals in their
    magic rites, throwing them something as we throw dice.--ED.

“Leave the bones alone!” screamed Noma. “We will ask nothing more of our
snakes for the good of this son of a dog.”

“He shall throw the bones,” answered the headman. “If you try to stop
him, I will let sunshine through you with my assegai.” And he lifted his
spear.

Then I made haste to begin; I threw the bones. The headman sat on the
ground before me and answered my questions. You know of these matters,
my father--how sometimes the witch-doctor has knowledge of where the
lost things are, for our ears are long, and sometimes his Ehlose tells
him, as but the other day it told me of your oxen. Well, in this case,
my snake stood up. I knew nothing of the man’s cattle, but my Spirit was
with me and soon I saw them all, and told them to him one by one, their
colour, their age--everything. I told him, too, where they were, and how
one of them had fallen into a stream and lay there on its back drowned,
with its forefoot caught in a forked root. As my Ehlose told me so I
told the headman.

Now, the man was pleased, and said that if my sight was good, and he
found the cattle, the gifts should be taken from Noma and given to me;
and he asked the people who were sitting round, and there were many, if
this was not just. “Yes, yes,” they said, it was just, and they would
see that it was done. But Noma sat still and looked at me evilly. He
knew that I had made a true divination, and he was very angry. It was a
big matter: the herd of cattle were many, and, if they were found where
I had said, then all men would think me the greater wizard. Now it was
late, and the moon had not yet risen, therefore the headman said that
he would sleep that night in our kraal, and at the first light would
go with me to the spot where I said the cattle were. After that he went
away.

I too went into my hut and lay down to sleep. Suddenly I awoke, feeling
a weight upon my breast. I tried to start up, but something cold pricked
my throat. I fell back again and looked. The door of the hut was open,
the moon lay low on the sky like a ball of fire far away. I could see
it through the door, and its light crept into the hut. It fell upon the
face of Noma the witch-doctor. He was seated across me, glaring at me
with his one eye, and in his hand was a knife. It was that which I had
felt prick my throat.

“You whelp whom I have bred up to tear me!” he hissed into my ear, “you
dared to divine where I failed, did you? Very well, now I will show you
how I serve such puppies. First, I will pierce through the root of your
tongue, so that you cannot squeal, then I will cut you to pieces slowly,
bit by bit, and in the morning I will tell the people that the spirits
did it because you lied. Next, I will take off your arms and legs. Yes,
yes, I will make you like a stick! Then I will”--and he began driving in
the knife under my chin.

“Mercy, my uncle,” I said, for I was frightened and the knife hurt.
“Have mercy, and I will do whatever you wish!”

“Will you do this?” he asked, still pricking me with the knife. “Will
you get up, go to find the dog’s cattle and drive them to a certain
place, and hide them there?” And he named a secret valley that was known
to very few. “If you do that, I will spare you and give you three of
the cows. If you refuse or play me false, then, by my father’s spirit, I
will find a way to kill you!”

“Certainly I will do it, my uncle,” I answered. “Why did you not trust
me before? Had I known that you wanted to keep the cattle, I would never
have smelt them out. I only did so fearing lest you should lose the
presents.”

“You are not so wicked as I thought,” he growled. “Get up, then, and do
my bidding. You can be back here two hours after dawn.”

So I got up, thinking all the while whether I should try to spring on
him. But I was without arms, and he had the knife; also if, by chance, I
prevailed and killed him, it would have been thought that I had murdered
him, and I should have tasted the assegai. So I made another plan. I
would go and find the cattle in the valley where I had smelt them out,
but I would not bring them to the secret hiding-place. No; I would
drive them straight to the kraal, and denounce Noma before the chief, my
father, and all the people. But I was young in those days, and did not
know the heart of Noma. He had not been a witch-doctor till he grew old
for nothing. Oh! he was evil!--he was cunning as a jackal, and fierce
like a lion.. He had planted me by him like a tree, but he meant to
keep me clipped like a bush. Now I had grown tall and overshadowed him;
therefore he would root me up.

I went to the corner of my hut, Noma watching me all the while, and took
a kerrie and my small shield. Then I started through the moonlight. Till
I was past the kraal I glided along quietly as a shadow. After that, I
began to run, singing to myself as I went, to frighten away the ghosts,
my father.

For an hour I travelled swiftly over the plain, till I came to the
hillside where the bush began. Here it was very dark under the shade
of the trees, and I sang louder than ever. At last I found the little
buffalo path I sought, and turned along it. Presently I came to an open
place, where the moonlight crept in between the trees. I knelt down and
looked. Yes! my snake had not lied to me; there was the spoor of the
cattle. Then I went on gladly till I reached a dell through which the
water ran softly, sometimes whispering and sometimes talking out loud.
Here the trail of the cattle was broad: they had broken down the ferns
with their feet and trampled the grass. Presently I came to a pool. I
knew it--it was the pool my snake had shown me. And there at the edge of
the pool floated the drowned ox, its foot caught in a forked root. All
was just as I had seen it in my heart.

I stepped forward and looked round. My eye caught something; it was the
faint grey light of the dawn glinted on the cattle’s horns. As I looked,
one of them snorted, rose and shook the dew from his hide. He seemed big
as an elephant in the mist and twilight.

Then I collected them all--there were seventeen--and drove them before
me down the narrow path back towards the kraal. Now the daylight came
quickly, and the sun had been up an hour when I reached the spot where
I must turn if I wished to hide the cattle in the secret place, as Noma
had bid me. But I would not do this. No, I would go on to the kraal
with them, and tell all men that Noma was a thief. Still, I sat down and
rested awhile, for I was tired. As I sat, I heard a noise, and looked
up. There, over the slope of the rise, came a crowd of men, and leading
them was Noma, and by his side the headman who owned the cattle. I rose
and stood still, wondering; but as I stood, they ran towards me shouting
and waving sticks and spears.

“There he is!” screamed Noma. “There he is!--the clever boy whom I have
brought up to bring shame on me. What did I tell you? Did I not tell you
that he was a thief? Yes--yes! I know your tricks, Mopo, my child! See!
he is stealing the cattle! He knew where they were all the time, and now
he is taking them away to hide them. They would be useful to buy a wife
with, would they not, my clever boy?” And he made a rush at me, with his
stick lifted, and after him came the headman, grunting with rage.

I understood now, my father. My heart went mad in me, everything began
to swim round, a red cloth seemed to lift itself up and down before my
eyes. I have always seen it thus when I was forced to fight. I screamed
out one word only, “Liar!” and ran to meet him. On came Noma. He struck
at me with his stick, but I caught the blow upon my little shield, and
hit back. Wow! I did hit! The skull of Noma met my kerrie, and down he
fell dead at my feet. I yelled again, and rushed on at the headman. He
threw an assegai, but it missed me, and next second I hit him too. He
got up his shield, but I knocked it down upon his head, and over he
rolled senseless. Whether he lived or died I do not know, my father; but
his head being of the thickest, I think it likely that he lived. Then,
while the people stood astonished, I turned and fled like the wind. They
turned too, and ran after me, throwing spears at me and trying to cut me
off. But none of them could catch me--no, not one. I went like the wind;
I went like a buck when the dogs wake it from sleep; and presently the
sound of their chase grew fainter and fainter, till at last I was out of
sight and alone.



CHAPTER III. MOPO VENTURES HOME

I threw myself down on the grass and panted till my breath came back;
then I went and hid in a patch of reeds down by a swamp. All day long I
lay there thinking. What was I to do? Now I was a jackal without a hole.
If I went back to my people, certainly they would kill me, whom they
thought a thief. My blood would be given for Noma’s, and that I did not
wish, though my heart was sad. Then there came into my mind the thought
of Chaka, the boy to whom I had given the cup of water long ago. I had
heard of him: his name was known in the land; already the air was big
with it; the very trees and grass spoke it. The words he had said and
the vision that my mother had seen were beginning to come true. By the
help of the Umtetwas he had taken the place of his father Senzangacona;
he had driven out the tribe of the Amaquabe; now he made war on Zweete,
chief of the Endwande, and he had sworn that he would stamp the Endwande
flat, so that nobody could find them any more. Now I remembered how this
Chaka promised that he would make me great, and that I should grow fat
in his shadow; and I thought to myself that I would arise and go to him.
Perhaps he would kill me; well, what did it matter? Certainly I should
be killed if I stayed here. Yes, I would go. But now my heart pulled
another way. There was but one whom I loved in the world--it was
my sister Baleka. My father had betrothed her to the chief of a
neighbouring tribe, but I knew that this marriage was against her wish.
Perhaps my sister would run away with me if I could get near her to tell
her that I was going. I would try--yes, I would try.

I waited till the darkness came down, then I rose from my bed of weeds
and crept like a jackal towards the kraal. In the mealie gardens I
stopped awhile, for I was very hungry, and filled myself with the
half-ripe mealies. Then I went on till I came to the kraal. Some of my
people were seated outside of a hut, talking together over a fire. I
crept near, silently as a snake, and hid behind a little bush. I knew
that they could not see me outside the ring of the firelight, and I
wanted to hear what they said. As I guessed, they were talking of me
and called me many names. They said that I should bring ill-luck on the
tribe by having killed so great a witch-doctor as Noma; also that the
people of the headman would demand payment for the assault on him. I
learned, moreover, that my father had ordered out all the men of the
tribe to hunt for me on the morrow and to kill me wherever they found
me. “Ah!” I thought, “you may hunt, but you will bring nothing home to
the pot.” Just then a dog that was lying by the fire got up and began to
sniff the air. I could not see what dog it was--indeed, I had forgotten
all about the dogs when I drew near the kraal; that is what comes of
want of experience, my father. The dog sniffed and sniffed, then he
began to growl, looking always my way, and I grew afraid.

“What is the dog growling at?” said one man to another. “Go and see.”
 But the other man was taking snuff and did not like to move. “Let the
dog go and see for himself,” he answered, sneezing, “what is the good of
keeping a dog if you have to catch the thief?”

“Go on, then,” said the first man to the dog. And he ran forward,
barking. Then I saw him: it was my own dog, Koos, a very good dog.
Presently, as I lay not knowing what to do, he smelt my smell, stopped
barking, and running round the bush he found me and began to lick my
face. “Be quiet, Koos!” I whispered to him. And he lay down by my side.

“Where has that dog gone now?” said the first man. “Is he bewitched,
that he stops barking suddenly and does not come back?”

“We will see,” said the other, rising, a spear in his hand.

Now once more I was terribly afraid, for I thought that they would catch
me, or I must run for my life again. But as I sprang up to run, a big
black snake glided between the men and went off towards the huts. They
jumped aside in a great fright, then all of them turned to follow the
snake, saying that this was what the dog was barking at. That was my
good Ehlose, my father, which without any doubt took the shape of a
snake to save my life.

When they had gone I crept off the other way, and Koos followed me. At
first I thought that I would kill him, lest he should betray me; but
when I called to him to knock him on the head with my kerrie, he sat
down upon the ground wagging his tail, and seemed to smile in my face,
and I could not do it. So I thought that I would take my chance, and we
went on together. This was my purpose: first to creep into my own hut
and get my assegais and a skin blanket, then to gain speech with Baleka.
My hut, I thought, would be empty, for nobody sleeps there except
myself, and the huts of Noma were some paces away to the right. I came
to the reed fence that surrounded the huts. Nobody was to be seen at the
gate, which was not shut with thorns as usual. It was my duty to close
it, and I had not been there to do so. Then, bidding the dog lie down
outside, I stepped through boldly, reached the door of my hut, and
listened. It was empty; there was not even a breath to be heard. So I
crept in and began to search for my assegais, my water-gourd, and my
wood pillow, which was so nicely carved that I did not like to leave it.
Soon I found them. Then I felt about for my skin rug, and as I did so my
hand touched something cold. I started, and felt again. It was a man’s
face--the face of a dead man, of Noma, whom I had killed and who had
been laid in my hut to await burial. Oh! then I was frightened, for Noma
dead and in the dark was worse than Noma alive. I made ready to fly,
when suddenly I heard the voices of women talking outside the door of
the hut. I knew the voices; they were those of Noma’s two wives, and one
of them said she was coming in to watch by her husband’s body. Now I was
in a trap indeed, for before I could do anything I saw the light go out
of a hole in the hut, and knew by the sound of a fat woman puffing
as she bent herself up that Noma’s first wife was coming through it.
Presently she was in, and, squatting by the side of the corpse in such a
fashion that I could not get to the door, she began to make lamentations
and to call down curses on me. Ah! she did not know that I was
listening. I too squatted by Noma’s head, and grew quick-witted in my
fear. Now that the woman was there I was not so much afraid of the dead
man, and I remembered, too, that he had been a great cheat; so I thought
I would make him cheat for the last time. I placed my hands beneath his
shoulders and pushed him up so that he sat upon the ground. The woman
heard the noise and made a sound in her throat.

“Will you not be quiet, you old hag?” I said in Noma’s voice. “Can you
not let me be at peace, even now when I am dead?”

She heard, and, falling backwards in fear, drew in her breath to shriek
aloud.

“What! will you also dare to shriek?” I said again in Noma’s voice;
“then I must teach you silence.” And I tumbled him over on to the top of
her.

Then her senses left her, and whether she ever found them again I do not
know. At least she grew quiet for that time. For me, I snatched up the
rug--afterwards I found it was Noma’s best kaross, made by Basutos of
chosen cat-skins, and worth three oxen--and I fled, followed by Koos.

Now the kraal of the chief, my father, Makedama, was two hundred paces
away, and I must go thither, for there Baleka slept. Also I dared not
enter by the gate, because a man was always on guard there. So I cut my
way through the reed fence with my assegai and crept to the hut where
Baleka was with some of her half-sisters. I knew on which side of the
hut it was her custom to lie, and where her head would be. So I lay down
on my side and gently, very gently, began to bore a hole in the grass
covering of the hut. It took a long while, for the thatch was thick,
but at last I was nearly through it. Then I stopped, for it came into my
mind that Baleka might have changed her place, and that I might wake the
wrong girl. I almost gave it over, thinking that I would fly alone, when
suddenly I heard a girl wake and begin to cry on the other side of the
thatch. “Ah,” I thought, “that is Baleka, who weeps for her brother!” So
I put my lips where the thatch was thinnest and whispered:--

“Baleka, my sister! Baleka, do not weep! I, Mopo, am here. Say not a
word, but rise. Come out of the hut, bringing your skin blanket.”

Now Baleka was very clever: she did not shriek, as most girls would have
done. No; she understood, and, after waiting awhile, she rose and crept
from the hut, her blanket in her hand.

“Why are you here, Mopo?” she whispered, as we met. “Surely you will be
killed!”

“Hush!” I said. And then I told her of the plan which I had made. “Will
you come with me?” I said, when I had done, “or will you creep back into
the hut and bid me farewell?”

She thought awhile, then she said, “No, my brother, I will come, for I
love you alone among our people, though I believe that this will be the
end of it--that you will lead me to my death.”

I did not think much of her words at the time, but afterwards they came
back to me. So we slipped away together, followed by the dog Koos,
and soon we were running over the veldt with our faces set towards the
country of the Zulu tribe.



CHAPTER IV. THE FLIGHT OF MOPO AND BALEKA

All the rest of that night we journeyed, till even the dog was tired.
Then we hid in a mealie field for the day, as we were afraid of being
seen. Towards the afternoon we heard voices, and, looking through the
stems of the mealies, we saw a party of my father’s men pass searching
for us. They went on to a neighbouring kraal to ask if we had been seen,
and after that we saw them no more for awhile. At night we travelled
again; but, as fate would have it, we were met by an old woman, who
looked oddly at us but said nothing. After that we pushed on day and
night, for we knew that the old woman would tell the pursuers if she met
them; and so indeed it came about. On the third evening we reached some
mealie gardens, and saw that they had been trampled down. Among the
broken mealies we found the body of a very old man, as full of assegai
wounds as a porcupine with quills. We wondered at this, and went on a
little way. Then we saw that the kraal to which the gardens belonged
was burnt down. We crept up to it, and--ah! it was a sad sight for us
to see! Afterwards we became used to such sights. All about us lay
the bodies of dead people, scores of them--old men, young men, women,
children, little babies at the breast--there they lay among the burnt
huts, pierced with assegai wounds. Red was the earth with their blood,
and red they looked in the red light of the setting sun. It was as
though all the land had been smeared with the bloody hand of the Great
Spirit, of the Umkulunkulu. Baleka saw it and began to cry; she was
weary, poor girl, and we had found little to eat, only grass and green
corn.

“An enemy has been here,” I said, and as I spoke I thought that I heard
a groan from the other side of a broken reed hedge. I went and looked.
There lay a young woman: she was badly wounded, but still alive, my
father. A little way from her lay a man dead, and before him several
other men of another tribe: he had died fighting. In front of the woman
were the bodies of three children; another, a little one, lay on her
body. I looked at the woman, and, as I looked, she groaned again, opened
her eyes and saw me, and that I had a spear in my hand.

“Kill me quickly!” she said. “Have you not tortured me enough?”

I said that I was a stranger and did not want to kill her.

“Then bring me water,” she said; “there is a spring there behind the
kraal.”

I called to Baleka to come to the woman, and went with my gourd to the
spring. There were bodies in it, but I dragged them out, and when the
water had cleared a little I filled the gourd and brought it back to the
woman. She drank deep, and her strength came back a little--the water
gave her life.

“How did you come to this?” I asked.

“It was an impi of Chaka, Chief of the Zulus, that ate us up,” she
answered. “They burst upon as at dawn this morning while we were asleep
in our huts. Yes, I woke up to hear the sound of killing. I was sleeping
by my husband, with him who lies there, and the children. We all ran
out. My husband had a spear and shield. He was a brave man. See! he died
bravely: he killed three of the Zulu devils before he himself was dead.
Then they caught me, and killed my children, and stabbed me till they
thought that I was dead. Afterwards, they went away. I don’t know why
they came, but I think it was because our chief would not send men to
help Chaka against Zweete.”

She stopped, gave a great cry, and died.

My sister wept at the sight, and I too was stirred by it. “Ah!” I
thought to myself, “the Great Spirit must be evil. If he is not evil
such things would not happen.” That is how I thought then, my father;
now I think differently. I know that we had not found out the path of
the Great Spirit, that is all. I was a chicken in those days, my father;
afterwards I got used to such sights. They did not stir me any more, not
one whit. But then in the days of Chaka the rivers ran blood--yes, we
had to look at the water to see if it was clean before we drank. People
learned how to die then and not make a noise about it. What does it
matter? They would have been dead now anyway. It does not matter;
nothing matters, except being born. That is a mistake, my father.

We stopped at the kraal that night, but we could not sleep, for we heard
the Itongo, the ghosts of the dead people, moving about and calling to
each other. It was natural that they should do so; men were looking for
their wives, and mothers for their children. But we were afraid that
they might be angry with us for being there, so we clung together and
trembled in each other’s arms. Koos also trembled, and from time to time
he howled loudly. But they did not seem to see us, and towards morning
their cries grew fainter.

When the first light came we rose and picked our way through the dead
down to the plain. Now we had an easy road to follow to Chaka’s kraal,
for there was the spoor of the impi and of the cattle which they had
stolen, and sometimes we came to the body of a warrior who had been
killed because his wounds prevented him from marching farther. But now
I was doubtful whether it was wise for us to go to Chaka, for after what
we had seen I grew afraid lest he should kill us. Still, we had nowhere
to turn, so I said that we would walk along till something happened.
Now we grew faint with hunger and weariness, and Baleka said that we had
better sit down and die, for then there would be no more trouble. So we
sat down by a spring. But I did not wish to die yet, though Baleka was
right, and it would have been well to do so. As we sat, the dog Koos
went to a bush that was near, and presently I heard him spring at
something and the sound of struggling. I ran to the bush--he had caught
hold of a duiker buck, as big as himself, that was asleep in it. Then
I drove my spear into the buck and shouted for joy, for here was food.
When the buck was dead I skinned him, and we took bits of the flesh,
washed them in the water, and ate them, for we had no fire to cook them
with. It is not nice to eat uncooked flesh, but we were so hungry that
we did not mind, and the food refreshed us. When we had eaten what we
could, we rose and washed ourselves at the spring; but, as we washed,
Baleka looked up and gave a cry of fear. For there, on the crest of the
hill, about ten spear-throws away, was a party of six armed men, people
of my own tribe--children of my father Makedama--who still pursued us to
take us or kill us. They saw us--they raised a shout, and began to run.
We too sprang up and ran--ran like bucks, for fear had touched our feet.

Now the land lay thus. Before us the ground was open and sloped down to
the banks of the White Umfolozi, which twisted through the plain like a
great and shining snake. On the other side the ground rose again, and we
did not know what was beyond, but we thought that in this direction lay
the kraal of Chaka. We ran for the river--where else were we to run?
And after us came the warriors. They gained on us; they were strong,
and they were angry because they had come so far. Run as we would, still
they gained. Now we neared the banks of the river; it was full and wide.
Above us the waters ran angrily, breaking into swirls of white where
they passed over sunken rocks; below was a rapid, in which none might
live; between the two a deep pool, where the water was quiet but the
stream strong.

“Ah! my brother, what shall we do?” gasped Baleka.

“There is this to choose,” I answered; “perish on the spears of our
people or try the river.”

“Easier to die by water than on iron,” she answered.

“Good!” I said. “Now may our snakes look towards us and the spirits of
our fathers be with us! At the least we can swim.” And I led her to
the head of the pool. We threw away our blankets--everything except an
assegai, which I held in my teeth--and we plunged in, wading as far as
we could. Now we were up to our breasts; now we had lost the earth and
were swimming towards the middle of the river, the dog Koos leading the
way.

Then it was that the soldiers appeared upon the bank. “Ah! little
people,” one cried, “you swim, do you? Well, you will drown; and if you
do not drown we know a ford, and we will catch you and kill you--yes! if
we must run over the edge of the world after you we will catch you.”
 And he hurled an assegai after us, which fell between us like a flash of
light.

While he spoke we swam hard, and now we were in the current. It swept
us downwards, but still we made way, for we could swim well. It was just
this: if we could reach the bank before we were swept into the rapids
we were safe; if not, then--good-night! Now we were near the other side,
but, alas! we were also near the lip of the foaming water. We strained,
we struggled. Baleka was a brave girl, and she swam bravely; but the
water pushed her down below me, and I could do nothing to help her. I
got my foot upon the rock and looked round. There she was, and eight
paces from her the broken water boiled. I could not go back. I was too
weak, and it seemed that she must perish. But the dog Koos saw. He swam
towards her, barking, then turned round, heading for the shore. She
grasped him by the tail with her right hand. Then he put out his
strength--he was very strong. She too struck out with her feet and
left hand, and slowly--very slowly--drew near. Then I stretched out
the handle of my assegai towards her. She caught it with her left hand.
Already her feet were over the brink of the rapids, but I pulled and
Koos pulled, and we brought her safe into the shallows, and from the
shallows to the bank, and there she fell gasping.

Now when the soldiers on the other bank saw that we had crossed, they
shouted threats at us, then ran away down the bank.

“Arise, Baleka!” I said: “they have gone to see a ford.”

“Ah, let me die!” she answered.

But I forced her to rise, and after awhile she got her breath again,
and we walked on as fast as we could up the long rise. For two hours
we walked, or more, till at last we came to the crest of the rise, and
there, far away, we saw a large kraal.

“Keep heart,” I said. “See, there is the kraal of Chaka.”

“Yes, brother,” she answered, “but what waits us there? Death is behind
us and before us--we are in the middle of death.”

Presently we came to a path that ran to the kraal from the ford of the
Umfolozi. It was by it that the Impi had travelled. We followed the path
till at last we were but half an hour’s journey from the kraal. Then
we looked back, and lo! there behind us were the pursuers--five of
them--one had drowned in crossing the river.

Again we ran, but now we were weak, and they gained upon us. Then once
more I thought of the dog. He was fierce and would tear any one on whom
I set him. I called him and told him what to do, though I knew that
it would be his death. He understood, and flew towards the soldiers
growling, his hair standing up on his spine. They tried to kill him with
spears and kerries, but he jumped round them, biting at them, and kept
them back. At last a man hit him, and he sprang up and seized the man by
the throat. There he clung, man and dog rolling over and over together,
till the end of it was that they both died. Ah! he was a dog! We do not
see such dogs nowadays. His father was a Boer hound, the first that came
into the country. That dog once killed a leopard all by himself. Well,
this was the end of Koos!

Meanwhile, we had been running. Now we were but three hundred paces from
the gate of the kraal, and there was something going on inside it; that
we could see from the noise and the dust. The four soldiers, leaving the
dead dog and the dying man, came after us swiftly. I saw that they must
catch us before we reached the gate, for now Baleka could go but slowly.
Then a thought came into my head. I had brought her here, I would save
her life if I could. Should she reach the kraal without me, Chaka would
not kill a girl who was so young and fair.

“Run on, Baleka! run on!” I said, dropping behind. Now she was almost
blind with weariness and terror, and, not seeing my purpose, staggered
towards the gate of the kraal. But I sat down on the veldt to get my
breath again, for I was about to fight four men till I was killed. My
heart beat and the blood drummed in my ears, but when they drew near and
I rose--the assegai in my hand--once more the red cloth seemed to go up
and down before my eyes, and all fear left me.

The men were running, two and two, with the length of a spear throw
between them. But of the first pair one was five or six paces in front
of the other. This man shouted out loud and charged me, shield and spear
up. Now I had no shield--nothing but the assegai; but I was crafty and
he was overbold. On he came. I stood waiting for him till he drew back
the spear to stab me. Then suddenly I dropped to my knees and thrust
upward with all my strength, beneath the rim of his shield, and he
also thrust, but over me, his spear only cutting the flesh of my
shoulder--see! here is its scar; yes, to this day. And my assegai? Ah!
it went home; it ran through and through his middle. He rolled over and
over on the plain. The dust hid him; only I was now weaponless, for the
haft of my spear--it was but a light throwing assegai--broke in two,
leaving nothing but a little bit of stick in my hand. And the other one
was upon me. Then in the darkness I saw a light. I fell on to my hands
and knees and flung myself over sideways. My body struck the legs of the
man who was about to stab me, lifting his feet from beneath him. Down he
came heavily. Before he had touched the ground I was off it. His spear
had fallen from his hand. I stooped, seized it, and as he rose I stabbed
him through the back. It was all done in the shake of a leaf, my father;
in the shake of a leaf he also was dead. Then I ran, for I had no
stomach for the other two; my valour was gone.

About a hundred paces from me Baleka was staggering along with her arms
out like one who has drunk too much beer. By the time I caught her she
was some forty paces from the gate of the kraal. But then her strength
left her altogether. Yes! there she fell senseless, and I stood by her.
And there, too, I should have been killed, had not this chanced, since
the other two men, having stayed one instant by their dead fellows, came
on against me mad with rage. For at that moment the gate of the kraal
opened, and through it ran a party of soldiers dragging a prisoner by
the arms. After them walked a great man, who wore a leopard skin on
his shoulders, and was laughing, and with him were five or six ringed
councillors, and after them again came a company of warriors.

The soldiers saw that killing was going on, and ran up just as the
slayers reached us.

“Who are you?” they cried, “who dare to kill at the gate of the
Elephant’s kraal? Here the Elephant kills alone.”

“We are of the children of Makedama,” they answered, “and we follow
these evildoers who have done wickedness and murder in our kraal. See!
but now two of us are dead at their hands, and others lie dead along the
road. Suffer that we slay them.”

“Ask that of the Elephant,” said the soldiers; “ask too that he suffer
you should not be slain.”

Just then the tall chief saw blood and heard words. He stalked up; and
he was a great man to look at, though still quite young in years. For
he was taller by a head than any round him, and his chest was big as the
chests of two; his face was fierce and beautiful, and when he grew angry
his eye flashed like a smitten brand.

“Who are these that dare to stir up dust at the gates of my kraal?” he
asked, frowning.

“O Chaka, O Elephant!” answered the captain of the soldiers, bending
himself double before him, “the men say that these are evildoers and
that they pursue them to kill them.”

“Good!” he answered. “Let them slay the evildoers.”

“O great chief! thanks be to thee, great chief!” said those men of my
people who sought to kill us.

“I hear you,” he answered, then spoke once more to the captain. “And
when they have slain the evildoers, let themselves be blinded and turned
loose to seek their way home, because they have dared to lift a spear
within the Zulu gates. Now praise on, my children!” And he laughed,
while the soldiers murmured, “Ou! he is wise, he is great, his justice
is bright and terrible like the sun!”

But the two men of my people cried out in fear, for they did not seek
such justice as this.

“Cut out their tongues also,” said Chaka. “What? shall the land of the
Zulus suffer such a noise? Never! lest the cattle miscarry. To it, ye
black ones! There lies the girl. She is asleep and helpless. Kill her!
What? you hesitate? Nay, then, if you will have time for thought, I give
it. Take these men, smear them with honey, and pin them over ant-heaps;
by to-morrow’s sun they will know their own minds. But first kill these
two hunted jackals,” and he pointed to Baleka and myself. “They seem
tired and doubtless they long for sleep.”

Then for the first time I spoke, for the soldiers drew near to slay us.

“O Chaka,” I cried, “I am Mopo, and this is my sister Baleka.”

I stopped, and a great shout of laughter went up from all who stood
round.

“Very well, Mopo and thy sister Baleka,” said Chaka, grimly.
“Good-morning to you, Mopo and Baleka--also, good-night!”

“O Chaka,” I broke in, “I am Mopo, son of Makedama of the Langeni tribe.
It was I who gave thee a gourd of water many years ago, when we were
both little. Then thou badest me come to thee when thou hadst grown
great, vowing that thou wouldst protect me and never do me harm. So I
have come, bringing my sister with me; and now, I pray thee, do not eat
up the words of long ago.”

As I spoke, Chaka’s face changed, and he listened earnestly, as a
man who holds his hand behind his ear. “Those are no liars,” he said.
“Welcome, Mopo! Thou shalt be a dog in my hut, and feed from my hand.
But of thy sister I said nothing. Why, then, should she not be slain
when I swore vengeance against all thy tribe, save thee alone?”

“Because she is too fair to slay, O Chief!” I answered, boldly; “also
because I love her, and ask her life as a boon!”

“Turn the girl over,” said Chaka. And they did so, showing her face.

“Again thou speakest no lie, son of Makedama,” said the chief. “I grant
thee the boon. She also shall lie in my hut, and be of the number of my
‘sisters.’ Now tell me thy tale, speaking only the truth.”

So I sat down and told him all. Nor did he grow weary of listening. But,
when I had done, he said but one thing--that he would that the dog Koos
had not been killed; since, if he had still been alive, he would have
set him on the hut of my father Makedama, and made him chief over the
Langeni.

Then he spoke to the captain of the soldiers. “I take back my words,” he
said. “Let not these men of the Langeni be mutilated. One shall die and
the other shall go free. Here,” and he pointed to the man whom we had
seen led out of the kraal-gate, “here, Mopo, we have a man who has
proved himself a coward. Yesterday a kraal of wizards yonder was eaten
up by my order--perhaps you two saw it as you travelled. This man and
three others attacked a soldier of that kraal who defended his wife and
children. The man fought well--he slew three of my people. Then this
dog was afraid to meet him face to face. He killed him with a throwing
assegai, and afterwards he stabbed the woman. That is nothing; but he
should have fought the husband hand to hand. Now I will do him honour.
He shall fight to the death with one of these pigs from thy sty,” and he
pointed with his spear to the men of my father’s kraal, “and the one who
survives shall be run down as they tried to run you down. I will send
back the other pig to the sty with a message. Choose, children of
Makedama, which of you will live.”

Now the two men of my tribe were brothers, and loved one another, and
each of them was willing to die that the other might go free. Therefore,
both of them stepped forward, saying that they would fight the Zulu.

“What, is there honour among pigs?” said Chaka. “Then I will settle it.
See this assegai? I throw it into the air; if the blade falls uppermost
the tall man shall go free; if the shaft falls uppermost, then life is
to the short one, so!” And he sent the little spear whirling round and
round in the air. Every eye watched it as it wheeled and fell. The haft
struck the ground first.

“Come hither, thou,” said Chaka to the tall brother. “Hasten back to
the kraal of Makedama, and say to him, Thus says Chaka, the Lion of the
Zulu-ka-Malandela, ‘Years ago thy tribe refused me milk. To-day the dog
of thy son Mopo howls upon the roof of thy hut.’ Begone!” (1)

 (1) Among the Zulus it is a very bad omen for a dog to climb the roof
    of a hut. The saying conveyed a threat to be appreciated by every
    Zulu.--ED.

The man turned, shook his brother by the hand, and went, bearing the
words of evil omen.

Then Chaka called to the Zulu and the last of those who had followed
us to kill us, bidding them fight. So, when they had praised the prince
they fought fiercely, and the end of it was that the man of my people
conquered the Zulu. But as soon as he had found his breath again he was
set to run for his life, and after him ran five chosen men.

Still, it came about that he outran them, doubling like a hare, and got
away safely. Nor was Chaka angry at this; for I think that he bade the
men who hunted him to make speed slowly. There was only one good thing
in the cruel heart of Chaka, that he would always save the life of a
brave man if he could do so without making his word nothing. And for my
part, I was glad to think that the man of my people had conquered him
who murdered the children of the dying woman that we found at the kraal
beyond the river.



CHAPTER V. MOPO BECOMES THE KING’S DOCTOR

These, then, my father, were the events that ended in the coming of me,
Mopo, and of my sister Baleka to the kraal of Chaka, the Lion of the
Zulu. Now you may ask why have I kept you so long with this tale, which
is as are other tales of our people. But that shall be seen, for from
these matters, as a tree from a seed, grew the birth of Umslopogaas
Bulalio, Umslopogaas the Slaughterer, and Nada the Beautiful, of whose
love my story has to tell. For Nada was my daughter, and Umslopogaas,
though few knew it, was none other than the son of Chaka, born of my
sister Baleka.

Now when Baleka recovered from the weariness of our flight, and had her
beauty again, Chaka took her to wife, numbering her among his women,
whom he named his “sisters.” And me Chaka took to be one of his doctors,
of his izinyanga of medicine, and he was so well pleased with my
medicine that in the end I became his head doctor. Now this was a great
post, in which, during the course of years, I grew fat in cattle and in
wives; but also it was one of much danger. For when I rose strong and
well in the morning, I could never know but that at night I should sleep
stiff and red. Many were the doctors whom Chaka slew; doctored they
never so well, they were killed at last. For a day would surely come
when the king felt ill in his body or heavy in his mind, and then to
the assegai or the torment with the wizard who had doctored him! Yet I
escaped, because of the power of my medicine, and also because of that
oath which Chaka had sworn to me as a child. So it came about that where
the king went there I went with him. I slept near his hut, I sat behind
him at council, in the battle I was ever at his side.

Ah! the battle! the battle! In those days we knew how to fight, my
father! In those days the vultures would follow our impis by thousands,
the hyenas would steal along our path in packs, and none went empty
away. Never may I forget the first fight I stood in at the side of
Chaka. It was just after the king had built his great kraal on the south
bank of the Umhlatuze. Then it was that the chief Zwide attacked his
rival Chaka for the third time and Chaka moved out to meet him with
ten full regiments, (1) now for the first time armed with the short
stabbing-spear.

 (1) About 30,000 men.--ED.

The ground lay thus: On a long, low hill in front of our impi were
massed the regiments of Zwide; there were seventeen of them; the earth
was black with their number; their plumes filled the air like snow. We,
too, were on a hill, and between us lay a valley down which there ran
a little stream. All night our fires shone out across the valley; all
night the songs of soldiers echoed down the hills. Then the grey dawning
came, the oxen lowed to the light, the regiments arose from their bed of
spears; they sprang up and shook the dew from hair and shield--yes! they
arose! the glad to die! The impi assumed its array regiment by regiment.
There was the breast of spears, there were the horns of spears, they
were numberless as the stars, and like the stars they shone. The morning
breeze came up and fanned them, their plumes bent in the breeze; like
a plain of seeding grass they bent, the plumes of the soldiers ripe for
the assegai. Up over the shoulder of the hill came the sun of Slaughter;
it glowed red upon the red shields, red grew the place of killing; the
white plumes of the chiefs were dipped in the blood of heaven. They knew
it; they saw the omen of death, and, ah! they laughed in the joy of the
waking of battle. What was death? Was it not well to die on the spear?
What was death? Was it not well to die for the king? Death was the arms
of Victory. Victory would be their bride that night, and oh! her breast
is fair.

Hark! the war-song, the Ingomo, the music of which has the power to
drive men mad, rose far away to the left, and was thrown along from
regiment to regiment--a rolling ball of sound--

We are the king’s kine, bred to be butchered,  You, too, are one of us!
We are the Zulu, children of the Lion,  What! did you tremble?

Suddenly Chaka was seen stalking through the ranks, followed by his
captains, his indunas, and by me. He walked along like a great buck;
death was in his eyes, and like a buck he sniffed the air, scenting the
air of slaughter. He lifted his assegai, and a silence fell; only the
sound of chanting still rolled along the hills.

“Where are the children of Zwide?” he shouted, and his voice was like
the voice of a bull.

“Yonder, father,” answered the regiments. And every spear pointed across
the valley.

“They do not come,” he shouted again. “Shall we then sit here till we
grow old?”

“No, father,” they answered. “Begin! begin!”

“Let the Umkandhlu regiment come forward!” he shouted a third time, and
as he spoke the black shields of the Umkandhlu leaped from the ranks of
the impi.

“Go, my children!” cried Chaka. “There is the foe. Go and return no
more!”

“We hear you, father!” they answered with one voice, and moved down the
slope like a countless herd of game with horns of steel.

Now they crossed the stream, and now Zwide awoke. A murmur went through
his companies; lines of light played above his spears.

Ou! they are coming! Ou! they have met! Hearken to the thunder of the
shields! Hearken to the song of battle!

To and fro they swing. The Umkandhlu gives way--it flies! They pour back
across the stream--half of them; the rest are dead. A howl of rage goes
up from the host, only Chaka smiles.

“Open up! open up!” he cries. “Make room for the Umkandhlu GIRLS!” And
with hanging heads they pass us.

Now he whispers a word to the indunas. The indunas run; they whisper to
Menziwa the general and to the captains; then two regiments rush down
the hill, two more run to the right, and yet another two to the left.
But Chaka stays on the hill with the three that are left. Again comes
the roar of the meeting shields. Ah! these are men: they fight, they do
not run. Regiment after regiment pours upon them, but still they stand.
They fall by hundreds and by thousands, but no man shows his back, and
on each man there lie two dead. Wow! my father, of those two regiments
not one escaped. They were but boys, but they were the children of
Chaka. Menziwa was buried beneath the heaps of his warriors. Now there
are no such men.

They are all dead and quiet. Chaka still holds his hand! He looks to the
north and to the south. See! spears are shining among the trees. Now the
horns of our host close upon the flanks of the foe. They slay and are
slain, but the men of Zwide are many and brave, and the battle turns
against us.

Then again Chaka speaks a word. The captains hear, the soldiers stretch
out their necks to listen.

It has come at last. “Charge! Children of the Zulu!”

There is a roar, a thunder of feet, a flashing of spears, a bending of
plumes, and, like a river that has burnt its banks, like storm-clouds
before the gale, we sweep down upon friend and foe. They form up to meet
us; the stream is passed; our wounded rise upon their haunches and wave
us on. We trample them down. What matter? They can fight no more. Then
we meet Zwide rushing to greet us, as bull meets bull. Ou! my father,
I know no more. Everything grows red. That fight! that fight! We swept
them away. When it was done there was nothing to be seen, but the
hillside was black and red. Few fled; few were left to fly. We passed
over them like fire; we ate them up. Presently we paused, looking for
the foe. All were dead. The host of Zwide was no more. Then we mustered.
Ten regiments had looked upon the morning sun; three regiments saw the
sun sink; the rest had gone where no suns shine.

Such were our battles in the days of Chaka!

You ask of the Umkandhlu regiment which fled. I will tell you. When we
reached our kraal once more, Chaka summoned that regiment and mustered
it. He spoke to them gently, gently. He thanked them for their service.
He said it was natural that “girls” should faint at the sight of blood
and turn to seek their kraals. Yet he had bid them come back no more and
they had come back! What then was there now left for him to do? And he
covered his face with his blanket. Then the soldiers killed them all,
nearly two thousand of them--killed them with taunts and jeers.

That is how we dealt with cowards in those days, my father. After that,
one Zulu was a match for five of any other tribe. If ten came against
him, still he did not turn his back. “Fight and fall, but fly not,” that
was our watchword. Never again while Chaka lived did a conquered force
pass the gates of the king’s kraal.

That fight was but one war out of many. With every moon a fresh impi
started to wash its spears, and came back few and thin, but with victory
and countless cattle. Tribe after tribe went down before us. Those of
them who escaped the assegai were enrolled into fresh regiments, and
thus, though men died by thousands every month, yet the army grew.
Soon there were no other chiefs left. Umsuduka fell, and after him
Mancengeza. Umzilikazi was driven north; Matiwane was stamped flat. Then
we poured into this land of Natal. When we entered, its people could not
be numbered. When we left, here and there a man might be found in a hole
in the earth--that was all. Men, women, and children, we wiped them out;
the land was clean of them. Next came the turn of U’Faku, chief of the
Amapondos. Ah! where is U’Faku now?

And so it went on and on, till even the Zulus were weary of war and the
sharpest assegais grew blunt.



CHAPTER VI. THE BIRTH OF UMSLOPOGAAS

This was the rule of the life of Chaka, that he would have no children,
though he had many wives. Every child born to him by his “sisters” was
put away at once.

“What, Mopo,” he said to me, “shall I rear up children to put me to the
assegai when they grow great? They call me tyrant. Say, how do those
chiefs die whom men name tyrants? They die at the hands of those whom
they have bred. Nay, Mopo, I will rule for my life, and when I join the
spirits of my fathers let the strongest take my power and my place!”

Now it chanced that shortly after Chaka had spoken thus, my sister
Baleka, the king’s wife, fell in labour; and on that same day my wife
Macropha was brought to bed of twins, and this but eight days after my
second wife, Anadi, had given birth to a son. You ask, my father, how
I came to be married, seeing that Chaka forbade marriage to all his
soldiers till they were in middle life and had put the man’s ring upon
their heads. It was a boon he granted me as inyanga of medicine, saying
it was well that a doctor should know the sicknesses of women and
learn how to cure their evil tempers. As though, my father, that were
possible!

When the king heard that Baleka was sick he did not kill her outright,
because he loved her a little, but he sent for me, commanding me to
attend her, and when the child was born to cause its body to be brought
to him, according to custom, so that he might be sure that it was dead.
I bent to the earth before him, and went to do his bidding with a heavy
heart, for was not Baleka my sister? and would not her child be of my
own blood? Still, it must be so, for Chaka’s whisper was as the shout of
other kings, and, if we dared to disobey, then our lives and the lives
of all in our kraals would answer for it. Better that an infant should
die than that we should become food for jackals. Presently I came to the
Emposeni, the place of the king’s wives, and declared the king’s word to
the soldiers on guard. They lowered their assegais and let me pass, and
I entered the hut of Baleka. In it were others of the king’s wives, but
when they saw me they rose and went away, for it was not lawful that
they should stay where I was. Thus I was left alone with my sister.

For awhile she lay silent, and I did not speak, though I saw by the
heaving of her breast that she was weeping.

“Hush, little one!” I said at length; “your sorrow will soon be done.”

“Nay,” she answered, lifting her head, “it will be but begun. Oh, cruel
man! I know the reason of your coming. You come to murder the babe that
shall be born of me.”

“It is the king’s word, woman.”

“It is the king’s word, and what is the king’s word? Have I, then,
naught to say in this matter?”

“It is the king’s child, woman.”

“It is the king’s child, and it is not also my child? Must my babe be
dragged from my breast and be strangled, and by you, Mopo? Have I
not loved you, Mopo? Did I not flee with you from our people and the
vengeance of our father? Do you know that not two moons gone the king
was wroth with you because he fell sick, and would have caused you to
be slain had I not pleaded for you and called his oath to mind? And thus
you pay me: you come to kill my child, my first-born child!”

“It is the king’s word, woman,” I answered sternly; but my heart was
split in two within me.

Then Baleka said no more, but, turning her face to the wall of the hut,
she wept and groaned bitterly.

Now, as she wept I heard a stir without the hut, and the light in the
doorway was darkened. A woman entered alone. I looked round to see
who it was, then fell upon the ground in salutation, for before me was
Unandi, mother of the king, who was named “Mother of the Heavens,” that
same lady to whom my mother had refused the milk.

“Hail, Mother of the Heavens!” I said.

“Greeting, Mopo,” she answered. “Say, why does Baleka weep? Is it
because the sorrow of women is upon her?”

“Ask of her, great chieftainess,” I said.

Then Baleka spoke: “I weep, mother of a king, because this man, who is
my brother, has come from him who is my lord and thy son, to murder
that which shall be born of me. O thou whose breasts have given suck,
plead for me! Thy son was not slain at birth.”

“Perhaps it were well if he had been so slain, Baleka,” said Unandi;
“then had many another man lived to look upon the sun who is now dead.”

“At the least, as an infant he was good and gentle, and thou mightest
love him, Mother of the Zulu.”

“Never, Baleka! As a babe he bit my breast and tore my hair; as the man
is so was the babe.”

“Yet may his child be otherwise, Mother of the Heavens! Think, thou hast
no grandson to comfort thee in thy age. Wilt thou, then, see all thy
stock wither? The king, our lord, lives in war. He too may die, and what
then?”

“Then the root of Senzangacona is still green. Has the king no
brothers?”

“They are not of they flesh, mother. What? thou dost not hearken! Then
as a woman to woman I plead with thee. Save my child or slay me with my
child!”

Now the heart of Unandi grew gentle, and she was moved to tears.

“How may this be done, Mopo?” she said. “The king must see the dead
infant, and if he suspect, and even reeds have ears, you know the heart
of Chaka and where we shall lie to-morrow.”

“Are there then no other new-born babes in Zululand?” said Baleka,
sitting up and speaking in a whisper like the hiss of a snake. “Listen,
Mopo! Is not your wife also in labour? Now hear me, Mother of the
Heavens, and, my brother, hear me also. Do not think to play with me in
this matter. I will save my child or you twain will perish with it. For
I will tell the king that you came to me, the two of you, and whispered
plots into my ear--plots to save the child and kill the king. Now
choose, and swiftly!”

She sank bank, there was silence, and we looked one upon another. Then
Unandi spoke.

“Give me your hand, Mopo, and swear that you will be faithful to me in
this secret, as I swear to you. A day may come when this child who has
not seen the light rules as king in Zululand, and then in reward you
shall be the greatest of the people, the king’s voice, whisperer in the
king’s ear. But if you break your oath, then beware, for I shall not die
alone!”

“I swear, Mother of the Heavens,” I answered.

“It is well, son of Makedama.”

“It is well, my brother,” said Baleka. “Now go and do that which must be
done swiftly, for my sorrow is upon me. Go, knowing that if you fail I
will be pitiless, for I will bring you to your death, yes, even if my
own death is the price!”

So I went. “Whither to you go?” asked the guard at the gate.

“I go to bring my medicines, men of the king,” I answered.

So I said; but, oh! my heart was heavy, and this was my plan--to fly far
from Zululand. I could not, and I dared not do this thing. What? should
I kill my own child that its life might be given for the life of the
babe of Baleka? And should I lift up my will against the will of the
king, saving the child to look upon the sun which he had doomed to
darkness? Nay, I would fly, leaving all, and seek out some far tribe
where I might begin to live again. Here I could not live; here in the
shadow of Chaka was nothing but death.

I reached my own huts, there to find that my wife Macropha was delivered
of twins. I sent away all in the hut except my other wife, Anadi, she
who eight days gone had born me a son. The second of the twins was born;
it was a boy, born dead. The first was a girl, she who lived to be Nada
the Beautiful, Nada the Lily. Then a thought came into my heart. Here
was a path to run on.

“Give me the boy,” I said to Anadi. “He is not dead. Give him to me that
I may take him outside the kraal and wake him to life by my medicine.”

“It is of no use--the child is dead,” said Anadi.

“Give him to me, woman!” I said fiercely. And she gave me the body.

Then I took him and wrapped him up in my bundle of medicines, and
outside of all I rolled a mat of plaited grass.

“Suffer none to enter the hut till I return,” I said; “and speak no word
of the child that seems to be dead. If you allow any to enter, or if you
speak a word, then my medicine will not work and the babe will be dead
indeed.”

So I went, leaving the women wondering, for it is not our custom to
save both when twins are born; but I ran swiftly to the gates of the
Emposeni.

“I bring the medicines, men of the king!” I said to the guards.

“Pass in,” they answered.

I passed through the gates and into the hut of Baleka. Unandi was alone
in the hut with my sister.

“The child is born,” said the mother of the king. “Look at him, Mopo,
son of Makedama!”

I looked. He was a great child with large black eyes like the eyes
of Chaka the king; and Unandi, too, looked at me. “Where is it?” she
whispered.

I loosed the mat and drew the dead child from the medicines, glancing
round fearfully as I did so.

“Give me the living babe,” I whispered back.

They gave it to me and I took of a drug that I knew and rubbed it on the
tongue of the child. Now this drug has the power to make the tongue it
touches dumb for awhile. Then I wrapped up the child in my medicines
and again bound the mat about the bundle. But round the throat of the
still-born babe I tied a string of fibre as though I had strangled it,
and wrapped it loosely in a piece of matting.

Now for the first time I spoke to Baleka: “Woman,” I said, “and thou
also, Mother of the Heavens, I have done your wish, but know that before
all is finished this deed shall bring about the death of many. Be secret
as the grave, for the grave yawns for you both.”

I went again, bearing the mat containing the dead child in my right
hand. But the bundle of medicines that held the living one I fastened
across my shoulders. I passed out of the Emposeni, and, as I went, I
held up the bundle in my right hand to the guards, showing them that
which was in it, but saying nothing.

“It is good,” they said, nodding.

But now ill-fortune found me, for just outside the Emposeni I met three
of the king’s messengers.

“Greeting, son of Makedama!” they said. “The king summons you to the
Intunkulu”--that is the royal house, my father.

“Good!” I answered. “I will come now; but first I would run to my own
place to see how it goes with Macropha, my wife. Here is that which the
king seeks,” and I showed them the dead child. “Take it to him if you
will.”

“That is not the king’s command, Mopo,” they answered. “His word is that
you should stand before him at once.”

Now my heart turned to water in my breast. Kings have many ears. Could
he have heard? And how dared I go before the Lion bearing his living
child hidden on my back? Yet to waver was to be lost, to show fear was
to be lost, to disobey was to be lost.

“Good! I come,” I answered. And we walked to the gate of the Intunkulu.

It was sundown. Chaka was sitting in the little courtyard in front of
his hut. I went down on my knees before him and gave the royal salute,
Bayete, and so I stayed.

“Rise, son of Makedama!” he said.

“I cannot rise, Lion of the Zulu,” I answered, “I cannot rise, having
royal blood on my hands, till the king has pardoned me.”

“Where is it?” he asked.

I pointed to the mat in my hand.

“Let me look at it.”

Then I undid the mat, and he looked on the child, and laughed aloud.

“He might have been a king,” he said, as he bade a councillor take it
away. “Mopo, thou hast slain one who might have been a king. Art thou
not afraid?”

“No, Black One,” I answered, “the child is killed by order of one who is
a king.”

“Sit down, and let us talk,” said Chaka, for his mood was idle.
“To-morrow thou shalt have five oxen for this deed; thou shalt choose
them from the royal herd.”

“The king is good; he sees that my belt is drawn tight; he satisfies my
hunger. Will the king suffer that I go? My wife is in labour and I would
visit her.”

“Nay, stay awhile; say how it is with Baleka, my sister and thine?”

“It is well.”

“Did she weep when you took the babe from her?”

“Nay, she wept not. She said, ‘My lord’s will is my will.’”

“Good! Had she wept she had been slain also. Who was with her?”

“The Mother of the Heavens.”

The brow of Chaka darkened. “Unandi, my mother, what did she there? By
myself I swear, though she is my mother--if I thought”--and he ceased.

There was a silence, then he spoke again. “Say, what is in that mat?” and
he pointed with his little assegai at the bundle on my shoulders.

“Medicine, king.”

“Thou dost carry enough to doctor an impi. Undo the mat and let me look
at it.”

“Now, my father, I tell you that the marrow melted in my bones with
terror, for if I undid the mat I feared he must see the child and
then--”

“It is tagati, it is bewitched, O king. It is not wise to look on
medicine.”

“Open!” he answered angrily. “What? may I not look at that which I am
forced to swallow--I, who am the first of doctors?”

“Death is the king’s medicine,” I answered, lifting the bundle, and
laying it as far from him in the shadow of the fence as I dared. Then
I bent over it, slowly undoing the rimpis with which it was tied, while
the sweat of terror ran down by face blinding me like tears. What would
I do if he saw the child? What if the child awoke and cried? I would
snatch the assegai from his hand and stab him! Yes, I would kill the
king and then kill myself! Now the mat was unrolled. Inside were the
brown leaves and roots of medicine; beneath them was the senseless bade
wrapped in dead moss.

“Ugly stuff,” said the king, taking snuff. “Now see, Mopo, what a good
aim I have! This for thy medicine!” And he lifted his assegai to throw
it through the bundle. But as he threw, my snake put it into the king’s
heart to sneeze, and thus it came to pass that the assegai only pierced
the outer leaves of the medicine, and did not touch the child.

“May the heavens bless the king!” I said, according to custom.

“Thanks to thee, Mopo, it is a good omen,” he answered. “And now,
begone! Take my advice: kill thy children, as I kill mine, lest they
live to worry thee. The whelps of lions are best drowned.”

I did up the bundle fast--fast, though my hands trembled. Oh! what if
the child should wake and cry. It was done; I rose and saluted the king.
Then I doubled myself up and passed from before him. Scarcely was I
outside the gates of the Intunkulu when the infant began to squeak in
the bundle. If it had been one minute before!

“What,” said a soldier, as I passed, “have you got a puppy hidden under
your moocha, (1) Mopo?”

 (1) Girdle composed of skin and tails of oxen.-ED.

I made no answer, but hurried on till I came to my huts. I entered;
there were my two wives alone.

“I have recovered the child, women,” I said, as I undid the bundle.

Anadi took him and looked at him.

“The boy seems bigger than he was,” she said.

“The breath of life has come into him and puffed him out,” I answered.

“His eyes are not as his eyes were,” she said again. “Now they are big
and black, like the eyes of the king.”

“My spirit looked upon his eyes and made them beautiful,” I answered.

“This child has a birth-mark on his thigh,” she said a third time. “That
which I gave you had no mark.”

“I laid my medicine there,” I answered.

“It is not the same child,” she said sullenly. “It is a changeling who
will lay ill-luck at our doors.”

Then I rose up in my rage and cursed her heavily, for I saw that if she
was not stopped this woman’s tongue would bring us all to ruin.

“Peace, witch!” I cried. “How dare you to speak thus from a lying heart?
Do you wish to draw down a curse upon our roof? Would you make us all
food for the king’s spear? Say such words again, and you shall sit
within the circle--the Ingomboco shall know you for a witch!”

So I stormed on, threatening to bring her to death, till at length she
grew fearful, and fell at my feet praying for mercy and forgiveness.
But I was much afraid because of this woman’s tongue, and not without
reason.



CHAPTER VII. UMSLOPOGAAS ANSWERS THE KING

Now the years went on, and this matter slept. Nothing more was heard of
it, but still it only slept; and, my father, I feared greatly for
the hour when it should awake. For the secret was known by two
women--Unandi, Mother of the Heavens, and Baleka, my sister, wife of the
king; and by two more--Macropha and Anadi, my wives--it was guessed at.
How, then, should it remain a secret forever? Moreover, it came about
that Unandi and Baleka could not restrain their fondness for this child
who was called my son and named Umslopogaas, but who was the son of
Chaka, the king, and of Baleka, and the grandson of Unandi. So it
happened that very often one or the other of them would come into my
hut, making pretence to visit my wives, and take the boy upon her lap
and fondle it. In vain did I pray them to forbear. Love pulled at their
heart-strings more heavily than my words, and still they came. This was
the end of it--that Chaka saw the child sitting on the knee of Unandi,
his mother.

“What does my mother with that brat of thine, Mopo?” he asked of me.
“Cannot she kiss me, if she will find a child to kiss?” And he laughed
like a wolf.

I said that I did not know, and the matter passed over for awhile.
But after that Chaka caused his mother to be watched. Now the boy
Umslopogaas grew great and strong; there was no such lad of his years
for a day’s journey round. But from a babe he was somewhat surly, of few
words, and like his father, Chaka, afraid of nothing. In all the world
there were but two people whom he loved--these were I, Mopo, who was
called his father, and Nada, she who was said to be his twin sister.

Now it must be told of Nada that as the boy Umslopogaas was the
strongest and bravest of children, so the girl Nada was the gentlest and
most fair. Of a truth, my father, I believe that her blood was not all
Zulu, though this I cannot say for certain. At the least, her eyes were
softer and larger than those of our people, her hair longer and less
tightly curled, and her skin was lighter--more of the colour of pure
copper. These things she had from her mother, Macropha; though she was
fairer than Macropha--fairer, indeed, than any woman of my people whom
I have seen. Her mother, Macropha, my wife, was of Swazi blood, and was
brought to the king’s kraal with other captives after a raid, and given
to me as a wife by the king. It was said that she was the daughter of a
Swazi headman of the tribe of the Halakazi, and that she was born of his
wife is true, but whether he was her father I do not know; for I have
heard from the lips of Macropha herself, that before she was born there
was a white man staying at her father’s kraal. He was a Portuguese from
the coast, a handsome man, and skilled in the working of iron. This
white man loved the mother of my wife, Macropha, and some held that
Macropha was his daughter, and not that of the Swazi headman. At least
I know this, that before my wife’s birth the Swazi killed the white man.
But none can tell the truth of these matters, and I only speak of them
because the beauty of Nada was rather as is the beauty of the white
people than of ours, and this might well happen if her grandfather
chanced to be a white man.

Now Umslopogaas and Nada were always together. Together they ate,
together they slept and wandered; they thought one thought and spoke
with one tongue. Ou! it was pretty to see them! Twice while they were
still children did Umslopogaas save the life of Nada.

The first time it came about thus. The two children had wandered far
from the kraal, seeking certain berries that little ones love. On they
wandered and on, singing as they went, till at length they found the
berries, and ate heartily. Then it was near sundown, and when they had
eaten they fell asleep. In the night they woke to find a great wind
blowing and a cold rain falling on them, for it was the beginning of
winter, when fruits are ripe.

“Up, Nada!” said Umslopogaas, “we must seek the kraal or the cold will
kill us.”

So Nada rose, frightened, and hand in hand they stumbled through the
darkness. But in the wind and the night they lost their path, and when
at length the dawn came they were in a forest that was strange to them.
They rested awhile, and finding berries ate them, then walked again.
All that day they wandered, till at last the night came down, and they
plucked branches of trees and piled the branches over them for warmth,
and they were so weary that they fell asleep in each other’s arms. At
dawn they rose, but now they were very tired and berries were few, so
that by midday they were spent. Then they lay down on the side of a
steep hill, and Nada laid her head upon the breast of Umslopogaas.

“Here let us die, my brother,” she said.

But even then the boy had a great spirit, and he answered, “Time to die,
sister, when Death chooses us. See, now! Do you rest here, and I will
climb the hill and look across the forest.”

So he left her and climbed the hill, and on its side he found many
berries and a root that is good for food, and filled himself with them.
At length he came to the crest of the hill and looked out across the sea
of green. Lo! there, far away to the east, he saw a line of white that
lay like smoke against the black surface of a cliff, and knew it for the
waterfall beyond the royal town. Then he came down the hill, shouting
for joy and bearing roots and berries in his hand. But when he reached
the spot where Nada was, he found that her senses had left her through
hunger, cold, and weariness. She lay upon the ground like one asleep,
and over her stood a jackal that fled as he drew nigh. Now it would seem
that there were but two shoots to the stick of Umslopogaas. One was to save
himself, and the other to lie down and die by Nada. Yet he found a
third, for, undoing the strips of his moocha, he made ropes of them,
and with the ropes he bound Nada on his back and started for the king’s
kraal. He could never have reached it, for the way was long, yet at
evening some messengers running through the forest came upon a naked
lad with a girl bound to his back and a staff in his hand, who staggered
along slowly with starting eyes and foam upon his lips. He could not
speak, he was so weary, and the ropes had cut through the skin of his
shoulders; yet one of the messengers knew him for Umslopogaas, the son
of Mopo, and they bore him to the kraal. They would have left the girl
Nada, thinking her dead, but he pointed to her breast, and, feeling it,
they found that her heart still beat, so they brought her also; and the
end of it was that both recovered and loved each other more than ever
before.

Now after this, I, Mopo, bade Umslopogaas stay at home within the kraal,
and not lead his sister to the wilds. But the boy loved roaming like a
fox, and where he went there Nada followed. So it came about that one
day they slipped from the kraal when the gates were open, and sought out
a certain deep glen which had an evil name, for it was said that spirits
haunted it and put those to death who entered there. Whether this was
true I do not know, but I know that in the glen dwelt a certain woman
of the woods, who had her habitation in a cave and lived upon what she
could kill or steal or dig up with her hands. Now this woman was
mad. For it had chanced that her husband had been “smelt out” by the
witch-doctors as a worker of magic against the king, and slain. Then
Chaka, according to custom, despatched the slayers to eat up his kraal,
and they came to the kraal and killed his people. Last of all they
killed his children, three young girls, and would have assegaied their
mother, when suddenly a spirit entered into her at the sight, and she
went mad, so that they let her go, being afraid to touch her afterwards.
So she fled and took up her abode in the haunted glen; and this was
the nature of her madness, that whenever she saw children, and more
especially girl children, a longing came upon her to kill them as her
own had been killed. This, indeed, she did often, for when the moon
was full and her madness at its highest, she would travel far to find
children, snatching them away from the kraals like a hyena. Still,
none would touch her because of the spirit in her, not even those whose
children she had murdered.

So Umslopogaas and Nada came to the glen where the child-slayer lived,
and sat down by a pool of water not far from the mouth of her cave,
weaving flowers into a garland. Presently Umslopogaas left Nada, to
search for rock lilies which she loved. As he went he called back to
her, and his voice awoke the woman who was sleeping in her cave, for
she came out by night only, like a jackal. Then the woman stepped forth,
smelling blood and having a spear in her hand. Presently she saw Nada
seated upon the grass weaving flowers, and crept towards her to kill
her. Now as she came--so the child told me--suddenly a cold wind seemed
to breathe upon Nada, and fear took hold of her, though she did not see
the woman who would murder her. She let fall the flowers, and looked
before her into the pool, and there, mirrored in the pool, she saw the
greedy face of the child-slayer, who crept down upon her from above,
her hair hanging about her brow and her eyes shining like the eyes of a
lion.

Then with a cry Nada sprang up and fled along the path which Umslopogaas
had taken, and after her leapt and ran the mad woman. Umslopogaas heard
her cry. He turned and rushed back over the brow of the hill, and, lo!
there before him was the murderess. Already she had grasped Nada by the
hair, already her spear was lifted to pierce her. Umslopogaas had no
spear, he had nothing but a little stick without a knob; yet with it he
rushed at the mad woman and struck her so smartly on the arm that she
let go of the girl and turned on him with a yell. Then, lifting her
spear, she struck at him, but he leapt aside. Again she struck; but he
sprang into the air, and the spear passed beneath him. A third time the
woman struck, and, though he fell to earth to avoid the blow, yet the
assegai pierced his shoulder. But the weight of his body as he fell
twisted it from her hand, and before she could grasp him he was up, and
beyond her reach, the spear still fast in his shoulder.

Then the woman turned, screaming with rage and madness, and ran at Nada
to kill her with her hands. But Umslopogaas set his teeth, and, drawing
the spear from his wound, charged her, shouting. She lifted a great
stone and hurled it at him--so hard that it flew into fragments against
another stone which it struck; yet he charged on, and smote at her so
truly that he drove the spear through her, and she fell down dead. After
that Nada bound up his wound, which was deep, and with much pain he
reached the king’s kraal and told me this story.

Now there were some who cried that the boy must be put to death, because
he had killed one possessed with a spirit. But I said no, he should not
be touched. He had killed the woman in defence of his own life and the
life of his sister; and every one had a right to slay in self-defence,
except as against the king or those who did the king’s bidding.
Moreover, I said, if the woman had a spirit, it was an evil one, for no
good spirit would ask the lives of children, but rather those of cattle,
for it is against our custom to sacrifice human beings to the Amatonga
even in war, though the Basuta dogs do so. Still, the tumult grew, for
the witch-doctors were set upon the boy’s death, saying that evil would
come of it if he was allowed to live, having killed one inspired, and at
last the matter came to the ears of the king. Then Chaka summoned me and
the boy before him, and he also summoned the witch-doctors.

First, the witch-doctors set out their case, demanding the death of
Umslopogaas. Chaka asked them what would happen if the boy was not
killed. They answered that the spirit of the dead woman would lead him
to bring evil on the royal house. Chaka asked if he would bring evil on
him, the king. They in turn asked the spirits, and answered no, not on
him, but on one of the royal house who should be after him. Chaka said
that he cared nothing what happened to those who came after him, or
whether good or evil befell them. Then he spoke to Umslopogaas, who
looked him boldly in the face, as an equal looks at an equal.

“Boy,” he said, “what hast thou to say as to why thou shouldst not be
killed as these men demand?”

“This, Black One,” answered Umslopogaas; “that I stabbed the woman in
defence of my own life.”

“That is nothing,” said Chaka. “If I, the king, wished to kill thee,
mightest thou therefore kill me or those whom I sent? The Itongo in the
woman was a Spirit King and ordered her to kill thee; thou shouldst then
have let thyself be killed. Hast thou no other reason?”

“This, Elephant,” answered Umslopogaas; “the woman would have murdered
my sister, whom I love better than my life.”

“That is nothing,” said Chaka. “If I ordered thee to be killed for any
cause, should I not also order all within thy gates to be killed with
thee? May not, then, a Spirit King do likewise? If thou hast nothing
more to say thou must die.”

Now I grew afraid, for I feared lest Chaka should slay him who
was called my son because of the word of the doctors. But the boy
Umslopogaas looked up and answered boldly, not as one who pleads for his
life, but as one who demands a right:--

“I have this to say, Eater-up of Enemies, and if it is not enough, let
us stop talking, and let me be killed. Thou, O king, didst command that
this woman should be slain. Those whom thou didst send to destroy
her spared her, because they thought her mad. I have carried out the
commandment of the king; I have slain her, mad or sane, whom the king
commanded should be killed, and I have earned not death, but a reward.”

“Well said, Umslopogaas!” answered Chaka. “Let ten head of cattle be
given to this boy with the heart of a man; his father shall guard them
for him. Art thou satisfied now, Umslopogaas?”

“I take that which is due to me, and I thank the king because he need
not pay unless he will,” Umslopogaas answered.

Chaka stared awhile, began to grow angry, then burst out laughing.

“Why, this calf is such another one as was dropped long ago in the kraal
of Senzangacona!” he said. “As I was, so is this boy. Go on, lad, in
that path, and thou mayst find those who shall cry the royal salute of
Bayete to thee at the end of it. Only keep out of my way, for two of a
kind might not agree. Now begone!”

So we went out, but as we passed them I saw the doctors muttering
together, for they were ill-pleased and foreboded evil. Also they were
jealous of me, and wished to smite me through the heart of him who was
called my son.



CHAPTER VIII. THE GREAT INGOMBOCO

After this there was quiet until the Feast of the First-fruits was
ended. But few people were killed at this feast, though there was
a great Ingomboco, or witch-hunt, and many were smelt out by the
witch-doctors as working magic against the king. Now things had come
to this pass in Zululand--that the whole people cowered before the
witch-doctors. No man might sleep safe, for none knew but that on the
morrow he would be touched by the wand of an Isanusi, as we name a
finder of witches, and led away to his death. For awhile Chaka said
nothing, and so long as the doctors smelt out those only whom he wished
to get rid of--and they were many--he was well pleased. But when they
began to work for their own ends, and to do those to death whom he did
not desire to kill, he grew angry. Yet the custom of the land was
that he whom the witch-doctor touched must die, he and all his house;
therefore the king was in a cleft stick, for he scarcely dared to save
even those whom he loved. One night I came to doctor him, for he was
sick in his mind. On that very day there had been an Ingomboco, and five
of the bravest captains of the army had been smelt out by the Abangoma,
the witch-finders, together with many others. All had been destroyed,
and men had been sent to kill the wives and children of the dead. Now
Chaka was very angry at this slaying, and opened his heart to me.

“The witch-doctors rule in Zululand, and not I, Mopo, son of Makedama,”
 he said to me. “Where, then, is it to end? Shall I myself be smelt out
and slain? These Isanusis are too strong for me; they lie upon the land
like the shadow of night. Tell me, how may I be free of them?”

“Those who walk the Bridge of Spears, O king, fall off into Nowhere,”
 I answered darkly; “even witch-doctors cannot keep a footing on that
bridge. Has not a witch-doctor a heart that can cease to beat? Has he
not blood that can be made to flow?”

Chaka looked at me strangely. “Thou art a bold man who darest to speak
thus to me, Mopo,” he said. “Dost thou not know that it is sacrilege to
touch an Isanusi?”

“I speak that which is in the king’s mind,” I answered. “Hearken, O
king! It is indeed sacrilege to touch a true Isanusi, but what if the
Isanusi be a liar? What if he smell out falsely, bringing those to death
who are innocent of evil? Is it then sacrilege to bring him to that end
which he has given to many another? Say, O king!”

“Good words!” answered Chaka. “Now tell me, son of Makedama, how may
this matter be put to proof?”

Then I leaned forward, whispering into the ear of the Black One, and he
nodded heavily.

Thus I spoke then, because I, too, saw the evil of the Isanusis, I who
knew their secrets. Also, I feared for my own life and for the lives of
all those who were dear to me. For they hated me as one instructed in
their magic, one who had the seeing eye and the hearing ear.

One morning thereafter a new thing came to pass in the royal kraal, for
the king himself ran out, crying aloud to all people to come and see the
evil that had been worked upon him by a wizard. They came together and
saw this. On the door-posts of the gateway of the Intunkulu, the house
of the king, were great smears of blood. The knees of men strong in the
battle trembled when they saw it; women wailed aloud as they wail over
the dead; they wailed because of the horror of the omen.

“Who has done this thing?” cried Chaka in a terrible voice. “Who has
dared to bewitch the king and to strike blood upon his house?”

There was no answer, and Chaka spoke again. “This is no little matter,”
 he said, “to be washed away with the blood of one or two and be
forgotten. The man who wrought it shall not die alone or travel with a
few to the world of spirits. All his tribe shall go with him, down to
the baby in his hut and cattle in his kraal! Let messengers go out east
and west, and north and south, and summon the witch-doctors from every
quarter! Let them summon the captains from every regiment and the
headmen from every kraal! On the tenth day from now the circle of the
Ingomboco must be set, and there shall be such a smelling out of wizards
and of witches as has not been known in Zululand!”

So the messengers went out to do the bidding of the king, taking the
names of those who should be summoned from the lips of the indunas,
and day by day people flocked up to the gates of the royal kraal, and,
creeping on their knees before the majesty of the king, praised him
aloud. But he vouchsafed an answer to none. One noble only he caused to
be killed, because he carried in his hand a stick of the royal red wood,
which Chaka himself had given him in bygone years. (1)

 (1) This beautiful wood is known in Natal as “red ivory.”--ED.

On the last night before the forming of the Ingomboco, the
witch-doctors, male and female, entered the kraal. There were a hundred
and a half of them, and they were made hideous and terrible with the
white bones of men, with bladders of fish and of oxen, with fat of
wizards, and with skins of snakes. They walked in silence till they came
in front of the Intunkulu, the royal house; then they stopped and sang
this song for the king to hear:--

    We have come, O king, we have come from the caves and the rocks
            and the swamps,
      To wash in the blood of the slain;
    We have gathered our host from the air as vultures are gathered in
            war.
      When they scent the blood of the slain.

    We come not alone, O king: with each Wise One there passes a
            ghost,
      Who hisses the name of the doomed.
    We come not alone, for we are the sons and Indunas of Death,
      And he guides our feet to the doomed.

    Red rises the moon o’er the plain, red sinks the sun in the west,
      Look, wizards, and bid them farewell!
    We count you by hundreds, you who cried for a curse on the king.
      Ha! soon shall we bid YOU farewell!

Then they were silent, and went in silence to the place appointed for
them, there to pass the night in mutterings and magic. But those who
were gathered together shivered with fear when they heard their words,
for they knew well that many a man would be switched with the gnu’s tail
before the sun sank once more. And I, too, trembled, for my heart was
full of fear. Ah! my father, those were evil days to live in when Chaka
ruled, and death met us at every turn! Then no man might call his life
his own, or that of his wife or child, or anything. All were the king’s,
and what war spared that the witch-doctors took.

The morning dawned heavily, and before it was well light the heralds
were out summoning all to the king’s Ingomboco. Men came by hundreds,
carrying short sticks only--for to be seen armed was death--and seated
themselves in the great circle before the gates of the royal house.
Oh! their looks were sad, and they had little stomach for eating that
morning, they who were food for death. They seated themselves; then
round them on the outside of the circle gathered knots of warriors,
chosen men, great and fierce, armed with kerries only. These were the
slayers.

When all was ready, the king came out, followed by his indunas and by
me. As he appeared, wrapped in the kaross of tiger-skins and towering
a head higher than any man there, all the multitude--and it was many
as the game on the hills--cast themselves to earth, and from every lip
sharp and sudden went up the royal salute of Bayete. But Chaka took no
note; his brow was cloudy as a mountain-top. He cast one glance at the
people and one at the slayers, and wherever his eye fell men turned grey
with fear. Then he stalked on, and sat himself upon a stool to the north
of the great ring looking toward the open space.

For awhile there was silence; then from the gates of the women’s
quarters came a band of maidens arrayed in their beaded dancing-dresses,
and carrying green branches in their hands. As they came, they clapped
their hands and sang softly:--

    We are the heralds of the king’s feast. Ai! Ai!
      Vultures shall eat it. Ah! Ah!
    It is good--it is good to die for the king!

They ceased, and ranged themselves in a body behind us. Then Chaka held
up his hand, and there was a patter of running feet. Presently from
behind the royal huts appeared the great company of the Abangoma, the
witch-doctors--men to the right and women to the left. In the left
hand of each was the tail of a vilderbeeste, in the right a bundle of
assegais and a little shield. They were awful to see, and the bones
about them rattled as they ran, the bladders and the snake-skins floated
in the air behind them, their faces shone with the fat of anointing,
their eyes started like the eyes of fishes, and their lips twitched
hungrily as they glared round the death-ring. Ha! ha! little did those
evil children guess who should be the slayers and who should be the
slain before that sun sank!

On they came, like a grey company of the dead. On they came in silence
broken only by the patter of their feet and the dry rattling of their
bony necklets, till they stood in long ranks before the Black One.
Awhile they stood thus, then suddenly every one of them thrust forward
the little shield in his hand, and with a single voice they cried,
“Hail, Father!”

“Hail, my children!” answered Chaka.

“What seekest thou, Father?” they cried again. “Blood?”

“The blood of the guilty,” he answered.

They turned and spoke each to each; the company of the men spoke to the
company of the women.

“The Lion of the Zulu seeks blood.”

“He shall be fed!” screamed the women.

“The Lion of the Zulu smells blood.”

“He shall see it!” screamed the women.

“His eyes search out the wizards.”

“He shall count their dead!” screamed the women.

“Peace!” cried Chaka. “Waste not the hours in talk, but to the work.
Hearken! Wizards have bewitched me! Wizards have dared to smite blood
upon the gateways of the king. Dig in the burrows of the earth and
find them, ye rats! Fly through the paths of the air and find them, ye
vultures! Smell at the gates of the people and name them, ye jackals! ye
hunters in the night! Drag them from the caves if they be hidden, from
the distance if they be fled, from the graves if they be dead. To the
work! to the work! Show them to me truly, and your gifts shall be great;
and for them, if they be a nation, they shall be slain. Now begin. Begin
by companies of ten, for you are many, and all must be finished ere the
sun sink.”

“It shall be finished, Father,” they answered.

Then ten of the women stood forward, and at their head was the most
famous witch-doctress of that day--an aged woman named Nobela, a woman
to whose eyes the darkness was no evil, whose scent was keen as a dog’s,
who heard the voices of the dead as they cried in the night, and spoke
truly of what she heard. All the other Isanusis, male and female, sat
down in a half-moon facing the king, but this woman drew forward, and
with her came nine of her sisterhood. They turned east and west, north
and south, searching the heavens; they turned east and west, north and
south, searching the earth; they turned east and west, north and south,
searching the hearts of men. Then they crept round and round the great
ring like cats; then they threw themselves upon the earth and smelt it.
And all the time there was silence, silence deep as midnight, and in
it men hearkened to the beating of their hearts; only now and again the
vultures shrieked in the trees.

At length Nobela spoke:--

“Do you smell him, sisters?”

“We smell him,” they answered.

“Does he sit in the east, sisters?”

“He sits in the east,” they answered.

“Is he the son of a stranger, sisters?”

“He is the son of a stranger.”

Then they crept nearer, crept on their hands and knees, till they were
within ten paces of where I sat among the indunas near to the king. The
indunas looked on each other and grew grey with fear; and for me, my
father, my knees were loosened and my marrow turned to water in my
bones. For I knew well who was that son of a stranger of whom they
spoke. It was I, my father, I who was about to be smelt out; and if I
was smelt out I should be killed with all my house, for the king’s
oath would scarcely avail me against the witch-doctors. I looked at
the fierce faces of the Isanusis before me, as they crept, crept like
snakes. I glanced behind and saw the slayers grasping their kerries for
the deed of death, and I say I felt like one for whom the bitterness is
overpast. Then I remembered the words which the king and I had whispered
together of the cause for which this Ingomboco was set, and hope crept
back to me like the first gleam of the dawn upon a stormy night. Still
I did not hope overmuch, for it well might happen that the king had but
set a trap to catch me.

Now they were quite near and halted.

“Have we dreamed falsely, sisters?” asked Nobela, the aged.

“What we dreamed in the night we see in the day,” they answered.

“Shall I whisper his name in your ears, sisters?”

They lifted their heads from the ground like snakes and nodded, and as
they nodded the necklets of bones rattled on their skinny necks. Then
they drew their heads to a circle, and Nobela thrust hers into the
centre of the circle and said a word.

“Ha! ha!” they laughed, “we hear you! His is the name. Let him be named
by it in the face of Heaven, him and all his house; then let him hear no
other name forever!”

And suddenly they sprang up and rushed towards me, Nobela, the aged
Isanusi, at their head. They leaped at me, pointing to me with the tails
of the vilderbeestes in their hands. Then Nobela switched me in the face
with the tail of the beast, and cried aloud:--

“Greeting, Mopo, son of Makedama! Thou art the man who smotest blood on
the door-posts of the king to bewitch the king. Let thy house be stamped
flat!”

I saw her come, I felt the blow on my face as a man feels in a dream. I
heard the feet of the slayers as they bounded forward to hale me to the
dreadful death, but my tongue clave to the roof of my mouth--I could not
say a word. I glanced at the king, and, as I did so, I thought that I
heard him mutter: “Near the mark, not in it.”

Then he held up his spear, and all was silence. The slayers stopped in
their stride, the witch-doctors stood with outstretched arms, the world
of men was as though it had been frozen into sleep.

“Hold!” he said. “Stand aside, son of Makedama, who art named an
evildoer! Stand aside, thou, Nobela, and those with thee who have named
him evildoer! What? Shall I be satisfied with the life of one dog? Smell
on, ye vultures, company by company, smell on! For the day the labour,
at night the feast!”

So I rose, astonished, and stood on one side. The witch-doctresses also
stood on one side, wonderstruck, since no such smelling out as this had
been seen in the land. For till this hour, when a man was swept with the
gnu’s tail of the Isanusi that was the instant of his death. Why, then,
men asked in their hearts, was the death delayed? The witch-doctors
asked it also, and looked to the king for light, as men look to a
thunder-cloud for the flash. But from the Black One there came no word.

So we stood on one side, and a second party of the Isanusi women began
their rites. As the others had done, so they did, and yet they worked
otherwise, for this is the fashion of the Isanusis, that no two of them
smell out in the same way. And this party swept the faces of certain of
the king’s councillors, naming them guilty of the witch-work.

“Stand ye on one side!” said the king to those who had been smelt out;
“and ye who have hunted out their wickedness, stand ye with those who
named Mopo, son of Makedama. It well may be that all are guilty.”

So these stood on one side also, and a third party took up the tale.
And they named certain of the great generals, and were in turn bidden to
stand on one side together with those whom they had named.

So it went on through all the day. Company by company the women doomed
their victims, till there were no more left in their number, and were
commanded to stand aside together with those whom they had doomed. Then
the male Isanusis began, and I could see well that by this time their
hearts were fearful, for they smelt a snare. Yet the king’s bidding must
be done, and though their magic failed them here, victims must be found.
So they smelt out this man and that man till we were a great company of
the doomed, who sat in silence on the ground looking at each other with
sad eyes and watching the sun, which we deemed our last, climb slowly
down the sky. And ever as the day waned those who were left untried of
the witch-doctors grew madder and more fierce. They leaped into the air,
they ground their teeth, and rolled upon the ground. They drew forth
snakes and devoured them alive, they shrieked out to the spirits and
called upon the names of ancient kings.

At length it drew on to evening, and the last company of the
witch-doctors did their work, smelling out some of the keepers of
the Emposeni, the house of the women. But there was one man of their
company, a young man and a tall, who held back and took no share in the
work, but stood by himself in the centre of the great circle, fixing his
eyes on the heavens.

And when this company had been ordered to stand aside also together with
those whom they had smelt out, the king called aloud to the last of the
witch-doctors, asking him of his name and tribe, and why he alone did
not do his office.

“My name is Indabazimbi, the son of Arpi, O king,” he answered, “and I
am of the tribe of the Maquilisini. Does the king bid me to smell out
him of whom the spirits have spoken to me as the worker of this deed?”

“I bid thee,” said the king.

Then the young man Indabazimbi stepped straight forward across the ring,
making no cries or gestures, but as one who walks from his gate to the
cattle kraal, and suddenly he struck the king in the face with the tail
in his hand, saying, “I smell out the Heavens above me!” (2)

 (2) A Zulu title for the king.--ED.

Now a great gasp of wonder went up from the multitude, and all looked to
see this fool killed by torture. But Chaka rose and laughed aloud.

“Thou hast said it,” he cried, “and thou alone! Listen, ye people! I did
the deed! I smote blood upon the gateways of my kraal; with my own hand
I smote it, that I might learn who were the true doctors and who were
the false! Now it seems that in the land of the Zulu there is one true
doctor--this young man--and of the false, look at them and count them,
they are like the leaves. See! there they stand, and by them stand those
whom they have doomed--the innocent whom, with their wives and children,
they have doomed to the death of the dog. Now I ask you, my people, what
reward shall be given to them?”

Then a great roar went up from all the multitude, “Let them die, O
king!”

“Ay!” he answered. “Let them die as liars should!”

Now the Isanusis, men and women, screamed aloud in fear, and cried for
mercy, tearing themselves with their nails, for least of all things did
they desire to taste of their own medicine of death. But the king only
laughed the more.

“Hearken ye!” he said, pointing to the crowd of us who had been
smelt out. “Ye were doomed to death by these false prophets. Now glut
yourselves upon them. Slay them, my children! slay them all! wipe them
away! stamp them out!--all! all, save this young man!”

Then we bounded from the ground, for our hearts were fierce with hate
and with longing to avenge the terrors we had borne. The doomed slew the
doomers, while from the circle of the Ingomboco a great roar of laughter
went up, for men rejoiced because the burden of the witch-doctors had
fallen from them.

At last it was done, and we drew back from the heap of the dead.
Nothing was heard there now--no more cries or prayers or curses. The
witch-finders travelled the path on which they had set the feet of many.
The king drew near to look. He came alone, and all who had done his
bidding bent their heads and crept past him, praising him as they went.
Only I stood still, covered, as I was with mire and filth, for I did not
fear to stand in the presence of the king. Chaka drew near, and looked
at the piled-up heaps of the slain and the cloud of dust that yet hung
over them.

“There they lie, Mopo,” he said. “There lie those who dared to prophecy
falsely to the king! That was a good word of thine, Mopo, which taught
me to set the snare for them; yet methought I saw thee start when
Nobela, queen of the witch-doctresses, switched death on thee. Well,
they are dead, and the land breathes more freely; and for the evil which
they have done, it is as yonder dust, that shall soon sink again to
earth and there be lost.”

Thus he spoke, then ceased--for lo! something moved beneath the cloud
of dust, something broke a way through the heap of the dead. Slowly it
forced its path, pushing the slain this way and that, till at length it
stood upon its feet and tottered towards us--a thing dreadful to look
on. The shape was the shape of an aged woman, and even through the blood
and mire I knew her. It was Nobela, she who had doomed me, she whom but
now I had smitten to earth, but who had come back from the dead to curse
me!

On she tottered, her apparel hanging round her in red rags, a hundred
wounds upon her face and form. I saw that she was dying, but life still
flickered in her, and the fire of hate burned in her snaky eyes.

“Hail, king!” she screamed.

“Peace, liar!” he answered; “thou art dead!”

“Not yet, king. I heard thy voice and the voice of yonder dog, whom I
would have given to the jackals, and I will not die till I have spoken.
I smelt him out this morning when I was alive; now that I am as one
already dead, I smell him out again. He shall bewitch thee with blood
indeed, Chaka--he and Unandi, thy mother, and Baleka, thy wife. Think of
my words when the assegai reddens before thee for the last time, king!
Farewell!” And she uttered a great cry and rolled upon the ground dead.

“The witch lies hard and dies hard,” said the king carelessly, and
turned upon his heel. But those words of dead Nobela remained fixed in
his memory, or so much of them as had been spoken of Unandi and Baleka.
There they remained like seeds in the earth, there they grew to bring
forth fruit in their season.

And thus ended the great Ingomboco of Chaka, the greatest Ingomboco that
ever was held in Zululand.



CHAPTER IX. THE LOSS OF UMSLOPOGAAS

Now, after the smelling out of the witch-doctors, Chaka caused a watch
to be kept upon his mother Unandi, and his wife Baleka, my sister, and
report was brought to him by those who watched, that the two women came
to my huts by stealth, and there kissed and nursed a boy--one of
my children. Then Chaka remembered the prophecy of Nobela, the dead
Isanusi, and his heart grew dark with doubt. But to me he said nothing
of the matter, for then, as always, his eyes looked over my head. He did
not fear me or believe that I plotted against him, I who was his dog.
Still, he did this, though whether by chance or design I do not know: he
bade me go on a journey to a distant tribe that lived near the borders
of the Amaswazi, there to take count of certain of the king’s cattle
which were in the charge of that tribe, and to bring him account of
the tale of their increase. So I bowed before the king, and said that
I would run like a dog to do his bidding, and he gave me men to go with
me.

Then I returned to my huts to bid farewell to my wives and children,
and there I found that my wife, Anadi, the mother of Moosa, my son, had
fallen sick with a wandering sickness, for strange things came into her
mind, and what came into her mind that she said, being, as I did not
doubt, bewitched by some enemy of my house.

Still, I must go upon the king’s business, and I told this to my wife
Macropha, the mother of Nada, and, as it was thought, of Umslopogaas,
the son of Chaka. But when I spoke to Macropha of the matter she burst
into tears and clung to me. I asked her why she wept thus, and she
answered that the shadow of evil lay upon her heart, for she was sure
that if I left her at the king’s kraal, when I returned again I should
find neither her nor Nada, my child, nor Umslopogaas, who was named my
son, and whom I loved as a son, still in the land of life. Then I tried
to calm her; but the more I strove the more she wept, saying that she
knew well that these things would be so.

Now I asked her what could be done, for I was stirred by her tears, and
the dread of evil crept from her to me as shadows creep from the valley
to the mountain.

She answered, “Take me with you, my husband, that I may leave this evil
land, where the very skies rain blood, and let me rest awhile in the
place of my own people till the terror of Chaka has gone by.”

“How can I do this?” I said. “None may leave the king’s kraal without
the king’s pass.”

“A man may put away his wife,” she replied. “The king does not stand
between a man and his wife. Say, my husband, that you love me no longer,
that I bear you no more children, and that therefore you send me back
whence I came. By-and-bye we will come together again if we are left
among the living.”

“So be it,” I answered. “Leave the kraal with Nada and Umslopogaas this
night, and to-morrow morning meet me at the river bank, and we shall
go on together, and for the rest may the spirits of our fathers hold us
safe.”

So we kissed each other, and Macropha went on secretly with the
children.

Now at the dawning on the morrow I summoned the men whom the king had
given me, and we started upon our journey. When the sun was well up we
came to the banks of the river, and there I found my wife Macropha, and
with her the two children. They rose as I came, but I frowned at my wife
and she gave me no greeting. Those with me looked at her askance.

“I have divorced this woman,” I said to them. “She is a withered tree, a
worn out old hag, and now I take her with me to send her to the country
of the Swazis, whence she came. Cease weeping,” I added to Macropha, “it
is my last word.”

“What says the king?” asked the men.

“I will answer to the king,” I said. And we went on.

Now I must tell how we lost Umslopogaas, the son of Chaka, who was then
a great lad drawing on to manhood, fierce in temper, well grown and
broad for his years.

We had journeyed seven days, for the way was long, and on the night of
the seventh day we came to a mountainous country in which there were few
kraals, for Chaka had eaten them all up years before. Perhaps you know
the place, my father. In it is a great and strange mountain. It is
haunted also, and named the Ghost Mountain, and on the top of it is a
grey peak rudely shaped like the head of an aged woman. Here in this
wild place we must sleep, for darkness drew on. Now we soon learned that
there were many lions in the rocks around, for we heard their roaring
and were much afraid, all except Umslopogaas, who feared nothing. So we
made a circle of thorn-bushes and sat in it, holding our assegais ready.
Presently the moon came up--it was a full-grown moon and very bright, so
bright that we could see everything for a long way round. Now some six
spear-throws from where we sat was a cliff, and at the top of the cliff
was a cave, and in this cave lived two lions and their young. When the
moon grew bright we saw the lions come out and stand upon the edge of
the cliff, and with them were two little ones that played about like
kittens, so that had we not been frightened it would have been beautiful
to see them.

“Oh! Umslopogaas,” said Nada, “I wish that I had one of the little lions
for a dog.”

The boy laughed, saying, “Then, shall I fetch you one, sister?”

“Peace, boy,” I said. “No man may take young lions from their lair and
live.”

“Such things have been done, my father,” he answered, laughing. And no
more was said of the matter.

Now when the cubs had played awhile, we saw the lioness take up the cubs
in her mouth and carry them into the cave. Then she came out again, and
went away with her mate to seek food, and soon we heard them roaring
in the distance. Now we stacked up the fire and went to sleep in our
enclosure of thorns without fear, for we knew that the lions were far
away eating game. But Umslopogaas did not sleep, for he had determined
that he would fetch the cub which Nada had desired, and, being young
and foolhardy, he did not think of the danger which he would bring upon
himself and all of us. He knew no fear, and now, as ever, if Nada spoke
a word, nay, even if she thought of a thing to desire it, he would not
rest till it was won for her. So while we slept Umslopogaas crept like
a snake from the fence of thorns, and, taking an assegai in his hand,
he slipped away to the foot of the cliff where the lions had their den.
Then he climbed the cliff, and, coming to the cave, entered there and
groped his way into it. The cubs heard him, and, thinking that it was
their mother who returned, began to whine and purr for food. Guided by
the light of their yellow eyes, he crept over the bones, of which there
were many in the cave, and came to where they lay. Then he put out his
hands and seized one of the cubs, killing the other with his assegai,
because he could not carry both of them. Now he made haste thence before
the lions returned, and came back to the thorn fence where we lay just
as dawn as breaking.

I awoke at the coming of the dawn, and, standing up, I looked out. Lo!
there, on the farther side of the thorn fence, looking large in the
grey mist, stood the lad Umslopogaas, laughing. In his teeth he held the
assegai, yet dripping with blood, and in his hands the lion cub that,
despite its whines and struggles, he grasped by the skin of the neck and
the hind legs.

“Awake, my sister!” he cried; “here is the dog you seek. Ah! he bites
now, but he will soon grow tame.”

Nada awoke, and rising, cried out with joy at the sight of the cub, but
for a moment I stood astonished.

“Fool!” I cried at last, “let the cub go before the lions come to rend
us!”

“I will not let it go, my father,” he answered sullenly. “Are there not
five of us with spears, and can we not fight two cats? I was not afraid
to go alone into their den. Are you all afraid to meet them in the
open?”

“You are mad,” I said; “let the cub go!” And I ran towards Umslopogaas
to take it from him. But he sprang aside and avoided me.

“I will never let that go of which I have got hold,” he said, “at least
not living!” And suddenly he seized the head of the cub and twisted its
neck; then threw it on to the ground, and added, “See, now I have done
your bidding, my father!”

As he spoke we heard a great sound of roaring from the cave in the
cliff. The lions had returned and found one cub dead and the other gone.

“Into the fence!--back into the fence!” I cried, and we sprang over
the thorn-bushes where those with us were making ready their spears,
trembling as they handled them with fear and the cold of the morning. We
looked up. There, down the side of the cliff, came the lions, bounding
on the scent of him who had robbed them of their young. The lion ran
first, and as he came he roared; then followed the lioness, but she did
not roar, for in her mouth was the cub that Umslopogaas had assegaied in
the cave. Now they drew near, mad with fury, their manes bristling, and
lashing their flanks with their long tails.

“Curse you for a fool, son of Mopo,” said one of the men with me to
Umslopogaas; “presently I will beat you till the blood comes for this
trick.”

“First beat the lions, then beat me if you can,” answered the lad, “and
wait to curse till you have done both.”

Now the lions were close to us; they came to the body of the second cub,
that lay outside the fence of thorns. The lion stopped and sniffed it.
Then he roared--ah! he roared till the earth shook. As for the lioness,
she dropped the dead cub which she was carrying, and took the other into
her mouth, for she could not carry both.

“Get behind me, Nada,” cried Umslopogaas, brandishing his spear, “the
lion is about to spring.”

As the words left his mouth the great brute crouched to the ground. Then
suddenly he sprang from it like a bird, and like a bird he travelled
through the air towards us.

“Catch him on the spears!” cried Umslopogaas, and by nature, as it were,
we did the boy’s bidding; for huddling ourselves together, we held out
the assegais so that the lion fell upon them as he sprang, and their
blades sank far into him. But the weight of his charge carried us to
the ground, and he fell on to us, striking at us and at the spears, and
roaring with pain and fury as he struck. Presently he was on his legs
biting at the spears in his breast. Then Umslopogaas, who alone did not
wait his onslaught, but had stepped aside for his own ends, uttered a
loud cry and drove his assegai into the lion behind the shoulder, so
that with a groan the brute rolled over dead.

Meanwhile, the lioness stood without the fence, the second dead cub in
her mouth, for she could not bring herself to leave either of them. But
when she heard her mate’s last groan she dropped the cub and gathered
herself together to spring. Umslopogaas alone stood up to face her,
for he only had withdrawn his assegai from the carcass of the lion. She
swept on towards the lad, who stood like a stone to meet her. Now she
met his spear, it sunk in, it snapped, and down fell Umslopogaas dead
or senseless beneath the mass of the lioness. She sprang up, the broken
spear standing in her breast, sniffed at Umslopogaas, then, as though
she knew that it was he who had robbed her, she seized him by the loins
and moocha, and sprang with him over the fence.

“Oh, save him!” cried the girl Nada in bitter woe. And we rushed after
the lioness shouting.

For a moment she stood over her dead cubs, Umslopogaas hanging from her
mouth, and looked at them as though she wondered; and we hoped that she
might let him fall. Then, hearing our cries, she turned and bounded away
towards the bush, bearing Umslopogaas in her mouth. We seized our spears
and followed; but the ground grew stony, and, search as we would, we
could find no trace of Umslopogaas or of the lioness. They had vanished
like a cloud. So we came back, and, ah! my heart was sore, for I loved
the lad as though he had indeed been my son. But I knew that he was
dead, and there was an end.

“Where is my brother?” cried Nada when we came back.

“Lost,” I answered. “Lost, never to be found again.”

Then the girl gave a great and bitter cry, and fell to the earth saying,
“I would that I were dead with my brother!”

“Let us be going,” said Macropha, my wife.

“Have you no tears to weep for your son?” asked a man of our company.

“What is the use of weeping over the dead? Does it, then, bring them
back?” she answered. “Let us be going!”

The man thought these words strange, but he did not know that
Umslopogaas was not born of Macropha.

Still, we waited in that place a day, thinking that, perhaps, the
lioness would return to her den and that, at least, we might kill her.
But she came back no more. So on the next morning we rolled up our
blankets and started forward on our journey, sad at heart. In truth,
Nada was so weak from grief that she could hardly travel, but I never
heard the name of Umslopogaas pass her lips again during that journey.
She buried him in her heart and said nothing. And I too said nothing,
but I wondered why it had been brought about that I should save the life
of Umslopogaas from the jaws of the Lion of Zulu, that the lioness of
the rocks might devour him.

And so the time went on till we reached the kraal where the king’s
business must be done, and where I and my wife should part.

On the morning after we came to the kraal, having kissed in secret,
though in public we looked sullenly on one another, we parted as those
part who meet no more, for it was in our thoughts, that we should never
see each other’s face again, nor, indeed, did we do so. And I drew Nada
aside and spoke to her thus: “We part, my daughter; nor do I know when
we shall meet again, for the times are troubled and it is for your
safety and that of your mother that I rob my eyes of the sight of you.
Nada, you will soon be a woman, and you will be fairer than any woman
among our people, and it may come about that many great men will seek
you in marriage, and, perhaps, that I, your father, shall not be there
to choose for you whom you shall wed, according to the custom of our
land. But I charge you, as far as may be possible for you to do so, take
only a man whom you can love, and be faithful to him alone, for thus
shall a woman find happiness.”

Here I stopped, for the girl took hold of my hand and looked into my
face. “Peace, my father,” she said, “do not speak to me of marriage,
for I will wed no man, now that Umslopogaas is dead because of my
foolishness. I will live and die alone, and, oh! may I die quickly, that
I may go to seek him whom I love only!”

“Nay, Nada,” I said, “Umslopogaas was your brother, and it is not
fitting that you should speak of him thus, even though he is dead.”

“I know nothing of such matters, my father,” she said. “I speak what my
heart tells me, and it tells me that I loved Umslopogaas living, and,
though he is dead, I shall love him alone to the end. Ah! you think me
but a child, yet my heart is large, and it does not lie to me.”

Now I upbraided the girl no more, because I knew that Umslopogaas was
not her brother, but one whom she might have married. Only I marvelled
that the voice of nature should speak so truly in her, telling her that
which was lawful, even when it seemed to be most unlawful.

“Speak no more of Umslopogaas,” I said, “for surely he is dead, and
though you cannot forget him, yet speak of him no more, and I pray of
you, my daughter, that if we do not meet again, yet you should keep me
in your memory, and the love I bear you, and the words which from
time to time I have said to you. The world is a thorny wilderness, my
daughter, and its thorns are watered with a rain of blood, and we wander
in our wretchedness like lost travellers in a mist; nor do I know why
our feet are set on this wandering. But at last there comes an end, and
we die and go hence, none know where, but perhaps where we go the evil
may change to the good, and those who were dear to each other on the
earth may become yet dearer in the heavens; for I believe that man
is not born to perish altogether, but is rather gathered again to the
Umkulunkulu who sent him on his journeyings. Therefore keep hope, my
daughter, for if these things are not so, at least sleep remains, and
sleep is soft, and so farewell.”

Then we kissed and parted, and I watched Macropha, my wife, and Nada,
my daughter, till they melted into the sky, as they walked upon
their journey to Swaziland, and was very sad, because, having lost
Umslopogaas, he who in after days was named the Slaughterer and the
Woodpecker, I must lose them also.



CHAPTER X. THE TRIAL OF MOPO

Now I sat four days in the huts of the tribe whither I had been sent,
and did the king’s business. And on the fifth morning I rose up,
together with those with me, and we turned our faces towards the
king’s kraal. But when we had journeyed a little way we met a party of
soldiers, who commanded us to stand.

“What is it, king’s men?” I asked boldly.

“This, son of Makedama,” answered their spokesman: “give over to us your
wife Macropha and your children Umslopogaas and Nada, that we may do
with them as the king commands.”

“Umslopogaas,” I answered, “has gone where the king’s arm cannot
stretch, for he is dead; and for my wife Macropha and my daughter Nada,
they are by now in the caves of the Swazis, and the king must seek them
there with an army if he will find them. To Macropha he is welcome, for
I hate her, and have divorced her; and as for the girl, well, there are
many girls, and it is no great matter if she lives or dies, yet I pray
him to spare her.”

Thus I spoke carelessly, for I knew well that my wife and child were
beyond the reach of Chaka.

“You do well to ask the girl’s life,” said the soldier, laughing, “for
all those born to you are dead, by order of the king.”

“Is it indeed so?” I answered calmly, though my knees shook and my
tongue clove to my lips. “The will of the king be done. A cut stick puts
out new leaves; I can have more children.”

“Ay, Mopo; but first you must get new wives, for yours are dead also,
all five of them.”

“Is it indeed so?” I answered. “The king’s will be done. I wearied of
those brawling women.”

“So, Mopo,” said the soldier; “but to get other wives and have more
children born to you, you must live yourself, for no children are born
to the dead, and I think that Chaka has an assegai which you shall
kiss.”

“Is it so?” I answered. “The king’s will be done. The sun is hot, and I
tire of the road. He who kisses the assegai sleeps sound.”

Thus I spoke, my father, and, indeed, in that hour I desired to die.
The world was empty for me. Macropha and Nada were gone, Umslopogaas was
dead, and my other wives and children were murdered. I had no heart to
begin to build up a new house, none were left for me to love, and it
seemed well that I should die also.

The soldiers asked those with me if that tale was true which I told
of the death of Umslopogaas and of the going of Macropha and Nada into
Swaziland. They said, Yes, it was true. Then the soldiers said that they
would lead me back to the king, and I wondered at this, for I thought
that they would kill me where I stood. So we went on, and piece by piece
I learned what had happened at the king’s kraal.

On the day after I left, it came to the ears of Chaka, by the mouth of
his spies, that my second wife--Anadi--was sick and spoke strange words
in her sickness. Then, taking three soldiers with him, he went to my
kraal at the death of the day. He left the three soldiers by the gates
of the kraal, bidding them to suffer none to come in or go out, but
Chaka himself entered the large hut where Anadi lay sick, having his toy
assegai, with the shaft of the royal red wood, in his hand. Now, as it
chanced, in the hut were Unandi, the mother of Chaka, and Baleka,
my sister, the wife of Chaka, for, not knowing that I had taken away
Umslopogaas, the son of Baleka, according to their custom, these two
foolish women had come to kiss and fondle the lad. But when they entered
the hut they found it full of my other wives and children. These they
sent away, all except Moosa, the son of Anadi--that boy who was born
eight days before Umslopogaas, the son of Chaka. But they kept Moosa in
the hut, and kissed him, giving him imphi (1) to eat, fearing lest it
should seem strange to the women, my wives, if, Umslopogaas being gone,
they refused to take notice of any other child.

 (1) A variety of sugar-cane.--ED.

Now as they sat thus, presently the doorway was darkened, and, behold!
the king himself crept through it, and saw them fondling the child
Moosa. When they knew who it was that entered, the women flung
themselves upon the ground before him and praised him. But he smiled
grimly, and bade them be seated. Then he spoke to them, saying, “You
wonder, Unandi, my mother, and Baleka, my wife, why it is that I am
come here into the hut of Mopo, son of Makedama. I will tell you: it is
because he is away upon my business, and I hear that his wife Anadi
is sick--it is she who lies there, is it not? Therefore, as the first
doctor in the land, I am come to cure her, Unandi, my mother, and
Baleka, my sister.”

Thus he spoke, eyeing them as he did so, and taking snuff from the blade
of his little assegai, and though his words were gentle they shook
with fear, for when Chaka spoke thus gently he meant death to many. But
Unandi, Mother of the Heavens, answered, saying that it was well that
the king had come, since his medicine would bring rest and peace to her
who lay sick.

“Yes,” he answered; “it is well. It is pleasant, moreover, my mother
and sister, to see you kissing yonder child. Surely, were he of your own
blood you could not love him more.”

Now they trembled again, and prayed in their hearts that Anadi, the sick
woman, who lay asleep, might not wake and utter foolish words in her
wandering. But the prayer was answered from below and not from above,
for Anadi woke, and, hearing the voice of the king, her sick mind flew
to him whom she believed to be the king’s child.

“Ah!” she said, sitting upon the ground and pointing to her own son,
Moosa, who squatted frightened against the wall of the hut. “Kiss him,
Mother of the Heavens, kiss him! Whom do they call him, the young cub
who brings ill-fortune to our doors? They call him the son of Mopo and
Macropha!” And she laughed wildly, stopped speaking, and sank back upon
the bed of skins.

“They call him the son of Mopo and Macropha,” said the king in a low
voice. “Whose son is he, then, woman?”

“Oh, ask her not, O king,” cried his mother and his wife, casting
themselves upon the ground before him, for they were mad with fear. “Ask
her not; she has strange fancies such as are not meet for your ears to
hear. She is bewitched, and has dreams and fancies.”

“Peace!” he answered. “I will listen to this woman’s wanderings. Perhaps
some star of truth shines in her darkness, and I would see light. Who,
then, is he, woman?”

“Who is he?” she answered. “Are you a fool that ask who he is? He
is--hush!--put your ear close--let me speak low lest the reeds of the
hut speak it to the king. He is--do you listen? He is--the son of Chaka
and Baleka, the sister of Mopo, the changeling whom Unandi, Mother of
the Heavens, palmed off upon this house to bring a curse on it, and
whom she would lead out before the people when the land is weary of the
wickedness of the king, her son, to take the place of the king.”

“It is false, O king!” cried the two women. “Do not listen to her; it
is false. The boy is her own son, Moosa, whom she does not know in her
sickness.”

But Chaka stood up in the hut and laughed terribly. “Truly, Nobela
prophesied well,” he cried, “and I did ill to slay her. So this is the
trick thou hast played upon me, my mother. Thou wouldst give a son to
me who will have no son: thou wouldst give me a son to kill me. Good!
Mother of the Heavens, take thou the doom of the Heavens! Thou wouldst
give me a son to slay me and rule in my place; now, in turn, I, thy son,
will rob me of a mother. Die, Unandi!--die at the hand thou didst bring
forth!” And he lifted the little assegai and smote it through her.

For a moment Unandi, Mother of the Heavens, wife of Senzangacona, stood
uttering no cry. Then she put up her hand, and drew the assegai from her
side.

“So shalt thou die also, Chaka the Evil!” she cried, and fell down dead
there in the hut.

Thus, then, did Chaka murder his mother Unandi.

Now when Baleka saw what had been done, she turned and fled from the hut
into the Emposeni, and so swiftly that the guards at the gates could not
stop her. But when she reached her own hut Baleka’s strength failed her,
and she fell senseless on the ground. But the boy Moosa, my son, being
overcome with terror, stayed where he was, and Chaka, believing him to
be his son, murdered him also, and with his own hand.

Then he stalked out of the hut, and leaving the three guards at the
gate, commanded a company of soldiers to surround the kraal and fire it.
This they did, and as the people rushed out they killed them, and those
who did not run out were burned in the fire. Thus, then, perished all my
wives, my children, my servants, and those who were within the gates in
their company. The tree was burned, and the bees in it, and I alone was
left living--I and Macropha and Nada, who were far away.

Nor was Chaka yet satisfied with blood, for, as has been told, he sent
messengers bidding them kill Macropha, my wife, and Nada, my daughter,
and him who was named my son. But he commanded the messengers that they
should not slay me, but bring me living before him.

Now when the soldiers did not kill me I took counsel with myself, for it
was my belief that I was saved alive only that I might die later, and
in a more cruel fashion. Therefore for awhile I thought that it would be
well if I did that for myself which another purposed to do for me. Why
should I, who was already doomed, wait to meet my doom? What had I left
to keep me in the place of life, seeing that all whom I loved were
dead or gone? To die would be easy, for I knew the ways of death. In my
girdle I carried a secret medicine; he who eats of it, my father, will
see the sun’s shadow move no more, and will never look upon the stars
again. But I was minded to know the assegai or the kerrie; nor would I
perish more slowly beneath the knives of the tormentors, nor be parched
by the pangs of thirst, or wander eyeless to my end. Therefore it was
that, since I had sat in the doom ring looking hour after hour into the
face of death, I had borne this medicine with me by night and by day.
Surely now was the time to use it.

So I thought as I sat through the watches of the night, ay! and drew out
the bitter drug and laid it on my tongue. But as I did so I remembered
my daughter Nada, who was left to me, though she sojourned in a far
country, and my wife Macropha and my sister Baleka, who still lived, so
said the soldiers, though how it came about that the king had not killed
her I did not know then. Also another thought was born in my heart.
While life remained to me, I might be revenged upon him who had wrought
me this woe; but can the dead strike? Alas! the dead are strengthless,
and if they still have hearts to suffer, they have no hands to give back
blow for blow. Nay, I would live on. Time to die when death could no
more be put away. Time to die when the voice of Chaka spoke my doom.
Death chooses for himself and answers no questions; he is a guest to
whom none need open the door of his hut, for when he wills he can pass
through the thatch like air. Not yet would I taste of that medicine of
mine.

So I lived on, my father, and the soldiers led me back to the kraal of
Chaka. Now when we came to the kraal it was night, for the sun had sunk
as we passed through the gates. Still, as he had been commanded, the
captain of those who watched me went in before the king and told him
that I lay without in bonds. And the king said, “Let him be brought
before me, who was my physician, that I may tell him how I have doctored
those of his house.”

So they took me and led me to the royal house, and pushed me through the
doorway of the great hut.

Now a fire burned in the hut, for the night was cold, and Chaka sat on
the further side of the fire, looking towards the opening of the hut,
and the smoke from the fire wreathed him round, and its light shone upon
his face and flickered in his terrible eyes.

At the door of the hut certain councillors seized me by the arms and
dragged me towards the fire. But I broke from them, and prostrating
myself, for my arms were free, I praised the king and called him by his
royal names. The councillors sprang towards me to seize me again,
but Chaka said, “Let him be; I would talk with my servant.” Then the
councillors bowed themselves on either side, and laid their hands on
their sticks, their foreheads touching the ground. But I sat down on the
floor of the hut over against the king, and we talked through the fire.

“Tell me of the cattle that I sent thee to number, Mopo, son of
Makedama,” said Chaka. “Have my servants dealt honestly with my cattle?”

“They have dealt honestly, O king,” I answered.

“Tell me, then, of the number of the cattle and of their markings, Mopo,
forgetting none.”

So I sat and told him, ox by ox, cow by cow, and heifer by heifer,
forgetting none; and Chaka listened silently as one who is asleep. But I
knew that he did not sleep, for all the while the firelight flickered
in his fierce eyes. Also I knew that he did but torment me, or that,
perhaps, he would learn of the cattle before he killed me. At length all
the tale was told.

“So,” said the king, “it goes well. There are yet honest men left in the
land. Knowest thou, Mopo, that sorrow has come upon thy house while thou
wast about my business.”

“I have heard it, O king!” I answered, as one who speaks of a small
matter.

“Yes, Mopo, sorrow has come upon thy house, the curse of Heaven has
fallen upon thy kraal. They tell me, Mopo, that the fire from above ran
briskly through they huts.”

“I have heard it, I king!”

“They tell me, Mopo, that those within thy gates grew mad at the
sight of the fire, and dreaming there was no escape, that they stabbed
themselves with assegais or leaped into the flames.”

“I have heard it, O king! What of it? Any river is deep enough to drown
a fool!”

“Thou hast heard these things, Mopo, but thou hast not yet heard all.
Knowest thou, Mopo, that among those who died in thy kraal was she who
bore me, she who was named Mother of the Heavens?”

Then, my father, I, Mopo, acted wisely, because of the thought which my
good spirit gave me, for I cast myself upon the ground, and wailed aloud
as though in utter grief.

“Spare my ears, Black One!” I wailed. “Tell me not that she who bore
thee is dead, O Lion of the Zulu. For the others, what is it? It is a
breath of wind, it is a drop of water; but this trouble is as the gale
or as the sea.”

“Cease, my servant, cease!” said the mocking voice of Chaka; “but know
this, thou hast done well to grieve aloud, because the Mother of the
Heavens is no more, and ill wouldst thou have done to grieve because
the fire from above has kissed thy gates. For hadst thou done this last
thing or left the first undone, I should have known that thy heart was
wicked, and by now thou wouldst have wept indeed--tears of blood, Mopo.
It is well for thee, then, that thou hast read my riddle aright.”

Now I saw the depths of the pit that Chaka had dug for me, and blessed
my Ehlose who had put into my heart those words which I should answer.
I hoped also that Chaka would now let me go; but it was not to be, for
this was but the beginning of my trial.

“Knowest thou, Mopo,” said the king, “that as my mother died yonder in
the flames of thy kraal she cried out strange and terrible words which
came to my ears through the singing of the fire. These were her words:
that thou, Mopo, and thy sister Baleka, and thy wives, had conspired
together to give a child to me who would be childless. These were her
words, the words that came to me through the singing of the fire. Tell
me now, Mopo, where are those children that thou leddest from thy kraal,
the boy with the lion eyes who is named Umslopogaas, and the girl who is
named Nada?”

“Umslopogaas is dead by the lion’s mouth, O king!” I answered, “and Nada
sits in the Swazi caves.” And I told him of the death of Umslopogaas and
of how I had divorced Macropha, my wife.

“The boy with the lion eyes to the lion’s mouth!” said Chaka. “Enough
of him; he is gone. Nada may yet be sought for with the assegai in
the Swazi caves; enough of her. Let us speak of this song that my
mother--who, alas! is dead, Mopo--this song she sang through the singing
of the flames. Tell me, Mopo, tell me now, was it a true tale.”

“Nay, O king! surely the Mother of the Heavens was maddened by the
Heavens when she sang that song,” I answered. “I know nothing of it, O
king.”

“Thou knowest naught of it, Mopo?” said the king. And again he looked
at me terribly through the reek of the fire. “Thou knowest naught of it,
Mopo? Surely thou art a-cold; thy hands shake with cold. Nay, man, fear
not--warm them, warm them, Mopo. See, now, plunge that hand of thine
into the heart of the flame!” And he pointed with his little assegai,
the assegai handled with the royal wood, to where the fire glowed
reddest--ay, he pointed and laughed.

Then, my father, I grew cold indeed--yes, I grew cold who soon should
be hot, for I saw the purpose of Chaka. He would put me to the trial by
fire.

For a moment I sat silent, thinking. Then the king spoke again in a
great voice: “Nay, Mopo, be not so backward; shall I sit warm and see
thee suffer cold? What, my councillors, rise, take the hand of Mopo, and
hold it to the flame, that his heart may rejoice in the warmth of the
flame while we speak together of this matter of the child that was,
so my mother sang, born to Baleka, my wife, the sister of Mopo, my
servant.”

“There is little need for that, O king,” I answered, being made bold by
fear, for I saw that if I did nothing death would swiftly end my doubts.
Once, indeed, I bethought me of the poison that I bore, and was minded
to swallow it and make an end, but the desire to live is great, and keen
is the thirst for vengeance, so I said to my heart, “Not yet awhile; I
will endure this also; afterwards, if need be, I can die.”

“I thank the king for his graciousness, and I will warm me at the fire.
Speak on, O king, while I warm myself, and thou shalt hear true words,”
 I said boldly.

Then, my father, I stretched out my left hand and plunged it into the
fire--not into the hottest of the fire, but where the smoke leapt from
the flame. Now my flesh was wet with the sweat of fear, and for a little
moment the flames curled round it and did not burn me. But I knew that
the torment was to come.

For a short while Chaka watched me, smiling. Then he spoke slowly, that
the fire might find time to do its work.

“Say, then, Mopo, thou knowest nothing of this matter of the birth of a
son to thy sister Baleka?”

“I know this only, O king!” I answered, “that a son was born in past
years to thy wife Baleka, that I killed the child in obedience to thy
word, and laid its body before thee.”

Now, my father, the steam from my flesh had been drawn from my hand by
the heat, and the flame got hold of me and ate into my flesh, and its
torment was great. But of this I showed no sign upon my face, for I knew
well that if I showed sign or uttered cry, then, having failed in the
trial, death would be my portion.

Then the king spoke again, “Dost thou swear by my head, Mopo, that no
son of mine was suckled in thy kraals?”

“I swear it, O king! I swear it by thy head,” I answered.

And now, my father, the agony of the fire was such as may not be told.
I felt my eyes start forward in their sockets, my blood seemed to boil
within me, it rushed into my head, and down my face their ran two tears
of blood. But yet I held my hand in the fire and made no sign, while the
king and his councillors watched me curiously. Still, for a moment Chaka
said nothing, and that moment seemed to me as all the years of my life.

“Ah!” he said at length, “I see that thou growest warm, Mopo! Withdraw
thy hand from the flame. I am answered; thou hast passed the trial; thy
heart is clean; for had there been lies in it the fire had given them
tongue, and thou hadst cried aloud, making thy last music, Mopo!”

Now I took my hand from the flame, and for awhile the torment left me.

“It is well, O king,” I said calmly. “Fire has no power of hurt on those
whose heart is pure.”

But as I spoke I looked at my left hand. It was black, my father--black
as a charred stick, and the nails were gone from the twisted fingers.
Look at it now, my father; you can see, though my eyes are blind. The
hand is white, like yours--it is white and dead and shrivelled. These
are the marks of the fire in Chaka’s hut--the fire that kissed me many,
many years ago; I have had but little use of that hand since this night
of torment. But my right arm yet remained to me, my father, and, ah! I
used it.

“It seems that Nobela, the doctress, who is dead, lied when she
prophesied evil on me from thee, Mopo,” said Chaka again. “It seems
that thou art innocent of this offence, and that Baleka, thy sister, is
innocent, and that the song which the Mother of the Heavens sang through
the singing flames was no true song. It is well for thee, Mopo, for in
such a matter my oath had not helped thee. But my mother is dead--dead
in the flames with thy wives and children, Mopo, and in this there is
witchcraft. We will have a mourning, Mopo, thou and I, such a mourning
as has not been seen in Zululand, for all the people on the earth shall
weep at it. And there shall be a ‘smelling out’ at this mourning, Mopo.
But we will summon no witch-doctors, thou and I will be witch-doctors,
and ourselves shall smell out those who have brought these woes upon us.
What! shall my mother die unavenged, she who bore me and has perished by
witchcraft, and shall thy wives and children die unavenged--thou being
innocent? Go forth, Mopo, my faithful servant, whom I have honoured with
the warmth of my fire, go forth!” And once again he stared at me through
the reek of the flame, and pointed with his assegai to the door of the
hut.



CHAPTER XI. THE COUNSEL OF BALEKA

I rose, I praised the king with a loud voice, and I went from the
Intunkulu, the house of the king. I walked slowly through the gates,
but when I was without the gates the anguish that took me because of my
burnt hand was more than I could bear. I ran to and fro groaning till
I came to the hut of one whom I knew. There I found fat, and having
plunged my hand in the fat, I wrapped it round with a skin and passed
out again, for I could not stay still. I went to and fro, till at length
I reached the spot where my huts had been. The outer fence of the huts
still stood; the fire had not caught it. I passed through the fence;
there within were the ashes of the burnt huts--they lay ankle-deep. I
walked in among the ashes; my feet struck upon things that were sharp.
The moon was bright, and I looked; they were the blackened bones of my
wives and children. I flung myself down in the ashes in bitterness of
heart; I covered myself over with the ashes of my kraal and with the
bones of my wives and children. Yes, my father, there I lay, and on me
were the ashes, and among the ashes were the bones. Thus, then, did I
lie for the last time in my kraal, and was sheltered from the frost of
the night by the dust of those to whom I had given life. Such were the
things that befell us in the days of Chaka, my father; yes, not to me
alone, but to many another also.

I lay among the ashes and groaned with the pain of my burn, and groaned
also from the desolation of my heart. Why had I not tasted the poison,
there in the hut of Chaka, and before the eyes of Chaka? Why did I not
taste it now and make an end? Nay, I had endured the agony; I would not
give him this last triumph over me. Now, having passed the fire, once
more I should be great in the land, and I would become great. Yes, I
would bear my sorrows, and become great, that in a day to be I might
wreak vengeance on the king. Ah! my father, there, as I rolled among the
ashes, I prayed to the Amatongo, to the ghosts of my ancestors. I prayed
to my Ehlose, to the spirit that watches me--ay, and I even dared to
pray to the Umkulunkulu, the great soul of the world, who moves through
the heavens and the earth unseen and unheard. And thus I prayed, that I
might yet live to kill Chaka as he had killed those who were dear to me.
And while I prayed I slept, or, if I did not sleep, the light of thought
went out of me, and I became as one dead. Then there came a vision to
me, a vision that was sent in answer to my prayer, or, perchance, it
was a madness born of my sorrows. For, my father, it seemed to me that I
stood upon the bank of a great and wide river. It was gloomy there, the
light lay low upon the face of the river, but far away on the farther
side was a glow like the glow of a stormy dawn, and in the glow I saw a
mighty bed of reeds that swayed about in the breath of dawn, and out of
the reeds came men and women and children, by hundreds and thousands,
and plunged into the waters of the river and were buffeted about by
them. Now, my father, all the people that I saw in the water were black
people, and all those who were torn out of the reeds were black--they
were none of them white like your people, my father, for this vision was
a vision of the Zulu race, who alone are “torn out of the reeds.” Now,
I saw that of those who swam in the river some passed over very quickly
and some stood still, as it were, still in the water--as in life,
my father, some die soon and some live for many years. And I saw the
countless faces of those in the water, among them were many that I knew.
There, my father, I saw the face of Chaka, and near him was my own face;
there, too, I saw the face of Dingaan, the prince, his brother, and the
face of the boy Umslopogaas and the face of Nada, my daughter, and then
for the first time I knew that Umslopogaas was not dead, but only lost.

Now I turned in my vision, and looked at that bank of the river on which
I stood. Then I saw that behind the bank was a cliff, mighty and black,
and in the cliff were doors of ivory, and through them came light and
the sound of laughter; there were other doors also, black as though
fashioned of coal, and through them came darkness and the sounds of
groans. I saw also that in front of the doors was set a seat, and on the
seat was the figure of a glorious woman. She was tall, and she alone was
white, and clad in robes of white, and her hair was like gold which is
molten in the fire, and her face shone like the midday sun. Then I saw
that those who came up out of the river stood before the woman, the
water yet running from them, and cried aloud to her.

“Hail, Inkosazana-y-Zulu! Hail, Queen of the Heavens!”

Now the figure of the glorious woman held a rod in either hand, and the
rod in her right hand was white and of ivory, and the rod in her left
hand was black and of ebony. And as those who came up before her throne
greeted her, so she pointed now with the wand of ivory in her right
hand, and now with the wand of ebony in her left hand. And with the wand
of ivory she pointed to the gates of ivory, through which came light and
laughter, and with the wand of ebony she pointed to the gates of coal,
through which came blackness and groans. And as she pointed, so those
who greeted her turned, and went, some through the gates of light and
some through the gates of blackness.

Presently, as I stood, a handful of people came up from the bank of the
river. I looked on them and knew them. There was Unandi, the mother of
Chaka, there was Anadi, my wife, and Moosa, my son, and all my other
wives and children, and those who had perished with them.

They stood before the figure of the woman, the Princess of the Heavens,
to whom the Umkulunkulu has given it to watch over the people of the
Zulu, and cried aloud, “Hail, Inkosazana-y-Zulu! Hail!”

Then she, the Inkosazana, pointed with the rod of ivory to the gates of
ivory; but still they stood before her, not moving. Now the woman spoke
for the first time, in a low voice that was sad and awful to hear.

“Pass in, children of my people, pass in to the judgment. Why tarry ye?
Pass in through the gates of light.”

But still they tarried, and in my vision Unandi spoke: “We tarry, Queen
of the Heavens--we tarry to pray for justice on him who murdered us.
I, who on earth was named Mother of the Heavens, on behalf of all this
company, pray to thee, Queen of the Heavens, for justice on him who
murdered us.”

“How is he named?” asked the voice that was low and awful.

“Chaka, king of the Zulus,” answered the voice of Unandi. “Chaka, my
son.”

“Many have come to ask for vengeance on that head,” said the voice of
the Queen of the Heavens, “and many more shall come. Fear not, Unandi,
it shall fall. Fear not, Anadi and ye wives and children of Mopo, it
shall fall, I say. With the spear that pierced thy breast, Unandi, shall
the breast of Chaka be also pierced, and, ye wives and children of Mopo,
the hand that pierces shall be the hand of Mopo. As I guide him so shall
he go. Ay, I will teach him to wreak my vengeance on the earth! Pass in,
children of my people--pass in to the judgment, for the doom of Chaka is
written.”

Thus I dreamed, my father. Ay, this was the vision that was sent me as
I lay in pain and misery among the bones of my dead in the ashes of my
kraal. Thus it was given me to see the Inkosazana of the Heavens as she
is in her own place. Twice more I saw her, as you shall hear, but that
was on the earth and with my waking eyes. Yes, thrice has it been given
to me in all to look upon that face that I shall now see no more till I
am dead, for no man may look four times on the Inkosazana and live. Or
am I mad, my father, and did I weave these visions from the woof of my
madness? I do not know, but it is true that I seemed to see them.

I woke when the sky was grey with the morning light; it was the pain of
my burnt hand that aroused me from my sleep or from my stupor. I rose
shaking the ashes from me, and went without the kraal to wash away their
defilement. Then I returned, and sat outside the gates of the Emposeni,
waiting till the king’s women, whom he named his sisters, should come
to draw water according to their custom. At last they came, and, sitting
with my kaross thrown over my face to hide it, looked for the passing of
Baleka. Presently I saw her; she was sad-faced, and walked slowly, her
pitcher on her head. I whispered her name, and she drew aside behind an
aloe bush, and, making pretence that her foot was pierced with a thorn,
she lingered till the other women had gone by. Then she came up to me,
and we greeted one another, gazing heavily into each other’s eyes.

“In an ill day did I hearken to you, Baleka,” I said, “to you and to
the Mother of the Heavens, and save your child alive. See now what has
sprung from this seed! Dead are all my house, dead is the Mother of
the Heavens--all are dead--and I myself have been put to the torment by
fire,” and I held out my withered hand towards her.

“Ay, Mopo, my brother,” she answered, “but flesh is nearest to flesh,
and I should think little of it were not my son Umslopogaas also dead,
as I have heard but now.”

“You speak like a woman, Baleka. Is it, then, nothing to you that I,
your brother, have lost--all I love?”

“Fresh seed can yet be raised up to you, my brother, but for me there is
no hope, for the king looks on me no more. I grieve for you, but I had
this one alone, and flesh is nearest to flesh. Think you that I shall
escape? I tell you nay. I am but spared for a little, then I go where
the others have gone. Chaka has marked me for the grave; for a little
while I may be left, then I die: he does but play with me as a leopard
plays with a wounded buck. I care not, I am weary, but I grieve for the
boy; there was no such boy in the land. Would that I might die swiftly
and go to seek him.”

“And if the boy is not dead, Baleka, what then?”

“What is that you said?” she answered, turning on me with wild eyes.
“Oh, say it again--again, Mopo! I would gladly die a hundred deaths to
know that Umslopogaas still lives.”

“Nay, Baleka, I know nothing. But last night I dreamed a dream,” and I
told her all my dream, and also of that which had gone before the dream.

She listened as one listens to the words of a king when he passes
judgement for life or for death.

“I think that there is wisdom in your dreams, Mopo,” she said at length.
“You were ever a strange man, to whom the gates of distance are no bar.
Now it is borne in upon my heart that Umslopogaas still lives, and now I
shall die happy. Yes, gainsay me not; I shall die, I know it. I read it
in the king’s eyes. But what is it? It is nothing, if only the prince
Umslopogaas yet lives.”

“Your love is great, woman,” I said; “and this love of yours has brought
many woes upon us, and it may well happen that in the end it shall all
be for nothing, for there is an evil fate upon us. Say now, what shall I
do? Shall I fly, or shall I abide here, taking the chance of things?”

“You must stay here, Mopo. See, now! This is in the king’s mind. He
fears because of the death of his mother at his own hand--yes, even he;
he is afraid lest the people should turn upon him who killed his own
mother. Therefore he will give it out that he did not kill her, but
that she perished in the fire which was called down upon your kraals
by witchcraft; and, though all men know the lie, yet none shall dare
to gainsay him. As he said to you, there will be a smelling out, but a
smelling out of a new sort, for he and you shall be the witch-finders,
and at that smelling out he will give to death all those whom he fears,
all those whom he knows hate him for his wickedness and because with
his own hand he slew his mother. For this cause, then, he will save you
alive, Mopo--yes, and make you great in the land, for if, indeed, his
mother Unandi died through witchcraft, as he shall say, are you not
also wronged by him, and did not your wives and children also perish by
witchcraft? Therefore, do not fly; abide here and become great--become
great to the great end of vengeance, Mopo, my brother. You have much
wrong to wreak; soon you will have more, for I, too, shall be gone, and
my blood also shall cry for vengeance to you. Hearken, Mopo. Are there
not other princes in the land? What of Dingaan, what of Umhlangana, what
of Umpanda, brothers to the king? Do not these also desire to be kings?
Do they not day by day rise from sleep feeling their limbs to know if
they yet live, do they not night by night lie down to sleep not knowing
if it shall be their wives that they shall kiss ere dawn or the red
assegai of the king? Draw near to them, my brother; creep into their
hearts and learn their counsel or teach them yours; so in the end shall
Chaka be brought to that gate through which your wives have passed, and
where I also am about to tread.”

Thus Baleka spoke and she was gone, leaving me pondering, for her words
were heavy with wisdom. I knew well that the brothers of the king went
heavily and in fear of death, for his shadow was on them. With Panda,
indeed, little could be done, for he lived softly, speaking always as
one whose wits are few. But Dingaan and Umhlangana were of another wood,
and from them might be fashioned a kerrie that should scatter the brains
of Chaka to the birds. But the time to speak was not now; not yet was
the cup of Chaka full.

Then, having finished my thought, I rose, and, going to the kraal of my
friend, I doctored my burnt hand, that pained me, and as I was doctoring
it there came a messenger to me summoning me before the king.

I went in before the king, and prostrated myself, calling him by his
royal names; but he took me by the hand and raised me up, speaking
softly.

“Rise, Mopo, my servant!” he said. “Thou hast suffered much woe because
of the witchcraft of thine enemies. I, I have lost my mother, and thou,
thou hast lost thy wives and children. Weep, my councillors, weep,
because I have lost my mother, and Mopo, my servant, has lost his wives
and children, by the witchcraft of our foes!”

Then all the councillors wept aloud, while Chaka glared at them.

“Hearken, Mopo!” said the king, when the weeping was done. “None can
give me back my mother; but I can give thee more wives, and thou shalt
find children. Go in among the damsels who are reserved to the king, and
choose thee six; go in among the cattle of the king, and choose thee
ten times ten of the best; call upon the servants of the king that they
build up thy kraal greater and fairer than it was before! These things
I give thee freely; but thou shalt have more, Mopo--yes! thou shalt have
vengeance! On the first day of the new moon I summon a great meeting, a
bandhla of all the Zulu people: yes, thine own tribe, the Langeni, shall
be there also. Then we will mourn together over our woes; then, too, we
will learn who brought these woes upon us. Go now, Mopo, go! And go
ye also, my councillors, leaving me to weep alone because my mother is
dead!”

Thus, then, my father, did the words of Baleka come true, and thus,
because of the crafty policy of Chaka, I grew greater in the land than
ever I had been before. I chose the cattle, they were fat; I chose the
wives, they were fair; but I took no pleasure in them, nor were any more
children born to me. For my heart was like a withered stick; the sap and
strength had gone from my heart--it was drawn out in the fire of Chaka’s
hut, and lost in my sorrow for those whom I had loved.



CHAPTER XII. THE TALE OF GALAZI THE WOLF

Now, my father, I will go back a little, for my tale is long and winds
in and out like a river in a plain, and tell of the fate of Umslopogaas
when the lion had taken him, as he told it to me in the after years.

The lioness bounded away, and in her mouth was Umslopogaas. Once he
struggled, but she bit him hard, so he lay quiet in her mouth, and
looking back he saw the face of Nada as she ran from the fence of
thorns, crying “Save him!” He saw her face, he heard her words, then he
saw and heard little more, for the world grew dark to him and he passed,
as it were, into a deep sleep. Presently Umslopogaas awoke again,
feeling pain in his thigh, where the lioness had bitten him, and heard a
sound of shouting. He looked up; near to him stood the lioness that had
loosed him from her jaws. She was snorting with rage, and in front of
her was a lad long and strong, with a grim face, and a wolf’s hide,
black and grey, bound about his shoulders in such fashion that the
upper jar and teeth of the wolf rested on his head. He stood before the
lioness, shouting, and in one hand he held a large war-shield, and in
the other he grasped a heavy club shod with iron.

Now the lioness crouched herself to spring, growling terribly, but the
lad with the club did not wait for her onset. He ran in upon her and
struck her on the head with the club. He smote hard and well, but this
did not kill her, for she reared herself upon her hind legs and struck
at him heavily. He caught the blow upon his shield, but the shield was
driven against his breast so strongly that he fell backwards beneath it,
and lay there howling like a wolf in pain. Then the lioness sprang upon
him and worried him. Still, because of the shield, as yet she could not
come at him to slay him; but Umslopogaas saw that this might not endure,
for presently the shield would be torn aside and the stranger must
be killed. Now in the breast of the lioness still stood the half of
Umslopogaas’s broken spear, and its blade was a span deep in her breast.
Then this thought came into the mind of Umslopogaas, that he would drive
the spear home or die. So he rose swiftly, for strength came back to him
in his need, and ran to where the lioness worried at him who lay beneath
the shield. She did not heed him, so he flung himself upon his knees
before her, and, seizing the haft of the broken spear, drove it deep
into her and wrenched it round. Now she saw Umslopogaas and turned
roaring, and clawed at him, tearing his breast and arms. Then, as he
lay, he heard a mighty howling, and, behold! grey wolves and black
leaped upon the lioness and rent and worried her till she fell and was
torn to pieces by them. After this the senses of Umslopogaas left him
again, and the light went out of his eyes so that he was as one dead.

At length his mind came back to him, and with it his memory, and he
remembered the lioness and looked up to find her. But he did not find
her, and he saw that he lay in a cave upon a bed of grass, while all
about him were the skins of beasts, and at his side was a pot filled
with water. He put out his hand and, taking the pot, drank of the water,
and then he saw that his arm was wasted as with sickness, and that his
breast was thick with scars scarcely skinned over.

Now while he lay and wondered, the mouth of the cave was darkened, and
through it entered that same lad who had done battle with the lioness
and been overthrown by her, bearing a dead buck upon his shoulders. He
put down the buck upon the ground, and, walking to where Umslopogaas
lay, looked at him.

“Ou!” he said, “your eyes are open--do you, then, live, stranger?”

“I live,” answered Umslopogaas, “and I am hungry.”

“It is time,” said the other, “since with toil I bore you here through
the forest, for twelve days you have lain without sense, drinking water
only. So deeply had the lion clawed you that I thought of you as dead.
Twice I was near to killing you, that you might cease to suffer and I to
be troubled; but I held my hand, because of a word which came to me
from one who is dead. Now eat, that your strength may return to you.
Afterwards, we will talk.”

So Umslopogaas ate, and little by little his health returned to
him--every day a little. And afterwards, as they sat at night by the
fire in the cave they spoke together.

“How are you named?” asked Umslopogaas of the other.

“I am named Galazi the Wolf,” he answered, “and I am of Zulu blood--ay,
of the blood of Chaka the king; for the father of Senzangacona, the
father of Chaka, was my great-grandfather.”

“Whence came you, Galazi?”

“I came from Swaziland--from the tribe of the Halakazi, which I should
rule. This is the story: Siguyana, my grandfather, was a younger
brother of Senzangacona, the father of Chaka. But he quarrelled with
Senzangacona, and became a wanderer. With certain of the people of the
Umtetwa he wandered into Swaziland, and sojourned with the Halakazi
tribe in their great caves; and the end of it was that he killed the
chief of the tribe and took his place. After he was dead, my father
ruled in his place; but there was a great party in the tribe that hated
his rule because he was of the Zulu race, and it would have set up a
chief of the old Swazi blood in his place. Still, they could not do
this, for my father’s hand was heavy on the people. Now I was the only
son of my father by his head wife, and born to be chief after him, and
therefore those of the Swazi party, and they were many and great, hated
me also. So matters stood till last year in the winter, and then my
father set his heart on killing twenty of the headmen, with their wives
and children, because he knew that they plotted against him. But the
headmen learned what was to come, and they prevailed upon a wife of my
father, a woman of their own blood, to poison him. So she poisoned him
in the night and in the morning it was told me that my father lay sick
and summoned me, and I went to him. In his hut I found him, and he was
writhing with pain.

“‘What is it, my father?’ I said. ‘Who has done this evil?’

“‘It is this, my son,’ he gasped, ‘that I am poisoned, and she stands
yonder who has done the deed.’ And he pointed to the woman, who stood at
the side of the hut near the door, her chin upon her breast, trembling
as she looked upon the fruit of her wickedness.

“Now the girl was young and fair, and we had been friends, yet I say
that I did not pause, for my heart was mad within me. I did not pause,
but, seizing my spear, I ran at her, and, though she cried for mercy, I
killed her with the spear.

“‘That was well done, Galazi!’ said my father. ‘But when I am gone, look
to yourself, my son, for these Swazi dogs will drive you out and rob you
of your place! But if they drive you out and you still live, swear this
to me--that you will not rest till you have avenged me.’

“‘I swear it, my father,’ I answered. ‘I swear that I will stamp out the
men of the tribe of Halakazi, every one of them, except those of my own
blood, and bring their women to slavery and their children to bonds!’

“‘Big words for a young mouth,’ said my father. ‘Yet shall you live to
bring these things about, Galazi. This I know of you now in my hour of
death: you shall be a wanderer for a few years of your life, child of
Siguyana, and wandering in another land you shall die a man’s death, and
not such a death as yonder witch has given to me.’ Then, having spoken
thus, he lifted up his head, looked at me, and with a great groan he
died.

“Now I passed out of the hut dragging the body of the dead girl after
me. In front of the hut were gathered many headmen waiting for the end,
and I saw that their looks were sullen.

“‘The chief, my father, is dead!’ I cried in a loud voice, ‘and I,
Galazi, who am the chief, have slain her who murdered him!’ And I rolled
the body of the girl over on to her back so that they might look upon
her face.

“Now the father of the girl was among those who stood before me, he who
had persuaded her to the deed, and he was maddened at the sight.

“‘What, my brothers?’ he cried. ‘Shall we suffer that this young Zulu
dog, this murderer of a girl, be chief over us? Never! The old lion is
dead, now for the cub!’ And he ran at me with spear aloft.

“‘Never!’ shouted the others, and they, too, ran towards me, shaking
their spears.

“I waited, I did not hasten, for I knew well that I should not die then,
I knew it from my father’s last words. I waited till the man was near
me; he thrust, I sprang aside and drove my spear through him, and on the
daughter’s body the father fell dead. Then I shouted aloud and rushed
through them. None touched me; none could catch me; the man does not
live who can overtake me when my feet are on the ground and I am away.”

“Yet I might try,” said Umslopogaas, smiling, for of all lads among the
Zulus he was the swiftest of foot.

“First walk again, then run,” answered Galazi.

“Take up the tale,” quoth Umslopogaas; “it is a merry one.”

“Something is left to tell, stranger. I fled from the country of the
Halakazi, nor did I linger at all in the land of the Swazis, but came
on swiftly into the Zulu. Now, it was in my mind to go to Chaka and tell
him of my wrongs, asking that he would send an impi to make an end
of the Halakazi. But while I journeyed, finding food and shelter as I
might, I came one night to the kraal of an old man who knew Chaka, and
had known Siguyana, my grandfather, and to him, when I had stayed there
two days, I told my tale. But the old man counselled me against my plan,
saying that Chaka, the king, did not love to welcome new shoots sprung
from the royal stock, and would kill me; moreover, the man offered me a
place in his kraal. Now, I held that there was wisdom in his words, and
thought no more of standing before the king to cry for justice, for he
who cries to kings for justice sometimes finds death. Still, I would not
stay in the kraal of the old man, for he had sons to come after him who
looked on me with no liking; moreover, I wished to be a chief myself,
even if I lived alone. So I left the kraal by night and walked on, not
knowing where I should go.

“Now, on the third night, I came to a little kraal that stands on the
farther side of the river at the foot of the mountain. In front of the
kraal sat a very old woman basking in the rays of the setting sun. She
saw me, and spoke to me, saying, ‘Young man, you are tall and strong and
swift of foot. Would you earn a famous weapon, a club, that destroys all
who stand before it?’

“I said that I wished to have such a club, and asked what I should do to
win it.

“‘You shall do this,’ said the old woman: ‘to-morrow morning, at the
first light, you shall go up to yonder mountain,’ and she pointed to
the mountain where you are now, stranger, on which the stone Witch sits
forever waiting for the world to die. ‘Two-thirds of the way up the
mountain you will come to a path that is difficult to climb. You shall
climb the path and enter a gloomy forest. It is very dark in the forest,
but you must push through it till you come to an open place with a wall
of rock behind it. In the wall of rock is a cave, and in the cave you
will find the bones of a man. Bring down the bones in a bag, and I will
give you the club!’

“While she spoke thus people came out of the kraal and listened.

“‘Do not heed her, young man,’ they said, ‘unless you are weary of life.
Do not heed her: she is crazy. The mountain is haunted; it is a place of
ghosts. Look at the stone Witch who sits upon it! Evil spirits live in
that forest, and no man has walked there for many years. This woman’s
son was foolish: he went to wander in the forest, saying that he cared
nothing for ghosts, and the Amatongo, the ghost-folk, killed him. That
was many years ago, and none have dared to seek his bones. Ever she
sits here and asks of the passers by that they should bring him to her,
offering the great club for a reward; but they dare not!’

“‘They lie!’ said the old woman. ‘There are no ghosts there. The ghosts
live only in their cowardly hearts; there are but wolves. I know that
the bones of my son lie in the cave, for I have seen them in a dream;
but, alas! my old limbs are too weak to carry me up the mountain path,
and all these are cowards; there is no man among them since the Zulus
killed my husband, covering him with wounds!’

“Now, I listened, answering nothing; but when all had done, I asked
to see the club which should be given to him who dared to face the
Amatongo, the spirits who lived in the forest upon the Ghost Mountain.
Then the old woman rose, and creeping on her hands went into the hut.
Presently she returned again, dragging the great club after her.

“Look at it, stranger! look at it! Was there ever such a club?” And
Galazi held it up before the eyes of Umslopogaas.

In truth, my father, that was a club, for I, Mopo, saw it in after days.
It was great and knotty, black as iron that had been smoked in the fire,
and shod with metal that was worn smooth with smiting.

“I looked at it,” went on Galazi, “and I tell you, stranger, a great
desire came into my heart to possess it.

“‘How is this club named?’ I asked of the old woman.

“‘It is named Watcher of the Fords,’ she answered, ‘and it has
not watched in vain. Five men have held that club in war and a
hundred-and-seventy-three have given up their lives beneath its strokes.
He who held it last slew twenty before he was slain himself, for this
fortune goes with the club--that he who owns it shall die holding it,
but in a noble fashion. There is but one other weapon to match with
it in Zululand, and that is the great axe of Jikiza, the chief of
the People of the Axe, who dwells in the kraal yonder; the ancient
horn-hafted Imbubuzi, the Groan-Maker, that brings victory. Were axe,
Groan-Maker, and club, Watcher of the Fords, side by side, there are
no thirty men in Zululand who could stand before them. I have said.
Choose!’ And the aged woman watched me cunningly through her horny eyes.

“‘She speaks truly now,’ said one of those who stood near. ‘Let the club
be, young man: he who owns it smites great blows indeed, but in the end
he dies by the assegai. None dare own the Watcher of the Fords.’

“‘A good death and a swift!’ I answered. And pondered a time, while
still the old woman watched me through her horny eyes. At length she
rose, ‘La!, la!’ she said, ‘the Watcher is not for this one. This is but
a child, I must seek me a man, I must seek me a man!’

“‘Not so fast, old wife,’ I said. ‘Will you lend me this club to hold in
my hand while I go to find the bones of your son and to snatch them from
the people of the ghosts?’

“‘Lend you the Watcher, boy? Nay, nay! I should see little of you again
or of the good club either.’

“‘I am no thief,’ I answered. ‘If the ghosts kill me, you will see me no
more, or the club either; but if I live I will bring you back the bones,
or, if I do not find them, I will render the Watcher into your hands
again. At the least I say that if you will not lend me the club, then I
will not go into the haunted place.’

“‘Boy, your eyes are honest,’ she said, still peering at me. ‘Take the
Watcher, go seek the bones. If you die, let the club be lost with you;
if you fail, bring it back to me; but if you win the bones, then it is
yours, and it shall bring you glory and you shall die a man’s death at
last holding him aloft among the dead.’

“So on the morrow at dawn I took the club Watcher in my hand and a
little dancing shield, and made ready to start. The old woman blessed me
and bade me farewell, but the other people of the kraal mocked, saying:
‘A little man for so big a club! Beware, little man, lest the ghosts
use the club on you!’ So they spoke, but one girl in the kraal--she is a
granddaughter of the old woman--led me aside, praying me not to go,
for the forest on the Ghost Mountain had an evil name: none dared walk
there, since it was certainly full of spirits, who howled like wolves. I
thanked the girl, but to the others I said nothing, only I asked of the
path to the Ghost Mountain.

“Now stranger, if you have strength, come to the mouth of the cave and
look out, for the moon is bright.”

So Umslopogaas rose and crept through the narrow mouth of the cave.
There, above him, a great grey peak towered high into the air, shaped
like a seated woman, her chin resting upon her breast, the place where
the cave was being, as it were, on the lap of the woman. Below this
place the rock sloped sharply, and was clothed with little bushes. Lower
down yet was a forest, great and dense, that stretched to the top of a
cliff, and at the foot of the cliff, beyond the waters of the river, lay
the wide plains of Zululand.

“Yonder, stranger,” said Galazi, pointing with the club Watcher of the
Fords far away to the plain beneath; “yonder is the kraal where the aged
woman dwelt. There is a cliff rising from the plain, up which I must
climb; there is the forest where dwell the Amatongo, the people of the
ghosts; there, on the hither side of the forest, runs the path to the
cave, and here is the cave itself. See this stone lying at the mouth of
the cave, it turns thus, shutting up the entrance hole--it turns gently;
though it is so large, a child may move it, for it rests upon a sharp
point of rock. Only mark this, the stone must not be pushed too far; for,
look! if it came to here,” and he pointed to a mark in the mouth of the
cave, “then that man need be strong who can draw it back again, though I
have done it myself, who am not a man full grown. But if it pass beyond
this mark, then, see, it will roll down the neck of the cave like a
pebble down the neck of a gourd, and I think that two men, one striving
from within and one dragging from without, scarcely could avail to
push it clear. Look now, I close the stone, as is my custom of a night,
so,”--and he grasped the rock and swung it round upon its pivot, on
which it turned as a door turns. “Thus I leave it, and though, except
those to whom the secret is know, none would guess that a cave was here,
yet it can be rolled back again with a push of the hand. But enough of
the stone. Enter again, wanderer, and I will go forward with my tale,
for it is long and strange.

“I started from the kraal of the old woman, and the people of the kraal
followed me to the brink of the river. It was in flood, and few had
dared to cross it.

“‘Ha! ha!’ they cried, ‘now your journey is done, little man; watch by
the ford you who would win the Watcher of the Ford! Beat the water with
the club, perhaps so it shall grow gentle that your feet may pass it!’

“I answered nothing to their mocking, only I bound the shield upon my
shoulders with a string, and the bag that I had brought I made fast
about my middle, and I held the great club in my teeth by the thong.
Then I plunged into the river and swam. Twice, stranger, the current
bore me under, and those on the bank shouted that I was lost; but I rose
again, and in the end I won the farther shore.

“Now those on the bank mocked no more; they stood still wondering, and
I walked on till I came to the foot of the cliff. That cliff is hard to
climb, stranger; when you are strong upon your feet, I will show you the
path. Yet I found a way up it, and by midday I came to the forest. Here,
on the edge of the forest, I rested awhile, and ate a little food that I
had brought with me in the bag, for now I must gather up my strength to
meet the ghosts, if ghosts there were. Then I rose and plunged into the
forest. The trees were great that grow there, stranger, and their leaves
are so think that in certain places the light is as that of night when
the moon is young. Still, I wended on, often losing my path. But from
time to time between the tops of the trees I saw the figure of the grey
stone woman who sits on the top of Ghost Mountain, and shaped my course
towards her knees. My heart beat as I travelled through the forest in
dark and loneliness like that of the night, and ever I looked round
searching for the eyes of the Amatongo. But I saw no spirits, though at
times great spotted snakes crept from before my feet, and perhaps these
were the Amatongo. At times, also, I caught glimpses of some grey wolf
as he slunk from tree to tree watching me, and always high above my head
the wind sighed in the great boughs with a sound like the sighing of
women.

“Still, I went on, singing to myself as I went, that my heart might not
be faint with fear, and at length, towards the end of the second hour,
the trees grew fewer, the ground sloped upwards, and the light poured
down from the heavens again. But, stranger, you are weary, and the night
wears on; sleep now, and to-morrow I will end the tale. Say, first, how
are you named?”

“I am named Umslopogaas, son of Mopo,” he answered, “and my tale shall
be told when yours is done; let us sleep!”

Now when Galazi heard this name he started and was troubled, but said
nothing. So they laid them down to sleep, and Galazi wrapped Umslopogaas
with the skins of bucks.

But Galazi the Wolf was so hardy that he lay on the bare ground and had
no covering. So they slept, and without the door of the cave the wolves
howled, scenting the blood of men.



CHAPTER XIII. GALAZI BECOMES KING OF THE WOLVES

On the morrow Umslopogaas awoke, and knew that strength was growing on
him fast. Still, all that day he rested in the cave, while Galazi
went out to hunt. In the evening he returned, bearing a buck upon his
shoulders, and they skinned the buck and ate of it as they sat by the
fire. And when the sun was down Galazi took up his tale.

“Now Umslopogaas, son of Mopo, hear! I had passed the forest, and had
come, as it were, to the legs of the old stone Witch who sits up aloft
there forever waiting for the world to die. Here the sun shone merrily,
here lizards ran and birds flew to and fro, and though it grew towards
the evening--for I had wandered long in the forest--I was afraid no
more. So I climbed up the steep rock, where little bushes grow like
hair on the arms of a man, till at last I came to the knees of the stone
Witch, which are the space before the cave. I lifted by head over the
brink of the rock and looked, and I tell you, Umslopogaas, my blood ran
cold and my heart turned to water, for there, before the cave, rolled
wolves, many and great. Some slept and growled in their sleep, some
gnawed at the skulls of dead game, some sat up like dogs and their
tongues hung from their grinning jaws. I looked, I saw, and beyond I
discovered the mouth of the cave, where the bones of the boy should be.
But I had no wish to come there, being afraid of the wolves, for now
I knew that these were the ghosts who live upon the mountain. So I
bethought me that I would fly, and turned to go. And, Umslopogaas, even
as I turned, the great club Watcher of the Fords swung round and smote
me on the back with such a blow as a man smites upon a coward. Now
whether this was by chance or whether the Watcher would shame him who
bore it, say you, for I do not know. At the least, shame entered into
me. Should I go back to be mocked by the people of the kraal and by the
old woman? And if I wished to go, should I not be killed by the ghosts
at night in the forest? Nay, it was better to die in the jaws of the
wolves, and at once.

“Thus I thought in my heart; then, tarrying not, lest fear should come
upon me again, I swung up the Watcher, and crying aloud the war-cry of
the Halakazi, I sprang over the brink of the rock and rushed upon the
wolves. They, too, sprang up and stood howling, with bristling hides and
fiery eyes, and the smell of them came into my nostrils. Yet when they
saw it was a man that rushed upon them, they were seized with sudden
fear and fled this way and that, leaping by great bounds from the place
of rock, which is the knees of the stone Witch, so that presently I
stood alone in front of the cave. Now, having conquered the wolf ghosts
and no blow struck, my heart swelled within me, and I walked to the
mouth of the cave proudly, as a cock walks upon a roof, and looked in
through the opening. As it chanced, the sinking sun shone at this hour
full into the cave, so that all its darkness was made red with light.
Then, once more, Umslopogaas, I grew afraid indeed, for I could see the
end of the cave.

“Look now! There is a hole in the wall of the cave, where the firelight
falls below the shadow of the roof, twice the height of a man from the
floor. It is a narrow hole and a high, is it not?--as though one had cut
it with iron, and a man might sit in it, his legs hanging towards the
floor of the cave. Ay, Umslopogaas, a man might sit in it, might he not?
And there a man sat, or that which had been a man. There sat the bones
of a man, and the black skin had withered on his bones, holding them
together, and making him awful to see. His hands were open beside him,
he leaned upon them, and in the right hand was a piece of hide from his
moocha. It was half eaten, Umslopogaas; he had eaten it before he died.
His eyes also were bound round with a band of leather, as though to hide
something from their gaze, one foot was gone, one hung over the edge of
the niche towards the floor, and beneath it on the floor, red with rust,
lay the blade of a broken spear.

“Now come hither, Umslopogaas, place your hand upon the wall of the
cave, just here; it is smooth, is it not?--smooth as the stones on which
women grind their corn. ‘What made it so smooth?’ you ask. I will tell
you.

“When I peered through the door of the cave I saw this: on the floor of
the cave lay a she-wolf panting, as though she had galloped many a
mile; she was great and fierce. Near to her was another wolf--he was
a dog--old and black, bigger than any I have seen, a very father of
wolves, and all his head and flanks were streaked with grey. But this
wolf was on his feet. As I watched he drew back nearly to the mouth of
the cave, then of a sudden he ran forward and bounded high into the air
towards the withered foot of that which hung from the cleft of the rock.
His pads struck upon the rock here where it is smooth, and there for a
second he seemed to cling, while his great jaws closed with a clash but
a spear’s breadth beneath the dead man’s foot. Then he fell back with
a howl of rage, and drew slowly down the cave. Again he ran and leaped,
again the great jaws closed, again he fell down howling. Then the
she-wolf rose, and they sprang together, striving to pull down him who
sat above. But it was all in vain; they could never come nearer than
within a spear’s breadth of the dead man’s foot. And now, Umslopogaas,
you know why the rock is smooth and shines. From month to month and year
to year the wolves had ravened there, seeking to devour the bones of him
who sat above. Night upon night they had leaped thus against the wall of
the cave, but never might their clashing jaws close upon his foot. One
foot they had, indeed, but the other they could not come by.

“Now as I watched, filled with fear and wonder, the she-wolf, her tongue
lolling from her jaws, made so mighty a bound that she almost reached
the hanging foot, and yet not quite. She fell back, and then I saw that
the leap was her last for that time, for she had oversprung herself, and
lay there howling, the black blood flowing from her mouth. The wolf saw
also: he drew near, sniffed at her, then, knowing that she was hurt,
seized her by the throat and worried her. Now all the place was filled
with groans and choking howls, as the wolves rolled over and over
beneath him who sat above, and in the blood-red light of the dying sun
the sight and sounds were so horrid that I trembled like a child.
The she-wolf grew faint, for the fangs of her mate were buried in her
throat. Then I saw that now was the time to smite him, lest when he had
killed her he should kill me also. So I lifted the Watcher and sprang
into the cave, having it in my mind to slay the wolf before he lifted up
his head. But he heard my footsteps, or perhaps my shadow fell upon him.
Loosing his grip, he looked up, this father of wolves; then, making no
sound, he sprang straight at my throat.

“I saw him, and whirling the Watcher aloft, I smote with all my
strength. The blow met him in mid-air; it fell full on his chest and
struck him backwards to the earth. But there he would not say, for,
rising before I could smite again, once more he sprang at me. This time
I leaped aside and struck downwards, and the blow fell upon his right
leg and broke it, so that he could spring no more. Yet he ran at me on
three feet, and, though the club fell on his side, he seized me with his
teeth, biting through that leather bag, which was wound about my middle,
into the flesh behind. Then I yelled with pain and rage, and lifting the
Watcher endways, drove it down with both hands, as a man drives a stake
into the earth, and that with so great a stroke that the skull of the
wolf was shattered like a pot, and he fell dead, dragging me with him.
Presently I sat up on the ground, and, placing the handle of the Watcher
between his jaws, I forced them open, freeing my flesh from the grip
of his teeth. Then I looked at my wounds; they were not deep, for the
leather bag had saved me, yet I feel them to this hour, for there is
poison in the mouth of a wolf. Presently I glanced up, and saw that the
she-wolf had found her feet again, and stood as though unhurt; for this
is the nature of these ghosts, Umslopogaas, that, though they fight
continually, they cannot destroy each other. They may be killed by man
alone, and that hardly. There she stood, and yet she did not look at me
or on her dead mate, but at him who sat above. I saw, and crept softly
behind her, then, lifting the Watcher, I dashed him down with all my
strength. The blow fell on her neck and broke it, so that she rolled
over and at once was dead.

“Now I rested awhile, then went to the mouth of the cave and looked
out. The sun was sinking: all the depth of the forest was black, but the
light still shone on the face of the stone woman who sits forever on the
mountain. Here, then, I must bide this night, for, though the moon shone
white and full in the sky, I dared not wend towards the plains alone
with the wolves and the ghosts. And if I dared not go alone, how much
less should I dare to go bearing with me him who sat in the cleft of
the rock! Nay, here I must bide, so I went out of the cave to the spring
which flows from the rock on the right yonder and washed my wounds and
drank. Then I came back and sat in the mouth of the cave, and watched
the light die away from the face of the world. While it was dying there
was silence, but when it was dead the forest awoke. A wind sprang up
and tossed it till the green of its boughs waved like troubled water on
which the moon shines faintly. From the heart of it, too, came howlings
of ghosts and wolves, that were answered by howls from the rocks
above--hearken, Umslopogaas, such howlings as we hear to-night!

“It was awful here in the mouth of the cave, for I had not yet learned
the secret of the stone, and if I had known it, should I have dared to
close it, leaving myself alone with the dead wolves and him whom
the wolves had struggled to tear down? I walked out yonder on to the
platform and looked up. The moon shone full upon the face of the stone
Witch who sits aloft forever. She seemed to grin at me, and, oh! I grew
afraid, for now I knew that this was a place of dead men, a place where
spirits perch like vultures in a tree, as they sweep round and round
the world. I went back to the cave, and feeling that I must do something
lest I should go mad, I drew to me the carcase of the great dog-wolf
which I had killed, and, taking my knife of iron, I began to skin it by
the light of the moon. For an hour or more I skinned, singing to myself
as I worked, and striving to forget him who sat in the cleft above and
the howlings which ran about the mountains. But ever the moonlight shone
more clearly into the cave: now by it I could see his shape of bone and
skin, ay, and even the bandage about his eyes. Why had he tied it there?
I wondered--perhaps to hide the faces of the fierce wolves as they
sprang upwards to grip him. And always the howlings drew nearer; now
I could see grey forms creeping to and fro in the shadows of the rocky
place before me. Ah! there before me glared two red eyes: a sharp
snout sniffed at the carcase which I skinned. With a yell, I lifted the
Watcher and smote. There came a scream of pain, and something galloped
away into the shadows.

“Now the skin was off. I cast it behind me, and seizing the carcase
dragged it to the edge of the rock and left it. Presently the sound of
howlings drew near again, and I saw the grey shapes creep up one by one.
Now they gathered round the carcase, now they fell upon it and rent it,
fighting horribly till all was finished. Then, licking their red chops,
they slunk back to the forest.

“Did I sleep or did I wake? Nay, I cannot tell. But I know this, that
of a sudden I seemed to look up and see. I saw a light--perchance,
Umslopogaas, it was the light of the moon, shining upon him that sat
aloft at the end of the cave. It was a red light, and he glowed in it
as glows a thing that is rotten. I looked, or seemed to look, and then
I thought that the hanging jaw moved, and from it came a voice that was
harsh and hollow as of one who speaks from an empty belly, through a
withered throat.

“‘Hail, Galazi, child of Siguyana!’ said the voice, ‘Galazi the Wolf!
Say, what dost thou here in the Ghost Mountain, where the stone Witch
sits forever, waiting for the world to die?’

“Then, Umslopogaas, I answered, or seemed to answer, and my voice, too,
sounded strange and hollow:--

“‘Hail, Dead One, who sittest like a vulture on a rock! I do this on the
Ghost Mountain. I come to seek thy bones and bear them to thy mother for
burial.’

“‘Many and many a year have I sat aloft, Galazi,’ answered the voice,
‘watching the ghost-wolves leap and leap to drag me down, till the rock
grew smooth beneath the wearing of their feet. So I sat seven days and
nights, being yet alive, the hungry wolves below, and hunger gnawing at
my heart. So I have sat many and many a year, being dead in the heart
of the old stone Witch, watching the moon and the sun and the stars,
hearkening to the howls of the ghost-wolves as they ravened beneath me,
and learning the wisdom of the old witch who sits above in everlasting
stone. Yet my mother was young and fair when I trod the haunted forest
and climbed the knees of stone. How seems she now, Galazi?’

“‘She is white and wrinkled and very aged,’ I answered. ‘They call
her mad, yet at her bidding I came to seek thee, Dead One, bearing the
Watcher that was thy father’s and shall be mine.’

“‘It shall be thine, Galazi,’ said the voice, ‘for thou alone hast dared
the ghosts to give me sleep and burial. Hearken, thine also shall be the
wisdom of the old witch who sits aloft forever, frozen into everlasting
stone--thine and one other’s. These are not wolves that thou hast seen,
that is no wolf which thou hast slain; nay, they are ghosts--evil ghosts
of men who lived in ages gone, and who must now live till they be slain
by men. And knowest thou how they lived, Galazi, and what was the food
they ate? When the light comes again, Galazi, climb to the breasts of
the stone Witch, and look in the cleft which is between her breasts.
There shalt thou see how these men lived. And now this doom is on them:
they must wander gaunt and hungry in the shape of wolves, haunting that
Ghost Mountain where they once fed, till they are led forth to die at
the hands of men. Because of their devouring hunger they have leapt from
year to year, striving to reach my bones; and he whom thou hast slain
was the king of them, and she at his side was their queen.

“‘Now, Galazi the Wolf, this is the wisdom that I give thee: thou shalt
be king of the ghost-wolves, thou and another, whom a lion shall bring
thee. Gird the black skin upon thy shoulders, and the wolves shall
follow thee; all the three hundred and sixty and three of them that are
left, and let him who shall be brought to thee gird on the skin of grey.
Where ye twain lead them, there shall they raven, bringing you victory
till all are dead. But know this, that there only may they raven where
in life they ravened, seeking for their food. Yet, that was an ill gift
thou tookest from my mother--the gift of the Watcher, for though without
the Watcher thou hadst never slain the king of the ghost-wolves, yet,
bearing the Watcher, thou shalt thyself be slain. Now, on the morrow
carry me back to my mother, so that I may sleep where the ghost-wolves
leap no more. I have spoken, Galazi.’

“Now the Dead One’s voice seemed to grow ever fainter and more hollow
as he spoke, till at the last I could scarcely hear his words, yet I
answered him, asking him this:--

“‘Who is it, then, that the lion shall bring to me to rule with me over
the ghost-wolves, and how is he named?’

“Then the Dead One spoke once more very faintly, yet in the silence of
the place I heard his words:--

“‘He is named Umslopogaas the Slaughterer, son of Chaka, Lion of the
Zulu.”

Now Umslopogaas started up from his place by the fire.

“I am named Umslopogaas,” he said, “but the Slaughterer I am not named,
and I am the son of Mopo, and not the son of Chaka, Lion of the Zulu;
you have dreamed a dream, Galazi, or, if it was no dream, then the Dead
One lied to you.”

“Perchance this was so, Umslopogaas,” answered Galazi the Wolf. “Perhaps
I dreamed, of perhaps the Dead One lied; nevertheless, if he lied in
this matter, in other matters he did not lie, as you shall hear.

“After I had heard these words, or had dreamed that I heard them, I
slept indeed, and when I woke the forest beneath was like the clouds of
mist, but the grey light glinted upon the face of her who sits in stone
above. Now I remembered the dream that I had dreamed, and I would see
if it were all a dream. So I rose, and leaving the cave, found a place
where I might climb up to the breasts and head of the stone Witch. I
climbed, and as I went the rays of the sun lit upon her face, and I
rejoiced to see them. But, when I drew near, the likeness to the face
of a woman faded away, and I saw nothing before me but rugged heaps of
piled-up rock. For this, Umslopogaas, is the way of witches, be they of
stone or flesh--when you draw near to them they change their shape.

“Now I was on the breast of the mountain, and wandered to and fro awhile
between the great heaps of stone. At length I found, as it were, a crack
in the stone thrice as wide as a man can jump, and in length half a
spear’s throw, and near this crack stood great stones blackened by fire,
and beneath them broken pots and a knife of flint. I looked down into
the crack--it was very deep, and green with moss, and tall ferns grew
about in it, for the damp gathered there. There was nothing else. I
had dreamed a lying dream. I turned to go, then found another mind, and
climbed down into the cleft, pushing aside the ferns. Beneath the ferns
was moss; I scraped it away with the Watcher. Presently the iron of the
club struck on something that was yellow and round like a stone, and
from the yellow thing came a hollow sound. I lifted it, Umslopogaas; it
was the skull of a child.

“I dug deeper and scraped away more moss, till presently I saw. Beneath
the moss was nothing but the bones of men--old bones that had lain there
many years; the little ones had rotted, the larger ones remained--some
were yellow, some black, and others still white. They were not broken,
as are those that hyenas and wolves have worried, yet on some of them
I could see the marks of teeth. Then, Umslopogaas, I went back to the
cave, never looking behind me.

“Now when I was come to the cave I did this: I skinned the she-wolf
also. When I had finished the sun was up, and I knew that it was time to
go. But I could not go alone--he who sat aloft in the cleft of the cave
must go with me. I greatly feared to touch him--this Dead One, who had
spoken to me in a dream; yet I must do it. So I brought stones and piled
them up till I could reach him; then I lifted him down, for he was very
light, being but skin and bones. When he was down, I bound the hides of
the wolves about me, then leaving the leather bag, into which he could
not enter, I took the Dead One and placed him on my shoulders as a man
might carry a child, for his legs were fixed somewhat apart, and holding
him by the foot which was left on him, I set out for the kraal. Down the
slope I went as swiftly as I could, for now I knew the way, seeing and
hearing nothing, except once, when there came a rush of wings, and a
great eagle swept down at that which sat upon my shoulders. I shouted,
and the eagle flew away, then I entered the dark of the forest. Here I
must walk softly, lest the head of him I carried should strike against
the boughs and be smitten from him.

“For awhile I went on thus, till I drew near to the heart of the forest.
Then I heard a wolf howl on my right, and from the left came answering
howls, and these, again, were answered by others in front of and behind
me. I walked on boldly, for I dared not stay, guiding myself by the sun,
which from time to time shone down on me redly through the boughs of the
great trees. Now I could see forms grey and black slinking near my path,
sniffing at the air as they went, and now I came to a little open place,
and, behold! all the wolves in the world were gathered together there.
My heart melted, my legs trembled beneath me. On every side were the
brutes, great and hungry. And I stood still, with club aloft, and slowly
they crept up, muttering and growling as they came, till they formed a
deep circle round me. Yet they did not spring on me, only drew nearer
and ever nearer. Presently one sprang, indeed, but not at me; he sprang
at that which sat upon my shoulders. I moved aside, and he missed his
aim, and, coming to the ground again, stood there growling and whining
like a beast afraid. Then I remembered the words of my dream, if dream
it were, how that the Dead One had given me wisdom that I should be king
of the ghost-wolves--I and another whom a lion should bear to me. Was it
not so? If it was not so, how came it that the wolves did not devour me?

“For a moment I stood thinking, then I lifted up my voice and howled
like a wolf, and lo! Umslopogaas, all the wolves howled in answer with a
mighty howling. I stretched out my hand and called to them. They ran to
me, gathering round me as though to devour me. But they did not harm me;
they licked my legs with their red tongues, and fighting to come near
me, pressed themselves against me as does a cat. One, indeed, snatched
at him who sat on my shoulder, but I struck him with the Watcher and he
slunk back like a whipped hound; moreover, the others bit him so that
he yelled. Now I knew that I had no more to fear, for I was king of the
ghost-wolves, so I walked on, and with me came all the great pack of
them. I walked on and on, and they trotted beside me silently, and the
fallen leaves crackled beneath their feet, and the dust rose up about
them, till at length I reached the edge of the forest.

“Now I remembered that I must not be seen thus by men, lest they should
think me a wizard and kill me. Therefore, at the edge of the forest
I halted and made signs to the wolves to go back. At this they howled
piteously, as though in grief, but I called to them that I would come
again and be their king, and it seemed as though their brute hearts
understood my words. Then they all went, still howling, till presently I
was alone.

“And now, Umslopogaas, it is time to sleep; to-morrow night I will end
my tale.”



CHAPTER XIV. THE WOLF-BRETHREN

Now, my father, on the morrow night, once again Umslopogaas and Galazi
the wolf sat by the fire in the mouth of their cave, as we sit to-night,
my father, and Galazi took up his tale.

“I passed on till I came to the river; it was still full, but the water
had run down a little, so that my feet found foothold. I waded into
the river, using the Watcher as a staff, and the stream reached to my
elbows, but no higher. Now one on the farther bank of the river saw that
which sat upon my shoulders, and saw also the wolf’s skin on my head,
and ran to the kraal crying, ‘Here comes one who walks the waters on the
back of a wolf.’

“So it came about that when I drew towards the kraal all the people of
the kraal were gathered together to meet me, except the old woman, who
could not walk so far. But when they saw me coming up the slope of the
hill, and when they knew what it was that sat upon my shoulders, they
were smitten with fear. Yet they did not run, because of their great
wonder, only they walked backward before me, clinging each to each and
saying nothing. I too came on silently, till at length I reached the
kraal, and before its gates sat the old woman basking in the sun of the
afternoon. Presently she looked up and cried:--

“‘What ails you, people of my house, that you walk backwards like men
bewitched, and who is that tall and deathly man who comes toward you?’

“But still they drew on backward, saying no word, the little children
clinging to the women, the women clinging to the men, till they had
passed the old wife and ranged themselves behind her like a regiment of
soldiers. Then they halted against the fence of the kraal. But I came on
to the old woman, and lifted him who sat upon my shoulders, and placed
him on the ground before her, saying, ‘Woman, here is your son; I have
snatched him with much toil from the jaws of the ghosts--and they are
many up yonder--all save one foot, which I could not find. Take him now
and bury him, for I weary of his fellowship.’

“She looked upon that which sat before her. She put out her withered
hand and drew the bandage from his sunken eyes. Then she screamed aloud
a shrill scream, and, flinging her arms about the neck of the Dead One,
she cried: ‘It is my son whom I bore--my very son, whom for twice ten
years and half a ten I have not looked upon. Greeting, my son, greeting!
Now shalt thou find burial, and I with three--ay, I with thee!’

“And once more she cried aloud, standing upon her feet with arms
outstretched. Then of a sudden foam burst from her lips, and she fell
forward upon the body of her son, and was dead.

“Now silence came upon the place again, for all were fearful. At last
one cried: ‘How is this man named who has won the body from the ghosts?’

“‘I am named Galazi,’ I answered.

“‘Nay,’ said he. ‘The Wolf you are named. Look at the wolf’s red hide
upon his head!’

“‘I am named Galazi, and the Wolf you have named me,’ I said again. ‘So
be it: I am named Galazi the Wolf.’

“‘Methinks he is a wolf,’ said he. ‘Look, now, at his teeth, how they
grin! This is no man, my brothers, but a wolf.’

“‘No wolf and no man,’ said another, ‘but a wizard. None but a wizard
could have passed the forest and won the lap of her who sits in stone
forever.’

“‘Yes, yes! he is a wolf--he is a wizard!’ they screamed. ‘Kill him!
Kill the wolf-wizard before he brings the ghosts upon us!’ And they ran
towards me with uplifted spears.

“‘I am a wolf indeed,’ I cried, ‘and I am a wizard indeed, and I will
bring wolves and ghosts upon you ere all is done.’ And I turned and
fled so swiftly that soon they were left behind me. Now as I ran I met
a girl; a basket of mealies was on her head, and she bore a dead kid
in her hand. I rushed at her howling like a wolf, and I snatched the
mealies from her head and the kid from her hand. Then I fled on, and
coming to the river, I crossed it, and for that night I hid myself in
the rocks beyond, eating the mealies and the flesh of the kid.

“On the morrow at dawn I rose and shook the dew from the wolf-hide. Then
I went on into the forest and howled like a wolf. They knew my voice,
the ghost-wolves, and howled in answer from far and near. Then I heard
the pattering of their feet, and they came round me by tens and by
twenties, and fawned upon me. I counted their number; they numbered
three hundred and sixty and three.

“Afterwards, I went on to the cave, and I have lived there in the cave,
Umslopogaas, for nigh upon twelve moons, and I have become a wolf-man.
For with the wolves I hunt and raven, and they know me, and what I bid
them that they do. Stay, Umslopogaas, now you are strong again, and, if
your courage does not fail you, you shall see this very night. Come now,
have you the heart, Umslopogaas?”

Then Umslopogaas rose and laughed aloud. “I am young in years,” he
cried, “and scarcely come to the full strength of men; yet hitherto I
have not turned my back on lion or witch, on wolf or man. Now let us
see this impi of yours--this impi black and grey, that runs on four legs
with fangs for spears!”

“You must first bind on the she-wolf’s hide, Umslopogaas,” quoth Galazi,
“else, before a man could count his fingers twice there would be little
enough left of you. Bind it about the neck and beneath the arms, and see
that the fastenings do not burst, lest it be the worse for you.”

So Umslopogaas took the grey wolf’s hide and bound it on with thongs of
leather, and its teeth gleamed upon his head, and he took a spear in his
hand. Galazi also bound on the hide of the king of the wolves, and they
went out on to the space before the cave. Galazi stood there awhile, and
the moonlight fell upon him, and Umslopogaas saw that his face grew wild
and beastlike, that his eyes shone, and his teeth grinned beneath his
curling lips. He lifted up his head and howled out upon the night.
Thrice Galazi lifted his head and thrice he howled loudly, and yet more
loud. But before ever the echoes had died in the air, from the heights
of the rocks above and the depths of the forest beneath, there came
howlings in answer. Nearer they grew and nearer; now there was a sound
of feet, and a wolf, great and grey, bounded towards them, and after him
many another. They came to Galazi, they sprang upon him, fawning round
him, but he beat them down with the Watcher. Then of a sudden they saw
Umslopogaas, and rushed at him open-mouthed.

“Stand and do not move!” cried Galazi. “Be not afraid!”

“I have always fondled dogs,” answered Umslopogaas, “shall I learn to
fear them now?”

Yet though he spoke boldly, in his heart he was afraid, for this was the
most terrible of all sights. The wolves rushed on him open-mouthed, from
before and from behind, so that in a breath he was well-nigh hidden by
their forms. Yet no fang pierced him, for as they leapt they smelt the
smell of the skin upon him. Then Umslopogaas saw that the wolves leapt
at him no more, but the she-wolves gathered round him who wore the
she-wolf’s skin. They were great and gaunt and hungry, all were
full-grown, there were no little ones, and their number was so many
that he could not count them in the moonlight. Umslopogaas, looking into
their red eyes, felt his heart become as the heart of a wolf, and he,
too, lifted up his head and howled, and the she-wolves howled in answer.

“The pack is gathered; now for the hunt!” cried Galazi. “Make your feet
swift, my brother, for we shall journey far to-night. Ho, Blackfang! ho,
Greysnout! Ho, my people black and grey, away! away!”

He spoke and bounded forward, and with him went Umslopogaas, and after
him streamed the ghost-wolves. They fled down the mountain sides,
leaping from boulder to boulder like bucks. Presently they stood by a
kloof that was thick with trees. Galazi stopped, holding up the Watcher,
and the wolves stopped with him.

“I smell a quarry,” he cried; “in, my people, in!”

Then the wolves plunged silently into the great kloof, but Galazi and
Umslopogaas drew to the foot of it and waited. Presently there came a
sound of breaking boughs, and lo! before them stood a buffalo, a bull
who lowed fiercely and sniffed the air.

“This one will give us a good chase, my brother; see, he is gaunt and
thin! Ah! that meat is tender which my people have hunted to the death!”

As Galazi spoke, the first of the wolves drew from the covert and saw
the buffalo; then, giving tongue, they sprang towards it. The bull
saw also, and dashed down the hill, and after him came Galazi and
Umslopogaas, and with them all their company, and the rocks shook with
the music of their hunting. They rushed down the mountain side, and
it came into the heart of Umslopogaas, that he, too, was a wolf. They
rushed madly, yet his feet were swift as the swiftest; no wolf could
outstrip him, and in him was but one desire--the desire of prey. Now
they neared the borders of the forest, and Galazi shouted. He shouted
to Greysnout and to Blackfang, to Blood and to Deathgrip, and these
four leaped forward from the pack, running so swiftly that their bellies
seemed to touch the ground. They passed about the bull, turning him from
the forest and setting his head up the slope of the mountain. Then the
chase wheeled, the bull leaped and bounded up the mountain side, and
on one flank lay Greysnout and Deathgrip and on the other lay Blood
and Blackfang, while behind came the Wolf-Brethren, and after them the
wolves with lolling tongues. Up the hill they sped, but the feet of
Umslopogaas never wearied, his breath did not fail him. Once more they
drew near the lap of the Grey Witch where the cave was. On rushed the
bull, mad with fear. He ran so swiftly that the wolves were left behind,
since here for a space the ground was level to his feet. Galazi looked
on Umslopogaas at his side, and grinned.

“You do not run so ill, my brother, who have been sick of late. See now
if you can outrun me! Who shall touch the quarry first?”

Now the bull was ahead by two spear-throws. Umslopogaas looked and
grinned back at Galazi. “Good!” he cried, “away!”

They sped forward with a bound, and for awhile it seemed to Umslopogaas
as though they stood side by side, only the bull grew nearer and nearer.
Then he put out his strength and the swiftness of his feet, and lo! when
he looked again he was alone, and the bull was very near. Never were
feet so swift as those of Umslopogaas. Now he reached the bull as he
laboured on. Umslopogaas placed his hands upon the back of the bull and
leaped; he was on him, he sat him as you white men sit a horse. Then he
lifted the spear in his hand, and drove it down between the shoulders
to the spine, and of a sudden the great buffalo staggered, stopped, and
fell dead.

Galazi came up. “Who now is the swiftest, Galazi?” cried Umslopogaas,
“I, or you, or your wolf host?”

“You are the swiftest, Umslopogaas,” said Galazi, gasping for his
breath. “Never did a man run as you run, nor ever shall again.”

Now the wolves streamed up, and would have torn the carcase, but Galazi
beat them back, and they rested awhile. Then Galazi said, “Let us cut
meat from the bull with a spear.”

So they cut meat from the bull, and when they had finished Galazi
motioned to the wolves, and they fell upon the carcase, fighting
furiously. In a little while nothing was left except the larger bones,
and yet each wolf had but a little.

Then they went back to the cave and slept.

Afterwards Umslopogaas told Galazi all his tale, and Galazi asked him if
he would abide with him and be his brother, and rule with him over the
wolf-kind, or seek his father Mopo at the kraal of Chaka.

Umslopogaas said that it was rather in his mind to seek his sister Nada,
for he was weary of the kraal of Chaka, but he thought of Nada day and
night.

“Where, then, is Nada, your sister?” asked Galazi.

“She sleeps in the caves of your people, Galazi; she tarries with the
Halakazi.”

“Stay awhile, Umslopogaas,” cried Galazi; “stay till we are men indeed.
Then we will seek this sister of yours and snatch her from the caves of
the Halakazi.”

Now the desire of this wolf-life had entered into the heart of
Umslopogaas, and he said that it should be so, and on the morrow they
made them blood-brethren, to be one till death, before all the company
of ghost-wolves, and the wolves howled when they smelt the blood of men.
In all things thenceforth these two were equal, and the ghost-wolves
hearkened to the voice of both of them. And on many a moonlight night
they and the wolves hunted together, winning their food. At times they
crossed the river, hunting in the plains, for game was scarce on the
mountain, and the people of the kraal would come out, hearing the mighty
howling, and watch the pack sweep across the veldt, and with them a man
or men. Then they would say that the ghosts were abroad and creep into
their huts shivering with fear. But as yet the Wolf-Brethren and their
pack killed no men, but game only, or, at times, elephants and lions.

Now when Umslopogaas had abode some moons in the Witch Mountain, on a
night he dreamed of Nada, and awakening soft at heart, bethought himself
that he would learn tidings concerning me, his father, Mopo, and what
had befallen me and her whom he deemed his mother, and Nada, his sister,
and his other brethren. So he clothed himself, hiding his nakedness,
and, leaving Galazi, descended to that kraal where the old woman had
dwelt, and there gave it out that he was a young man, a chief’s son from
a far place, who sought a wife. The people of the kraal listened to him,
though they held that his look was fierce and wild, and one asked if
this were Galazi the Wolf, Galazi the Wizard. But another answered that
this was not Galazi, for their eyes had seen him. Umslopogaas said that
he knew nothing of Galazi, and little of wolves, and lo! while he spoke
there came an impi of fifty men and entered the kraal. Umslopogaas
looked at the leaders of the impi and knew them for captains of Chaka.
At first he would have spoken to them, but his Ehlose bade him hold his
peace. So he sat in a corner of the big hut and listened. Presently the
headman of the kraal, who trembled with fear, for he believed that
the impi had been sent to destroy him and all that were his, asked the
captain what was his will.

“A little matter, and a vain,” said the captain. “We are sent by the
king to search for a certain youth, Umslopogaas, the son of Mopo, the
king’s doctor. Mopo gave it out that the youth was killed by a lion near
these mountains, and Chaka would learn if this is true.”

“We know nothing of the youth,” said the headman. “But what would ye
with him?”

“Only this,” answered the captain, “to kill him.”

“That is yet to do,” thought Umslopogaas.

“Who is this Mopo?” asked the headman.

“An evildoer, whose house the king has eaten up--man, woman, and child,”
 answered the captain.



CHAPTER XV. THE DEATH OF THE KING’S SLAYERS

When Umslopogaas heard these words his heart was heavy, and a great
anger burned in his breast, for he thought that I, Mopo, was dead with
the rest of his house, and he loved me. But he said nothing; only,
watching till none were looking, he slipped past the backs of the
captains and won the door of the hut. Soon he was clear of the kraal,
and, running swiftly, crossed the river and came to the Ghost Mountain.
Meanwhile, the captain asked the headman of the kraal if he knew
anything of such a youth as him for whom they sought. The headman told
the captain of Galazi the Wolf, but the captain said that this could not
be the lad, for Galazi had dwelt many moons upon the Ghost Mountain.

“There is another youth,” said the headman; “a stranger, fierce, strong
and tall, with eyes that shine like spears. He is in the hut now; he
sits yonder in the shadow.”

The captain rose and looked into the shadow, but Umslopogaas was gone.

“Now this youth is fled,” said the headman, “and yet none saw him fly!
Perhaps he also is a wizard! Indeed, I have heard that now there are two
of them upon the Ghost Mountain, and that they hunt there at night with
the ghost-wolves, but I do not know if it is true.”

“Now I am minded to kill you,” said the captain in wrath, “because you
have suffered this youth to escape me. Without doubt it is Umslopogaas,
son of Mopo.”

“It is no fault of mine,” said the headmen. “These young men are
wizards, who can pass hither and thither at will. But I say this to you,
captain of the king, if you will go on the Ghost Mountain, you must go
there alone with your soldiers, for none in these parts dare to tread
upon that mountain.”

“Yet I shall dare to-morrow,” said the captain. “We grow brave at the
kraal of Chaka. There men do not fear spears or ghosts or wild beasts or
magic, but they fear the king’s word alone. The sun sets--give us food.
To-morrow we will search the mountain.”

Thus, my father, did this captain speak in his folly,--he who should
never see another sun.

Now Umslopogaas reached the mountain, and when he had passed the
forest--of which he had learned every secret way--the darkness gathered,
and the wolves awoke in the darkness and drew near howling. Umslopogaas
howled in answer, and presently that great wolf Deathgrip came to him.
Umslopogaas saw him and called him by his name; but, behold! the brute
did not know him, and flew at him, growling. Then Umslopogaas remembered
that the she-wolf’s skin was not bound about his shoulders, and
therefore it was that the wolf Deathgrip knew him not. For though in
the daytime, when the wolves slept, he might pass to and fro without the
skin, at night it was not so. He had not brought the skin, because he
dared not wear it in the sight of the men of the kraal, lest they should
know him for one of the Wolf-Brethren, and it had not been his plan
to seek the mountain again that night, but rather on the morrow.
Now Umslopogaas knew that his danger was great indeed. He beat back
Deathgrip with his kerrie, but others were behind him, for the wolves
gathered fast. Then he bounded away towards the cave, for he was so
swift of foot that the wolves could not catch him, though they pressed
him hard, and once the teeth of one of them tore his moocha. Never
before did he run so fast, and in the end he reached the cave and rolled
the rock to, and as he did so the wolves dashed themselves against it.
Then he clad himself in the hide of the she-wolf, and, pushing aside the
stone, came out. And, lo! the eyes of the wolves were opened, and they
knew him for one of the brethren who ruled over them, and slunk away at
his bidding.

Now Umslopogaas sat himself down at the mouth of the cave waiting
for Galazi, and he thought. Presently Galazi came, and in few words
Umslopogaas told him all his tale.

“You have run a great risk, my brother,” said Galazi. “What now?”

“This,” said Umslopogaas: “these people of ours are hungry for the flesh
of men; let us feed them full on the soldiers of Chaka, who sit yonder
at the kraal seeking my life. I would take vengeance for Mopo, my
father, and all my brethren who are dead, and for my mothers, the wives
of Mopo. What say you?”

Galazi laughed aloud. “That will be merry, my brother,” he said. “I
weary of hunting beasts, let us hunt men to-night.”

“Ay, to-night,” said Umslopogaas, nodding. “I long to look upon that
captain as a maid longs for her lover’s kiss. But first let us rest and
eat, for the night is young; then, Galazi, summon our impi.”

So they rested and ate, and afterwards went out armed, and Galazi howled
to the wolves, and they came in tens and twenties till all were gathered
together. Galazi moved among them, shaking the Watcher, as they sat upon
their haunches, and followed him with their fiery eyes.

“We do not hunt game to-night, little people,” he cried, “but men, and
you love the flesh of men.”

Now all the wolves howled as though they understood. Then the pack
divided itself as was its custom, the she-wolves following Umslopogaas,
the dog-wolves following Galazi, and in silence they moved swiftly down
towards the plain. They came to the river and swam it, and there, eight
spear throws away, on the farther side of the river stood the kraal.
Now the Wolf-Brethren took counsel together, and Galazi, with the
dog-wolves, went to the north gate, and Umslopogaas with the she-wolves
to the south gate. They reached them safely and in silence, for at the
bidding of the brethren the wolves ceased from their howlings. The gates
were stopped with thorns, but the brethren pulled out the thorns and
made a passage. As they did this it chanced that certain dogs in the
kraal heard the sound of the stirred boughs, and awakening, caught the
smell of the wolves that were with Umslopogaas, for the wind blew from
that quarter. These dogs ran out barking, and presently they came to the
south gate of the kraal, and flew at Umslopogaas, who pulled away the
thorns. Now when the wolves saw the dogs they could be restrained no
longer, but sprang on them and tore them to fragments, and the sound
of their worrying came to the ears of the soldiers of Chaka and of the
dwellers in the kraal, so that they sprang from sleep, snatching their
arms. And as they came out of the huts they saw in the moonlight a man
wearing a wolf’s hide rushing across the empty cattle kraal, for the
grass was long and the cattle were out at graze, and with him countless
wolves, black and grey. Then they cried aloud in terror, saying that the
ghosts were on them, and turned to flee to the north gate of the kraal.
But, behold! here also they met a man clad in a wolf’s skin only, and
with him countless wolves, black and grey.

Now, some flung themselves to earth screaming in their fear, and some
strove to run away, but the greater part of the soldiers, and with them
many of the men of the kraal, came together in knots, being minded to
die like men at teeth of the ghosts, and that though they shook with
fear. Then Umslopogaas howled aloud, and howled Galazi, and they flung
themselves upon the soldiers and the people of the kraal, and with them
came the wolves. Then a crying and a baying rose up to heaven as the
grey wolves leaped and bit and tore. Little they heeded the spears and
kerries of the soldiers. Some were killed, but the rest did not stay.
Presently the knots of men broke up, and to each man wolves hung by twos
and threes, dragging him to earth. Some few fled, indeed, but the wolves
hunted them by gaze and scent, and pulled them down before they passed
the gates of the kraal.

The Wolf-Brethren also ravened with the rest. Busy was the Watcher, and
many bowed beneath him, and often the spear of Umslopogaas flashed in
the moonlight. It was finished; none were left living in that kraal, and
the wolves growled sullenly as they took their fill, they who had been
hungry for many days. Now the brethren met, and laughed in their wolf
joy, because they had slaughtered those who were sent out to slaughter.
They called to the wolves, bidding them search the huts, and the wolves
entered the huts as dogs enter a thicket, and killed those who lurked
there, or drove them forth to be slain without. Presently a man, great
and tall, sprang from the last of the huts, where he had hidden himself,
and the wolves outside rushed on him to drag him down. But Umslopogaas
beat them back, for he had seen the face of the man: it was that captain
whom Chaka had sent out to kill him. He beat them back, and stalked up
to the captain, saying: “Greeting to you, captain of the king! Now
tell us what is your errand here, beneath the shadow of her who sits
in stone?” And he pointed with his spear to the Grey Witch on the Ghost
Mountain, on which the moon shone bright.

Now the captain had a great heart, though he had hidden from the wolves,
and answered boldly:--

“What is that to you, wizard? Your ghost wolves had made an end of my
errand. Let them make an end of me also.”

“Be not in haste, captain,” said Umslopogaas. “Say, did you not seek a
certain youth, the son of Mopo?”

“That is so,” answered the captain. “I sought one youth, and I have
found many evil spirits.” And he looked at the wolves tearing their
prey, and shuddered.

“Say, captain,” quoth Umslopogaas, drawing back his hood of wolf’s hide
so that the moonlight fell upon his face, “is this the face of that
youth whom you sought?”

“It is the face,” answered the captain, astonished.

“Ay,” laughed Umslopogaas, “it is the face. Fool! I knew your errand and
heard your words, and thus have I answered them.” And he pointed to the
dead. “Now choose, and swiftly. Will you run for your life against my
wolves? Will you do battle for your life against these four?” And he
pointed to Greysnout and to Blackfang, to Blood and to Deathgrip, who
watched him with slavering lips; “or will you stand face to face with
me, and if I am slain, with him who bears the club, and with whom I rule
this people black and grey?”

“I fear ghosts, but of men I have no fear, though they be wizards,”
 answered the captain.

“Good!” cried Umslopogaas, shaking his spear.

Then they rushed together, and that fray was fierce. For presently the
spear of Umslopogaas was broken in the shield of the captain and he was
left weaponless. Now Umslopogaas turned and fled swiftly, bounding over
the dead and the wolves who preyed upon them, and the captain followed
with uplifted spear, and mocked him as he came. Galazi also wondered
that Umslopogaas should fly from a single man. Hither and thither fled
Umslopogaas, and always his eyes were on the earth. Of a sudden, Galazi,
who watched, saw him sweep forward like a bird and stoop to the ground.
Then he wheeled round, and lo! there was an axe in his hand. The captain
rushed at him, and Umslopogaas smote as he rushed, and the blade of the
great spear that was lifted to pierce him fell to the ground hewn from
its haft. Again Umslopogaas smote: the moon-shaped axe sank through the
stout shield deep into the breast beyond. Then the captain threw up his
arms and fell to the earth.

“Ah!” cried Umslopogaas, “you sought a youth to slay him, and have found
an axe to be slain by it! Sleep softly, captain of Chaka.”

Then Umslopogaas spoke to Galazi, saying: “My brother, I will fight no
more with the spear, but with the axe alone; it was to seek an axe that
I ran to and fro like a coward. But this is a poor thing! See, the
haft is split because of the greatness of my stroke! Now this is my
desire--to win that great axe of Jikiza, which is called Groan-Maker, of
which we have heard tell, so that axe and club may stand together in the
fray.”

“That must be for another night,” said Galazi. “We have not done so
ill for once. Now let us search for pots and corn, of which we stand in
need, and then to the mountain before dawn finds us.”

Thus, then, did the Wolf-Brethren bring death on the impi of Chaka, and
this was but the first of many deaths that they wrought with the help
of the wolves. For ever they ravened through the land at night, and,
falling on those they hated, they ate them up, till their name and the
name of the ghost-wolves became terrible in the ears of men, and the
land was swept clean. But they found that the wolves would not go abroad
to worry everywhere. Thus, on a certain night, they set out to fall upon
the kraals of the People of the Axe, where dwelt the chief Jikiza, who
was named the Unconquered, and owned the axe Groan-Maker, but when they
neared the kraal the wolves turned back and fled. Then Galazi remembered
the dream that he had dreamed, in which the Dead One in the cave had
seemed to speak, telling him that there only where the men-eaters had
hunted in the past might the wolves hunt to-day. So they returned home,
but Umslopogaas set himself to find a plan to win the axe.



CHAPTER XVI. UMSLOPOGAAS VENTURES OUT TO WIN THE AXE

Now many moons had gone by since Umslopogaas became a king of the
wolves, and he was a man full grown, a man fierce and tall and keen; a
slayer of men, fleet of foot and of valour unequalled, seeing by night
as well as by day. But he was not yet named the Slaughterer, and not
yet did he hold that iron chieftainess, the axe Groan-Maker. Still, the
desire to win the axe was foremost in his mind, for no woman had entered
there, who when she enters drives out all other desire--ay, my father,
even that of good weapons. At times, indeed, Umslopogaas would lurk in
the reeds by the river looking at the kraal of Jikiza the Unconquered,
and would watch the gates of his kraal, and once as he lurked he saw a
man great, broad and hairy, who bore upon his shoulder a shining axe,
hafted with the horn of a rhinoceros. After that his greed for this axe
entered into Umslopogaas more and more, till at length he scarcely
could sleep for thinking of it, and to Galazi he spoke of little else,
wearying him much with his talk, for Galazi loved silence. But for all
his longing he could find no means to win it.

Now it befell that as Umslopogaas hid one evening in the reeds, watching
the kraal of Jikiza, he saw a maiden straight and fair, whose skin shone
like the copper anklets on her limbs. She walked slowly towards the
reeds where he lay hidden. Nor did she stop at the brink of the reeds;
she entered them and sat herself down within a spear’s length of where
Umslopogaas was seated, and at once began to weep, speaking to herself
as she wept.

“Would that the ghost-wolves might fall on him and all that is his,” she
sobbed, “ay, and on Masilo also! I would hound them on, even if I myself
must next know their fangs. Better to die by the teeth of the wolves
than to be sold to this fat pig of a Masilo. Oh! if I must wed him, I
will give him a knife for the bride’s kiss. Oh! that I were a lady of
the ghost-wolves, there should be a picking of bones in the kraal of
Jikiza before the moon grows young again.”

Umslopogaas heard, and of a sudden reared himself up before the maid,
and he was great and wild to look on, and the she-wolf’s fangs shone
upon his brow.

“The ghost-wolves are at hand, damsel,” he said. “They are ever at hand
for those who need them.”

Now the maid saw him and screamed faintly, then grew silent, wondering
at the greatness and the fierce eyes of the man who spoke to her.

“Who are you?” she asked. “I fear you not, whoever you are.”

“There you are wrong, damsel, for all men fear me, and they have cause
to fear. I am one of the Wolf-Brethren, whose names have been told of;
I am a wizard of the Ghost Mountain. Take heed, now, lest I kill you.
It will be of little avail to call upon your people, for my feet are
fleeter than theirs.”

“I have no wish to call upon my people, Wolf-Man,” she answered. “And
for the rest, I am too young to kill.”

“That is so, maiden,” answered Umslopogaas, looking at her beauty. “What
were the words upon your lips as to Jikiza and a certain Masilo? Were
they not fierce words, such as my heart likes well?”

“It seems that you heard them,” answered the girl. “What need to waste
breath in speaking them again?”

“No need, maiden. Now tell me your story; perhaps I may find a way to
help you.”

“There is little to tell,” she answered. “It is a small tale and a
common. My name is Zinita, and Jikiza the Unconquered is my step-father.
He married my mother, who is dead, but none of his blood is in me. Now
he would give me in marriage to a certain Masilo, a fat man and an old,
whom I hate, because Masilo offers many cattle for me.”

“Is there, then, another whom you would wed, maiden?” asked Umslopogaas.

“There is none,” answered Zinita, looking him in the eyes.

“And is there no path by which you may escape from Masilo?”

“There is only one path, Wolf-Man--by death. If I die, I shall escape;
if Masilo dies, I shall escape; but to little end, for I shall be given
to another; but if Jikiza dies, then it will be well. What of that
wolf-people of yours, are they not hungry, Wolf-Man?”

“I cannot bring them here,” answered Umslopogaas. “Is there no other
way?”

“There is another way,” said Zinita, “if one can be found to try it.”
 And again she looked at him strangely, causing the blood to beat within
him. “Hearken! do you not know how our people are governed? They are
governed by him who holds the axe Groan-Maker. He that can win the axe
in war from the hand of him who holds it, shall be our chief. But if
he who holds the axe dies unconquered, then his son takes his place and
with it the axe. It has been thus, indeed, for four generations, since
he who held Groan-Maker has always been unconquerable. But I have heard
that the great-grandfather of Jikiza won the axe from him who held it
in his day; he won it by fraud. For when the axe had fallen on him
but lightly, he fell over, feigning death. Then the owner of the axe
laughed, and turned to walk away. But the forefather of Jikiza sprang
up behind him and pierced him through with a spear, and thus he became
chief of the People of the Axe. Therefore, it is the custom of Jikiza to
hew off the heads of those whom he kills with the axe.”

“Does he, then, slay many?” asked Umslopogaas.

“Of late years, few indeed,” she said, “for none dare stand against
him--no, not with all to win. For, holding the axe Groan-Maker, he is
unconquerable, and to fight with him is sure death. Fifty-and-one have
tried in all, and before the hut of Jikiza there are piled fifty-and-one
white skulls. And know this, the axe must be won in fight; if it is
stolen or found, it has no virtue--nay, it brings shame and death to him
who holds it.”

“How, then, may a man give battle to Jikiza?” he asked again.

“Thus: Once in every year, on the first day of the new moon of the
summer season, Jikiza holds a meeting of the headmen. Then he must rise
and challenge all or any to come forward and do battle with him to win
the axe and become chief in his place. Now if one comes forward, they go
into the cattle kraal, and there the matter is ended. Afterwards, when
the head is hewn from his foe, Jikiza goes back to the meeting of the
headmen, and they talk as before. All are free to come to the meeting,
and Jikiza must fight with them if they wish it, whoever they be.”

“Perhaps I shall be there,” said Umslopogaas.

“After this meeting at the new moon, I am to be given in marriage to
Masilo,” said the maid. “But should one conquer Jikiza, then he will be
chief, and can give me in marriage to whom he will.”

Now Umslopogaas understood her meaning, and knew that he had found
favour in her sight; and the thought moved him a little, for women were
strange to him as yet.

“If perchance I should be there,” he said, “and if perchance I should
win the iron chieftainess, the axe Groan-Maker, and rule over the
People of the Axe, you should not live far from the shadow of the axe
thenceforward, maid Zinita.”

“It is well, Wolf-Man, though some might not wish to dwell in that
shadow; but first you must win the axe. Many have tried, and all have
failed.”

“Yet one must succeed at last,” he said, “and so, farewell!” and he
leaped into the torrent of the river, and swam it with great strokes.

Now the maid Zinita watched him till he was gone, and love of him
entered into her heart--a love that was fierce and jealous and strong.
But as he wended to the Ghost Mountain Umslopogaas thought rather of axe
Groan-Maker than of Maid Zinita; for ever, at the bottom, Umslopogaas
loved war more than women, though this has been his fate, that women
have brought sorrow on his head.

Fifteen days must pass before the day of the new moon, and during this
time Umslopogaas thought much and said little. Still, he told Galazi
something of the tale, and that he was determined to do battle with
Jikiza the Unconquered for the axe Groan-Maker. Galazi said that he
would do well to let it be, and that it was better to stay with the
wolves than to go out seeking strange weapons. He said also that even
if he won the axe, the matter might not stay there, for he must take the
girl also, and his heart boded no good of women. It had been a girl
who poisoned his father in the kraals of the Halakazi. To all of which
Umslopogaas answered nothing, for his heart was set both on the axe and
the girl, but more on the first than the last.

So the time wore on, and at length came the day of the new moon. At the
dawn of that day Umslopogaas arose and clad himself in a moocha, binding
the she-wolf’s skin round his middle beneath the moocha. In his hand
he took a stout fighting-shield, which he had made of buffalo hide, and
that same light moon-shaped axe with which he had slain the captain of
Chaka.

“A poor weapon with which to kill Jikiza the Unconquerable,” said
Galazi, eyeing it askance.

“It shall serve my turn,” answered Umslopogaas.

Now Umslopogaas ate, and then they moved together slowly down the
mountain and crossed the river by a ford, for he wished to save his
strength. On the farther side of the river Galazi hid himself in the
reeds, because his face was known, and there Umslopogaas bade him
farewell, not knowing if he should look upon him again. Afterwards he
walked up to the Great Place of Jikiza. Now when he reached the gates
of the kraal, he saw that many people were streaming through them, and
mingled with the people. Presently they came to the open space in front
of the huts of Jikiza, and there the headmen were gathered together. In
the centre of them, and before a heap of the skulls of men which were
piled up against his door-posts, sat Jikiza, a huge man, a hairy and a
proud, who glared about him rolling his eyes. Fastened to his arm by a
thong of leather was the great axe Groan-Maker, and each man as he came
up saluted the axe, calling it “Inkosikaas,” or chieftainess, but he did
not salute Jikiza. Umslopogaas sat down with the people in front of the
councillors, and few took any notice of him, except Zinita, who moved
sullenly to and fro bearing gourds of beer to the councillors. Near to
Jikiza, on his right hand, sat a fat man with small and twinkling eyes,
who watched the maid Zinita greedily.

“Yon man,” thought Umslopogaas, “is Masilo. The better for blood-letting
will you be, Masilo.”

Presently Jikiza spoke, rolling his eyes: “This is the matter before
you, councillors. I have settled it in my mind to give my step-daughter
Zinita in marriage to Masilo, but the marriage gift is not yet agreed
on. I demand a hundred head of cattle from Masilo, for the maid is fair
and straight, a proper maid, and, moreover, my daughter, though not
of my blood. But Masilo offers fifty head only, therefore I ask you to
settle it.”

“We hear you, Lord of the Axe,” answered one of the councillors, “but
first, O Unconquered, you must on this day of the year, according to
ancient custom, give public challenge to any man to fight you for the
Groan-Maker and for your place as chief of the People of the Axe.”

“This is a wearisome thing,” grumbled Jikiza. “Can I never have done in
it? Fifty-and-three have I slain in my youth without a wound, and now
for many years I have challenged, like a cock on a dunghill, and none
crow in answer.”

“Ho, now! Is there any man who will come forward and do battle with me,
Jikiza, for the great axe Groan-Maker? To him who can win it, it shall
be, and with it the chieftainship of the People of the Axe.”

Thus he spoke very fast, as a man gabbles a prayer to a spirit in whom
he has little faith, then turned once more to talk of the cattle of
Masilo and of the maid Zinita. But suddenly Umslopogaas stood up,
looking at him over the top of his war shield, and crying, “Here is one,
O Jikiza, who will do battle with you for the axe Groan-Maker and for
the chieftainship that is to him who holds the axe.”

Now, all the people laughed, and Jikiza glared at him.

“Come forth from behind that big shield of yours,” he said. “Come out
and tell me your name and lineage--you who would do battle with the
Unconquered for the ancient axe.”

Then Umslopogaas came forward, and he looked so fierce, though he was
but young, that the people laughed no more.

“What is my name and lineage to you, Jikiza?” he said. “Let it be, and
hasten to do me battle, as you must by the custom, for I am eager to
handle the Groan-Maker and to sit in your seat and settle this matter of
the cattle of Masilo the Pig. When I have killed you I will take a name
who now have none.”

Now once more the people laughed, but Jikiza grew mad with wrath, and
sprang up gasping.

“What!” he said, “you dare to speak thus to me, you babe unweaned, to
me the Unconquered, the holder of the axe! Never did I think to live to
hear such talk from a long-legged pup. On to the cattle kraal, to the
cattle kraal, People of the Axe, that I may hew this braggart’s head
from his shoulders. He would stand in my place, would he?--the place
that I and my fathers have held for four generations by virtue of the
axe. I tell you all, that presently I will stand upon his head, and then
we will settle the matter of Masilo.”

“Babble not so fast, man,” quoth Umslopogaas, “or if you must babble,
speak those words which you would say ere you bid the sun farewell.”

Now, Jikiza choked with rage, and foam came from his lips so that he
could not speak, but the people found this sport--all except Masilo, who
looked askance at the stranger, tall and fierce, and Zinita, who looked
at Masilo, and with no love. So they moved down to the cattle kraal, and
Galazi, seeing it from afar, could keep away no longer, but drew near
and mingled with the crowd.



CHAPTER XVII. UMSLOPOGAAS BECOMES CHIEF OF THE PEOPLE OF THE AXE

Now, when Umslopogaas and Jikiza the Unconquered had come to the cattle
kraal, they were set in its centre and there were ten paces between
them. Umslopogaas was armed with the great shield and the light
moon-shaped axe, Jikiza carried the Groan-Maker and a small dancing
shield, and, looking at the weapons of the two, people thought that the
stranger would furnish no sport to the holder of the axe.

“He is ill-armed,” said an old man, “it should be otherwise--large axe,
small shield. Jikiza is unconquerable, and the big shield will not help
this long-legged stranger when Groan-Maker rattles on the buffalo hide.”
 The old man spoke thus in the hearing of Galazi the Wolf, and Galazi
thought that he spoke wisely, and sorrowed for the fate of his brother.

Now, the word was given, and Jikiza rushed on Umslopogaas, roaring, for
his rage was great. But Umslopogaas did not stir till his foe was about
to strike, then suddenly he leaped aside, and as Jikiza passed he smote
him hard upon the back with the flat of his axe, making a great sound,
for it was not his plan to try and kill Jikiza with this axe. Now,
a shout of laughter went up from the hundreds of the people, and the heart of
Jikiza nearly burst with rage because of the shame of that blow. Round
he came like a bull that is mad, and once more rushed at Umslopogaas,
who lifted his shield to meet him. Then, of a sudden, just when the
great axe leapt on high, Umslopogaas uttered a cry as of fear, and,
turning, fled before the face of Jikiza. Now once more the shout of
laughter went up, while Umslopogaas fled swiftly, and after him rushed
Jikiza, blind with fury. Round and about the kraal sped Umslopogaas,
scarcely a spear’s length ahead of Jikiza, and he ran keeping his
back to the sun as much as might be, that he might watch the shadow of
Jikiza. A second time he sped round, while the people cheered the
chase as hunters cheer a dog which pursues a buck. So cunningly did
Umslopogaas run, that, though he seemed to reel with weakness in such
fashion that men thought his breath was gone, yet he went ever faster
and faster, drawing Jikiza after him.

Now, when Umslopogaas knew by the breathing of his foe and by the
staggering of his shadow that his strength was spent, suddenly he made
as though he were about to fall himself, and stumbled out of the path
far to the right, and as he stumbled he let drop his great shield full
in the way of Jikiza’s feet. Then it came about that Jikiza, rushing
on blindly, caught his feet in the shield and fell headlong to earth.
Umslopogaas saw, and swooped on him like an eagle to a dove. Before men
could so much as think, he had seized the axe Groan-Maker, and with a
blow of the steel he held had severed the thong of leather which bound
it to the wrist of Jikiza, and sprung back, holding the great axe aloft,
and casting down his own weapon upon the ground. Now, the watchers saw
all the cunning of his fight, and those of them who hated Jikiza shouted
aloud. But others were silent.

Slowly Jikiza gathered himself from the ground, wondering if he were
still alive, and as he rose he grasped the little axe of Umslopogaas,
and, looking at it, he wept. But Umslopogaas held up the great
Groan-Maker, the iron chieftainess, and examined its curved points of
blue steel, the gouge that stands behind it, and the beauty of its haft,
bound about with wire of brass, and ending in a knob like the knob of
a stick, as a lover looks upon the beauty of his bride. Then before all
men he kissed the broad blade and cried aloud:--

“Greeting to thee, my Chieftainess, greeting to thee, Wife of my youth,
whom I have won in war. Never shall we part, thou and I, and together
will we die, thou and I, for I am not minded that others should handle
thee when I am gone.”

Thus he cried in the hearing of men, then turned to Jikiza, who stood
weeping, because he had lost all.

“Where now is your pride, O Unconquered?” laughed Umslopogaas. “Fight
on. You are as well armed as I was a while ago, when I did not fear to
stand before you.”

Jikiza looked at him for a moment, then with a curse he hurled the
little axe at him, and, turning, fled swiftly towards the gates of the
cattle kraal.

Umslopogaas stooped, and the little axe sped over him. Then he stood for
a while watching, and the people thought that he meant to let Jikiza go.
But that was not his desire; he waited, indeed, until Jikiza had covered
nearly half the space between him and the gate, then with a roar he
leaped forward, as light leaps from a cloud, and so fast did his feet
fly that the watchers could scarce see them move. Jikiza fled fast also,
yet he seemed but as one who stands still. Now he reached the gate of
the kraal, now there was rush, a light of downward falling steel, and
something swept past him. Then, behold! Jikiza fell in the gateway of
the cattle kraal, and all saw that he was dead, smitten to death by
that mighty axe Groan-Maker, which he and his fathers had held for many
years.

A great shout went up from the crowd of watchers when they knew that
Jikiza the Unconquered was killed at last, and there were many who
hailed Umslopogaas, naming him Chief and Lord of the People of the Axe.
But the sons of Jikiza to the number of ten, great men and brave, rushed
on Umslopogaas to kill him. Umslopogaas ran backwards, lifting up the
Groan-Maker, when certain councillors of the people flung themselves in
between them, crying, “Hold!”

“Is not this your law, ye councillors,” said Umslopogaas, “that, having
conquered the chief of the People of the Axe, I myself am chief?”

“That is our law indeed, stranger,” answered an aged councillor, “but
this also is our law: that now you must do battle, one by one, with
all who come against you. So it was in my father’s time, when the
grandfather of him who now lies dead won the axe, and so it must be
again to-day.”

“I have nothing to say against the rule,” said Umslopogaas. “Now who is
there who will come up against me to do battle for the axe Groan-Maker
and the chieftainship of the People of the Axe?”

Then all the ten sons of Jikiza stepped forward as one man, for their
hearts were made with wrath because of the death of their father and
because the chieftainship had gone from their race, so that in truth
they cared little if they lived or died. But there were none besides
these, for all men feared to stand before Umslopogaas and the
Groan-Maker.

Umslopogaas counted them. “There are ten, by the head of Chaka!” he
cried. “Now if I must fight all these one by one, no time will be left
to me this day to talk of the matter of Masilo and of the maid Zinita.
Hearken! What say you, sons of Jikiza the Conquered? If I find one other
to stand beside me in the fray, and all of you come on at once against
us twain, ten against two, to slay us or be slain, will that be to your
minds?”

The brethren consulted together, and held that so they should be in
better case than if they went up one by one.

“So be it,” they said, and the councillors assented.

Now, as he fled round and round, Umslopogaas had seen the face of
Galazi, his brother, in the throng, and knew that he hungered to share
the fight. So he called aloud that he whom he should choose, and who
would stand back to back with him in the fray, if victory were theirs,
should be the first after him among the People of the Axe, and as he
called, he walked slowly down the line scanning the faces of all, till
he came to where Galazi stood leaning on the Watcher.

“Here is a great fellow who bears a great club,” said Umslopogaas. “How
are you named, fellow?”

“I am named Wolf,” answered Galazi.

“Say, now, Wolf, are you willing to stand back to back with me in this
fray of two against ten? If victory is ours, you shall be next to me
amongst this people.”

“Better I love the wild woods and the mountain’s breast than the kraals
of men and the kiss of wives, Axebearer,” answered Galazi. “Yet, because
you have shown yourself a warrior of might, and to taste again of the
joy of battle, I will stand back to back with you, Axebearer, and see
this matter ended.”

“A bargain, Wolf!” cried Umslopogaas. And they walked side by side--a
mighty pair!--till they came to the centre of the cattle kraal. All
there looked on them wondering, and it came into the thoughts of some
of them that these were none other than the Wolf-Brethren who dwelt upon
the Ghost Mountain.

“Now axe Groan-maker and club Watcher are come together, Galazi,” said
Umslopogaas as they walked, “and I think that few can stand before
them.”

“Some shall find it so,” answered Galazi. “At the least, the fray will
be merry, and what matter how frays end?”

“Ah,” said Umslopogaas, “victory is good, but death ends all and is best
of all.”

Then they spoke of the fashion in which they would fight, and
Umslopogaas looked curiously at the axe he carried, and at the point on
its hammer, balancing it in his hand. When he had looked long, the pair
took their stand back to back in the centre of the kraal, and people saw
that Umslopogaas held the axe in a new fashion, its curved blade being
inwards towards his breast, and the hollow point turned towards the foe.
The ten brethren gathered themselves together, shaking their assegais;
five of them stood before Umslopogaas and five before Galazi the Wolf.
They were all great men, made fierce with rage and shame.

“Now nothing except witchcraft can save these two,” said a councillor to
one who stood by him.

“Yet there is virtue in the axe,” answered the other, “and for the club,
it seems that I know it: I think it is named Watcher of the Fords, and
woe to those who stand before the Watcher. I myself have seen him aloft
when I was young; moreover, these are no cravens who hold the axe and
the club. They are but lads, indeed, yet they have drunk wolf’s milk.”

Meanwhile, an aged man drew near to speak the word of onset; it was that
same man who had set out the law to Umslopogaas. He must give the signal
by throwing up a spear, and when it struck the ground, then the fight
would begin. The old man took the spear and threw it, but his hand was
weak, and he cast so clumsily that it fell among the sons of Jikiza, who
stood before Umslopogaas, causing them to open up to let it pass between
them, and drawing the eyes of all ten of them to it, but Umslopogaas
watched for the touching of the spear only, being careless where it
touched. As the point of it kissed the earth, he said a word, and lo!
Umslopogaas and Galazi, not waiting for the onslaught of the ten, as men
had thought they must, sprang forward, each at the line of foes who were
before him. While the ten still stood confused, for it had been their
plan to attack, the Wolf-Brethren were upon them. Groan-Maker was up,
but as for no great stroke. He did but peck, as a bird pecks with his
bill, and yet a man dropped dead. The Watcher also was up, but he fell
like a falling tree, and was the death of one. Through the lines of the
ten passed the Wolf-Brethren in the gaps that each had made. Then they
turned swiftly and charged towards each other again; again Groan-Maker
pecked, again the Watcher thundered, and lo! once more Umslopogaas stood
back to back unhurt, but before them lay four men dead.

The onslaught and the return were so swift, that men scarcely understood
what had been done; even those of the sons of Jikiza who were left
stared at each other wondering. Then they knew that they were but six,
for four of them were dead. With a shout of rage they rushed upon the
pair from both sides, but in either case one was the most eager, and
outstepped the other two, and thus it came about that time was given
the Wolf-Brethren to strike at him alone, before his fellows were at his
side. He who came at Umslopogaas drove at him with his spear, but he
was not to be caught thus, for he bent his middle sideways, so that the
spear only cut his skin, and as he bent tapped with the point of the axe
at the head of the smiter, dealing death on him.

“Yonder Woodpecker has a bill of steel, and he can use it well,” said
the councillor to him who stood by him.

“This is a Slaughterer indeed,” the man answered, and the people heard
the names. Thenceforth they knew Umslopogaas as the Woodpecker, and as
Bulalio, or the Slaughterer, and by no other names. Now, he who came at
Galazi the Wolf rushed on wildly, holding his spear short. But Galazi
was cunning in war. He took one step forward to meet him, then, swinging
the Watcher backward, he let him fall at the full length of arms and
club. The child of Jikiza lifted his shield to catch the blow, but the
shield was to the Watcher what a leaf is to the wind. Full on its hide
the huge club fell, making a loud sound; the war-shield doubled up like
a raw skin, and he who bore it fell crushed to the earth.

Now for a moment, the four who were left of the sons of Jikiza hovered
round the pair, feinting at them from afar, but never coming within
reach of axe or club. One threw a spear indeed, and though Umslopogaas
leaped aside, and as it sped towards him smote the haft in two with
the blade of Groan-Maker, yet its head flew on, wounding Galazi in the
flank. Then he who had thrown the spear turned to fly, for his hands
were empty, and the others followed swiftly, for the heart was out of
them, and they dared to do battle with these two no more.

Thus the fight was ended, and from its beginning till the finish was not
longer than the time in which men might count a hundred slowly.

“It seems that none are left for us to kill, Galazi,” said Umslopogaas,
laughing aloud. “Ah, that was a cunning fight! Ho! you sons of the
Unconquered, who run so fast, stay your feet. I give you peace; you
shall live to sweep my huts and to plough my fields with the other women
of my kraal. Now, councillors, the fighting is done, so let us to the
chief’s hut, where Masilo waits us,” and he turned and went with Galazi,
and after him followed all the people, wondering and in silence.

When he reached the hut Umslopogaas sat himself down in the place where
Jikiza had sat that morning, and the maid Zinita came to him with a wet
cloth and washed the wound that the spear had made. He thanked her;
then she would have washed Galazi’s wound also, and this was deeper,
but Galazi bade her to let him be roughly, as he would have no woman
meddling with his wounds. For neither then nor at any other time did
Galazi turn to women, but he hated Zinita most of them all.

Then Umslopogaas spoke to Masilo the Pig, who sat before him with a
frightened face, saying, “It seems, O Masilo, that you have sought this
maid Zinita in marriage, and against her will, persecuting her. Now I
had intended to kill you as an offering to her anger, but there has been
enough blood-letting to-day. Yet you shall have a marriage gift to this
girl, whom I myself will take in marriage: you shall give a hundred head
of cattle. Then get you gone from among the People of the Axe, lest a
worse thing befall you, Masilo the Pig.”

So Masilo rose up and went, and his face was green with fear, but he
paid the hundred head of cattle and fled towards the kraal of Chaka.
Zinita watched him go, and she was glad of it, and because the
Slaughterer had named her for his wife.

“I am well rid of Masilo,” she said aloud, in the hearing of Galazi,
“but I had been better pleased to see him dead before me.”

“This woman has a fierce heart,” thought Galazi, “and she will bring no
good to Umslopogaas, my brother.”

Now the councillors and the captains of the People of the Axe konzaed
to him whom they named the Slaughterer, doing homage to him as chief
and holder of the axe, and also they did homage to the axe itself. So
Umslopogaas became chief over this people, and their number was many,
and he grew great and fat in cattle and wives, and none dared to gainsay
him. From time to time, indeed, a man ventured to stand up before him in
fight, but none could conquer him, and in a little while no one sought
to face Groan-Maker when he lifted himself to peck.

Galazi also was great among the people, but dwelt with them little, for
best he loved the wild woods and the mountain’s breast, and often, as of
old, he swept at night across the forest and the plains, and the howling
of the ghost-wolves went with him.

But henceforth Umslopogaas the Slaughterer hunted very rarely with the
wolves at night; he slept at the side of Zinita, and she loved him much
and bore him children.



CHAPTER XVIII. THE CURSE OF BALEKA

Now, my father, my story winds back again as the river bends towards its
source, and I tell of those events which happened at the king’s kraal
of Gibamaxegu, which you white people name Gibbeclack, the kraal that is
called “Pick-out-the-old-men,” for it was there that Chaka murdered all
the aged who were unfit for war.

After I, Mopo, had stood before the king, and he had given me new wives
and fat cattle and a kraal to dwell in, the bones of Unandi, the Great
Mother Elephant, Mother of the Heavens, were gathered together from the
ashes of my huts, and because all could not be found, some of the bones
of my wives were collected also to make up the number. But Chaka never
knew this. When all were brought together, a great pit was dug and the
bones were set out in order in the pit and buried; but not alone, for
round them were placed twelve maidens of the servants of Unandi, and
these maidens were covered over with the earth, and left to die in the
pit by the bones of Unandi, their mistress. Moreover, all those who were
present at the burial were made into a regiment and commanded that they
should dwell by the grave for the space of a year. They were many, my
father, but I was not one of them. Also Chaka gave orders that no crops
should be sown that year, that the milk of the cows should be spilled
upon the ground, and that no woman should give birth to a child for a
full year, and that if any should dare to bear children, then that they
should be slain and their husbands with them. And for a space of some
months these things were done, my father, and great sorrow came upon the
land.

Then for a little while there was quiet, and Chaka went about heavily,
and he wept often, and we who waited on him wept also as we walked, till
at length it came about by use that we could weep without ceasing for
many hours. No angry woman can weep as we wept in those days; it was an
art, my father, for the teaching of which I received many cattle, for
woe to him who had no tears in those days. Then it was also that Chaka
sent out the captain and fifty soldiers to search for Umslopogaas, for,
though he said nothing more to me of this matter, he did not believe all
the tale that I had told him of the death of Umslopogaas in the jaws of
a lion and the tale of those who were with me. How that company fared at
the hands of Umslopogaas and of Galazi the Wolf, and at the fangs of
the people black and grey, I have told you, my father. None of them ever
came back again. In after days it was reported to the king that these
soldiers were missing, never having returned, but he only laughed,
saying that the lion which ate Umslopogaas, son of Mopo, was a fierce
one, and had eaten them also.

At last came the night of the new moon, that dreadful night to be
followed by a more dreadful morrow. I sat in the kraal of Chaka, and he
put his arm about my neck and groaned and wept for his mother, whom he
had murdered, and I groaned also, but I did not weep, because it was
dark, and on the morrow I must weep much in the sight of king and men.
Therefore, I spared my tears, lest they should fail me in my need.

All night long the people drew on from every side towards the kraal,
and, as they came in thousands and tens of thousands, they filled the
night with their cries, till it seemed as though the whole world were
mourning, and loudly. None might cease their crying, and none dared
to drink so much as a cup of water. The daylight came, and Chaka rose,
saying, “Come, let us go forth, Mopo, and look on those who mourn with
us.” So we went out, and after us came men armed with clubs to do the
bidding of the king.

Outside the kraal the people were gathered, and their number was
countless as the leaves upon the trees. On every side the land was black
with them, as at times the veldt is black with game. When they saw the
king they ceased from their howling and sang the war-song, then once
again they howled, and Chaka walked among them weeping. Now, my father,
the sight became dreadful, for, as the sun rose higher the day grew hot,
and utter weariness came upon the people, who were packed together like
herds of cattle, and, though oxen slain in sacrifice lay around, they
might neither eat nor drink. Some fell to the ground, and were trampled
to death, others took too much snuff to make them weep, others stained
their eyes with saliva, others walked to and fro, their tongues hanging
from their jaws, while groans broke from their parched throats.

“Now, Mopo, we shall learn who are the wizards that have brought these
ills upon us,” said the king, “and who are the true-hearted men.”

As we spoke we cam upon a man, a chief of renown. He was named
Zwaumbana, chief of the Amabovus, and with him were his wives and
followers. This man could weep no more; he gasped with thirst and heat.
The king looked at him.

“See, Mopo,” he said, “see that brute who has no tears for my mother who
is dead! Oh, the monster without a heart! Shall such as he live to look
upon the sun, while I and thou must weep, Mopo? Never! never! Take him
away, and all those who are with him! Take them away, the people without
hearts, who do not weep because my mother is dead by witchcraft!”

And Chaka walked on weeping, and I followed also weeping, but the chief
Zwaumbana and those with him were all slain by those who do the bidding
of the king, and the slayers also must weep as they slew. Presently
we came upon another man, who, seeing the king, took snuff secretly to
bring tears to his eyes. But the glance of Chaka was quick, and he noted
it.

“Look at him, Mopo,” he said, “look at the wizard who has no tears,
though my mother is dead by witchcraft. See, he takes snuff to bring
tears to his eyes that are dry with wickedness. Take him away, the
heartless brute! Oh, take him away!”

So this one also was killed, and these were but the first of thousands,
for presently Chaka grew mad with wickedness, with fury, and with the
lust of blood. He walked to and fro, weeping, going now and again into
his hut to drink beer, and I with him, for he said that we who sorrowed
must have food. And ever as he walked he would wave his arm or his
assegai, saying, “Take them away, the heartless brutes, who do not weep
because my mother is dead,” and those who chanced to stand before his
arm were killed, till at length the slayers could slay no more, and
themselves were slain, because their strength had failed them, and they
had no more tears. And I also, I must slay, lest if I slew not I should
myself be slain.

And now, at length, the people also went mad with their thirst and the
fury of their fear. They fell upon each other, killing each other; every
man who had a foe sought him out and killed him. None were spared, the
place was but a shambles; there on that day died full seven thousand
men, and still Chaka walked weeping among them, saying, “Take them away,
the heartless brutes, take them away!” Yet, my father, there was cunning
in his cruelty, for though he destroyed many for sport alone, also he
slew on this day all those whom he hated or whom he feared.

At length the night came down, the sun sank red that day, all the sky
was like blood, and blood was all the earth beneath. Then the killing
ceased, because none had now the strength to kill, and the people lay
panting in heaps upon the ground, the living and the dead together. I
looked at them, and saw that if they were not allowed to eat and drink,
before day dawned again the most of them would be dead, and I spoke to
the king, for I cared little in that hour if I lived or died; even my
hope of vengeance was forgotten in the sickness of my heart.

“A mourning indeed, O King,” I said, “a merry mourning for true-hearted
men, but for wizards a mourning such as they do not love. I think that
thy sorrows are avenged, O King, thy sorrows and mine also.”

“Not so, Mopo,” answered the king, “this is but the beginning; our
mourning was merry to-day, it shall be merrier to-morrow.”

“To-morrow, O King, few will be left to mourn; for the land will be
swept of men.”

“Why, Mopo, son of Makedama? But a few have perished of all the
thousands who are gathered together. Number the people and they will not
be missed.”

“But a few have died beneath the assegai and the kerrie, O King. Yet
hunger and thirst shall finish the spear’s work. The people have neither
eaten nor drunk for a day and a night, and for a day and a night they
have wailed and moaned. Look without, Black One, there they lie in heaps
with the dead. By to-morrow’s light they also will be dead or dying.”

Now, Chaka thought awhile, and he saw that the work would go too far,
leaving him but a small people over whom to rule.

“It is hard, Mopo,” he said, “that thou and I must mourn alone over
our woes while these dogs feast and make merry. Yet, because of the
gentleness of my heart, I will deal gently with them. Go out, son of
Makedama, and bid my children eat and drink if they have the heart, for
this mourning is ended. Scarcely will Unandi, my mother, sleep well,
seeing that so little blood has been shed on her grave--surely her
spirit will haunt my dreams. Yet, because of the gentleness of my
heart, I declare this mourning ended. Let my children eat and drink, if,
indeed, they have the heart.”

“Happy are the people over whom such a king is set,” I said in answer.
Then I went out and told the words of Chaka to the chiefs and captains,
and those of them who had the voice left to them praised the goodness of
the king. But the most gave over sucking the dew from their sticks,
and rushed to the water like cattle that have wandered five days in the
desert, and drank their fill. Some of them were trampled to death in the
water.

Afterwards I slept as I might best; it was not well, my father, for I
knew that Chaka was not yet gutted with slaughter.

On the morrow many of the people went back to their homes, having sought
leave from the king, others drew away the dead to the place of bones,
and yet others were sent out in impis to kill such as had not come to
the mourning of the king. When midday was past, Chaka said that he would
walk, and ordered me and other of his indunas and servants to walk with
him. We went on in silence, the king leaning on my shoulder as on a
stick. “What of thy people, Mopo,” he said at length, “what of the
Langeni tribe? Were they at my mourning? I did not see them.”

Then I answered that I did not know, they had been summoned, but the way
was long and the time short for so many to march so far.

“Dogs should run swiftly when their master calls, Mopo, my servant,”
 said Chaka, and the dreadful light came into his eyes that never shone
in the eyes of any other man. Then I grew sick at heart, my father--ay,
though I loved my people little, and they had driven me away, I grew
sick at heart. Now we had come to a spot where there is a great rift
of black rock, and the name of that rift is U’Donga-lu-ka-Tatiyana. On
either side of this donga the ground slopes steeply down towards its
yawning lips, and from its end a man may see the open country. Here
Chaka sat down at the end of the rift, pondering. Presently he looked up
and saw a vast multitude of men, women, and children, who wound like a
snake across the plain beneath towards the kraal Gibamaxegu.

“I think, Mopo,” said the king, “that by the colour of their shields,
yonder should be the Langeni tribe--thine own people, Mopo.”

“It is my people, O King,” I answered.

Then Chaka sent messengers, running swiftly, and bade them summon the
Langeni people to him where he sat. Other messengers he sent also to the
kraal, whispering in their ears, but what he said I did not know then.

Now, for a while, Chaka watched the long black snake of men winding
towards him across the plain till the messengers met them and the snake
began to climb the slope of the hill.

“How many are these people of thine, Mopo?” asked the king.

“I know not, O Elephant,” I answered, “who have not seen them for many
years. Perhaps they number three full regiments.”

“Nay, more,” said the king; “what thinkest thou, Mopo, would this people
of thine fill the rift behind us?” and he nodded at the gulf of stone.

Now, my father, I trembled in all my flesh, seeing the purpose of Chaka;
but I could find no words to say, for my tongue clave to the roof of my
mouth.

“The people are many,” said Chaka, “yet, Mopo, I bet thee fifty head of
cattle that they will not fill the donga.”

“The king is pleased to jest,” I said.

“Yea, Mopo, I jest; yet as a jest take thou the bet.”

“As the king wills,” I murmured--who could not refuse. Now the people
of my tribe drew near: at their head was an old man, with white hair and
beard, and, looking at him, I knew him for my father, Makedama. When he
came within earshot of the king, he gave him the royal salute of Bayete,
and fell upon his hands and knees, crawling towards him, and konzaed to
the king, praising him as he came. All the thousands of the people also
fell on their hands and knees, and praised the king aloud, and the sound
of their praising was like the sound of a great thunder.

At length Makedama, my father, writhing on his breast like a snake, lay
before the majesty of the king. Chaka bade him rise, and greeted him
kindly; but all the thousands of the people yet lay upon their breasts
beating the dust with their heads.

“Rise, Makedama, my child, father of the people of the Langeni,” said
Chaka, “and tell me why art thou late in coming to my mourning?”

“The way was far, O King,” answered Makedama, my father, who did not
know me. “The way was far and the time short. Moreover, the women and
the children grew weary and footsore, and they are weary in this hour.”

“Speak not of it, Makedama, my child,” said the king. “Surely thy heart
mourned and that of thy people, and soon they shall rest from their
weariness. Say, are they here every one?”

“Every one, O Elephant!--none are wanting. My kraals are desolate, the
cattle wander untended on the hills, birds pick at the unguarded crops.”

“It is well, Makedama, thou faithful servant! Yet thou wouldst mourn
with me an hour--is it not so? Now, hearken! Bid thy people pass to the
right and to the left of me, and stand in all their numbers upon the
slopes of the grass that run down to the lips of the rift.”

So Makedama, my father, bade the people do the bidding of the king, for
neither he nor the indunas saw his purpose, but I, who knew his wicked
heart, I saw it. Then the people filed past to the right and to the
left by hundreds and by thousands, and presently the grass of the slopes
could be seen no more, because of their number. When all had passed,
Chaka spoke again to Makedama, my father, bidding him climb down to the
bottom of the donga, and thence lift up his voice in mourning. The old
man obeyed the king. Slowly, and with much pain, he clambered to the
bottom of the rift and stood there. It was so deep and narrow that the
light scarcely seemed to reach to where he stood, for I could only see
the white of his hair gleaming far down in the shadows.

Then, standing far beneath, he lifted up his voice, and it reached the
thousands of those who clustered upon the slopes. It seemed still and
small, yet it came to them faintly like the voice of one speaking from a
mountain-top in a time of snow:--

“Mourn, children of Makedama!”

And all the thousands of the people--men, women, and children--echoed
his words in a thunder of sound, crying:--

“Mourn, children of Makedama!”

Again he cried:--

“Mourn, people of the Langeni, mourn with the whole world!”

And the thousands answered:--

“Mourn, people of the Langeni, mourn with the whole world!”

A third time came his voice:--

“Mourn, children of Makedama, mourn, people of the Langeni, mourn with
the whole world!

“Howl, ye warriors; weep, ye women; beat your breasts, ye maidens; sob,
ye little children!

“Drink of the water of tears, cover yourselves with the dust of
affliction.

“Mourn, O tribe of the Langeni, because the Mother of the Heavens is no
more.

“Mourn, children of Makedama, because the Spirit of Fruitfulness is no
more.

“Mourn, O ye people, because the Lion of the Zulu is left so desolate.

“Let your tears fall as the rain falls, let your cries be as the cries
of women who bring forth.

“For sorrow is fallen like the rain, the world has conceived and brought
forth death.

“Great darkness is upon us, darkness and the shadow of death.

“The Lion of the Zulu wanders and wanders in desolation, because the
Mother of the Heavens is no more.

“Who shall bring him comfort? There is comfort in the crying of his
children.

“Mourn, people of the Langeni; let the voice of your mourning beat
against the skies and rend them.

“Ou-ai! Ou-ai! Ou-ai!”

Thus sang the old man, my father Makedama, far down in the deeps of the
cleft. He sang it in a still, small voice, but, line after line, his
song was caught up by the thousands who stood on the slopes above,
and thundered to the heavens till the mountains shook with its sound.
Moreover, the noise of their crying opened the bosom of a heavy
rain-cloud that had gathered as they mourned, and the rain fell in
great slow drops, as though the sky also wept, and with the rain came
lightning and the roll of thunder.

Chaka listened, and large tears coursed down his cheeks, whose heart
was easily stirred by the sound of song. Now the rain hissed fiercely,
making as it were a curtain about the thousands of the people; but still
their cry went up through the rain, and the roll of the thunder was lost
in it. Presently there came a hush, and I looked to the right. There,
above the heads of the people, coming over the brow of the hill, were
the plumes of warriors, and in their hands gleamed a hedge of spears.
I looked to the left; there also I saw the plumes of warriors dimly
through the falling rain, and in their hands a hedge of spears. I looked
before me, towards the end of the cleft; there also loomed the plumes of
warriors, and in their hands was a hedge of spears.

Then, from all the people there arose another cry, a cry of terror and
of agony.

“Ah! now they mourn indeed, Mopo,” said Chaka in my ear; “now thy people
mourn from the heart and not with the lips alone.”

As he spoke the multitude of the people on either side of the rift
surged forward like a wave, surged back again, once more surged forward,
then, with a dreadful crying, driven on by the merciless spears of the
soldiers, they began to fall in a torrent of men, women, and children,
far into the black depths below.

* * * * *

My father, forgive me the tears that fall from these blind eyes of mine;
I am very aged, I am but as a little child, and as a little child I
weep. I cannot tell it. At last it was done, and all grew still.

* * * * *

Thus was Makedama buried beneath the bodies of his people; thus was
ended the tribe of the Langeni; as my mother had dreamed, so it came
about; and thus did Chaka take vengeance for that cup of milk which was
refused to him many a year before.

“Thou hast not won thy bet, Mopo,” said the king presently. “See there
is a little space where one more may find room to sleep. Full to the
brim is this corn-chamber with the ears of death, in which no living
grain is left. Yet there is one little space, and is there not one to
fill it? Are all the tribe of the Langeni dead indeed?”

“There is one, O King!” I answered. “I am of the tribe of the Langeni,
let my carcase fill the place.”

“Nay, Mopo, nay! Who then should take the bet? Moreover, I slay thee
not, for it is against my oath. Also, do we not mourn together, thou and
I?”

“There is no other left living of the tribe of the Langeni, O King! The
bet is lost; it shall be paid.”

“I think that there is another,” said Chaka. “There is a sister to thee
and me, Mopo. Ah, see, she comes!”

I looked up, my father, and I saw this: I saw Baleka, my sister, walking
towards us, and on her shoulders was a kaross of wild-cat skins, and
behind her were two soldiers. She walked proudly, holding her head high,
and her step was like the step of a queen. Now she saw the sight of
death, for the dead lay before her like black water in a sunless pool. A
moment she stood shivering, having guessed all, then walked on and stood
before Chaka.

“What is thy will with me, O King?” she said.

“Thou art come in a good hour, sister,” said Chaka, turning his eyes
from hers. “It is thus: Mopo, my servant and thy brother, made a bet
with me, a bet of cattle. It was a little matter that we wagered on--as
to whether the people of the Langeni tribe--thine own tribe, Baleka, my
sister--would fill yonder place, U’Donga-lu-ka-Tatiyana. When they heard
of the bet, my sister, the people of the Langeni hurled themselves into
the rift by thousands, being eager to put the matter to the proof. And
now it seems that thy brother has lost the bet, for there is yet place
for one yonder ere the donga is full. Then, my sister, thy brother Mopo
brought it to my mind that there was still one of the Langeni tribe left
upon the earth, who, should she sleep in that place, would turn the bet
in his favour, and prayed me to send for her. So, my sister, as I would
not take that which I have not won, I have done so, and now do thou go
apart and talk with Mopo, thy brother, alone upon this matter, as once
before thou didst talk when a child was born to thee, my sister!”

Now Baleka took no heed of the words of Chaka which he spoke of me, for
she knew his meaning well. Only she looked him in the eyes and said:--

“Ill shalt thou sleep from this night forth, Chaka, till thou comest to
a land where no sleep is. I have spoken.”

Chaka saw and heard, and of a sudden he quailed, growing afraid in his
heart, and turned his head away.

“Mopo, my brother,” said Baleka, “let us speak together for the last
time; it is the king’s word.”

So I drew apart with Baleka, my sister, and a spear was in my hand.
We stood together alone by the people of the dead and Baleka threw
the corner of the kaross about her brows and spoke to me swiftly from
beneath its shadow.

“What did I say to you a while ago, Mopo? It has come to pass. Swear to
me that you will live on and that this same hand of yours shall taken
vengeance for me.”

“I swear it, my sister.”

“Swear to me that when the vengeance is done you will seek out my son
Umslopogaas if he still lives, and bless him in my name.”

“I swear it, my sister.”

“Fare you well, Mopo! We have always loved each other much, and now all
fades, and it seems to me that once more we are little children playing
about the kraals of the Langeni. So may we play again in another land!
Now, Mopo”--and she looked at me steadily, and with great eyes--“I am
weary. I would join the spirits of my people. I hear them calling in my
ears. It is finished.”

* * * * *

For the rest, I will not tell it to you, my father.



CHAPTER XIX. MASILO COMES TO THE KRAAL DUGUZA

That night the curse of Baleka fell upon Chaka, and he slept ill. So
ill did he sleep that he summoned me to him, bidding me walk abroad with
him. I went, and we walked alone and in silence, Chaka leading the way
and I following after him. Now I saw that his feet led him towards the
U’Donga-lu-ka-Tatiyana, that place where all my people lay dead, and
with them Baleka, my sister. We climbed the slope of the hill slowly,
and came to the mouth of the cleft, to that same spot where Chaka had
stood when the people fell over the lips of the rock like water. Then
there had been noise and crying, now there was silence, for the night
was very still. The moon was full also, and lighted up the dead who lay
near to us, so that I could see them all; yes, I could see even the face
of Baleka, my sister--they had thrown her into the midst of the dead.
Never had it looked so beautiful as in this hour, and yet as I gazed I
grew afraid. Only the far end of the donga was hid in shadow.

“Thou wouldst not have won thy bet now, Mopo, my servant,” said Chaka.
“See, they have sunk together! The donga is not full by the length of a
stabbing-spear.”

I did not answer, but at the sound of the king’s voice jackals stirred
and slunk away.

Presently he spoke again, laughing loudly as he spoke: “Thou shouldst
sleep well this night, my mother, for I have sent many to hush thee to
rest. Ah, people of the Langeni tribe, you forgot, but I remembered! You
forgot how a woman and a boy came to you seeking food and shelter, and
you would give them none--no, not a gourd of milk. What did I promise
you on that day, people of the Langeni tribe? Did I not promise you that
for every drop the gourd I craved would hold I would take the life of a
man? And have I not kept my promise? Do not men lie here more in number
than the drops of water in a gourd, and with them woman and children
countless as the leaves? O people of the Langeni tribe, who refused
me milk when I was little, having grown great, I am avenged upon you!
Having grown great! Ah! who is there so great as I? The earth shakes
beneath my feet; when I speak the people tremble, when I frown they
die--they die in thousands. I have grown great, and great I shall
remain! The land is mine, far as the feet of man can travel the land
is mine, and mine are those who dwell in it. And I shall grow greater
yet--greater, ever greater. Is it thy face, Baleka, that stares upon
me from among the faces of the thousands whom I have slain? Thou didst
promise me that I should sleep ill henceforth. Baleka, I fear thee
not--at the least, thou sleepest sound. Tell me, Baleka--rise from thy
sleep and tell me whom there is that I should fear!”--and suddenly he
ceased the ravings of his pride.

Now, my father, while Chaka the king spoke thus, it came into my mind to
make an end of things and kill him, for my heart was made with rage and
the thirst of vengeance. Already I stood behind him, already the stick
in my hand was lifted to strike out his brains, when I stopped also, for
I saw something. There, in the midst of the dead, I saw an arm stir. It
stirred, it lifted itself, it beckoned towards the shadow which hid the
head of the cleft and the piled-up corpses that lay there, and it seemed
to me that the arm was the arm of Baleka. Perchance it was not her arm,
perchance it was but the arm of one who yet lived among the thousands
of the dead, say you, my father! At the least, the arm rose at her side,
and was ringed with such bracelets as Baleka wore, and it beckoned from
her side, though her cold face changed not at all. Thrice the arm rose,
thrice it stood awhile in air, thrice it beckoned with crooked finger,
as though it summoned something from the depths of the shadow, and from
the multitudes of the dead. Then it fell down, and in the utter silence
I heard its fall and a clank of brazen bracelets. And as it fell there
rose from the shadow a sound of singing, of singing wild and sweet, such
as I had never heard. The words of that song came to me then, my father;
but afterwards they passed from me, and I remember them no more. Only
I know this, that the song was of the making of Things, and of the
beginning and the end of Peoples. It told of how the black folk grew,
and of how the white folk should eat them up, and wherefore they were
and wherefore they should cease to be. It told of Evil and of Good, of
Woman and of Man, and of how these war against each other, and why it
is that they war, and what are the ends of the struggle. It told also of
the people of the Zulu, and it spoke of a place of a Little Hand where
they should conquer, and of a place where a White Hand should prevail
against them, and how they shall melt away beneath the shadow of the
White Hand and be forgotten, passing to a land where things do not die,
but live on forever, the Good with the Good, the Evil with the Evil. It
told of Life and of Death, of Joy and of Sorrow, of Time and of that sea
in which Time is but a floating leaf, and of why all these things are.
Many names also came into the song, and I knew but a few of them, yet my
own was there, and the name of Baleka and the name of Umslopogaas, and
the name of Chaka the Lion. But a little while did the voice sing, yet
all this was in the song--ay, and much more; but the meaning of the song
is gone from me, though I knew it once, and shall know it again when all
is done. The voice in the shadow sang on till the whole place was full
of the sound of its singing, and even the dead seemed to listen. Chaka
heard it and shook with fear, but his ears were deaf to its burden,
though mine were open.

The voice came nearer, and now in the shadow there was a faint glow of
light, like the glow that gathers on the six-days’ dead. Slowly it drew
nearer, through the shadow, and as it came I saw that the shape of the
light was the shape of a woman. Now I could see it well, and I knew the
face of glory. My father, it was the face of the Inkosazana-y-Zulu, the
Queen of Heaven! She came towards us very slowly, gliding down the gulf
that was full of dead, and the path she trod was paved with the dead;
and as she came it seemed to me that shadows rose from the dead,
following her, the Queen of the Dead--thousands upon thousands of them.
And, ah! her glory, my father--the glory of her hair of molten gold--of
her eyes, that were as the noonday sky--the flash of her arms and
breast, that were like the driven snow, when it glows in the sunset. Her
beauty was awful to look on, but I am glad to have lived to see it as it
shone and changed in the shifting robe of light which was her garment.

Now she drew near to us, and Chaka sank upon the earth, huddled up
in fear, hiding his face in his hands; but I was not afraid, my
father--only the wicked need fear to look on the Queen of Heaven. Nay,
I was not afraid: I stood upright and gazed upon her glory face to face.
In her hand she held a little spear hafted with the royal wood: it was
the shadow of the spear that Chaka held in his hand, the same with which
he had slain his mother and wherewith he should himself be slain. Now
she ceased her singing, and stood before the crouching king and before
me, who was behind the king, so that the light of her glory shone upon
us. She lifted the little spear, and with it touched Chaka, son of
Senzangacona, on the brow, giving him to doom. Then she spoke; but,
though Chaka felt the touch, he did not hear the words, that were for my
ears alone.

“Mopo, son of Makedama,” said the low voice, “stay thy hand, the cup of
Chaka is not full. When, for the third time, thou seest me riding down
the storm, then SMITE, Mopo, my child.”

Thus she spoke, and a cloud swept over the face of the moon. When it
passed she was gone, and once more I was alone with Chaka, with the
night and the dead.

Chaka looked up, and his face was grey with the sweat of fear.

“Who was this, Mopo?” he said in a hollow voice.

“This was the Inkosazana of the Heavens, she who watches ever over the
people of our race, O King, and who from time to time is seen of men ere
great things shall befall.”

“I have heard speak of this queen,” said Chaka. “Wherefore came she now,
what was the song she sang, and why did she touch me with a spear?”

“She came, O King, because the dead hand of Baleka summoned her, as thou
sawest. The song she sang was of things too high for me; and why she
touched thee on the forehead with the spear I do not know, O King!
Perchance it was to crown thee chief of a yet greater realm.”

“Yea, perchance to crown me chief of a realm of death.”

“That thou art already, Black One,” I answered, glancing at the silent
multitude before us and the cold shape of Baleka.

Again Chaka shuddered. “Come, let us be going, Mopo,” he said; “now I
have learnt what it is to be afraid.”

“Early or late, Fear is a guest that all must feast, even kings, O
Earth-Shaker!” I answered; and we turned and went homewards in silence.

Now after this night Chaka gave it out that the kraal of Gibamaxegu was
bewitched, and bewitched was the land of the Zulus, because he might
sleep no more in peace, but woke ever crying out with fear, and
muttering the name of Baleka. Therefore, in the end he moved his kraal
far away, and built the great town of Duguza here in Natal.

Look now, my father! There on the plain far away is a place of the white
men--it is called Stanger. There, where is the white man’s town, stood
the great kraal Duguza. I cannot see, for my eyes are dark; but you can
see. Where the gate of the kraal was built there is a house; it is the
place where the white man gives out justice; that is the place of the
gate of the kraal, through which Justice never walked. Behind is another
house, where the white men who have sinned against Him pray to the King
of Heaven for forgiveness; there on that spot have I seen many a one who
had done no wrong pray to a king of men for mercy, but I have never seen
but one who found it. Ou! the words of Chaka have come true: I will tell
them to you presently, my father. The white man holds the land, he goes
to and fro about his business of peace where impis ran forth to kill;
his children laugh and gather flowers where men died in blood by
hundreds; they bathe in the waters of the Imbozamo, where once the
crocodiles were fed daily with human flesh; his young men woo the
maidens where other maids have kissed the assegai. It is changed,
nothing is the same, and of Chaka are left only a grave yonder and a
name of fear.

Now, after Chaka had come to the Duguza kraal, for a while he sat quiet,
then the old thirst of blood came on him, and he sent his impis against
the people of the Pondos, and they destroyed that people, and brought
back their cattle. But the warriors might not rest; again they
were doctored for war, and sent out by tens of thousands to conquer
Sotyangana, chief of the people who live north of the Limpopo. They
went singing, after the king had looked upon them and bidden them return
victorious or not at all. Their number was so great that from the hour
of dawn till the sun was high in the heavens they passed the gates of
the kraal like countless herds of cattle--they the unconquered. Little
did they know that victory smiled on them no more; that they must die
by thousands of hunger and fever in the marshes of the Limpopo, and
that those of them who returned should come with their shields in their
bellies, having devoured their shields because of their ravenous hunger!
But what of them? They were nothing. “Dust” was the name of one of
the great regiments that went out against Sotyangana, and dust they
were--dust to be driven to death by the breath of Chaka, Lion of the
Zulu.

Now few men remained in the kraal Duguza, for nearly all had gone
with the impi, and only women and aged people were left. Dingaan and
Umhlangana, brothers of the king, were there, for Chaka would not suffer
them to depart, fearing lest they should plot against him, and he looked
on them always with an angry eye, so that they trembled for their lives,
though they dared not show their fear lest fate should follow fear. But
I guessed it, and like a snake I wound myself into their secrets, and we
talked together darkly and in hints. But of that presently, my father,
for I must tell of the coming of Masilo, he who would have wed Zinita,
and whom Umslopogaas the Slaughterer had driven out from the kraals of
the People of the Axe.

It was on the day after the impi had left that Masilo came to the kraal
Duguza, craving leave to speak with the king. Chaka sat before his hut,
and with him were Dingaan and Umhlangana, his royal brothers. I was
there also, and certain of the indunas, councillors of the king. Chaka
was weary that morning, for he had slept badly, as now he always did.
Therefore, when one told him that a certain wanderer named Masilo would
speak with him, he did not command that the man should be killed, but
bade them bring him before him. Presently there was a sound of praising,
and I saw a fat man, much worn with travel, who crawled through the dust
towards us giving the sibonga, that is, naming the king by his royal
names. Chaka bade him cease from praising and tell his business. Then
the man sat up and told all that tale which you have heard, my father,
of how a young man, great and strong, came to the place of the People of
the Axe and conquered Jikiza, the holder of the axe, and become chief of
that people, and of how he had taken the cattle of Masilo and driven him
away. Now Chaka knew nothing of this People of the Axe, for the land was
great in those days, my father, and there were many little tribes in it,
living far away, of whom the king had not even heard; so he questioned
Masilo about them, and of the number of their fighting-men, of their
wealth in cattle, of the name of the young man who ruled them, and
especially as to the tribute which they paid to the king.

Masilo answered, saying that the number of their fighting-men was
perhaps the half of a full regiment, that their cattle were many, for
they were rich, that they paid no tribute, and that the name of the
young man was Bulalio the Slaughterer--at the least, he was known by
that name, and he had heard no other.

Then the king grew wroth. “Arise, Masilo,” he said, “and run to this
people, and speak in the ear of the people, and of him who is named the
Slaughterer, saying: ‘There is another Slaughterer, who sits in a kraal
that is named Duguza, and this is his word to you, O People of the Axe,
and to thee, thou who holdest the axe. Rise up with all the people, and
with all the cattle of your people, and come before him who sits in the
kraal Duguza, and lay in his hands the great axe Groan-Maker. Rise up
swiftly and do this bidding, lest ye sit down shortly and for the last
time of all.’” (1)

 (1) The Zulu are buried sitting.

Masilo heard, and said that it should be so, though the way was far, and
he feared greatly to appear before him who was called the Slaughterer,
and who sat twenty days’ journey to the north, beneath the shadow of the
Witch Mountain.

“Begone,” said the king, “and stand before me on the thirtieth day from
now with the answer of this boy with an axe! If thou standest not before
me, then some shall come to seek thee and the boy with an axe also.”

So Masilo turned and fled swiftly to do the bidding of the king, and
Chaka spoke no more of that matter. But I wondered in my heart who this
young man with an axe might be; for I thought that he had dealt with
Jikiza and with the sons of Jikiza as Umslopogaas would have dealt with
them had he come to the years of his manhood. But I also said nothing of
the matter.

Now on this day also there came to me news that my wife Macropha and
my daughter Nada were dead among their people in Swaziland. It was said
that the men of the chief of the Halakazi tribe had fallen on their
kraal and put all in it to the assegai, and among them Macropha and
Nada. I heard the news, but I wept no tear, for, my father, I was so
lost in sorrows that nothing could move me any more.



CHAPTER XX. MOPO BARGAINS WITH THE PRINCES

Eight-and-twenty days went by, my father, and on the nine-and-twentieth
it befell that Chaka, having dreamed a dream in his troubled sleep,
summoned before him certain women of the kraal, to the number of
a hundred or more. Some of these were his women, whom he named his
“sisters,” and some were maidens not yet given in marriage; but all
were young and fair. Now what this dream of Chaka may have been I do not
know, or have forgotten, for in those days he dreamed many dreams, and
all his dreams led to one end, the death of men. He sat in front of his
hut scowling, and I was with him. To the left of him were gathered the
girls and women, and their knees were weak with fear. One by one they
were led before him, and stood before him with bowed heads. Then he
would bid them be of good cheer, and speak softly to them, and in the
end would ask them this question: “Hast thou, my sister, a cat in thy
hut?”

Now, some would say that they had a cat, and some would say that they
had none, and some would stand still and make no answer, being dumb with
fear. But, whatever they said, the end was the same, for the king would
sigh gently and say: “Fare thee well, my sister; it is unfortunate for
thee that there is a cat in thy hut,” or “that there is no cat in thy
hut,” or “that thou canst not tell me whether there be a cat in thy hut
or no.”

Then the woman would be taken by the slayers, dragged without the kraal,
and their end was swift. So it went on for the most part of that day,
till sixty-and-two women and girls had been slaughtered. But at last a
maiden was brought before the king, and to this one her snake had given
a ready wit; for when Chaka asked her whether or no there was a cat in
her hut, she answered, saying that she did not know, “but that there was
a half a cat upon her,” and she pointed to a cat’s-skin which was bound
about her loins.

Then the king laughed, and clapped his hands, saying that at length his
dream was answered; and he killed no more that day nor ever again--save
once only.

That evening my heart was heavy within me, and I cried in my heart,
“How long?”--nor might I rest. So I wandered out from the kraal that was
named Duguza to the great cleft in the mountains yonder, and sat down
upon a rock high up in the cleft, so that I could see the wide lands
rolling to the north and the south, to my right and to my left. Now, the
day was drawing towards the night, and the air was very still, for the
heat was great and a tempest was gathering, as I, who am a Heaven-Herd,
knew well. The sun sank redly, flooding the land with blood; it was as
though all the blood that Chaka had shed flowed about the land which
Chaka ruled. Then from the womb of the night great shapes of cloud rose
up and stood before the sun, and he crowned them with his glory, and in
their hearts the lightning quivered like a blood of fire. The shadow
of their wings fell upon the mountain and the plains, and beneath their
wings was silence. Slowly the sun sank, and the shapes of cloud gathered
together like a host at the word of its captain, and the flicker of the
lightning was as the flash of the spears of a host. I looked, and my
heart grew afraid. The lightning died away, the silence deepened and
deepened till I could hear it, no leaf moved, no bird called, the world
seemed dead--I alone lived in the dead world.

Now, of a sudden, my father, a bright star fell from the height of
heaven and lit upon the crest of the storm, and as it lit the storm
burst. The grey air shivered, a moan ran about the rocks and died away,
then an icy breath burst from the lips of the tempest and rushed across
the earth. It caught the falling star and drove it on towards me, a
rushing globe of fire, and as it came the star grew and took shape, and
the shape it took was the shape of a woman. I knew her now, my father;
while she was yet far off I knew her--the Inkosazana who came as she
had promised, riding down the storm. On she swept, borne forward by
the blast, and oh! she was terrible to see, for her garment was the
lightning, lightnings shone from her wide eyes and lightnings were in
her streaming hair, while in her hand was a spear of fire, and she shook
it as she came. Now she was at the mouth of the pass; before her was
stillness, behind her beat the wings of the storm, the thunder roared,
the rain hissed like snakes; she rushed on past me, and as she passed
she turned her awful eyes upon me, withering me. She was there! she was
gone! but she spoke no word, only shook her flaming spear. Yet it seemed
to me that the storm spoke, that the rocks cried aloud, that the rain
hissed out a word in my ear, and the word was:--

“Smite, Mopo!”

I heard it in my heart, or with my ears, what does it matter? Then I
turned to look; through the rush of the tempest and the reek of the
rain, still I could see her sweeping forward high in air. Now the kraal
Duguza was beneath her feet, and the flaming spear fell from her hand
upon the kraal and fire leaped up in answer.

Then she passed on over the edge of the world, seeking her own place.
Thus, my father, for the third and last time did my eyes see the
Inkosazana-y-Zulu, or mayhap my heart dreamed that I saw her. Soon I
shall see her again, but it will not be here.

For a while I sat there in the cleft, then I rose and fought my way
through the fury of the storm back to the kraal Duguza. As I drew near
the kraal I heard cries of fear coming through the roaring of the wind
and the hiss of the rain. I entered and asked one of the matter, and it
was told me that fire from above had fallen on the hut of the king as he
lay sleeping, and all the roof of the hut was burned away, but that the
rain had put out the fire.

Then I went on till I came to the front of the great hut, and I saw by
the light of the moon, which now shone out in the heavens, that there
before it stood Chaka, shaking with fear, and the water of the rain was
running down him, while he stared at the great hut, of which all the
thatch was burned.

I saluted the king, asking him what evil thing had happened. Seeing me,
he seized me by the arm, and clung to me as, when the slayers are at
hand, a child clings to his father, drawing me after him into a small
hut that was near.

“What evil thing has befallen, O King?” I said again, when light had
been made.

“Little have I known of fear, Mopo,” said Chaka, “yet I am afraid now;
ay, as much afraid as when once on a bygone night the dead hand of
Baleka summoned something that walked upon the faces of the dead.”

“And what fearest thou, O King, who art the lord of all the earth?”

Now Chaka leaned forward and whispered to me: “Hearken, Mopo, I have
dreamed a dream. When the judgment of those witches was done with,
I went and laid me down to sleep while it was yet light, for I can
scarcely sleep at all when darkness has swallowed up the world. My sleep
has gone from me--that sister of thine, Baleka, took my sleep with her
to the place of death. I laid me down and I slept, but a dream arose and
sat by me with a hooded face, and showed me a picture. It seemed to me
that the wall of my hut fell down, and I saw an open place, and in the
centre of the place I lay dead, covered with many wounds, while round my
corpse my brothers Dingaan and Umhlangana stalked in pride like lions.
On the shoulders of Umhlangana was my royal kaross, and there was blood
on the kaross; and in the hand of Dingaan was my royal spear, and there
was blood upon the spear. Then, in the vision of my dream, Mopo, thou
didst draw near, and, lifting thy hand, didst give the royal salute
of Bayete to these brothers of mine, and with thy foot didst spurn the
carcase of me, thy king. Then the hooded Dream pointed upwards and was
gone, and I awoke, and lo! fire burned in the roof of my hut. Thus I
dreamed, Mopo, and now, my servant, say thou, wherefore should I not
slay thee, thou who wouldst serve other kings than I, thou who wouldst
give my royal salute to the princes, my brothers?” and he glared upon me
fiercely.

“As thou wilt, O King!” I answered gently. “Doubtless thy dream was
evil, and yet more evil was the omen of the fire that fell upon thy hut.
And yet--” and I ceased.

“And yet--Mopo, thou faithless servant?”

“And yet, O King, it seems to me in my folly that it were well to strike
the head of the snake and not its tail, for without the tail the head
may live, but not the tail without the head.”

“Thou wouldst say, Mopo, that if these princes die never canst thou or
any other man give them the royal names. Do I hear aright, Mopo?”

“Who am I that I should lift up my voice asking for the blood of
princes?” I answered. “Judge thou, O King!”

Now, Chaka brooded awhile, then he spoke: “Say, Mopo, can it be done
this night?”

“There are but few men in the kraal, O King. All are gone out to war;
and of those few many are the servants of the princes, and perhaps they
might give blow for blow.”

“How then, Mopo?”

“Nay, I know not, O King; yet at the great kraal beyond the river sits
that regiment which is named the Slayers. By midday to-morrow they might
be here, and then--”

“Thou speakest wisely, my child Mopo; it shall be for to-morrow. Go
summon the regiment of the Slayers, and, Mopo, see that thou fail me
not.”

“If I fail thee, O King, then I fail myself, for it seems that my life
hangs on this matter.”

“If all the words that ever passed thy lips are lies, yet is that word
true, Mopo,” said Chaka: “moreover, know this, my servant: if aught
miscarries thou shalt die no common death. Begone!”

“I hear the king,” I answered, and went out.

Now, my father, I knew well that Chaka had doomed me to die, though
first he would use me to destroy the princes. But I feared nothing, for
I knew this also, that the hour of Chaka was come at last.

For a while I sat in my hut pondering, then when all men slept I arose
and crept like a snake by many paths to the hut of Dingaan the prince,
who awaited me on that night. Following the shadow of the hut, I came to
the door and scratched upon it after a certain fashion. Presently it was
opened, and I crawled in, and the door was shut again. Now there was a
little light in the hut, and by its flame I saw the two princes sitting
side by side, wrapped about with blankets which hung before their brows.

“Who is this that comes?” said the Prince Dingaan.

Then I lifted the blanket from my head so that they might see my face,
and they also drew the blankets from their brows. I spoke, saying:
“Hail to you, Princes, who to-morrow shall be dust! Hail to you, sons
of Senzangacona, who to-morrow shall be spirits!” and I pointed towards
them with my withered hand.

Now the princes were troubled, and shook with fear.

“What meanest thou, thou dog, that thou dost speak to us words of such
ill-omen?” said the Prince Dingaan in a low voice.

“Where dost thou point at us with that white and withered hand of thine,
Wizard?” hissed the Prince Umhlangana.

“Have I not told you, O ye Princes!” I whispered, “that ye must strike
or die, and has not your heart failed you? Now hearken! Chaka has
dreamed another dream; now it is Chaka who strikes, and ye are already
dead, ye children of Senzangacona.”

“If the slayers of the king be without the gates, at least thou shalt
die first, thou who hast betrayed us!” quoth the Prince Dingaan, and
drew an assegai from under his kaross.

“First hear the king’s dream, O Prince,” I said; “then, if thou wilt,
kill me, and die. Chaka the king slept and dreamed that he lay dead, and
that one of you, the princes, wore his royal kaross.”

“Who wore the royal kaross?” asked Dingaan, eagerly; and both looked up,
waiting on my words.

“The Prince Umhlangana wore it--in the dream of Chaka--O Dingaan, shoot
of a royal stock!” I answered slowly, taking snuff as I spoke, and
watching the two of them over the edge of my snuff-spoon.

Now Dingaan scowled heavily at Umhlangana; but the face of Umhlangana
was as the morning sky.

“Chaka dreamed this also,” I went on: “that one of you, the princes,
held his royal spear.”

“Who held the royal spear?” asked Umhlangana.

“The Prince Dingaan held it--in the dream of Chaka--O Umhlangana, sprung
from the root of kings!--and it dripped blood.”

Now the face of Umhlangana grew dark as night, but that of Dingaan
brightened like the dawn.

“Chaka dreamed this also: that I, Mopo, your dog, who am not worthy to
be mentioned with such names, came up and gave the royal salute, even
the Bayete.”

“To whom didst thou give the Bayete, O Mopo, son of Makedama?” asked
both of the princes as with one breath, waiting on my words.

“I gave it to both of you, O twin stars of the morning, princes of the
Zulu--in the dream of Chaka I gave it to both of you.”

Now the princes looked this way and that, and were silent, not knowing
what to say, for these princes hated each other, though adversity and
fear had brought them to one bed.

“But what avails it to talk thus, ye lords of the land,” I went on,
“seeing that, both of you, ye are already as dead men, and that vultures
which are hungry to-night to-morrow shall be filled with meat of the
best? Chaka the king is now a Doctor of Dreams, and to clear away such a
dream as this he has a purging medicine.”

Now the brows of these brothers grew black indeed, for they saw that
their fate was on them.

“These are the words of Chaka the king, O ye bulls who lead the herd!
All are doomed, ye twain and I, and many another man who loves us.
In the great kraal beyond the river there sits a regiment: it is
summoned--and then--good-night! Have ye any words to say to those yet
left upon the earth? Perhaps it will be given to me to live a little
while after ye are gone, and I may bring them to their ears.”

“Can we not rise up now and fall upon Chaka?” asked Dingaan.

“It is not possible,” I said; “the king is guarded.”

“Hast thou no plan, Mopo?” groaned Umhlangana. “Methinks thou hast a
plan to save us.”

“And if I have a plan, ye Princes, what shall be my reward? It must be
great, for I am weary of life, and I will not use my wisdom for a little
thing.”

Now both the princes offered me good things, each of them promising more
than the other, as two young men who are rivals promise to the father
of a girl whom both would wed. I listened, saying always that it was not
enough, till in the end both of them swore by their heads, and by the
bones of Senzangacona, their father, and by many other things, that I
should be the first man in the land, after them, its kings, and should
command the impis of the land, if I would but show them a way to kill
Chaka and become kings. Then, when they had done swearing, I spoke,
weighing my words:--

“In the great kraal beyond the river, O ye Princes, there sit, not one
regiment but two. One is named the Slayers and loves Chaka the king, who
has done well by them, giving them cattle and wives. The other is named
the Bees, and that regiment is hungry and longs for cattle and girls;
moreover, of that regiment the Prince Umhlangana is the general, and
it loves him. Now this is my plan--to summon the Bees in the name
of Umhlangana, not the Slayers in the name of Chaka. Bend forward, O
Princes, that I may whisper in your ears.”

So they bent forward, and I whispered awhile of the death of a king, and
the sons of Senzangacona nodded their heads as one man in answer. Then I
rose up, and crept from the hut as I had entered it, and rousing certain
trusty messengers, I dispatched them, running swiftly through the night.



CHAPTER XXI. THE DEATH OF CHAKA

Now, on the morrow, two hours before midday, Chaka came from the
hut where he had sat through the night, and moved to a little kraal
surrounded by a fence that was some fifty paces distant from the hut.
For it was my duty, day by day, to choose that place where the king
should sit to hear the counsel of his indunas, and give judgment on
those whom he would kill, and to-day I had chosen this place. Chaka went
alone from his hut to the kraal, and, for my own reasons, I accompanied
him, walking after him. As we went the king glanced back at me over his
shoulder, and said in a low voice:--

“Is all prepared, Mopo?”

“All is prepared, Black One,” I answered. “The regiment of the Slayers
will be here by noon.”

“Where are the princes, Mopo?” asked the king again.

“The princes sit with their wives in the houses of their women, O King,”
 I answered; “they drink beer and sleep in the laps of their wives.”

Chaka smiled grimly, “For the last time, Mopo!”

“For the last time, O King.”

We came to the kraal, and Chaka sat down in the shade of the reed fence,
upon an ox-hide that was brayed soft. Near to him stood a girl holding a
gourd of beer; there were also present the old chief Inguazonca, brother
of Unandi, Mother of the Heavens, and the chief Umxamama, whom Chaka
loved. When we had sat a little while in the kraal, certain men came
in bearing cranes’ feathers, which the king had sent them to gather a
month’s journey from the kraal Duguza, and they were admitted before
the king. These men had been away long upon their errand, and Chaka
was angry with them. Now the leader of the men was an old captain of
Chaka’s, who had fought under him in many battles, but whose service was
done, because his right hand had been shorn away by the blow of an axe.
He was a great man and very brave.

Chaka asked the man why he had been so long in finding the feathers,
and he answered that the birds had flown from that part of the country
whither he was sent, and he must wait there till they returned, that he
might snare them.

“Thou shouldst have followed the cranes, yes, if they flew through the
sunset, thou disobedient dog!” said the king. “Let him be taken away,
and all those who were with him.”

Now some of the men prayed a little for mercy, but the captain did but
salute the king, calling him “Father,” and craving a boon before he
died.

“What wouldst thou?” asked Chaka.

“My father,” said the man, “I would ask thee two things. I have fought
many times at thy side in battle while we both were young; nor did I
ever turn my back upon the foe. The blow that shore the hand from off
this arm was aimed at thy head, O King; I stayed it with my naked arm.
It is nothing; at thy will I live, and at thy will I die. Who am I that
I should question the word of the king? Yet I would ask this, that thou
wilt withdraw the kaross from about thee, O King, that for the last time
my eyes may feast themselves upon the body of him whom, above all men, I
love.”

“Thou art long-winded,” said the king, “what more?”

“This, my father, that I may bid farewell to my son; he is a little
child, so high, O King,” and he held his hand above his knee.

“Thy first boon is granted,” said the king, slipping the kaross from his
shoulders and showing the great breast beneath. “For the second it shall
be granted also, for I will not willingly divide the father and the son.
Bring the boy here; thou shalt bid him farewell, then thou shalt slay
him with thine own hand ere thou thyself art slain; it will be good
sport to see.”

Now the man turned grey beneath the blackness of his skin, and trembled
a little as he murmured, “The king’s will is the will of his servant;
let the child be brought.”

But I looked at Chaka and saw that the tears were running down his face,
and that he only spoke thus to try the captain who loved him to the
last.

“Let the man go,” said the king, “him and those with him.”

So they went glad at heart, and praising the king.

I have told you this, my father, though it has not to do with my story,
because then, and then only, did I ever see Chaka show mercy to one whom
he had doomed to die.

As the captain and his people left the gate of the kraal, it was spoken
in the ear of the king that a man sought audience with him. He was
admitted crawling on his knees. I looked and saw that this was that
Masilo whom Chaka had charged with a message to him who was named
Bulalio, or the Slaughterer, and who ruled over the People of the Axe.
It was Masilo indeed, but he was no longer fat, for much travel had made
him thin; moreover, on his back were the marks of rods, as yet scarcely
healed over.

“Who art thou?” said Chaka.

“I am Masilo, of the People of the Axe, to whom command was given to run
with a message to Bulalio the Slaughterer, their chief, and to return
on the thirtieth day. Behold, O King, I have returned, though in a sorry
plight!”

“It seems so!” said the king, laughing aloud. “I remember now: speak on,
Masilo the Thin, who wast Masilo the Fat; what of this Slaughterer? Does
he come with his people to lay the axe Groan-Maker in my hands?”

“Nay, O King, he comes not. He met me with scorn, and with scorn
he drove me from his kraal. Moreover, as I went I was seized by the
servants of Zinita, she whom I wooed, but who is now the wife of the
Slaughterer, and laid on my face upon the ground and beaten cruelly
while Zinita numbered the strokes.”

“Hah!” said the king. “And what were the words of this puppy?”

“These were his words, O King: ‘Bulalio the Slaughterer, who sits
beneath the shadow of the Witch Mountain, to Bulalio the Slaughterer who
sits in the kraal Duguza--To thee I pay no tribute; if thou wouldst
have the axe Groan-Maker, come to the Ghost Mountain and take it. This
I promise thee: thou shalt look on a face thou knowest, for there is one
there who would be avenged for the blood of a certain Mopo.’”

Now, while Masilo told this tale I had seen two things--first, that a
little piece of stick was thrust through the straw of the fence, and,
secondly, that the regiment of the Bees was swarming on the slope
opposite to the kraal in obedience to the summons I had sent them in
the name of Umhlangana. The stick told me that the princes were hidden
behind the fence waiting the signal, and the coming of the regiment that
it was time to do the deed.

When Masilo had spoken Chaka sprang up in fury. His eyes rolled, his
face worked, foam flew from his lips, for such words as these had never
offended his ears since he was king, and Masilo knew him little, else he
had not dared to utter them.

For a while he gasped, shaking his small spear, for at first he could
not speak. At length he found words:--

“The dog,” he hissed, “the dog who dares thus to spit in my face!
Hearken all! As with my last breath I command that this Slaughterer
be torn limb from limb, he and all his tribe! And thou, thou darest to
bring me this talk from a skunk of the mountains. And thou, too, Mopo,
thy name is named in it. Well, of thee presently. Ho! Umxamama, my
servant, slay me this slave of a messenger, beat out his brains with thy
stick. Swift! swift!”

Now, the old chief Umxamama sprang up to do the king’s bidding, but he
was feeble with age, and the end of it was that Masilo, being mad with
fear, killed Umxamama, not Umxamama Masilo. Then Inguazonca, brother of
Unandi, Mother of the Heavens, fell upon Masilo and ended him, but was
hurt himself in so doing. Now I looked at Chaka, who stood shaking the
little red spear, and thought swiftly, for the hour had come.

“Help!” I cried, “one is slaying the King!”

As I spoke the reed fence burst asunder, and through it plunged the
princes Umhlangana and Dingaan, as bulls plunge through a brake.

Then I pointed to Chaka with my withered hand, saying, “Behold your
king!”

Now, from beneath the shelter of his kaross, each Prince drew out a
short stabbing spear, and plunged it into the body of Chaka the king.
Umhlangana smote him on the left shoulder, Dingaan struck him in the
right side. Chaka dropped the little spear handled with the red wood and
looked round, and so royally that the princes, his brothers, grew afraid
and shrank away from him.

Twice he looked on each; then he spoke, saying: “What! do you slay me,
my brothers--dogs of mine own house, whom I have fed? Do you slay me,
thinking to possess the land and to rule it? I tell you it shall not
be for long. I hear a sound of running feet--the feet of a great white
people. They shall stamp you flat, children of my father! They shall
rule the land that I have won, and you and your people shall be their
slaves!”

Thus Chaka spoke while the blood ran down him to the ground, and again
he looked on them royally, like a buck at gaze.

“Make an end, O ye who would be kings!” I cried; but their hearts had
turned to water and they could not. Then I, Mopo, sprang forward and
picked from the ground that little assegai handled with the royal
wood--the same assegai with which Chaka had murdered Unandi, his mother,
and Moosa, my son, and lifted it on high, and while I lifted it, my
father, once more, as when I was young, a red veil seemed to wave before
my eyes.

“Wherefore wouldst thou kill me, Mopo?” said the king.

“For the sake of Baleka, my sister, to whom I swore the deed, and of all
my kin,” I cried, and plunged the spear through him. He sank down upon
the tanned ox-hide, and lay there dying. Once more he spoke, and once
only, saying: “Would now that I had hearkened to the voice of Nobela,
who warned me against thee, thou dog!”

Then he was silent for ever. But I knelt over him and called in his ear
the names of all those of my blood who had died at his hands--the names
of Makedama, my father, of my mother, of Anadi my wife, of Moosa my son,
and all my other wives and children, and of Baleka my sister. His eyes
and ears were open, and I think, my father, that he saw and understood;
I think also that the hate upon my face as I shook my withered hand
before him was more fearful to him that the pain of death. At the least,
he turned his head aside, shut his eyes, and groaned. Presently they
opened again, and he was dead.

Thus then, my father, did Chaka the King, the greatest man who has ever
lived in Zululand, and the most evil, pass by my hand to those kraals
of the Inkosazana where no sleep is. In blood he died as he had lived in
blood, for the climber at last falls with the tree, and in the end the
swimmer is borne away by the stream. Now he trod that path which had
been beaten flat for him by the feet of people whom he had slaughtered,
many as the blades of grass upon a mountain-side; but it is a lie to
say, as some do, that he died a coward, praying for mercy. Chaka died,
as he had lived, a brave man. Ou! my father, I know it, for these eyes
saw it and this hand let out his life.

Now he was dead and the regiment of the Bees drew near, nor could I know
how they would take this matter, for, though the Prince Umhlangana was
their general, yet all the soldiers loved the king, because he had no
equal in battle, and when he gave he gave with an open hand. I looked
round; the princes stood like men amazed; the girl had fled; the
chief Umxamama was dead at the hands of dead Masilo; and the old chief
Inguazonca, who had killed Masilo, stood by, hurt and wondering; there
were no others in the kraal.

“Awake, ye kings,” I cried to the brothers, “the impi is at the gates!
Swift, now stab that man!”--and I pointed to the old chief--“and leave
the matter to my wit.”

Then Dingaan roused himself, and springing upon Inguazonca, the brother
of Unandi, smote him a great blow with his spear, so that he sank down
dead without a word. Then again the princes stood silent and amazed.

“This one will tell no tales,” I cried, pointing at the fallen chief.

Now a rumour of the slaying had got abroad among the women, who had
heard cries and seen the flashing of spears above the fence, and from
the women it had come to the regiment of the Bees, who advanced to the
gates of the kraal singing. Then of a sudden they ceased their singing
and rushed towards the hut in front of which we stood.

Then I ran to meet them, uttering cries of woe, holding in my hand the
little assegai of the king red with the king’s blood, and spoke with the
captains in the gate, saying:--

“Lament, ye captains and ye soldiers, weep and lament, for your father
is no more! He who nursed you is no more! The king is dead! now earth
and heaven will come together, for the king is dead!”

“How so, Mopo?” cried the leader of the Bees. “How is our father dead?”

“He is dead by the hand of a wicked wanderer named Masilo, who, when
he was doomed to die by the king, snatched this assegai from the king’s
hand and stabbed him; and afterwards, before he could be cut down
himself by us three, the princes and myself, he killed the chiefs
Inguazonca and Umxamama also. Draw near and look on him who was the
king; it is the command of Dingaan and Umhlangana, the kings, that you
draw near and look on him who was the king, that his death at the hand
of Masilo may be told through all the land.”

“You are better at making of kings, Mopo, than at the saving of one who
was your king from the stroke of a wanderer,” said the leader of the
Bees, looking at me doubtfully.

But his words passed unheeded, for some of the captains went forward to
look on the Great One who was dead, and some, together with most of
the soldiers, ran this way and that, crying in their fear that now the
heaven and earth would come together, and the race of man would cease to
be, because Chaka, the king, was dead.

Now, my father, how shall I, whose days are few, tell you of all the
matters that happened after the dead of Chaka? Were I to speak of them
all they would fill many books of the white men, and, perhaps, some of
them are written down there. For this reason it is, that I may be brief,
I have only spoken of a few of those events which befell in the reign of
Chaka; for my tale is not of the reign of Chaka, but of the lives of a
handful of people who lived in those days, and of whom I and Umslopogaas
alone are left alive--if, indeed, Umslopogaas, the son of Chaka, is
still living on the earth. Therefore, in a few words I will pass over
all that came about after the fall of Chaka and till I was sent down by
Dingaan, the king, to summon him to surrender to the king who was called
the Slaughterer and who ruled the People of the Axe. Ah! would that I
had known for certain that this was none other than Umslopogaas, for
then had Dingaan gone the way that Chaka went and which Umhlangana
followed, and Umslopogaas ruled the people of the Zulus as their king.
But, alas! my wisdom failed me. I paid no heed to the voice of my heart
which told me that this was Umslopogaas who sent the message to Chaka
threatening vengeance for one Mopo, and I knew nothing till too late;
surely, I thought, the man spoke of some other Mopo. For thus, my
father, does destiny make fools of us men. We think that we can shape
our fate, but it is fate that shapes us, and nothing befalls except fate
will it. All things are a great pattern, my father, drawn by the hand of
the Umkulunkulu upon the cup whence he drinks the water of his wisdom;
and our lives, and what we do, and what we do not do, are but a little
bit of the pattern, which is so big that only the eyes of Him who is
above, the Umkulunkulu, can see it all. Even Chaka, the slayer of men,
and all those he slew, are but as a tiny grain of dust in the greatness
of that pattern. How, then, can we be wise, my father, who are but the
tools of wisdom? how can we build who are but pebbles in a wall? how can
we give life who are babes in the womb of fate? or how can we slay who
are but spears in the hands of the slayer?

This came about, my father. Matters were made straight in the land after
the death of Chaka. At first people said that Masilo, the stranger, had
stabbed the king; then it was known that Mopo, the wise man, the doctor
and the body-servant of the king, had slain the king, and that the
two great bulls, his brothers Umhlangana and Dingaan, children of
Senzangacona, had also lifted spears against him. But he was dead, and
earth and heaven had not come together, so what did it matter? Moreover,
the two new kings promised to deal gently with the people, and to
lighten the heavy yoke of Chaka, and men in a bad case are always ready
to hope for a better. So it came about that the only enemies the
princes found were each other and Engwade, the son of Unandi, Chaka’s
half-brother. But I, Mopo, who was now the first man in the land after
the kings, ceasing to be a doctor and becoming a general, went up
against Engwade with the regiment of the Bees and the regiment of the
Slayers and smote him in his kraals. It was a hard fight, but in the end
I destroyed him and all his people: Engwade killed eight men with his
own hand before I slew him. Then I came back to the kraal with the few
that were left alive of the two regiments.

After that the two kings quarrelled more and more, and I weighed them
both in my balance, for I would know which was the most favourable to
me. In the end I found that both feared me, but that Umhlangana would
certainly put me to death if he gained the upper hand, whereas this
was not yet in the mind of Dingaan. So I pressed down the balance of
Umhlangana and raised that of Dingaan, sending the fears of Umhlangana
to sleep till I could cause his hut to be surrounded. Then Umhlangana
followed upon the road of Chaka his brother, the road of the assegai;
and Dingaan ruled alone for awhile. Such are the things that befall
princes of this earth, my father. See, I am but a little man, and my lot
is humble at the last, yet I have brought about the death of three of
them, and of these two died by my hand.

It was fourteen days after the passing away of the Prince Umhlangana
that the great army came back in a sorry plight from the marshes of the
Limpopo, for half of them were left dead of fever and the might of the
foe, and the rest were starving. It was well for them who yet lived that
Chaka was no more, else they had joined their brethren who were dead
on the way; since never before for many years had a Zulu impi returned
unvictorious and without a single head of cattle. Thus it came about
that they were glad enough to welcome a king who spared their lives, and
thenceforth, till his fate found him, Dingaan reigned unquestioned.

Now, Dingaan was a prince of the blood of Chaka indeed; for, like Chaka,
he was great in presence and cruel at heart, but he had not the might
and the mind of Chaka. Moreover, he was treacherous and a liar, and
these Chaka was not. Also, he loved women much, and spent with them the
time that he should have given to matters of the State. Yet he reigned
awhile in the land. I must tell this also; that Dingaan would have
killed Panda, his half-brother, so that the house of Senzangacona, his
father, might be swept out clean. Now Panda was a man of gentle
heart, who did not love war, and therefore it was thought that he
was half-witted; and, because I loved Panda, when the question of his
slaying came on, I and the chief Mapita spoke against it, and pleaded
for him, saying that there was nothing to be feared at his hands who
was a fool. So in the end Dingaan gave way, saying, “Well, you ask me to
spare this dog, and I will spare him, but one day he will bite me.”

So Panda was made governor of the king’s cattle. Yet in the end the
words of Dingaan came true, for it was the grip of Panda’s teeth that
pulled him from the throne; only, if Panda was the dog that bit, I,
Mopo, was the man who set him on the hunt.



CHAPTER XXII. MOPO GOES TO SEEK THE SLAUGHTERER

Now Dingaan, deserting the kraal Duguza, moved back to Zululand,
and built a great kraal by the Mahlabatine, which he named
“Umgugundhlovu”--that is, “the rumbling of the elephant.” Also, he
caused all the fairest girls in the land to be sought out as his wives,
and though many were found yet he craved for more. And at this time
a rumour came to the ears of the King Dingaan that there lived in
Swaziland among the Halakazi tribe a girl of the most wonderful beauty,
who was named the Lily, and whose skin was whiter than are the skins of
our people, and he desired greatly to have this girl to wife. So Dingaan
sent an embassy to the chief of the Halakazi, demanding that the girl
should be given to him. At the end of a month the embassy returned
again, and told the king that they had found nothing but hard words at
the kraal of the Halakazi, and had been driven thence with scorn and
blows.

This was the message of the chief of the Halakazi to Dingaan, king of
the Zulus: That the maid who was named the Lily, was, indeed, the wonder
of the earth, and as yet unwed; for she had found no man upon whom she
looked with favour, and she was held in such love by this people that it
was not their wish to force any husband on her. Moreover, the chief said
that he and his people defied Dingaan and the Zulus, as their fathers
had defied Chaka before him, and spat upon his name, and that no maid of
theirs should go to be the wife of a Zulu dog.

Then the chief of the Halakazi caused the maid who was named the Lily to
be led before the messengers of Dingaan, and they found her wonderfully
fair, for so they said: she was tall as a reed, and her grace was the
grace of a reed that is shaken in the wind. Moreover, her hair curled,
and hung upon her shoulders, her eyes were large and brown, and soft as
a buck’s, her colour was the colour of rich cream, her smile was like a
ripple on the waters, and when she spoke her voice was low and sweeter
than the sound of an instrument of music. They said also that the girl
wished to speak with them, but the chief forbade it, and caused her to
be led thence with all honour.

Now, when Dingaan heard this message he grew mad as a lion in a net,
for he desired this maid above everything, and yet he who had all things
could not win the maid. This was his command, that a great impi should
be gathered and sent to Swaziland against the Halakazi tribe, to destroy
them and seize the maid. But when the matter came on to be discussed
with the indunas in the presence of the king, at the Amapakati or
council, I, as chief of the indunas, spoke against it, saying that the
tribe of the Halakazi were great and strong, and that war with them
would mean war with the Swazis also; moreover, they had their dwelling
in caves which were hard to win. Also, I said, that this was no time to
send impis to seek a single girl, for few years had gone by since the
Black One fell; and foes were many, and the soldiers of the land had
waxed few with slaughter, half of them having perished in the marshes of
the Limpopo. Now, time must be given them to grow up again, for to-day
they were as a little child, or like a man wasted with hunger. Maids
were many, let the king take them and satisfy his heart, but let him
make no war for this one.

Thus I spoke boldly in the face of the king, as none had dared to speak
before Chaka; and courage passed from me to the hearts of the other
indunas and generals, and they echoed my words, for they knew that,
of all follies, to begin a new war with the Swazi people would be the
greatest.

Dingaan listened, and his brow grew dark, yet he was not so firmly
seated on the throne that he dared put away our words, for still there
were many in the land who loved the memory of Chaka, and remembered that
Dingaan had murdered him and Umhlangana also. For now that Chaka was
dead, people forgot how evilly he had dealt with them, and remembered
only that he was a great man, who had made the Zulu people out of
nothing, as a smith fashions a bright spear from a lump of iron. Also,
though they had changed masters, yet their burden was not lessened,
for, as Chaka slew, so Dingaan slew also, and as Chaka oppressed, so did
Dingaan oppress. Therefore Dingaan yielded to the voice of his indunas
and no impi was sent against the Halakazi to seek the maid that was
named the Lily. But still he hankered for her in his heart, and from
that hour he hated me because I had crossed his will and robbed him of
his desire.

Now, my father, there is this to be told: though I did not know it then,
the maid who was named the Lily was no other than my daughter Nada. The
thought, indeed, came into my mind, that none but Nada could be so fair.
Yet I knew for certain that Nada and her mother Macropha were dead, for
he who brought me the news of their death had seen their bodies locked
in each other’s arms, killed, as it were, by the same spear. Yet, as
it chanced, he was wrong; for though Macropha indeed was killed, it was
another maid who lay in blood beside her; for the people whither I had
sent Macropha and Nada were tributary to the Halakazi tribe, and that
chief of the Halakazi who sat in the place of Galazi the Wolf had
quarrelled with them, and fallen on them by night and eaten them up.

As I learned afterwards, the cause of their destruction, as in later
days it was the cause of the slaying of the Halakazi, was the beauty of
Nada and nothing else, for the fame of her loveliness had gone about
the land, and the old chief of the Halakazi had commanded that the girl
should be sent to his kraal to live there, that her beauty might shine
upon his place like the sun, and that, if so she willed, she should
choose a husband from the great men of the Halakazi. But the headmen
of the kraal refused, for none who had looked on her would suffer their
eyes to lose sight of Nada the Lily, though there was this fate about
the maid that none strove to wed her against her will. Many, indeed,
asked her in marriage, both there and among the Halakazi people, but
ever she shook her head and said, “Nay, I would wed no man,” and it was
enough.

For it was the saying among men, that it was better that she should
remain unmarried, and all should look on her, than that she should pass
from their sight into the house of a husband; since they held that her
beauty was given to be a joy to all, like the beauty of the dawn and
of the evening. Yet this beauty of Nada’s was a dreadful thing, and the
mother of much death, as shall be told; and because of her beauty and
the great love she bore, she, the Lily herself, must wither, and the
cup of my sorrows must be filled to overflowing, and the heart of
Umslopogaas the Slaughterer, son of Chaka the king, must become desolate
as the black plain when fire has swept it. So it was ordained, my
father, and so it befell, seeing that thus all men, white and black,
seek that which is beautiful, and when at last they find it, then it
passes swiftly away, or, perchance, it is their death. For great joy and
great beauty are winged, nor will they sojourn long upon the earth. They
come down like eagles out of the sky, and into the sky they return again
swiftly.

Thus then it came about, my father, that I, Mopo, believing my daughter
Nada to be dead, little guessed that it was she who was named the Lily
in the kraals of the Halakazi, and whom Dingaan the king desired for a
wife.

Now after I had thwarted him in this matter of the sending of an impi to
pluck the Lily from the gardens of the Halakazi, Dingaan learned to hate
me. Also I was in his secrets, and with me he had killed his brother
Chaka and his brother Umhlangana, and it was I who held him back from
the slaying of his brother Panda also; and, therefore, he hated me, as
is the fashion of small-hearted men with those who have lifted them up.
Yet he did not dare to do away with me, for my voice was loud in the
land, and when I spoke the people listened. Therefore, in the end, he
cast about for some way to be rid of me for a while, till he should grow
strong enough to kill me.

“Mopo,” said the king to me one day as I sat before him in council with
others of the indunas and generals, “mindest thou of the last words
of the Great Elephant, who is dead?” This he said meaning Chaka his
brother, only he did not name him, for now the name of Chaka was blonipa
in the land, as is the custom with the names of dead kings--that is, my
father, it was not lawful that it should pass the lips.

“I remember the words, O King,” I answered. “They were ominous words,
for this was their burden: that you and your house should not sit long
in the throne of kings, but that the white men should take away your
royalty and divide your territories. Such was the prophecy of the Lion
of the Zulu, why speak of it? Once before I heard him prophecy, and his
words were fulfilled. May the omen be an egg without meat; may it never
become fledged; may that bird never perch upon your roof, O King!”

Now Dingaan trembled with fear, for the words of Chaka were in his mind
by night and by day; then he grew angry and bit his lip, saying:--

“Thou fool, Mopo! canst thou not hear a raven croak at the gates of a
kraal but thou must needs go tell those who dwell within that he waits
to pick their eyes? Such criers of ill to come may well find ill at
hand, Mopo.” He ceased, looked on me threateningly awhile, and went on:
“I did not speak of those words rolling by chance from a tongue half
loosed by death, but of others that told of a certain Bulalio, of a
Slaughterer who rules the People of the Axe and dwells beneath the
shadow of the Ghost Mountain far away to the north yonder. Surely I
heard them all as I sat beneath the shade of the reed-fence before ever
I came to save him who was my brother from the spear of Masilo, the
murderer, whose spear stole away the life of a king?”

“I remember those words also, O King!” I said. “Is it the will of the
king that an impi should be gathered to eat up this upstart? Such was
the command of the one who is gone, given, as it were, with his last
breath.”

“Nay, Mopo, that is not my will. If no impi can be found by thee to wipe
away the Halakazi and bring one whom I desire to delight my eyes, then
surely none can be found to eat up this Slaughterer and his people.
Moreover, Bulalio, chief of the People of the Axe, has not offended
against me, but against an elephant whose trumpetings are done. Now this
is my will, Mopo, my servant: that thou shouldst take with thee a few
men only and go gently to this Bulalio, and say to him: ‘A greater
Elephant stalks through the land than he who has gone to sleep, and it
has come to his ears--that thou, Chief of the People of the Axe, dost
pay no tribute, and hast said that, because of the death of a certain
Mopo, thou wilt have nothing to do with him whose shadow lies upon the
land. Now one Mopo is sent to thee, Slaughterer, to know if this tale is
true, for, if it be true, then shalt thou learn the weight of the hoof
of that Elephant who trumpets in the kraal of Umgugundhlovu. Think,
then, and weigh thy words before thou dost answer, Slaughterer.’”

Now I, Mopo, heard the commands of the king and pondered them in my
mind, for I knew well that it was the design of Dingaan to be rid of me
for a space that he might find time to plot my overthrow, and that he
cared little for this matter of a petty chief, who, living far away, had
dared to defy Chaka. Yet I wished to go, for there had arisen in me a
great desire to see this Bulalio, who spoke of vengeance to be taken for
one Mopo, and whose deeds were such as the deeds of Umslopogaas would
have been, had Umslopogaas lived to look upon the light. Therefore I
answered:--

“I hear the king. The king’s word shall be done, though, O King, thou
sendest a big man upon a little errand.”

“Not so, Mopo,” answered Dingaan. “My heart tells me that this chicken
of a Slaughterer will grow to a great cock if his comb is not cut
presently; and thou, Mopo, art versed in cutting combs, even of the
tallest.”

“I hear the king,” I answered again.

So, my father, it came about that on the morrow, taking with me but ten
chosen men, I, Mopo, started on my journey towards the Ghost Mountain,
and as I journeyed I thought much of how I had trod that path in bygone
days. Then, Macropha, my wife, and Nada, my daughter, and Umslopogaas,
the son of Chaka, who was thought to be my son, walked at my side. Now,
as I imagined, all were dead and I walked alone; doubtless I also should
soon be dead. Well, people lived few days and evil in those times, and
what did it matter? At the least I had wreaked vengeance on Chaka and
satisfied my heart.

At length I came one night to that lonely spot where we had camped in
the evil hour when Umslopogaas was borne away by the lioness, and once
more I looked upon the cave whence he had dragged the cub, and upon the
awful face of the stone Witch who sits aloft upon the Ghost Mountain
forever and forever. I could sleep little that night, because of the
sorrow at my heart, but sat awake looking, in the brightness of the
moon, upon the grey face of the stone Witch, and on the depths of the
forest that grew about her knees, wondering the while if the bones of
Umslopogaas lay broken in that forest. Now as I journeyed, many tales
had been told to me of this Ghost Mountain, which all swore was haunted,
so said some, by men in the shape of wolves; and so said some, by the
Esemkofu--that is, by men who have died and who have been brought back
again by magic. They have no tongues, the Esemkofu, for had they
tongues they would cry aloud to mortals the awful secrets of the dead,
therefore, they can but utter a wailing like that of a babe. Surely one
may hear them in the forests at night as they wail “Ai!--ah! Ai--ah!”
 among the silent trees!

You laugh, my father, but I did not laugh as I thought of these tales;
for, if men have spirits, where do the spirits go when the body is dead?
They must go somewhere, and would it be strange that they should return
to look upon the lands where they were born? Yet I never thought much
of such matters, though I am a doctor, and know something of the ways
of the Amatongo, the people of the ghosts. To speak truth, my father,
I have had so much to do with the loosing of the spirits of men that I
never troubled myself overmuch with them after they were loosed; there
will be time to do this when I myself am of their number.

So I sat and gazed on the mountain and the forest that grew over it like
hair on the head of a woman, and as I gazed I heard a sound that came
from far away, out of the heart of the forest as it seemed. At first
it was faint and far off, a distant thing like the cry of children in
a kraal across a valley; then it grew louder, but still I could not say
what it might be; now it swelled and swelled, and I knew it--it was the
sound of wild beats at chase. Nearer came the music, the rocks rang with
it, and its voice set the blood beating but to hearken to it. That pack
was great which ran a-hunting through the silent night; and now it was
night, on the other side of the slope only, and the sound swelled so
loud that those who were with me awoke also and looked forth. Now of a
sudden a great koodoo bull appeared for an instant standing out against
the sky on the crest of the ridge, then vanished in the shadow. He was
running towards us; presently we saw him again speeding on his path with
great bounds. We saw this also--forms grey and gaunt and galloping, in
number countless, that leaped along his path, appearing on the crest of
the rise, disappearing into the shadow, seen again on the slope, lost in
the valley; and with them two other shapes, the shapes of men.

Now the big buck bounded past us not half a spear’s throw away, and
behind him streamed the countless wolves, and from the throats of the
wolves went up that awful music. And who were these two that came with
the wolves, shapes of men great and strong? They ran silently and swift,
wolves’ teeth gleamed upon their heads, wolves’ hides hung about their
shoulders. In the hands of one was an axe--the moonlight shone upon
it--in the hand of the other a heavy club. Neck and neck they ran; never
before had we seen men travel so fast. See! they sped down the slope
towards us; the wolves were left behind, all except four of them; we
heard the beating of their feet; they came, they passed, they were gone,
and with them their unnumbered company. The music grew faint, it died,
it was dead; the hunt was far away, and the night was still again!

“Now, my brethren,” I asked of those who were with me, “what is this
that we have seen?”

Then one answered, “We have seen the Ghosts who live in the lap of the
old Witch, and those men are the Wolf-Brethren, the wizards who are
kings of the Ghosts.”



CHAPTER XXIII. MOPO REVEALS HIMSELF TO THE SLAUGHTERER

All that night we watched, but we neither saw nor heard any more of the
wolves, nor of the men who hunted with them. On the morrow, at dawn, I
sent a runner to Bulalio, chief of the People of the Axe, saying that a
messenger came to him from Dingaan, the king, who desired to speak with
him in peace within the gates of his kraal. I charged the messenger,
however, that he should not tell my name, but should say only that it
was “Mouth of Dingaan.” Then I and those with me followed slowly on the
path of the man whom I sent forward, for the way was still far, and I
had bidden him return and meet me bearing the words of the Slaughterer,
Holder of the Axe.

All that day till the sun grew low we walked round the base of the great
Ghost Mountain, following the line of the river. We met no one, but once
we came to the ruins of a kraal, and in it lay the broken bones of
many men, and with the bones rusty assegais and the remains of ox-hide
shields, black and white in colour. Now I examined the shields, and
knew from their colour that they had been carried in the hands of those
soldiers who, years ago, were sent out by Chaka to seek for Umslopogaas,
but who had returned no more.

“Now,” I said, “it has fared ill with those soldiers of the Black One
who is gone, for I think that these are the shields they bore, and
that their eyes once looked upon the world through the holes in yonder
skulls.”

“These are the shields they bore, and those are the skulls they wore,”
 answered one. “See, Mopo, son of Makedama, this is no man’s work that
has brought them to their death. Men do not break the bones of their
foes in pieces as these bones are broken. Wow! men do not break them,
but wolves do, and last night we saw wolves a-hunting; nor did they hunt
alone, Mopo. Wow! this is a haunted land!”

Then we went on in silence, and all the way the stone face of the Witch
who sits aloft forever stared down on us from the mountain top. At
length, an hour before sundown, we came to the open lands, and there, on
the crest of a rise beyond the river, we saw the kraal of the People
of the Axe. It was a great kraal and well built, and their cattle were
spread about the plains like to herds of game for number. We went to
the river and passed it by the ford, then sat down and waited, till
presently I saw the man whom I had sent forward returning towards us. He
came and saluted me, and I asked him for news.

“This is my news, Mopo,” he said: “I have seen him who is named Bulalio,
and he is a great man--long and lean, with a fierce face, and carrying
a mighty axe, such an axe as he bore last night who hunted with the
wolves. When I had been led before the chief I saluted him and spoke to
him--the words you laid upon my tongue I told to him. He listened,
then laughed aloud, and said: ‘Tell him who sent you that the mouth of
Dingaan shall be welcome, and shall speak the words of Dingaan in peace;
yet I would that it were the head of Dingaan that came and not his mouth
only, for then Axe Groan-Maker would join in our talk--ay, because of
one Mopo, whom his brother Chaka murdered, it would also speak with
Dingaan. Still, the mouth is not the head, so the mouth may come in
peace.’”

Now I started when for the second time I heard talk of one Mopo, whose
name had been on the lips of Bulalio the Slaughterer. Who was there
that would thus have loved Mopo except one who was long dead? And yet,
perhaps the chief spoke of some other Mopo, for the name was not my
own only--in truth, Chaka had killed a chief of that name at the great
mourning, because he said that two Mopos in the land were one too many,
and that though this Mopo wept sorely when the tears of others were dry.
So I said only that this Bulalio had a high stomach, and we went on to
the gates of the kraal.

There were none to meet us at the gates, and none stood by the doors of
the huts within them, but beyond, from the cattle kraal that was in the
centre of the huts, rose a dust and a din as of men gathering for war.
Now some of those with me were afraid, and would have turned back,
fearing treachery, and they were yet more afraid when, on coming to the
inner entrance of the cattle kraal, we saw some five hundred soldiers
being mustered there company by company, by two great men, who ran up
and down the ranks shouting.

But I cried, “Nay! nay! Turn not back! Bold looks melt the hearts of
foes. Moreover, if this Bulalio would have murdered us, there was no
need for him to call up so many of his warriors. He is a proud chief,
and would show his might, not knowing that the king we serve can muster
a company for every man he has. Let us go on boldly.”

So we walked forward towards the impi that was gathered on the further
side of the kraal. Now the two great men who were marshalling the
soldiers saw us, and came to meet us, one following the other. He who
came first bore the axe upon his shoulder, and he who followed swung
a huge club. I looked upon the foremost of them, and ah! my father,
my heart grew faint with joy, for I knew him across the years. It was
Umslopogaas! my fosterling, Umslopogaas! and none other, now grown
into manhood--ay, into such a man as was not to be found beside him in
Zululand. He was great and fierce, somewhat spare in frame, but wide
shouldered and shallow flanked. His arms were long and not over big, but
the muscles stood out on them like knots in a rope; his legs were long
also, and very thick beneath the knee. His eye was like an eagle’s, his
nose somewhat hooked, and he held his head a little forward, as a man
who searches continually for a hidden foe. He seemed to walk slowly, and
yet he came swiftly, but with a gliding movement like that of a wolf or
a lion, and always his fingers played round the horn handle of the axe
Groan-Maker. As for him who followed, he was great also, shorter than
Umslopogaas by the half of a head, but of a sturdier build. His eyes
were small, and twinkled unceasingly like little stars, and his look was
very wild, for now and again he grinned, showing his white teeth.

When I saw Umslopogaas, my father, my bowels melted within me, and I
longed to run to him and throw myself upon his neck. Yet I took council
with myself and did not--nay, I dropped the corner of the kaross I wore
over my eyes, hiding my face lest he should know me. Presently he stood
before me, searching me out with his keen eyes, for I drew forward to
greet him.

“Greeting, Mouth of Dingaan!” he said in a loud voice. “You are a little
man to be the mouth of so big a chief.”

“The mouth is a little member, even of the body of a great king, O Chief
Bulalio, ruler of the People of the Axe, wizard of the wolves that are
upon the Ghost Mountain, who aforetime was named Umslopogaas, son of
Mopo, son of Makedama.”

Now when Umslopogaas heard these words he started like a child at a
rustling in the dark and stared hard at me.

“You are well instructed,” he said.

“The ears of the king are large, if his mouth be small, O Chief
Bulalio,” I answered, “and I, who am but the mouth, speak what the ears
have heard.”

“How know you that I have dwelt with the wolves upon the Ghost Mountain,
O Mouth?” he asked.

“The eyes of the king see far, O Chief Bulalio. Thus last night they saw
a great chase and a merry. It seems that they saw a koodoo bull running
at speed, and after him countless wolves making their music, and with
the wolves two men clad in wolves’ skins, such men as you, Bulalio, and
he with the club who follows you.”

Now Umslopogaas lifted the axe Groan-Maker as though he would cut me
down, then let it fall again, while Galazi the Wolf glared at me with
wide-opened eyes.

“How know you that once I was named Umslopogaas, who have lost that name
these many days? Speak, O Mouth, lest I kill you.”

“Slay if you will, Umslopogaas,” I answered, “but know that when the
brains are scattered the mouth is dumb. He who scatters brains loses
wisdom.”

“Answer!” he said.

“I answer not. Who are you that I should answer you? I know; it is
enough. To my business.”

Now Umslopogaas ground his teeth in anger. “I am not wont to be thwarted
here in my own kraal,” he said; “but do your business. Speak it, little
Mouth.”

“This is my business, little Chief. When the Black One who is gone yet
lived, you sent him a message by one Masilo--such a message as his ears
had never heard, and that had been your death, O fool puffed up with
pride, but death came first upon the Black One, and his hand was stayed.
Now Dingaan, whose shadow lies upon the land, the king whom I serve, and
who sits in the place of the Black One who is gone, speaks to you by me,
his mouth. He would know this: if it is true that you refuse to own his
sovereignty, to pay tribute to him in men and maids and cattle, and to
serve him in his wars? Answer, you little headman!--answer in few words
and short!”

Now Umslopogaas gasped for breath in his rage, and again he fingered the
great axe. “It is well for you, O Mouth,” he said, “that I swore safe
conduct to you, else you had not gone hence--else you had been served
as I served certain soldiers who in bygone years were sent to search out
one Umslopogaas. Yet I answer you in few words and short. Look on those
spears--they are but a fourth part of the number I can muster: that
is my answer. Look now on yonder mountain, the mountain of ghosts
and wolves--unknown, impassable, save to me and one other: that is my
answer. Spears and mountains shall come together--the mountain shall
be alive with spears and with the fangs of beasts. Let Dingaan seek his
tribute there! I have spoken!”

Now I laughed shrilly, desiring to try the heart of Umslopogaas, my
fosterling, yet further.

“Fool!” I said. “Boy with the brain of a monkey, for every spear you
have Dingaan, whom I serve, can send a hundred, and your mountain shall
be stamped flat; and for your ghosts and wolves, see, with the mouth of
Dingaan I spit upon them!” and I spat upon the ground.

Now Umslopogaas shook in his rage, and the great axe glimmered as he
shook. He turned to the captain who was behind him, and said: “Say,
Galazi the Wolf, shall we kill this man and those with him?”

“Nay,” answered the Wolf, grinning, “do not kill them; you have given
them safe conduct. Moreover, let them go back to their dog of a king,
that he may send out his puppies to do battle with our wolves. It will
be a pretty fight.”

“Get you gone, O Mouth,” said Umslopogaas; “get you gone swiftly, lest
mischief befall you! Without my gates you shall find food to satisfy
your hunger. Eat of it and begone, for if to-morrow at the noon you are
found within a spear’s throw of this kraal, you and those with you shall
bide there forever, O Mouth of Dingaan the king!”

Now I made as though I would depart, then, turning suddenly, I spoke
once more, saying:--

“There were words in your message to the Black One who is dead of a
certain man--nay, how was he named?--of a certain Mopo.”

Now Umslopogaas started as one starts who is wounded by a spear, and
stared at me.

“Mopo! What of Mopo, O Mouth, whose eyes are veiled? Mopo is dead, whose
son I was!”

“Ah!” I said, “yes, Mopo is dead--that is, the Black One who is gone
killed a certain Mopo. How came it, O Bulalio, that you were his son?”

“Mopo is dead,” quoth Umslopogaas again; “he is dead with all his house,
his kraal is stamped flat, and that is why I hated the Black One, and
therefore I hate Dingaan, his brother, and will be as are Mopo and the
house of Mopo before I pay him tribute of a single ox.”

All this while I had spoken to Umslopogaas in a feigned voice, my
father, but now I spoke again and in my own voice, saying:--

“So! Now you speak from your heart, young man, and by digging I have
reached the root of the matter. It is because of this dead dog of a Mopo
that you defy the king.”

Umslopogaas heard the voice, and trembled no more with anger, but rather
with fear and wonder. He looked at me hard, answering nothing.

“Have you a hut near by, O Chief Bulalio, foe of Dingaan the king, where
I, the mouth of the king, may speak with you a while apart, for I would
learn your message word by word that I may deliver it without fault.
Fear not, Slaughterer, to sit alone with me in an empty hut! I am
unarmed and old, and there is that in your hand which I should fear,”
 and I pointed to the axe.

Now Umslopogaas, still shaking in his limbs, answered “Follow me, O
Mouth, and you, Galazi, stay with these men.”

So I followed Umslopogaas, and presently we came to a large hut. He
pointed to the doorway, and I crept through it and he followed after
me. Now for a while it seemed dark in the hut, for the sun was sinking
without and the place was full of shadow; so I waited while a man might
count fifty, till our eyes could search the darkness. Then of a sudden I
threw the blanket from my face and looked into the eyes of Umslopogaas.

“Look on me now, O Chief Bulalio, O Slaughterer, who once was named
Umslopogaas--look on me and say who am I?” Then he looked at me and his
jaw fell.

“Either you are Mopo my father grown old--Mopo, who is dead, or the
Ghost of Mopo,” he answered in a low voice.

“I am Mopo, your father, Umslopogaas,” I said. “You have been long in
knowing me, who knew you from the first.”

Then Umslopogaas cried aloud, but yet softly, and letting fall the axe
Groan-Maker, he flung himself upon my breast and wept there. And I wept
also.

“Oh! my father,” he said, “I thought that you were dead with the others,
and now you have come back to me, and I, I would have lifted the axe
against you in my folly. Oh, it is well that I have lived, and not died,
since once more I look upon your face--the face that I thought dead,
but which yet lives, though it be sorely changed, as though by grief and
years.”

“Peace, Umslopogaas, my son,” I said. “I also deemed you dead in the
lion’s mouth, though in truth it seemed strange to me that any other man
than Umslopogaas could have wrought the deeds which I have heard of as
done by Bulalio, Chief of the People of the Axe--ay, and thrown defiance
in the teeth of Chaka. But you are not dead, and I, I am not dead. It
was another Mopo whom Chaka killed; I slew Chaka, Chaka did not slay
me.”

“And of Nada, what of Nada, my sister?” he said.

“Macropha, your mother, and Nada, your sister, are dead, Umslopogaas.
They are dead at the hands of the people of the Halakazi, who dwell in
Swaziland.”

“I have heard of that people,” he answered presently, “and so has Galazi
the Wolf, yonder. He has a hate to satisfy against them--they murdered
his father; now I have two, for they have murdered my mother and my
sister. Ah, Nada, my sister! Nada, my sister!” and the great man covered
his face with his hands, and rocked himself to and fro in his grief.

Now, my father, it came into my thoughts to make the truth plain to
Umslopogaas, and tell him that Nada was no sister of his, and that he
was no son of mine, but rather of that Chaka whom my hand had finished.
And yet I did not, though now I would that I had done so. For I saw well
how great was the pride and how high was the heart of Umslopogaas, and
I saw also that if once he should learn that the throne of Zululand was
his by right, nothing could hold him back, for he would swiftly break
into open rebellion against Dingaan the king, and in my judgment the
time was not ripe for that. Had I known, indeed, but one short year
before that Umslopogaas still lived, he had sat where Dingaan sat this
day; but I did not know it, and the chance had gone by for a while. Now
Dingaan was king and mustered many regiments about him, for I had held
him back from war, as in the case of the raid that he wished to make
upon the Swazis. The chance had gone by, but it would come again, and
till it came I must say nothing. I would do this rather, I would bring
Dingaan and Umslopogaas together, that Umslopogaas might become known in
the land as a great chief and the first of warriors. Then I would cause
him to be advanced to be an induna, and a general ready to lead the
impis of the king, for he who leads the impis is already half a king.

So I held my peace upon this matter, but till the dawn was grey
Umslopogaas and I sat together and talked, each telling the tale of
those years that had gone since he was borne from me in the lion’s
mouth. I told him how all my wives and children had been killed, how I
had been put to the torment, and showed him my white and withered hand.
I told him also of the death of Baleka, my sister, and of all my people
of the Langeni, and of how I had revenged my wrongs upon Chaka, and made
Dingaan to be king in his place, and was now the first man in the land
under the king, though the king feared me much and loved me little. But
I did not tell him that Baleka, my sister, was his own mother.

When I had done my tale, Umslopogaas told me his: how Galazi had rescued
him from the lioness; how he became one of the Wolf-Brethren; how he had
conquered Jikiza and the sons of Jikiza, and become chief of the People
of the Axe, and taken Zinita to wife, and grown great in the land.

I asked him how it came about that he still hunted with the wolves as
he had done last night. He answered that now he was great and there was
nothing more to win, and at times a weariness of life came upon him,
and then he must up, and together with Galazi hunt and harry with the
wolves, for thus only could he find rest.

I said that I would show him better game to hunt before all was done,
and asked him further if he loved his wife, Zinita. Umslopogaas answered
that he would love her better if she loved him not so much, for she was
jealous and quick to anger, and that was a sorrow to him. Then, when
he had slept awhile, he led me from the hut, and I and my people were
feasted with the best, and I spoke with Zinita and with Galazi the Wolf.
For the last, I liked him well. This was a good man to have at one’s
back in battle; but my heart spoke to me against Zinita. She
was handsome and tall, but with fierce eyes which always watched
Umslopogaas, my fosterling; and I noted that he who was fearless of all
other things yet seemed to fear Zinita. Neither did she love me, for
when she saw how the Slaughterer clung to me, as it were, instantly she
grew jealous--as already she was jealous of Galazi--and would have been
rid of me if she might. Thus it came about that my heart spoke against
Zinita; nor did it tell me worse things of her than those which she was
to do.



CHAPTER XXIV. THE SLAYING OF THE BOERS

On the morrow I led Umslopogaas apart, and spoke to him thus:--

“My son, yesterday, when you did not know me except as the Mouth of
Dingaan, you charged me with a certain message for Dingaan the king,
that, had it been delivered into the ears of the king, had surely
brought death upon you and all your people. The tree that stands by
itself on a plain, Umslopogaas, thinks itself tall and that there is no
shade to equal its shade. Yet are there other and bigger trees. You are
such a solitary tree, Umslopogaas, but the topmost branches of him whom
I serve are thicker than your trunk, and beneath his shadow live many
woodcutters, who go out to lop those that would grow too high. You are
no match for Dingaan, though, dwelling here alone in an empty land, you
have grown great in your own eyes and in the eyes of those about you.
Moreover, Umslopogaas, know this: Dingaan already hates you because of
the words which in bygone years you sent by Masilo the fool to the Black
One who is dead, for he heard those words, and it is his will to eat you
up. He has sent me hither for one reason only, to be rid of me awhile,
and, whatever the words I bring back to him, the end will be the
same--that night shall come when you will find an impi at your gates.”

“Then what need to talk more of the matter, my father?” asked
Umslopogaas. “That will come which must come. Let me wait here for the
impi of Dingaan, and fight till I die.”

“Not so, Umslopogaas, my son; there are more ways of killing a man than
by the assegai, and a crooked stick can still be bent straight in the
stream. It is my desire, Umslopogaas, that instead of hate Dingaan
should give you love; instead of death, advancement; and that you shall
grow great in his shadow. Listen! Dingaan is not what Chaka was, though,
like Chaka, he is cruel. This Dingaan is a fool, and it may well come
about that a man can be found who, growing up in his shadow, in the end
shall overshadow him. I might do it--I myself; but I am old, and,
being worn with sorrow, have no longing to rule. But you are young,
Umslopogaas, and there is no man like you in the land. Moreover, there
are other matters of which it is not well to speak, that shall serve you
as a raft whereon to swim to power.”

Now Umslopogaas glanced up sharply, for in those days he was ambitious,
and desired to be first among the people. Indeed, having the blood of
Chaka in his veins, how could it be otherwise?

“What is your plan, my father?” he asked. “Say how can this be brought
about?”

“This and thus, Umslopogaas. Among the tribe of the Halakazi in
Swaziland there dwells a maid who is named the Lily. She is a girl of
the most wonderful beauty, and Dingaan is afire with longing to have her
to wife. Now, awhile since Dingaan dispatched an embassy to the chief of
the Halakazi asking the Lily in marriage, and the chief of the Halakazi
sent back insolent words, saying that the Beauty of the Earth should
be given to no Zulu dog as a wife. Then Dingaan was angry, and he would
have gathered his impis and sent them against the Halakazi to destroy
them, and bring him the maid, but I held him back from it, saying
that now was no time to begin a new war; and it is for this cause that
Dingaan hates me, he is so set upon the plucking of the Swazi Lily. Do
you understand now, Umslopogaas?”

“Something,” he answered. “But speak clearly.”

“Wow, Umslopogaas! Half words are better than whole ones in this land
of ours. Listen, then! This is my plan: that you should fall upon the
Halakazi tribe, destroy it, and bring back the maid as a peace-offering
to Dingaan.”

“That is a good plan, my father,” he answered. “At the least, maid or
no maid, there will be fighting in it, and cattle to divide when the
fighting is done.”

“First conquer, then reckon up the spoils, Umslopogaas.”

Now he thought awhile, then said, “Suffer that I summon Galazi the Wolf,
my captain. Do not fear, he is trusty and a man of few words.”

Presently Galazi came and sat down before us. Then I put the matter to
him thus: that Umslopogaas would fall upon the Halakazi and bring to
Dingaan the maid he longed for as a peace-offering, but that I wished
to hold him back from the venture because the Halakazi people were great
and strong. I spoke in this sense so that I might have a door to creep
out should Galazi betray the plot; and Umslopogaas read my purpose,
though my craft was needless, for Galazi was a true man.

Galazi the Wolf listened in silence till I had finished, then he
answered quietly, but it seemed to me that a fire shone in his eyes as
he spoke:--

“I am chief by right of the Halakazi, O Mouth of Dingaan, and know them
well. They are a strong people, and can put two full regiments under
arms, whereas Bulalio here can muster but one regiment, and that a
small one. Moreover, they have watchmen out by night and day, and
spies scattered through the land, so that it will be hard to take them
unawares; also their stronghold is a vast cave open to the sky in the
middle, and none have won that stronghold yet, nor could it be found
except by those who know its secret. They are few, yet I am one of them,
for my father showed it to me when I was a lad. Therefore, Mouth of
Dingaan, you will know that this is no easy task which Bulalio would set
himself and us--to conquer the Halakazi. That is the face of the matter
so far as it concerns Bulalio, but for me, O Mouth, it has another face.
Know that, long years ago, I swore to my father as he lay dying by
the poison of a witch of this people that I would not rest till I had
avenged him--ay, till I had stamped out the Halakazi, and slain their
men, and brought their women to the houses of strangers, and their
children to bonds! Year by year and month by month, and night by night,
as I have lain alone upon the Ghost Mountain yonder, I have wondered how
I might bring my oath to pass, and found no way. Now it seems that there
is a way, and I am glad. Yet this is a great adventure, and perhaps
before it is done with the People of the Axe will be no more.” And he
ceased and took snuff, watching our faces over the spoon.

“Galazi the Wolf,” said Umslopogaas, “for me also the matter has another
face. You have lost your father at the hands of these Halakazi dogs,
and, though till last night I did not know it, I have lost my mother by
their spears, and with her one whom I loved above all in the world,
my sister Nada, who loved me also. Both are dead and the Halakazi have
killed them. This man, the mouth of Dingaan,” and he pointed to me,
Mopo, “this man says that if I can stamp out the Halakazi and make
captive of the Lily maid, I shall win the heart of Dingaan. Little do
I care for Dingaan, I who would go my way alone, and live while I
may live, and die when I must, by the hands of Dingaan as by those of
another--what does it matter? Yet, for this reason, because of the death
of Macropha, my mother, and Nada, the sister who was dear to me, I will
make war upon these Halakazi and conquer them, or be conquered by them.
Perhaps, O Mouth of Dingaan, you will see me soon at the king’s kraal
on the Mahlabatine, and with me the Lily maid and the cattle of the
Halakazi; or perhaps you shall not see me, and then you will know that I
am dead, and the Warriors of the Axe are no more.”

So Umslopogaas spoke to me before Galazi the Wolf, but afterwards he
embraced me and bade me farewell, for he had no great hope that we
should meet again. And I also doubted it; for, as Galazi said, the
adventure was great; yet, as I had seen many times, it is the bold
thrower who oftenest wins. So we parted--I to return to Dingaan and tell
him that Bulalio, Chief of the People of the Axe, had gone up against
the Halakazi to win the Lily maid and bring her to him in atonement;
while Umslopogaas remained to make ready his impi for war.

I went swiftly from the Ghost Mountain back to the kraal Umgugundhlovu,
and presented myself before Dingaan, who at first looked on me coldly.
But when I told him my message, and how that the Chief Bulalio the
Slaughterer had taken the war-path to win him the Lily, his manner
changed. He took me by the hand and said that I had done well, and he
had been foolish to doubt me when I lifted up my voice to persuade him
from sending an impi against the Halakazi. Now he saw that it was my
purpose to rake this Halakazi fire with another hand than his, and to
save his hand from the burning, and he thanked me.

Moreover, he said, that if this Chief of the People of the Axe brought
him the maid his heart desired, not only would he forgive him the words
he had spoken by the mouth of Masilo to the Black One who was dead, but
also all the cattle of the Halakazi should be his, and he would make him
great in the land. I answered that all this was as the king willed. I
had but done my duty by the king and worked so that, whatever befell, a
proud chief should be weakened and a foe should be attacked at no cost
to the king, in such fashion also that perhaps it might come about that
the king would shortly have the Lily at his side.

Then I sat down to wait what might befall.

Now it is, my father, that the white men come into my story, whom we
named the Amaboona, but you call the Boers. Ou! I think ill of those
Amaboona, though it was I who gave them the victory over Dingaan--I and
Umslopogaas.

Before this time, indeed, a few white men had come to and fro to the
kraals of Chaka and Dingaan, but these came to pray and not to fight.
Now the Boers both fight and pray, also they steal, or used to steal,
which I do not understand, for the prayers of you white men say that
these things should not be done.

Well, when I had been back from the Ghost Mountain something less than a
moon, the Boers came, sixty of them commanded by a captain named
Retief, a big man, and armed with roers--the long guns they had in
those days--or, perhaps they numbered a hundred in all, counting their
servants and after-riders. This was their purpose: to get a grant of
the land in Natal that lies between the Tugela and the Umzimoubu rivers.
But, by my council and that of other indunas, Dingaan, bargained with
the Boers that first they should attack a certain chief named Sigomyela,
who had stolen some of the king’s cattle, and who lived near the
Quathlamba Mountains, and bring back those cattle. This the Boers agreed
to, and went to attack the chief, and in a little while they came back
again, having destroyed the people of Sigomyela, and driving his cattle
before them as well as those which had been stolen from the king.

The face of Dingaan shone when he saw the cattle, and that night he
called us, the council of the Amapakati, together, and asked us as
to the granting of the country. I spoke the first, and said that it
mattered little if he granted it, seeing that the Black One who was dead
had already given it to the English, the People of George, and the end
of the matter would be that the Amaboona and the People of George would
fight for the land. Yet the words of the Black One were coming to pass,
for already it seemed we could hear the sound of the running of a white
folk who should eat up the kingdom.

Now when I had spoken thus the heart of Dingaan grew heavy and his face
dark, for my words stuck in his breast like a barbed spear. Still, he
made no answer, but dismissed the council.

On the morrow the king promised to sign the paper giving the lands they
asked for to the Boers, and all was smooth as water when there is no
wind. Before the paper was signed the king gave a great dance, for there
were many regiments gathered at the kraal, and for three days this dance
went on, but on the third day he dismissed the regiments, all except
one, an impi of lads, who were commanded to stay. Now all this while
I wondered what was in the mind of Dingaan and was afraid for the
Amaboona. But he was secret, and told nothing except to the captains of
the regiment alone--no, not even to one of his council. Yet I knew that
he planned evil, and was half inclined to warn the Captain Retief, but
did not, fearing to make myself foolish. Ah! my father, if I had spoken,
how many would have lived who were soon dead! But what does it matter?
In any case most of them would have been dead by now.

On the fourth morning, early, Dingaan sent a messenger to the Boers,
bidding them meet him in the cattle kraal, for there he would mark the
paper. So they came, stacking their guns at the gate of the kraal,
for it was death for any man, white or black, to come armed before the
presence of the king. Now, my father, the kraal Umgugundhlovu was built
in a great circle, after the fashion of royal kraals. First came the
high outer fence, then the thousands of huts that ran three parts round
between the great fence and the inner one. Within this inner fence was
the large open space, big enough to hold five regiments, and at the top
of it--opposite the entrance--stood the cattle kraal itself, that cut
off a piece of the open space by another fence bent like a bow. Behind
this again were the Emposeni, the place of the king’s women, the
guard-house, the labyrinth, and the Intunkulu, the house of the king.
Dingaan came out on that day and sat on a stool in front of the cattle
kraal, and by him stood a man holding a shield over his head to keep
the sun from him. Also we of the Amapakati, the council, were there, and
ranged round the fence of the space, armed with short sticks only--not
with kerries, my father--was that regiment of young men which Dingaan
had not sent away, the captain of the regiment being stationed near to
the king, on the right.

Presently the Boers came in on foot and walked up to the king in a
body, and Dingaan greeted them kindly and shook hands with Retief, their
captain. Then Retief drew the paper from a leather pouch, which set out
the boundaries of the grant of land, and it was translated to the king
by an interpreter. Dingaan said that it was good, and put his mark upon
it, and Retief and all the Boers were pleased, and smiled across their
faces. Now they would have said farewell, but Dingaan forbade them,
saying that they must not go yet: first they must eat and see the
soldiers dance a little, and he commanded dishes of boiled flesh which
had been made ready and bowls of milk to be brought to them. The Boers
said that they had already eaten; still, they drank the milk, passing
the bowls from hand to hand.

Now the regiment began to dance, singing the Ingomo, that is the war
chant of us Zulus, my father, and the Boers drew back towards the centre
of the space to give the soldiers room to dance in. It was at this
moment that I heard Dingaan give an order to a messenger to run swiftly
to the white Doctor of Prayers, who was staying without the kraal,
telling him not to be afraid, and I wondered what this might mean; for
why should the Prayer Doctor fear a dance such as he had often seen
before? Presently Dingaan rose, and, followed by all, walked through the
press to where the Captain Retief stood, and bade him good-bye, shaking
him by the hand and bidding him hambla gachle, to go in peace. Then he
turned and walked back again towards the gateway which led to his
royal house, and I saw that near this entrance stood the captain of the
regiments, as one stands by who waits for orders.

Now, of a sudden, my father, Dingaan stopped and cried with a loud
voice, “Bulalani Abatakati!” (slay the wizards), and having cried it, he
covered his face with the corner of his blanket, and passed behind the
fence.

We, the councillors, stood astounded, like men who had become stone; but
before we could speak or act the captain of the regiment had also cried
aloud, “Bulalani Abatakati!” and the signal was caught up from every
side. Then, my father, came a yell and a rush of thousands of feet, and
through the clouds of dust we saw the soldiers hurl themselves upon the
Amaboona, and above the shouting we heard the sound of falling sticks.
The Amaboona drew their knives and fought bravely, but before a man
could count a hundred twice it was done, and they were being dragged,
some few dead, but the most yet living, towards the gates of the
kraal and out on to the Hill of Slaughter, and there, on the Hill of
Slaughter, they were massacred, every one of them. How? Ah! I will not
tell you--they were massacred and piled in a heap, and that was the end
of their story, my father.

Now I and the other councillors turned away and walked silently towards
the house of the king. We found him standing before his great hut,
and, lifting our hands, we saluted him silently, saying no word. It
was Dingaan who spoke, laughing a little as he spoke, like a man who is
uneasy in his mind.

“Ah, my captains,” he said, “when the vultures plumed themselves this
morning, and shrieked to the sky for blood, they did not look for such a
feast as I have given them. And you, my captains, you little guessed how
great a king the Heavens have set to rule over you, nor how deep is the
mind of the king that watches ever over his people’s welfare. Now the
land is free from the White Wizards of whose footsteps the Black One
croaked as he gave up his life, or soon shall be, for this is but a
beginning. Ho! Messengers!” and he turned to some men who stood behind
him, “away swiftly to the regiments that are gathered behind the
mountains, away to them, bearing the king’s words to the captains. This
is the king’s word: that the impi shall run to the land of Natal and
slay the Boers there, wiping them out, man, woman, and child. Away!”

Now the messengers cried out the royal salute of Bayete, and, leaping
forward like spears from the hand of the thrower, were gone at once. But
we, the councillors, the members of the Amapakati, still stood silent.

Then Dingaan spoke again, addressing me:--

“Is thy heart at rest now, Mopo, son of Makedama? Ever hast thou bleated
in my ear of this white people and of the deeds that they shall do, and
lo! I have blown upon them with my breath and they are gone. Say, Mopo,
are the Amaboona wizards yonder all dead? If any be left alive, I desire
to speak with one of them.”

Then I looked Dingaan in the face and spoke.

“They are all dead, and thou, O King, thou also art dead.”

“It were well for thee, thou dog,” said Dingaan, “that thou shouldst
make thy meaning plain.”

“Let the king pardon me,” I answered; “this is my meaning. Thou canst
not kill this white men, for they are not of one race, but of many
races, and the sea is their home; they rise out of the black water.
Destroy those that are here, and others shall come to avenge them, more
and more and more! Now thou hast smitten in thy hour; in theirs they
shall smite in turn. Now THEY lie low in blood at thy hand; in a day to
come, O King, THOU shalt lie low in blood at theirs. Madness has taken
hold of thee, O King, that thou hast done this thing, and the fruit
of thy madness shall be thy death. I have spoken, I, who am the king’s
servant. Let the will of the king be done.”

Then I stood still waiting to be killed, for, my father, in the fury of
my heart at the wickedness which had been worked I could not hold back
my words. Thrice Dingaan looked on me with a terrible face, and yet
there was fear in his face striving with its rage, and I waited calmly
to see which would conquer, the fear or the rage. When at last he spoke,
it was one word, “Go!” not three words, “Take him away.” So I went yet
living, and with me the councillors, leaving the king alone.

I went with a heavy heart, my father, for of all the evil sights that I
have seen it seemed to me that this was the most evil--that the Amaboona
should be slaughtered thus treacherously, and that the impis should be
sent out treacherously to murder those who were left of them, together
with their women and children. Ay, and they slew--six hundred of them
did they slay--yonder in Weenen, the land of weeping.

Say, my father, why does the Umkulunkulu who sits in the Heavens above
allow such things to be done on the earth beneath? I have heard the
preaching of the white men, and they say that they know all about
Him--that His names are Power and Mercy and Love. Why, then, does He
suffer these things to be done--why does He suffer such men as Chaka and
Dingaan to torment the people of the earth, and in the end pay them but
one death for all the thousands that they have given to others? Because
of the wickedness of the peoples, you say; but no, no, that cannot be,
for do not the guiltless go with the guilty--ay, do not the innocent
children perish by the hundred? Perchance there is another answer,
though who am I, my father, that I, in my folly, should strive to search
out the way of the Unsearchable? Perchance it is but a part of the great
plan, a little piece of that pattern of which I spoke--the pattern on
the cup that holds the waters of His wisdom. Wow! I do not understand,
who am but a wild man, nor have I found more knowledge in the hearts of
you tamed white people. You know many things, but of these you do not
know: you cannot tell us what we were an hour before birth, nor what we
shall be an hour after death, nor why we were born, nor why we die. You
can only hope and believe--that is all, and perhaps, my father, before
many days are sped I shall be wiser than all of you. For I am very aged,
the fire of my life sinks low--it burns in my brain alone; there it is
still bright, but soon that will go out also, and then perhaps I shall
understand.



CHAPTER XXV. THE WAR WITH THE HALAKAZI PEOPLE

Now, my father, I must tell of how Umslopogaas the Slaughterer and
Galazi the Wolf fared in their war against the People of the Halakazi.
When I had gone from the shadow of the Ghost Mountain, Umslopogaas
summoned a gathering of all his headmen, and told them it was his desire
that the People of the Axe should no longer be a little people; that
they should grow great and number their cattle by tens of thousands.

The headmen asked how this might be brought about--would he then make
war on Dingaan the King? Umslopogaas answered no, he would win the
favour of the king thus: and he told them of the Lily maid and of the
Halakazi tribe in Swaziland, and of how he would go up against that
tribe. Now some of the headmen said yea to this and some said nay, and
the talk ran high and lasted till the evening. But when the evening was
come Umslopogaas rose and said that he was chief under the Axe, and none
other, and it was his will that they should go up against the Halakazi.
If there was any man there who would gainsay his will, let him stand
forward and do battle with him, and he who conquered should order all
things. To this there was no answer, for there were few who cared to
face the beak of Groan-Maker, and so it came about that it was agreed
that the People of the Axe should make war upon the Halakazi, and
Umslopogaas sent out messengers to summon every fighting-man to his
side.

But when Zinita, his head wife, came to hear of the matter she was
angry, and upbraided Umslopogaas, and heaped curses on me, Mopo, whom
she knew only as the mouth of Dingaan, because, as she said truly, I had
put this scheme into the mind of the Slaughterer. “What!” she went on,
“do you not live here in peace and plenty, and must you go to make war
on those who have not harmed you; there, perhaps, to perish or to come
to other ill? You say you do this to win a girl for Dingaan and to find
favour in his sight. Has not Dingaan girls more than he can count? It
is more likely that, wearying of us, your wives, you go to get girls for
yourself, Bulalio; and as for finding favour, rest quiet, so shall you
find most favour. If the king sends his impis against you, then it will
be time to fight, O fool with little wit!”

Thus Zinita spoke to him, very roughly--for she always blurted out what
was in her mind, and Umslopogaas could not challenge her to battle. So
he must bear her talk as best he might, for it is often thus, my father,
that the greatest of men grow small enough in their own huts. Moreover,
he knew that it was because Zinita loved him that she spoke so bitterly.

Now on the third day all the fighting-men were gathered, and there might
have been two thousand of them, good men and brave. Then Umslopogaas
went out and spoke to them, telling them of this adventure, and Galazi
the Wolf was with him. They listened silently, and it was plain to see
that, as in the case of the headmen, some of them thought one thing and
some another. Then Galazi spoke to them briefly, telling them that he
knew the roads and the caves and the number of the Halakazi cattle; but
still they doubted. Thereon Umslopogaas added these words:--

“To-morrow, at the dawn, I, Bulalio, Holder of the Axe, Chief of the
People of the Axe, go up against the Halakazi, with Galazi the Wolf,
my brother. If but ten men follow us, yet we will go. Now, choose, you
soldiers! Let those come who will, and let those who will stop at home
with the women and the little children.”

Now a great shout rose from every throat.

“We will go with you, Bulalio, to victory or death!”

So on the morrow they marched, and there was wailing among the women of
the People of the Axe. Only Zinita did not wail, but stood by in wrath,
foreboding evil; nor would she bid her lord farewell, yet when he was
gone she wept also.

Now Umslopogaas and his impi travelled fast and far, hungering and
thirsting, till at length they came to the land of the Umswazi, and
after a while entered the territory of the Halakazi by a high and narrow
pass. The fear of Galazi the Wolf was that they should find this pass
held, for though they had harmed none in the kraals as they went, and
taken only enough cattle to feed themselves, yet he knew well that
messengers had sped by day and night to warn the people of the Halakazi.
But they found no man in the pass, and on the other side of it they
rested, for the night was far spent. At dawn Umslopogaas looked out
over the wide plains beyond, and Galazi showed him a long low hill, two
hours’ march away.

“There, my brother,” he said, “lies the head kraal of the Halakazi,
where I was born, and in that hill is the great cave.”

Then they went on, and before the sun was high they came to the crest
of a rise, and heard the sound of horns on its farther side. They stood
upon the rise, and looked, and lo! yet far off, but running towards
them, was the whole impi of the Halakazi, and it was a great impi.

“They have gathered their strength indeed,” said Galazi. “For every man
of ours there are three of these Swazis!”

The soldiers saw also, and the courage of some of them sank low. Then
Umslopogaas spoke to them:--

“Yonder are the Swazi dogs, my children; they are many and we are few.
Yet, shall it be told at home that we, men of the Zulu blood, were
hunted by a pack of Swazi dogs? Shall our women and children sing THAT
song in our ears, O Soldiers of the Axe?”

Now some cried “Never!” but some were silent; so Umslopogaas spoke
again:--

“Turn back all who will: there is yet time. Turn back all who will, but
ye who are men come forward with me. Or if ye will, go back all of
you, and leave Axe Groan-Maker and Club Watcher to see this matter out
alone.”

Now there arose a mighty shout of “We will die together who have lived
together!”

“Do you swear it?” cried Umslopogaas, holding Groan-Maker on high.

“We swear it by the Axe,” they answered.

Then Umslopogaas and Galazi made ready for the battle. They posted all
the young men in the broken ground above the bottom of the slope,
for these could best be spared to the spear, and Galazi the Wolf took
command of them; but the veterans stayed upon the hillside, and with
them Umslopogaas.

Now the Halakazi came on, and there were four full regiments of them.
The plain was black with them, the air was rent with their shoutings,
and their spears flashed like lightnings. On the farther side of the
slope they halted and sent a herald forward to demand what the People of
the Axe would have from them. The Slaughterer answered that they would
have three things: First, the head of their chief, whose place Galazi
should fill henceforth; secondly, that fair maid whom men named the
Lily; thirdly, a thousand head of cattle. If these demands were granted,
then he would spare them, the Halakazi; if not, he would stamp them out
and take all.

So the herald returned, and when he reached the ranks of the Halakazi he
called aloud his answer. Then a great roar of laughter went up from the
Halakazi regiments, a roar that shook the earth. The brow of Umslopogaas
the Slaughterer burned red beneath the black when he heard it, and he
shook Groan-Maker towards their host.

“Ye shall sing another song before this sun is set,” he cried, and
strode along the ranks speaking to this man and that by name, and
lifting up their hearts with great words.

Now the Halakazi raised a shout, and charged to come at the young men
led by Galazi the Wolf; but beyond the foot of the slope was peaty
ground, and they came through it heavily, and as they came Galazi and
the young men fell upon them and slew them; still, they could not hold
them back for long, because of their great numbers, and presently the
battle ranged all along the slope. But so well did Galazi handle the
young men, and so fiercely did they fight beneath his eye, that before
they could be killed or driven back all the force of the Halakazi was
doing battle with them. Ay, and twice Galazi charged with such as he
could gather, and twice he checked the Halakazi rush, throwing them into
confusion, till at length company was mixed with company and regiment
with regiment. But it might not endure, for now more than half the young
men were down, and the rest were being pushed back up the hill, fighting
madly.

But all this while Umslopogaas and the veterans sat in their ranks upon
the brow of the slope and watched. “Those Swazi dogs have a fool for
their general,” quoth Umslopogaas. “He has no men left to fall back
on, and Galazi has broken his array and mixed his regiments as milk and
cream are mixed in a bowl. They are no longer an impi, they are a mob.”

Now the veterans moved restlessly on their haunches, pushing their legs
out and drawing them in again. They glanced at the fray, they looked
into each other’s eyes and spoke a word here, a word there, “Well
smitten, Galazi! Wow! that one is down! A brave lad! Ho! a good club is
the Watcher! The fight draws near, my brother!” And ever as they spoke
their faces grew fiercer and their fingers played with their spears.

At length a captain called aloud to Umslopogaas:--

“Say, Slaughterer, is it not time to be up and doing? The grass is wet
to sit on, and our limbs grow cramped.”

“Wait awhile,” answered Umslopogaas. “Let them weary of their play. Let
them weary, I tell you.”

As he spoke the Halakazi huddled themselves together, and with a rush
drove back Galazi and those who were left of the young men. Yes, at last
they were forced to flee, and after them came the Swazis, and in the
forefront of the pursuit was their chief, ringed round with a circle of
his bravest.

Umslopogaas saw it and bounded to his feet, roaring like a bull. “At
them now, wolves!” he shouted.

Then the lines of warriors sprang up as a wave springs, and their crests
were like foam upon the wave. As a wave that swells to break they rose
suddenly, like a breaking wave they poured down the slope. In front of
them was the Slaughterer, holding Groan-Maker aloft, and oh! his feet
were swift. So swift were his feet that, strive as they would, he outran
them by the quarter of a spear’s throw. Galazi heard the thunder of
their rush; he looked round, and as he looked, lo! the Slaughterer swept
past him, running like a buck. Then Galazi, too, bounded forward, and
the Wolf-Brethren sped down the hill, the length of four spears between
them.

The Halakazi also saw and heard, and strove to gather themselves
together to meet the rush. In front of Umslopogaas was their chief, a
tall man hedged about with assegais. Straight at the shield-hedge drove
Umslopogaas, and a score of spears were lifted to greet him, a score
of shields heaved into the air--this was a fence that none might pass
alive. Yet would the Slaughterer pass it--not alone! See! he steadies
his pace, he gathers himself together, and now he leaps! High into
the air he leaps; his feet knock the heads of the warriors and rattle
against the crowns of their shields. They smite upwards with the spear,
but he has swept over them like a swooping bird. He has cleared them--he
has lit--and now the shield-hedge guards two chiefs. But not for long.
Ou! Groan-Maker is aloft, he falls--and neither shield nor axe may stay
his stroke, both are cleft through, and the Halakazi lack a leader.

The shield-ring wheels in upon itself. Fools! Galazi is upon you! What
was that? Look, now! see how many bones are left unbroken in him
whom the Watcher falls on full! What!--another down! Close up,
shield-men--close up! Ai! are you fled?

Ah! the wave has fallen on the beach. Listen to its roaring--listen
to the roaring of the shields! Stand, you men of the Halakazi--stand!
Surely they are but a few. So! it is done! By the head of Chaka! they
break--they are pushed back--now the wave of slaughter seethes along the
sands--now the foe is swept like floating weed, and from all the line
there comes a hissing like the hissing of thin waters. “S’gee!” says the
hiss. “S’gee! S’gee!”

There, my father, I am old. What have I do with the battle any more,
with the battle and its joy? Yet it is better to die in such a fight
as that than to live any other way. I have seen such--I have seen many
such. Oh! we could fight when I was a man, my father, but none that I
knew could ever fight like Umslopogaas the Slaughterer, son of Chaka,
and his blood-brother Galazi the Wolf! So, so! they swept them away,
those Halakazi; they swept them as a maid sweeps the dust of a hut, as
the wind sweeps the withered leaves. It was soon done when once it was
begun. Some were fled and some were dead, and this was the end of that
fight. No, no, not of all the war. The Halakazi were worsted in the
field, but many lived to win the great cave, and there the work must be
finished. Thither, then, went the Slaughterer presently, with such of
his impi as was left to him. Alas! many were killed; but how could they
have died better than in that fight? Also those who were left were as
good as all, for now they knew that they should not be overcome easily
while Axe and Club still led the way.

Now they stood before a hill, measuring, perhaps, three thousand paces
round its base. It was of no great height, and yet unclimbable, for,
after a man had gone up a little way, the sides of it were sheer,
offering no foothold except to the rock-rabbits and the lizards. No one
was to be seen without this hill, nor in the great kraal of the Halakazi
that lay to the east of it, and yet the ground about was trampled with
the hoofs of oxen and the feet of men, and from within the mountain came
a sound of lowing cattle.

“Here is the nest of Halakazi,” quoth Galazi the Wolf.

“Here is the nest indeed,” said Umslopogaas; “but how shall we come at
the eggs to suck them? There are no branches on this tree.”

“But there is a hole in the trunk,” answered the Wolf.

Now he led them a little way till they came to a place where the soil
was trampled as it is at the entrance to a cattle kraal, and they saw
that there was a low cave which led into the cliff, like an archway such
as you white men build. But this archway was filled up with great blocks
of stone placed upon each other in such a fashion that it could not be
forced from without. After the cattle were driven in it had been filled
up.

“We cannot enter here,” said Galazi. “Follow me.”

So they followed him, and came to the north side of the mountain, and
there, two spear-casts away, a soldier was standing. But when he saw
them he vanished suddenly.

“There is the place,” said Galazi, “and the fox has gone to earth in
it.”

Now they ran to the spot and saw a little hole in the rock, scarcely
bigger than an ant-bear’s burrow, and through the hole came sounds and
some light.

“Now where is the hyena who will try a new burrow?” cried Umslopogaas.
“A hundred head of cattle to the man who wins through and clears the
way!”

Then two young men sprang forward who were flushed with victory and
desired nothing more than to make a great name and win cattle, crying:--

“Here are hyenas, Bulalio.”

“To earth, then!” said Umslopogaas, “and let him who wins through hold
the path awhile till others follow.”

The two young men sprang at the hole, and he who reached it first went
down upon his hands and knees and crawled in, lying on his shield and
holding his spear before him. For a little while the light in the burrow
vanished, and they heard the sound of his crawling. Then came the noise
of blows, and once more light crept through the hole. The man was dead.

“This one had a bad snake,” said the second soldier; “his snake deserted
him. Let me see if mine is better.”

So down he went on his hands and knees, and crawled as the first had
done, only he put his shield over his head. For awhile they heard him
crawling, then once more came the sound of blows echoing on the ox-hide
shield, and after the blows groans. He was dead also, yet it seemed that
they had left his body in the hole, for now no light came through. This
was the cause, my father: when they struck the man he had wriggled back
a little way and died there, and none had entered from the farther side
to drag him out.

Now the soldiers stared at the mouth of the passage and none seemed to
love the look of it, for this was but a poor way to die. Umslopogaas and
Galazi also looked at it, thinking.

“Now I am named Wolf,” said Galazi, “and a wolf should not fear the
dark; also, these are my people, and I must be the first to visit
them,” and he went down on his hands and knees without more ado. But
Umslopogaas, having peered once more down the burrow, said: “Hold,
Galazi; I will go first! I have a plan. Do you follow me. And you, my
children, shout loudly, so that none may hear us move; and, if we win
through, follow swiftly, for we cannot hold the mouth of that place for
long. Hearken, also! this is my counsel to you: if I fall choose another
chief--Galazi the Wolf, if he is still living.”

“Nay, Slaughterer, do not name me,” said the Wolf, “for together we live
or die.”

“So let it be, Galazi. Then choose you some other man and try this road
no more, for if we cannot pass it none can, but seek food and sit down
here till those jackals bolt; then be ready. Farewell, my children!”

“Farewell, father,” they answered, “go warily, lest we be left like
cattle without a herdsman, wandering and desolate.”

Then Umslopogaas crept into the hole, taking no shield, but holding
Groan-Maker before him, and at his heels crept Galazi. When he had
covered the length of six spears he stretched out his hand, and, as he
trusted to do, he found the feet of that man who had gone before and
died in the place. Then Umslopogaas the wary did this: he put his head
beneath the dead man’s legs and thrust himself onward till all the body
was on his back, and there he held it with one hand, gripping its two
wrists in his hand. Then he crawled forward a little space and saw that
he was coming to the inner mouth of the burrow, but that the shadow was
deep there because of a great mass of rock which lay before the burrow
shutting out the light. “This is well for me,” thought Umslopogaas, “for
now they will not know the dead from the living. I may yet look upon the
sun again.” Now he heard the Halakazi soldiers talking without.

“The Zulu rats do not love this run,” said one, “they fear the
rat-catcher’s stick. This is good sport,” and a man laughed.

Then Umslopogaas pushed himself forward as swiftly as he could, holding
the dead man on his back, and suddenly came out of the hole into the
open place in the dark shadow of the great rock.

“By the Lily,” cried a soldier, “here’s a third! Take this, Zulu rat!”
 And he struck the dead man heavily with a kerrie. “And that!” cried
another, driving his spear through him so that it pricked Umslopogaas
beneath. “And that! and this! and that!” said others, as they smote and
stabbed.

Now Umslopogaas groaned heavily in the deep shadow and lay still. “No
need to waste more blows,” said the man who had struck first. “This one
will never go back to Zululand, and I think that few will care to follow
him. Let us make an end: run, some of you, and find stones to stop the
burrow, for now the sport is done.”

He turned as he spoke and so did the others, and this was what the
Slaughter sought. With a swift movement, he freed himself from the dead
man and sprang to his feet. They heard the sound and turned again, but
as they turned Groan-Maker pecked softly, and that man who had sworn
by the Lily was no more a man. Then Umslopogaas leaped forwards, and,
bounding on to the great rock, stood there like a buck against the sky.

“A Zulu rat is not so easily slain, O ye weasels!” he cried, as they
came at him from all sides at once with a roar. He smote to the right
and the left, and so swiftly that men could scarcely see the blows fall,
for he struck with Groan-Maker’s beak. But though men scarcely saw the
blows, yet, my father, men fell beneath them. Now foes were all
around, leaping up at the Slaughterer as rushing water leaps to hide a
rock--everywhere shone spears, thrusting at him from this side and from
that. Those in front and to the side Groan-Maker served to stay, but one
wounded Umslopogaas in the neck, and another was lifted to pierce his
back when the strength of its holder was bowed to the dust--to the dust,
to become of the dust.

For now the Wolf was through the hole also, and the Watcher grew very
busy; he was so busy that soon the back of the Slaughterer had nothing
to fear--yet those had much to fear who stood behind his back. The pair
fought bravely, making a great slaughter, and presently, one by one,
plumed heads of the People of the Axe showed through the burrow and
strong arms mingled in the fray. Swiftly they came, leaping into battle
as otters leap to the water--now there were ten of them, now there were
twenty--and now the Halakazi broke and fled, since they did not bargain
for this. Then the rest of the Men of the Axe came through in peace, and
the evening grew towards the dark before all had passed the hole.



CHAPTER XXVI. THE FINDING OF NADA

Umslopogaas marshalled his companies.

“There is little light left,” he said, “but it must serve us to start
these conies from their burrows. Come, my brother Galazi, you know where
the conies hide, take my place and lead us.”

So Galazi led the impi. Turning a corner of the glen, he came with them
to a large open space that had a fountain in its midst, and this place
was full of thousands of cattle. Then he turned again to the left, and
brought them to the inner side of the mountain, where the cliff hung
over, and here was the mouth of a great cave. Now the cave was dark, but
by its door was stacked a pile of resinous wood to serve as torches.

“Here is that which will give us light,” said Galazi, and one man of
every two took a torch and lit it at a fire that burned near the mouth
of the cave. Then they rushed in, waving the flaring torches and with
assegais aloft. Here for the last time the Halakazi stood against them,
and the torches floated up and down upon the wave of war. But they did
not stand for very long, for all the heart was out of them. Wow! yes,
many were killed--I do not know how many. I know this only, that the
Halakazi are no more a tribe since Umslopogaas, who is named Bulalio,
stamped them with his feet--they are nothing but a name now. The People
of the Axe drove them out into the open and finished the fight by
starlight among the cattle.

In one corner of the cave Umslopogaas saw a knot of men clustering round
something as though to guard it. He rushed at the men, and with him went
Galazi and others. But when Umslopogaas was through, by the light of his
torch he perceived a tall and slender man, who leaned against the wall
of the cave and held a shield before his face.

“You are a coward!” he cried, and smote with Groan-Maker. The great axe
pierced the hide, but, missing the head behind, rang loudly against the
rock, and as it struck a sweet voice said:--

“Ah! soldier, do not kill me! Why are you angry with me?”

Now the shield had come away from its holder’s hands upon the blade of
the axe, and there was something in the notes of the voice that caused
Umslopogaas to smite no more: it was as though a memory of childhood
had come to him in a dream. His torch was burning low, but he thrust it
forward to look at him who crouched against the rock. The dress was the
dress of a man, but this was no man’s form--nay, rather that of a lovely
woman, well-nigh white in colour. She dropped her hands from before her
face, and now he could see her well. He saw eyes that shone like stars,
hair that curled and fell upon the shoulders, and such beauty as was not
known among our people. And as the voice had spoken to him of something
that was lost, so did the eyes seem to shine across the blackness of
many years, and the beauty to bring back he knew not what.

He looked at the girl in all her loveliness, and she looked at him in
his fierceness and his might, red with war and wounds. They both looked
long, while the torchlight flared on them, on the walls of the cave, and
the broad blade of Groan-Maker, and from around rose the sounds of the
fray.

“How are you named, who are so fair to see?” he asked at length.

“I am named the Lily now: once I had another name. Nada, daughter of
Mopo, I was once; but name and all else are dead, and I go to join them.
Kill me and make an end. I will shut my eyes, that I may not see the
great axe flash.”

Now Umslopogaas gazed upon her again, and Groan-Maker fell from his
hand.

“Look on me, Nada, daughter of Mopo,” he said in a low voice; “look at
me and say who am I.”

She looked once more and yet again. Now her face was thrust forward as
one who gazes over the edge of the world; it grew fixed and strange. “By
my heart,” she said, “by my heart, you are Umslopogaas, my brother who
is dead, and whom dead as living I have loved ever and alone.”

Then the torch flared out, but Umslopogaas took hold of her in the
darkness and pressed her to him and kissed her, the sister whom he found
after many years, and she kissed him.

“You kiss me now,” she said, “yet not long ago that great axe shore
my locks, missing me but by a finger’s-breadth--and still the sound of
fighting rings in my ears! Ah! a boon of you, my brother--a boon: let
there be no more death since we are met once more. The people of the
Halakazi are conquered, and it is their just doom, for thus, in this
same way, they killed those with whom I lived before. Yet they have
treated me well, not forcing me into wedlock, and protecting me from
Dingaan; so spare them, my brother, if you may.”

Then Umslopogaas lifted up his voice, commanding that the killing should
cease, and sent messengers running swiftly with these words: “This is
the command of Bulalio: that he who lifts hand against one more of
the people of the Halakazi shall be killed himself”; and the soldiers
obeyed him, though the order came somewhat late, and no more of the
Halakazi were brought to doom. They were suffered to escape, except
those of the women and children who were kept to be led away as
captives. And they ran far that night. Nor did they come together again
to be a people, for they feared Galazi the Wolf, who would be chief
over them, but they were scattered wide in the world, to sojourn among
strangers.

Now when the soldiers had eaten abundantly of the store of the Halakazi,
and guards had been sent to ward the cattle and watch against surprise,
Umslopogaas spoke long with Nada the Lily, taking her apart, and he told
her all his story. She told him also the tale which you know, my father,
of how she had lived with the little people that were subject to the
Halakazi, she and her mother Macropha, and how the fame of her beauty
had spread about the land. Then she told him how the Halakazi had
claimed her, and of how, in the end, they had taken her by force of
arms, killing the people of that kraal, and among them her own mother.
Thereafter, she had dwelt among the Halakazi, who named her anew,
calling her the Lily, and they had treated her kindly, giving her
reverence because of her sweetness and beauty, and not forcing her into
marriage.

“And why would you not wed, Nada, my sister?” asked Umslopogaas, “you
who are far past the age of marriage?”

“I cannot tell you,” she answered, hanging her head; “but I have no
heart that way. I only seek to be left alone.”

Now Umslopogaas thought awhile and spoke. “Do you not know then, Nada,
why it is that I have made this war, and why the people of the Halakazi
are dead and scattered and their cattle the prize of my arm? I will tell
you: I am come here to win you, whom I knew only by report as the Lily
maid, the fairest of women, to be a wife to Dingaan. The reason that I
began this war was to win you and make my peace with Dingaan, and now I
have carried it through to the end.”

Now when she heard these words, Nada the Lily trembled and wept,
and, sinking to the earth, she clasped the knees of Umslopogaas in
supplication: “Oh, do not this cruel thing by me, your sister,” she
prayed; “take rather that great axe and make an end of me, and of the
beauty which has wrought so much woe, and most of all to me who wear it!
Would that I had not moved my head behind the shield, but had suffered
the axe to fall upon it. To this end I was dressed as a man, that I
might meet the fate of a man. Ah! a curse be on my woman’s weakness that
snatched me from death to give me up to shame!”

Thus she prayed to Umslopogaas in her low sweet voice, and his heart was
shaken in him, though, indeed, he did not now purpose to give Nada to
Dingaan, as Baleka was given to Chaka, perhaps in the end to meet the
fate of Baleka.

“There are many, Nada,” he said, “who would think it no misfortune that
they should be given as a wife to the first of chiefs.”

“Then I am not of their number,” she answered; “nay, I will die first,
by my own hand if need be.”

Now Umslopogaas wondered how it came about that Nada looked upon
marriage thus, but he did not speak of the matter; he said only, “Tell
me then, Nada, how I can deliver myself of this charge. I must go to
Dingaan as I promised our father Mopo, and what shall I say to Dingaan
when he asks for the Lily whom I went out to pluck and whom his heart
desires? What shall I say to save myself alive from the wrath of
Dingaan?”

Then Nada thought and answered, “You shall say this, my brother. You
shall tell him that the Lily, being clothed in the war-dress of a
warrior, fell by chance in the fray. See, now, none of your people know
that you have found me; they are thinking of other things than maids in
the hour of their victory. This, then, is my plan: we will search now by
the starlight till we find the body of a fair maid, for, doubtless, some
were killed by hazard in the fight, and on her we will set a warrior’s
dress, and lay by her the corpse of one of your own men. To-morrow, at
the light, you shall take the captains of your soldiers and, having laid
the body of the girl in the dark of the cave, you shall show it to them
hurriedly, and tell them that this was the Lily, slain by one of your
own people, whom in your wrath you slew also. They will not look long on
so common a sight, and if by hazard they see the maid, and think her not
so very fair, they will deem that it is death which has robbed her of
her comeliness. So the tale which you must tell to Dingaan shall be
built up firmly, and Dingaan shall believe it to be true.”

“And how shall this be, Nada?” asked Umslopogaas. “How shall this be
when men see you among the captives and know you by your beauty? Are
there, then, two such Lilies in the land?”

“I shall not be known, for I shall not be seen, Umslopogaas. You must
set me free to-night. I will wander hence disguised as a youth and
covered with a blanket, and if any meet me, who shall say that I am the
Lily?”

“And where will you wander, Nada? to your death? Must we, then, meet
after so many years to part again for ever?”

“Where was it that you said you lived, my brother? Beneath the shade
of a Ghost Mountain, that men may know by a shape of stone which is
fashioned like an old woman frozen into stone, was it not? Tell me of
the road thither.”

So Umslopogaas told her the road, and she listened silently.

“Good,” she said. “I am strong and my feet are swift; perhaps they
may serve to bring me so far, and perhaps, if I win the shadow of that
mountain, you will find me a hut to hide in, Umslopogaas, my brother.”

“Surely it shall be so, my sister,” answered Umslopogaas, “and yet the
way is long and many dangers lie in the path of a maid journeying alone,
without food or shelter,” and as he spoke Umslopogaas thought of Zinita
his wife, for he guessed that she would not love Nada, although she was
only his sister.

“Still, it must be travelled, and the dangers must be braved,” she
answered, smiling. “Alas! there is no other way.”

Then Umslopogaas summoned Galazi the Wolf and told him all this story,
for Galazi was the only man whom he could trust. The Wolf listened in
silence, marvelling the while at the beauty of Nada, as the starlight
showed it. When everything was told, he said only that he no longer
wondered that the people of the Halakazi had defied Dingaan and brought
death upon themselves for the sake of this maid. Still, to be plain, his
heart thought ill of the matter, for death was not done with yet: there
before them shone the Star of Death, and he pointed to the Lily.

Now Nada trembled at his words of evil omen, and the Slaughterer grew
angry, but Galazi would neither add to them nor take away from them. “I
have spoken that which my heart hears,” he answered.

Then they rose and went to search among the dead for a girl who would
suit their purpose; soon they found one, a tall and fair maiden, and
Galazi bore her in his arms to the great cave. Here in the cave were
none but the dead, and, tossed hither and thither in their last sleep,
they looked awful in the glare of the torches.

“They sleep sound,” said the Lily, gazing on them; “rest is sweet.”

“We shall soon win it, maiden,” answered Galazi, and again Nada
trembled.

Then, having arrayed her in the dress of a warrior, and put a shield and
spear by her, they laid down the body of the girl in a dark place in the
cave, and, finding a dead warrior of the People of the Axe, placed him
beside her. Now they left the cave, and, pretending that they visited
the sentries, Umslopogaas and Galazi passed from spot to spot, while
the Lily walked after them like a guard, hiding her face with a shield,
holding a spear in her hand, and having with her a bag of corn and dried
flesh.

So they passed on, till at length they came to the entrance in the
mountain side. The stones that had blocked it were pulled down so as to
allow those of the Halakazi to fly who had been spared at the entreaty
of Nada, but there were guards by the entrance to watch that none came
back. Umslopogaas challenged them, and they saluted him, but he saw that
they were worn out with battle and journeying, and knew little of what
they saw or said. Then he, Galazi, and Nada and passed through the
opening on to the plain beyond.

Here the Slaughterer and the Lily bade each other farewell, while Galazi
watched, and presently the Wolf saw Umslopogaas return as one who is
heavy at heart, and caught sight of the Lily skimming across the plain
lightly like a swallow.

“I do not know when we two shall meet again,” said Umslopogaas so soon
as she had melted into the shadows of the night.

“May you never meet,” answered Galazi, “for I am sure that if you meet
that sister of yours will bring death on many more than those who now
lie low because of her loveliness. She is a Star of Death, and when she
sets the sky shall be blood red.”

Umslopogaas did not answer, but walked slowly through the archway in the
mountain side.

“How is this, chief?” said he who was captain of the guard. “Three went
out, but only two return.”

“Fool!” answered Umslopogaas. “Are you drunk with Halakazi beer, or
blind with sleep? Two went out, and two return. I sent him who was with
us back to the camp.”

“So be it, father,” said the captain. “Two went out, and two return. All
is well!”



CHAPTER XXVII. THE STAMPING OF THE FIRE

On the morrow the impi awoke refreshed with sleep, and, after they had
eaten, Umslopogaas mustered them. Alas! nearly half of those who had
seen the sun of yesterday would wake no more forever. The Slaughterer
mustered them and thanked them for that which they had done, winning
fame and cattle. They were merry, recking little of those who were dead,
and sang his praises and the praises of Galazi in a loud song. When the
song was ended Umslopogaas spoke to them again, saying that the victory
was great, and the cattle they had won were countless. Yet something was
lacking--she was lacking whom he came to seek to be a gift to Dingaan
the king, and for whose sake this war was made. Where now was the Lily?
Yesterday she had been here, clad in a moocha like a man and bearing a
shield; this he knew from the captives. Where, then, was she now?

Then all the soldiers said that they had seen nothing of her. When
they had done, Galazi spoke a word, as was agreed between him and
Umslopogaas. He said that when they stormed the cave he had seen a man
run at a warrior in the cave to kill him. Then as he came, he who was
about to be slain threw down the shield and cried for mercy, and Galazi
knew that this was no warrior of the Halakazi, but a very beautiful
girl. So he called to the man to let her alone and not to touch her,
for the order was that no women should be killed. But the soldier, being
mad with the lust of fight, shouted that maid or man she should die,
and slew her. Thereon, he--Galazi--in his wrath ran up and smote the man
with the Watcher and killed him also, and he prayed that he had done no
wrong.

“You have done well, my brother,” said Umslopogaas. “Come now, some of
you, and let us look at this dead girl. Perhaps it is the Lily, and if
so that is unlucky for us, for I do not know what tale we shall tell to
Dingaan of the matter.”

So the captains went with Umslopogaas and Galazi, and came to the spot
where the girl had been laid, and by her the man of the People of the
Axe.

“All is as the Wolf, my brother, has told,” said Umslopogaas, waving
the torch in his hand over the two who lay dead. “Here, without a doubt,
lies she who was named the Lily, whom we came to win, and by her that
fool who slew her, slain himself by the blow of the Watcher. An ill
sight to see, and an ill tale for me to tell at the kraal of Dingaan.
Still, what is is, and cannot be altered; and this maid who was the
fairest of the fair is now none too lovely to look on. Let us away!” And
he turned swiftly, then spoke again, saying:--

“Bind up this dead girl in ox hides, cover her with salt, and let her be
brought with us.” And they did so.

Then the captains said: “Surely it is so, my father; now it cannot be
altered, and Dingaan must miss his bride.” So said they all except that
man who had been captain of the guard when Umslopogaas and Galazi and
another passed through the archway. This man, indeed, said nothing, yet
he was not without his thoughts. For it seemed to him that he had seen
three pass through the archway, and not two. It seemed to him, moreover,
that the kaross which the third wore had slipped aside as she pressed
past him, and that beneath it he had seen the shape of a beautiful
woman, and above it had caught the glint of a woman’s eye--an eye full
and dark, like a buck’s.

Also, this captain noted that Bulalio called none of the captives to
swear to the body of the Lily maid, and that he shook the torch to and
fro as he held it over her--he whose hand was of the steadiest. All of
this he kept in his mind, forgetting nothing.

Now it chanced afterwards, on the homeward march, my father, that
Umslopogaas had cause to speak angrily to this man, because he tried to
rob another of his share of the spoil of the Halakazi. He spoke sharply
to him, degrading him from his rank, and setting another over him. Also
he took cattle from the man, and gave them to him whom he would have
robbed.

And thereafter, though he was justly served, this man thought more and
more of the third who had passed through the arch of the cave and had
not returned, and who seemed to him to have a fair woman’s shape, and
eyes which gleamed like those of a woman.

On that day, then, Umslopogaas began his march to the kraal
Umgugundhlovu, where Dingaan sat. But before he set his face homewards,
in the presence of the soldiers, he asked Galazi the Wolf if he
would come back with him, or if he desired to stay to be chief of the
Halakazi, as he was by right of birth and war. Then the Wolf laughed,
and answered that he had come out to seek for vengeance, and not for the
place of a chief, also that there were few of the Halakazi people left
over whom he might rule if he wished. Moreover, he added this: that,
like twin trees, they two blood-brethren had grown up side by side till
their roots were matted together, and that, were one of them dug up and
planted in Swazi soil, he feared lest both should wither, or, at the
last, that he, Galazi, would wither, who loved but one man and certain
wolves.

So Umslopogaas said no more of the chieftainship, but began his journey.
With him he brought a great number of cattle, to be a gift for Dingaan,
and a multitude of captives, young women and children, for he would
appease the heart of Dingaan, because he did not bring her whom he
sought--the Lily, flower of flowers. Yet, because he was cautious and
put little faith in the kindness of kings, Umslopogaas, so soon as he
reached the borders of Zululand, sent the best of the cattle and the
fairest of the maids and children on to the kraal of the People of the
Axe by the Ghost Mountain. And he who had been captain of the guard but
now was a common soldier noticed this also.

Now it chanced that on a certain morning I, Mopo, sat in the kraal
Umgugundhlovu in attendance on Dingaan. For still I waited on the king,
though he had spoken no word to me, good or bad, since the yesterday,
when I foretold to him that in the blood of the white men whom he had
betrayed grew the flower of his own death. For, my father, it was on the
morrow of the slaying of the Amaboona that Umslopogaas came to the kraal
Umgugundhlovu.

Now the mind of Dingaan was heavy, and he sought something to lighten
it. Presently he bethought himself of the white praying man, who had
come to the kraal seeking to teach us people of the Zulu to worship
other gods than the assegai and the king. Now this was a good man,
but no luck went with his teaching, which was hard to understand; and,
moreover, the indunas did not like it, because it seemed to set a master
over the master, and a king over the king, and to preach of peace to
those whose trade was war. Still, Dingaan sent for the white man that
he might dispute with him, for Dingaan thought that he himself was the
cleverest of all men.

Now the white man came, but his face was pale, because of that which he
had seen befall the Boers, for he was gentle and hated such sights. The
king bade him be seated and spoke to him saying:--

“The other day, O White Man, thou toldest me of a place of fire whither
those go after death who have done wickedly in life. Tell me now of thy
wisdom, do my fathers lie in that place?”

“How can I know, King,” answered the prayer-doctor, “who may not judge
of the deeds of men? This I say only: that those who murder and rob and
oppress the innocent and bear false witness shall lie in that place of
fire.”

“It seems that my fathers have done all these things, and if they are in
this place I would go there also, for I am minded to be with my fathers
at the last. Yet I think that I should find a way to escape if ever I
came there.”

“How, King?”

Now Dingaan had set this trap for the prayer-doctor. In the centre of
that open space where he had caused the Boers to be fallen upon he had
built up a great pyre of wood--brushwood beneath, and on top of the
brushwood logs, and even whole trees. Perhaps, my father, there were
sixty full wagonloads of dry wood piled together there in the centre of
the place.

“Thou shalt see with thine eyes, White Man,” he answered, and bidding
attendants set fire to the pile all round, he summoned that regiment of
young men which was left in the kraal. Maybe there were a thousand and
half a thousand of them--not more--the same that had slain the Boers.

Now the fire began to burn fiercely, and the regiment filed in and
took its place in ranks. By the time that all had come, the pyre was
everywhere a sheet of raging flame, and, though we sat a hundred paces
from it, its heat was great when the wind turned our way.

“Now, Doctor of Prayers, is thy hot place hotter than yonder fire?” said
the king.

He answered that he did not know, but the fire was certainly hot.

“Then I will show thee how I will come out of it if ever I go to lie
in such a fire--ay, though it be ten times as big and fierce. Ho! my
children!” he cried to the soldiers, and, springing up, “You see yonder
fire. Run swiftly and stamp it flat with your feet. Where there was fire
let there be blackness and ashes.”

Now the White Man lifted his hands and prayed Dingaan not to do this
thing that should be the death of many, but the king bade him be silent.
Then he turned his eyes upward and prayed to his gods. For a moment
also the soldiers looked on each other in doubt, for the fire raged
furiously, and spouts of flame shot high toward the heaven, and above
it and about it the hot air danced. But their captain called to them
loudly: “Great is the king! Hear the words of the king, who honours you!
Yesterday we ate up the Amaboona--it was nothing, they were unarmed.
There is a foe more worthy of our valour. Come, my children, let us wash
in the fire--we who are fiercer than the fire! Great is the king who
honours us!”

Thus he spoke and ran forward, and, with a roar, after him sprang the
soldiers, rank by rank. They were brave men indeed; moreover, they knew
that if death lay before them death also awaited him who lagged behind,
and it is far better to die with honour than ashamed. On they went, as
to the joy of battle, their captain leading them, and as they went they
sang the Ingomo, the war-chant of the Zulu. Now the captain neared the
raging fire; we saw him lift his shield to keep off its heat. Then he
was gone--he had sprung into the heart of the furnace, and but little
of him was ever found again. After him went the first company. In they
went, beating at the flames with their ox-hide shields, stamping them
out with their naked feet, tearing down the burning logs and casting
them aside. Not one man of that company lived, my father; they fell
down like moths which flutter through a candle, and where they fell they
perished. But after them came other companies, and it was well for those
in this fight who were last to grapple with the foe. Now a great smoke
was mixed with the flame, now the flame grew less and less, and the
smoke more and more; and now blackened men, hairless, naked, and
blistered, white with the scorching of the fire, staggered out on the
farther side of the flames, falling to earth here and there. After them
came others; now there was no flame, only a great smoke in which men
moved dimly; and presently, my father, it was done: they had conquered
the fire, and that with but very little hurt to the last seven
companies, though every man had trodden it. How many perished?--nay,
I know not, they were never counted; but what between the dead and the
injured that regiment was at half strength till the king drafted more
men into it.

“See, Doctor of Prayers,” said Dingaan, with a laugh, “thus shall I
escape the fires of that land of which thou tellest, if such there be
indeed: I will bid my impis stamp them out.”

Then the praying man went from the kraal saying that he would teach no
more among the Zulus, and afterwards he left the land. When he had gone
the burnt wood and the dead were cleared away, the injured were doctored
or killed according to their hurts, and those who had little harm came
before the king and praised him.

“New shields and headresses must be found for you, my children,” said
Dingaan, for the shields were black and shrivelled, and of heads of hair
and plumes there were but few left among that regiment.

“Wow!” said Dingaan again, looking at the soldiers who still lived:
“shaving will be easy and cheap in that place of fire of which the white
man speaks.”

Then he ordered beer to be brought to the men, for the heat had made
them thirsty.

Now though you may not guess it, my father, I have told you this tale
because it has something to do with my story; for scarcely had the
matter been ended when messengers came, saying that Bulalio, chief of
the People of the Axe, and his impi were without, having returned with
much spoil from the slaying of the Halakazi in Swaziland. Now when I
heard this my heart leapt for joy, seeing that I had feared greatly for
the fate of Umslopogaas, my fosterling. Dingaan also was very glad, and,
springing up, danced to and fro like a child.

“Now at last we have good tidings,” he said, at once forgetting the
stamping of the fire, “and now shall my eyes behold that Lily whom my
hand has longed to pluck. Let Bulalio and his people enter swiftly.”

For awhile there was silence; then from far away, without the high fence
of the great place, there came a sound of singing, and through the
gates of the kraal rushed two great men, wearing black plumes upon their
heads, having black shields in their left hands, and in their right,
one an axe and one a club; while about their shoulders were bound
wolf-skins. They ran low, neck and neck, with outstretched shields and
heads held forward, as a buck runs when he is hard pressed by dogs, and
no such running had been seen in the kraal Umgugundhlovu as the running
of the Wolf-Brethren. Half across the space they ran, and halted
suddenly, and, as they halted, the dead ashes of the fire flew up before
their feet in a little cloud.

“By my head! look, these come armed before me!” said Dingaan, frowning,
“and to do this is death. Now say who is that man, great and fierce,
who bears an axe aloft? Did I not know him dead I should say it was the
Black One, my brother, as he was in the days of the smiting of Zwide: so
was his head set on his shoulders and so he was wont to look round, like
a lion.”

“I think that is Bulalio the Slaughterer, chief of the People of the
Axe, O King,” I answered.

“And who is the other with him? He is a great man also. Never have I
seen such a pair!”

“I think that is Galazi the Wolf, he who is blood-brother to the
Slaughterer, and his general,” I said again.

Now after these two came the soldiers of the People of the Axe, armed
with short sticks alone. Four by four they came, all holding their heads
low, and with black shields outstretched, and formed themselves into
companies behind the Wolf-Brethren, till all were there. Then, after
them, the crowd of the Halakazi slaves were driven in,--women, boys, and
maids, a great number--and they stood behind the ranks huddled together
like frightened calves.

“A gallant sight, truly!” said Dingaan, as he looked upon the companies
of black-plumed and shielded warriors. “I have no better soldiers in my
impis, and yet my eyes behold these for the first time,” and again he
frowned.

Now suddenly Umslopogaas lifted his axe and started forward at full
speed, and after him thundered the companies. On they rushed, and their
plumes lay back upon the wind, till it seemed as though they must stamp
us flat. But when he was within ten paces of the king Umslopogaas lifted
Groan-Maker again, and Galazi held the Watcher on high, and every man
halted where he was, while once more the dust flew up in clouds. They
halted in long, unbroken lines, with outstretched shields and heads held
low; no man’s head rose more than the length of a dance kerrie from the
earth. So they stood one minute, then, for the third time, Umslopogaas
lifted Groan-Maker, and in an instant every man straightened himself,
each shield was tossed on high, and from every throat was roared the
royal salute, “Bayete!”

“A pretty sight forsooth,” quoth Dingaan; “but these soldiers are too
well drilled who have never done me service nor the Black One who was
before me, and this Slaughterer is too good a captain, I say. Come
hither, ye twain!” he cried aloud.

Then the Wolf-Brethren strode forward and stood before the king, and for
awhile they looked upon each other.



CHAPTER XXVIII. THE LILY IS BROUGHT TO DINGAAN

“How are you named?” said Dingaan.

“We are named Bulalio the Slaughterer and Galazi the Wolf, O King,”
 answered Umslopogaas.

“Was it thou who didst send a certain message to the Black One who is
dead, Bulalio?”

“Yea, O King, I sent a message, but from all I have heard, Masilo, my
messenger, gave more than the message, for he stabbed the Black One.
Masilo had an evil heart.”

Now Dingaan winced, for he knew well that he himself and one Mopo had
stabbed the Black One, but he thought that this outland chief had not
heard the tale, so he said no more of the message.

“How is it that ye dare to come before me armed? Know ye not the rule
that he who appears armed before the king dies?”

“We have not heard that law, O King,” said Umslopogaas. “Moreover, there
is this to be told: by virtue of the axe I bear I rule alone. If I am
seen without the axe, then any man may take my place who can, for the
axe is chieftainess of the People of the Axe, and he who holds it is its
servant.”

“A strange custom,” said Dingaan, “but let it pass. And thou, Wolf, what
hast thou to say of that great club of thine?”

“There is this to be told of the club, O King,” answered Galazi: “by
virtue of the club I guard my life. If I am seen without the club, then
may any man take my life who can, for the club is my Watcher, not I
Watcher of the club.”

“Never wast thou nearer to the losing of both club and life,” said
Dingaan, angrily.

“It may be so, O King,” answered the Wolf. “When the hour is, then,
without a doubt, the Watcher shall cease from his watching.”

“Ye are a strange pair,” quoth Dingaan. “Where have you been now, and
what is your business at the Place of the Elephant?”

“We have been in a far country, O King!” answered Umslopogaas. “We have
wandered in a distant land to search for a Flower to be a gift to a
king, and in our searching we have trampled down a Swazi garden,
and yonder are some of those who tended it”--and he pointed to the
captives--“and without are the cattle that ploughed it.”

“Good, Slaughterer! I see the gardeners, and I hear the lowing of the
cattle, but what of the Flower? Where is this Flower ye went so far to
dig in Swazi soil? Was it a Lily-bloom, perchance?”

“It was a Lily-bloom, O King! and yet, alas! the Lily has withered.
Nothing is left but the stalk, white and withered as are the bones of
men.”

“What meanest thou?” said Dingaan, starting to his feet.

“That the king shall learn,” answered Umslopogaas; and, turning, he
spoke a word to the captains who were behind him. Presently the ranks
opened up, and four men ran forward from the rear of the companies.
On their shoulders they bore a stretcher, and upon the stretcher lay
something wrapped about with raw ox-hides, and bound round with rimpis.
The men saluted, and laid their burden down before the king.

“Open!” said the Slaughterer; and they opened, and there within the
hides, packed in salt, lay the body of a girl who once was tall and
fair.

“Here lies the Lily’s stalk, O King!” said Umslopogaas, pointing with
the axe, “but if her flower blooms on any air, it is not here.”

Now Dingaan stared at the sight of death, and bitterness of heart took
hold of him, since he desired above all things to win the beauty of the
Lily for himself.

“Bear away this carrion and cast it to the dogs!” he cried, for thus he
could speak of her whom he would have taken to wife, when once he deemed
her dead. “Take it away, and thou, Slaughterer, tell me how it came
about that the maid was slain. It will be well for thee if thou hast a
good answer, for know thy life hangs on the words.”

So Umslopogaas told the king all that tale which had been made ready
against the wrath of Dingaan. And when he had finished Galazi told his
story, of how he had seen the soldier kill the maid, and in his wrath
had killed the soldier. Then certain of the captains who had seen the
soldier and the maid lying in one death came forward and spoke to it.

Now Dingaan was very angry, and yet there was nothing to be done. The
Lily was dead, and by no fault of any except of one, who was also dead
and beyond his reach.

“Get you hence, you and your people,” he said to the Wolf-Brethren. “I
take the cattle and the captives. Be thankful that I do not take all
your lives also--first, because ye have dared to make war without my
word, and secondly, because, having made war, ye have so brought it
about that, though ye bring me the body of her I sought, ye do not bring
the life.”

Now when the king spoke of taking the lives of all the People of the
Axe, Umslopogaas smiled grimly and glanced at his companies. Then
saluting the king, he turned to go. But as he turned a man sprang
forwards from the ranks and called to Dingaan, saying:--

“Is it granted that I may speak truth before the king, and afterwards
sleep in the king’s shadow?”

Now this was that man who had been captain of the guard on the night
when three passed out through the archway and two returned, that same
man whom Umslopogaas had degraded from his rank.

“Speak on, thou art safe,” answered Dingaan.

“O King, thy ears have been filled with lies,” said the soldier.
“Hearken, O King! I was captain of the guard of the gate on that
night of the slaying of the Halakazi. Three came to the gate of the
mountain--they were Bulalio, the Wolf Galazi, and another. That other
was tall and slim, bearing a shield high--so. As the third passed the
gate, the kaross he wore brushed against me and slipped aside. Beneath
that kaross was no man’s breast, O King, but the shape of a woman,
almost white in colour, and very fair. In drawing back the kaross this
third one moved the shield. Behind that shield was no man’s face, O
King, but the face of a girl, lovelier than the moon, and having eyes
brighter than the stars. Three went out at the mountain gate, O King,
only two returned, and, peeping after them, it seemed that I saw the
third running swiftly across the plains, as a young maid runs, O King.
This also, Elephant, Bulalio yonder denied me when, as captain of the
guard, I asked for the third who had passed the gate, saying that only
two had passed. Further, none of the captives were called to swear
to the body of the maid, and now it is too late, and that man who lay
beside her was not killed by Galazi in the cave. He was killed outside
the cave by a blow of a Halakazi kerrie. I saw him fall with my own
eyes, and slew the man who smote him. One thing more, King of the World,
the best of the captives and the cattle are not here for a gift to
thee--they are at the kraal of Bulalio, Chief of the People of the Axe.
I have spoken, O King, yes, because my heart loves not lies. I have
spoken the truth, and now do thou protect me from these Wolf-Brethren, O
King, for they are very fierce.”

Now all this while that the traitor told his tale Umslopogaas, inch by
inch, was edging near to him and yet nearer, till at length he might
have touched him with an outstretched spear. None noted him except
I, Mopo, alone, and perhaps Galazi, for all were watching the face of
Dingaan as men watch a storm that is about to burst.

“Fear thou not the Wolf-Brethren, soldier,” gasped Dingaan, rolling his
red eyes; “the paw of the Lion guards thee, my servant.”

Ere the words had left the king’s lips the Slaughterer leapt. He leaped
full on to the traitor, speaking never a word, and oh! his eyes were
awful. He leaped upon him, he seized him with his hands, lifting no
weapon, and in his terrible might he broke him as a child breaks a
stick--nay, I know not how, it was too swift to see. He broke him, and,
hurling him on high, cast him dead at the feet of Dingaan, crying in a
great voice:--

“Take thy servant, King! Surely he ‘sleeps in thy shadow’!”

Then there was silence, only through the silence was heard a gasp
of fear and wonder, for no such deed as this had been wrought in the
presence of the king--no, not since the day of Senzangacona the Root.

Now Dingaan spoke, and his voice came thick with rage, and his limbs
trembled.

“Slay him!” he hissed. “Slay the dog and all those with him!”

“Now we come to a game which I can play,” answered Umslopogaas. “Ho,
People of the Axe! Will you stand to be slaughtered by these singed
rats?” and he pointed with Groan-Maker at those warriors who had escaped
without hurt in the fire, but whose faces the fire had scorched.

Then for answer a great shout went up, a shout and a roar of laughter.
And this was the shout:--

“No, Slaughterer, not so are we minded!” and right and left they faced
to meet the foe, while from all along the companies came the crackling
of the shaken shields.

Back sprang Umslopogaas to head his men; forward leaped the soldiers of
the king to work the king’s will, if so they might. And Galazi the Wolf
also sprang forward, towards Dingaan, and, as he sprang, swung up the
Watcher, crying in a great voice:--

“Hold!”

Again there was silence, for men saw that the shadow of the Watcher lay
dark upon the head of Dingaan.

“It is a pity that many should die when one will suffice,” cried the
Wolf again. “Let a blow be struck, and where his shadow lies there shall
the Watcher be, and lo! the world will lack a king. A word, King!”

Now Dingaan looked up at the great man who stood above him, and felt
the shadow of the shining club lie cold upon his brow, and again he
shook--this time it was with fear.

“Begone in peace!” he said.

“A good word for thee, King,” said the Wolf, grinning, and slowly he
drew himself backwards towards the companies, saying, “Praise the king!
The king bids his children go in peace.”

But when Dingaan felt that his brow was no longer cold with the shadow
of death his rage came back to him, and he would have called to
the soldiers to fall upon the People of the Axe, only I stayed him,
saying:--

“Thy death is in it, O King; the Slaughterer will grind such men as thou
hast here beneath his feet, and then once more shall the Watcher look
upon thee.”

Now Dingaan saw that this was true, and gave no command, for he had only
those men with him whom the fire had left. All the rest were gone to
slaughter the Boers in Natal. Still, he must have blood, so he turned on
me.

“Thou art a traitor, Mopo, as I have known for long, and I will serve
thee as yonder dog served his faithless servant!” and he thrust at me
with the assegai in his hand.

But I saw the stroke, and, springing high into the air, avoided it.
Then I turned and fled very swiftly, and after me came certain of the
soldiers. The way was not far to the last company of the People of the
Axe; moreover, it saw me coming, and, headed by Umslopogaas, who walked
behind them all, ran to meet me. Then the soldiers who followed to kill
me hung back out of reach of the axe.

“Here with the king is no place for me any more, my son,” I said to
Umslopogaas.

“Fear not, my father, I will find you a place,” he answered.

Then I called a message to the soldiers who followed me, saying:--

“Tell this to the king: that he has done ill to drive me from him, for
I, Mopo, set him on the throne and I alone can hold him there. Tell him
this also, that he will do yet worse to seek me where I am, for that
day when we are once more face to face shall be his day of death. Thus
speaks Mopo the inyanga, Mopo the doctor, who never yet prophesied that
which should not be.”

Then we marched from the kraal Umgugundhlovu, and when next I saw that
kraal it was to burn all of it which Dingaan had left unburnt, and when
next I saw Dingaan--ah! that is to be told of, my father.

We marched from the kraal, none hindering us, for there were none
to hinder, and after we had gone a little way Umslopogaas halted and
said:--

“Now it is in my mind to return whence we came and slay this Dingaan,
ere he slay me.”

“Yet it is well to leave a frightened lion in his thicket, my son, for a
lion at bay is hard to handle. Doubt not that every man, young and old,
in Umgugundhlovu now stands armed about the gates, lest such a thought
should take you, my son; and though just now he was afraid, yet Dingaan
will strike for his life. When you might have killed you did not kill;
now the hour has gone.”

“Wise words!” said Galazi. “I would that the Watcher had fallen where
his shadow fell.”

“What is your counsel now, father?” asked Umslopogaas.

“This, then: that you two should abide no more beneath the shadow of the
Ghost Mountain, but should gather your people and your cattle, and pass
to the north on the track of Mosilikatze the Lion, who broke away
from Chaka. There you may rule apart or together, and never dream of
Dingaan.”

“I will not do that, father,” he answered. “I will dwell beneath the
shadow of the Ghost Mountain while I may.”

“And so will I,” said Galazi, “or rather among its rocks. What! shall my
wolves lack a master when they would go a-hunting? Shall Greysnout and
Blackfang, Blood and Deathgrip, and their company black and grey, howl
for me in vain?”

“So be it, children. Ye are young and will not listen to the counsel of
the old. Let it befall as it chances.”

I spoke thus, for I did not know then why Umslopogaas would not leave
his kraals. It was for this reason: because he had bidden Nada to meet
him there.

Afterwards, when he found her he would have gone, but then the sky was
clear, the danger-clouds had melted for awhile.

Oh! that Umslopogaas my fosterling had listened to me! Now he would have
reigned as a king, not wandered an outcast in strange lands I know not
where; and Nada should have lived, not died, nor would the People of the
Axe have ceased to be a people.

This of Dingaan. When he heard my message he grew afraid once more, for
he knew me to be no liar.

Therefore he held his hand for awhile, sending no impi to smite
Umslopogaas, lest it might come about that I should bring him his death
as I had promised. And before the fear had worn away, it happened that
Dingaan’s hands were full with the war against the Amaboona, because of
his slaughter of the white people, and he had no soldiers to spare with
whom to wreak vengeance on a petty chief living far away.

Yet his rage was great because of what had chanced, and, after his
custom, he murdered many innocent people to satisfy it.



CHAPTER XXIX. MOPO TELLS HIS TALE

Now afterwards, as we went upon our road, Umslopogaas told me all there
was to tell of the slaying of the Halakazi and of the finding of Nada.

When I heard that Nada, my daughter, still lived, I wept for joy, though
like Umslopogaas I was torn by doubt and fear, for it is far for an
unaided maid to travel from Swaziland to the Ghost Mountain. Yet all
this while I said nothing to Umslopogaas of the truth as to his birth,
because on the journey there were many around us, and the very trees
have ears, and the same wind to which we whispered might whisper to the
king. Still I knew that the hour had come now when I must speak, for it
was in my mind to bring it about that Umslopogaas should be proclaimed
the son of Chaka, and be made king of the Zulus in the place of Dingaan,
his uncle. Yet all these things had gone cross for us, because it was
fated so, my father. Had I known that Umslopogaas still lived when I
slew Chaka, then I think that I could have brought it about that he
should be king. Or had things fallen out as I planned, and the Lily maid
been brought to Dingaan, and Umslopogaas grew great in his sight, then,
perhaps, I could have brought it about. But all things had gone wrong.
The Lily was none other than Nada; and how could Umslopogaas give Nada,
whom he thought his sister, and who was my daughter, to Dingaan against
her will? Also, because of Nada, Dingaan and Umslopogaas were now at
bitter enmity, and for this same cause I was disgraced and a fugitive,
and my counsels would no longer be heard in the ear of the king.

So everything must be begun afresh: and as I walked with the impi
towards the Ghost Mountain, I thought much and often of the manner in
which this might be done. But as yet I said nothing.

Now at last we were beneath the Ghost Mountain, and looked upon the face
of the old Witch who sits there aloft forever waiting for the world to
die; and that same night we came to the kraal of the People of the Axe,
and entered it with a great singing. But Galazi did not enter at that
time; he was away to the mountain to call his flock of wolves, and as we
passed its foot we heard the welcome that the wolves howled in greeting
to him.

Now as we drew near the kraal, all the women and children came out
to meet us, headed by Zinita, the head wife of Umslopogaas. They came
joyfully, but when they found how many were wanting who a moon before
had gone thence to fight, their joy was turned to mourning, and the
voice of their weeping went up to heaven.

Umslopogaas greeted Zinita kindly; and yet I thought that there was
something lacking. At first she spoke to him softly, but when she
learned all that had come to pass, her words were not soft, for she
reviled me and sang a loud song at Umslopogaas.

“See now, Slaughterer,” she said, “see now what has came about because
you listened to this aged fool!”--that was I, my father--“this fool who
calls himself ‘Mouth’! Ay, a mouth he is, a mouth out of which proceed
folly and lies! What did he counsel you to do?--to go up against these
Halakazi and win a girl for Dingaan! And what have you done?--you have
fallen upon the Halakazi, and doubtless have killed many innocent people
with that great axe of yours, also you have left nearly half of the
soldiers of the Axe to whiten in the Swazi caves, and in exchange have
brought back certain cattle of a small breed, and girls and children
whom we must nourish!

“Nor does the matter end here. You went, it seems, to win a girl whom
Dingaan desired, yet when you find that girl you let her go, because,
indeed, you say she was your sister and would not wed Dingaan. Forsooth,
is not the king good enough for this sister of yours? Now what is the
end of the tale? You try to play tricks on the king, because of your
sister, and are found out. Then you kill a man before Dingaan and
escape, bringing this fool of an aged Mouth with you, that he may teach
you his own folly. So you have lost half of your men, and you have
gained the king for a foe who shall bring about the death of all of us,
and a fool for a councillor. Wow! Slaughterer, keep to your trade and
let others find you wit.”

Thus she spoke without ceasing, and there was some truth in her words.
Zinita had a bitter tongue. I sat silent till she had finished, and
Umslopogaas also remained silent, though his anger was great, because
there was no crack in her talk through which a man might thrust a word.

“Peace, woman!” I said at length, “do not speak ill of those who are
wise and who had seen much before you were born.”

“Speak no ill of him who is my father,” growled Umslopogaas. “Ay! though
you do not know it, this Mouth whom you revile is Mopo, my father.”

“Then there is a man among the People of the Axe who has a fool for a
father. Of all tidings this is the worst.”

“There is a man among the People of the Axe who has a jade and a scold
for a wife,” said Umslopogaas, springing up. “Begone, Zinita!--and know
this, that if I hear you snarl such words of him who is my father, you
shall go further than your own hut, for I will put you away and drive
you from my kraal. I have suffered you too long.”

“I go,” said Zinita. “Oh! I am well served! I made you chief, and now
you threaten to put me away.”

“My own hands made me chief,” said Umslopogaas, and, springing up, he
thrust her from the hut.

“It is a poor thing to be wedded to such a woman, my father,” he said
presently.

“Yes, a poor thing, Umslopogaas, yet these are the burdens that men must
bear. Learn wisdom from it, Umslopogaas, and have as little to do with
women as may be; at the least, do not love them overmuch, so shall
you find the more peace.” Thus I spoke, smiling, and would that he had
listened to my counsel, for it is the love of women which has brought
ruin on Umslopogaas!

All this was many years ago, and but lately I have heard that
Umslopogaas is fled into the North, and become a wanderer to his death
because of the matter of a woman who had betrayed him, making it seem
that he had murdered one Loustra, who was his blood brother, just as
Galazi had been. I do not know how it came about, but he who was so
fierce and strong had that weakness like his uncle Dingaan, and it has
destroyed him at the last, and for this cause I shall behold him no
more.

Now, my father, for awhile we were silent and alone in the hut, and as
we sat I thought I heard a rat stir in the thatch.

Then I spoke. “Umslopogaas, at length the hour has come that I should
whisper something into your ear, a word which I have held secret ever
since you were born.”

“Speak on, my father,” he said, wondering.

I crept to the door of the hut and looked out. The night was dark and I
could see none about, and could hear no one move, yet, being cautious, I
walked round the hut. Ah, my father, when you have a secret to tell,
be not so easily deceived. It is not enough to look forth and to peer
round. Dig beneath the floor, and search the roof also; then, having
done all this, go elsewhere and tell your tale. The woman was right: I
was but a fool, for all my wisdom and my white hairs. Had I not been a
fool I would have smoked out that rat in the thatch before ever I opened
my lips. For the rat was Zinita, my father--Zinita, who had climbed
the hut, and now lay there in the dark, her ear upon the smoke-hole,
listening to every word that passed. It was a wicked thing to do, and,
moreover, the worst of omens, but there is little honour among women
when they learn that which others wish to hide away from them, nor,
indeed, do they then weight omens.

So having searched and found nothing, I spoke to Umslopogaas, my
fosterling, not knowing that death in a woman’s shape lay on the hut
above us. “Hearken,” I said, “you are no son of mine, Umslopogaas,
though you have called me father from a babe. You spring from a loftier
stock, Slaughterer.”

“Yet I was well pleased with my fathering, old man,” said Umslopogaas.
“The breed is good enough for me. Say, then, whose son am I?”

Now I bent forward and whispered to him, yet, alas! not low enough. “You
are the son of the Black One who is dead, yea, sprung from the blood of
Chaka and of Baleka, my sister.”

“I still have some kinship with you then, Mopo, and that I am glad of.
Wow! who would have guessed that I was the son of the Silwana, of that
hyena man? Perhaps it is for this reason that, like Galazi, I love the
company of the wolves, though no love grows in my heart for my father or
any of his house.”

“You have little cause to love him, Umslopogaas, for he murdered your
mother, Baleka, and would have slain you also. But you are the son of
Chaka and of no other man.”

“Well, his eyes must be keen indeed, my uncle, who can pick his own
father out of a crowd. And yet I once heard this tale before, though I
had long forgotten it.”

“From whom did you hear it, Umslopogaas? An hour since, it was known to
one alone, the others are dead who knew it. Now it is known to two”--ah!
my father, I did not guess of the third;--“from whom, then, did you hear
it?”

“It was from the dead; at least, Galazi the Wolf heard it from the dead
One who sat in the cave on Ghost Mountain, for the dead One told him
that a man would come to be his brother who should be named Umslopogaas
Bulalio, son of Chaka, and Galazi repeated it to me, but I had long
forgotten it.”

“It seems that there is wisdom among the dead,” I answered, “for lo!
to-day you are named Umslopogaas Bulalio, and to-day I declare you the
son of Chaka. But listen to my tale.”

Then I told him all the story from the hour of his birth onwards, and
when I spoke of the words of his mother, Baleka, after I had told my
dream to her, and of the manner of her death by the command of Chaka,
and of the great fashion in which she had died, then, I say, Umslopogaas
wept, who, I think, seldom wept before or after. But as my tale drew it
its end I saw that he listened ill, as a man listens who has a weightier
matter pressing on his heart, and before it was well done he broke in:--

“So, Mopo, my uncle, if I am the son of Chaka and Baleka, Nada the Lily
is no sister to me.”

“Nay, Umslopogaas, she is only your cousin.”

“Over near of blood,” he said; “yet that shall not stand between us,”
 and his face grew glad.

I looked at him in question.

“You grow dull, my uncle. This is my meaning: that I will marry Nada if
she still lives, for it comes upon me now that I have never loved any
woman as I love Nada the Lily,” and while he spoke, I heard the rat stir
in the thatch of the hut.

“Wed her if you will, Umslopogaas,” I answered, “yet I think that one
Zinita, your Inkosikasi, will find words to say in the matter.”

“Zinita is my head wife indeed, but shall she hold me back from taking
other wives, after the lawful custom of our people?” he asked angrily,
and his anger showed that he feared the wrath of Zinita.

“The custom is lawful and good,” I said, “but it has bred trouble at
times. Zinita can have little to say if she continues in her place and
you still love her as of old. But enough of her. Nada is not yet at your
gates, and perhaps she will never find them. See, Umslopogaas, it is my
desire that you should rule in Zululand by right of blood, and, though
things point otherwise, yet I think a way can be found to bring it
about.”

“How so?” he asked.

“Thus: Many of the great chiefs who are friends to me hate Dingaan and
fear him, and did they know that a son of Chaka lived, and that son the
Slaughterer, he well might climb to the throne upon their shoulders.
Also the soldiers love the name of Chaka, though he dealt cruelly with
them, because at least he was brave and generous. But they do not love
Dingaan, for his burdens are the burdens of Chaka but his gifts are the
gifts of Dingaan; therefore they would welcome Chaka’s son if once they
knew him for certain. But it is here that the necklet chafes, for there
is but my word to prove it. Yet I will try.”

“Perhaps it is worth trying and perhaps it is not, my uncle,” answered
Umslopogaas. “One thing I know: I had rather see Nada at my gates
to-night than hear all the chiefs in the land crying ‘Hail, O King!’”

“You will live to think otherwise, Umslopogaas; and now spies must be
set at the kraal Umgugundhlovu to give us warning of the mind of the
king, lest he should send an impi suddenly to eat you up. Perhaps his
hands may be too full for that ere long, for those white Amaboona will
answer his assegais with bullets. And one more word: let nothing be said
of this matter of your birth, least of all to Zinita your wife, or to
any other woman.”

“Fear not, uncle,” he answered; “I know how to be silent.”

Now after awhile Umslopogaas left me and went to the hut of Zinita, his
Inkosikasi, where she lay wrapped in her blankets, and, as it seemed,
asleep.

“Greeting, my husband,” she said slowly, like one who wakens. “I have
dreamed a strange dream of you. I dreamed that you were called a king,
and that all the regiments of the Zulus filed past giving you the royal
salute, Bayete.”

Umslopogaas looked at her wondering, for he did not know if she had
learned something or if this was an omen. “Such dreams are dangerous,”
 he said, “and he who dreams them does well to lock them fast till they
be forgotten.”

“Or fulfilled,” said Zinita, and again Umslopogaas looked at her
wondering.

Now after this night I began my work, for I established spies at the
kraal of Dingaan, and from them I learned all that passed with the king.

At first he gave orders that an impi should be summoned to eat up the
People of the Axe, but afterwards came tidings that the Boers, to
the number of five hundred mounted men, were marching on the kraal
Umgugundhlovu. So Dingaan had no impi to spare to send to the Ghost
Mountain, and we who were beneath its shadow dwelt there in peace.

This time the Boers were beaten, for Bogoza, the spy, led them into
an ambush; still few were killed, and they did but draw back that they
might jump the further, and Dingaan knew this. At this time also the
English white men of Natal, the people of George, who attacked Dingaan
by the Lower Tugela, were slain by our soldiers, and those with them.

Also, by the help of certain witch-doctors, I filled the land with
rumours, prophecies, and dark sayings, and I worked cunningly on the
minds of many chiefs that were known to me, sending them messages hardly
to be understood, such as should prepare their thoughts for the coming
of one who should be declared to them. They listened, but the task was
long, for the men dwelt far apart, and some of them were away with the
regiments.

So the time went by, till many days had passed since we reached the
Ghost Mountain. Umslopogaas had no more words with Zinita, but she
always watched him, and he went heavily. For he awaited Nada, and Nada
did not come.

But at length Nada came.



CHAPTER XXX. THE COMING OF NADA

One night--it was a night of full moon--I sat alone with Umslopogaas
in my hut, and we spoke of the matter of our plots; then, when we had
finished that talk, we spoke of Nada the Lily.

“Alas! my uncle,” said Umslopogaas sadly, “we shall never look more on
Nada; she is surely dead or in bonds, otherwise she had been here
long ago. I have sought far and wide, and can hear no tidings and find
nothing.”

“All that is hidden is not lost,” I answered, yet I myself believed that
there was an end of Nada.

Then we were silent awhile, and presently, in the silence, a dog barked.
We rose, and crept out of the hut to see what it might be that stirred,
for the night drew on, and it was needful to be wary, since a dog might
bark at the stirring of a leaf, or perhaps it might be the distant
footfall of an impi that it heard.

We had not far to look, for standing gazing at the huts, like one who is
afraid to call, was a tall slim man, holding an assegai in one hand
and a little shield in the other. We could not see the face of the man,
because the light was behind him, and a ragged blanket hung about his
shoulders. Also, he was footsore, for he rested on one leg. Now we
were peering round the hut, and its shadow hid us, so that the man saw
nothing. For awhile he stood still, then he spoke to himself, and his
voice was strangely soft.

“Here are many huts,” said the voice, “now how may I know which is the
house of my brother? Perhaps if I call I shall bring soldiers to me, and
be forced to play the man before them, and I am weary of that. Well, I
will lie here under the fence till morning; it is a softer bed than
some I have found, and I am worn out with travel--sleep I must,” and the
figure sighed and turned so that the light of the moon fell full upon
its face.

My father, it was the face of Nada, my daughter, whom I had not seen for
so many years, yet across the years I knew it at once; yes, though the
bud had become a flower I knew it. The face was weary and worn, but ah!
it was beautiful, never before nor since have I seen such beauty, for
there was this about the loveliness of my daughter, the Lily: it seemed
to flow from within--yes, as light will flow through the thin rind of a
gourd, and in that she differed from the other women of our people, who,
when they are fair are fair with the flesh alone.

Now my heart went out to Nada as she stood in the moonlight, one
forsaken, not having where to lay her head, Nada, who alone was left
alive of all my children. I motioned to Umslopogaas to hide himself in
the shadow, and stepped forward.

“Ho!” I said roughly, “who are you, wanderer, and what do you here?”

Now Nada started like a frightened bird, but quickly gathered up her
thoughts, and turned upon me in a lordly way.

“Who are you that ask me?” she said, feigning a man’s voice.

“One who can use a stick upon thieves and night-prowlers, boy. Come,
show your business or be moving. You are not of this people; surely that
moocha is of a Swazi make, and here we do not love Swazis.”

“Were you not old, I would beat you for your insolence,” said Nada,
striving to look brave and all the while searching a way to escape.
“Also, I have no stick, only a spear, and that is for warriors, not for
an old umfagozan like you.” Ay, my father, I lived to hear my daughter
name me an umfagozan--a low fellow!

Now making pretence to be angry, I leaped at her with my kerrie up,
and, forgetting her courage, she dropped her spear, and uttered a little
scream. But she still held the shield before her face. I seized her
by the arm, and struck a blow upon the shield with my kerrie--it would
scarcely have crushed a fly, but this brave warrior trembled sorely.

“Where now is your valour, you who name me umfagozan?” I said: “you who
cry like a maid and whose arm is soft as a maid’s.”

She made no answer, but hugged her tattered blanket round her, and
shifting my grip from her arm, I seized it and rent it, showing her
breast and shoulder; then I let her go, laughing, and said:--

“Lo! here is the warrior that would beat an old umfagozan for his
insolence, a warrior well shaped for war! Now, my pretty maid who wander
at night in the garment of a man, what tale have you to tell? Swift with
it, lest I drag you to the chief as his prize! The old man seeks a new
wife, they tell me?”

Now when Nada saw that I had discovered her she threw down the shield
after the spear, as a thing that was of no more use, and hung her head
sullenly. But when I spoke of dragging her to the chief then she flung
herself upon the ground, and clasped my knees, for since I called him
old, she thought that this chief could not be Umslopogaas.

“Oh, my father,” said the Lily, “oh, my father, have pity on me! Yes,
yes! I am a girl, a maid--no wife--and you who are old, you, perchance
have daughters such as I, and in their name I ask for pity. My father,
I have journeyed far, I have endured many things, to find my way to a
kraal where my brother rules, and now it seems I have come to the
wrong kraal. Forgive me that I spoke to you so, my father; it was but a
woman’s feint, and I was hard pressed to hide my sex, for my father, you
know it is ill to be a lonely girl among strange men.”

Now I said nothing in answer, for this reason only: that when I heard
Nada call me father, not knowing me, and saw her clasp my knees and pray
to me in my daughter’s name, I, who was childless save for her, went
nigh to weeping. But she thought that I did not answer her because I was
angry, and about to drag her to this unknown chief, and implored me the
more even with tears.

“My father,” she said, “do not this wicked thing by me. Let me go and
show me the path that I shall ask: you who are old, you know that I am
too fair to be dragged before this chief of yours. Hearken! All I knew
are dead, I am alone except for this brother I seek. Oh! if you betray
me may such a fate fall upon your own daughter also! May she also know
the day of slavery, and the love that she wills not!” and she ceased,
sobbing.

Now I turned my head and spoke towards the hut, “Chief,” I said, “your
Ehlose is kind to you to-night, for he has given you a maid fair as the
Lily of the Halakazi”--here Nada glanced up wildly. “Come, then, and
take the girl.”

Now Nada turned to snatch up the assegai from the ground, but whether to
kill me, or the chief she feared so much, or herself, I do not know, and
as she turned, in her woe she called upon the name of Umslopogaas. She
found the assegai, and straightened herself again. And lo! there before
her stood a tall chief leaning on an axe; but the old man who threatened
her was gone--not very far, in truth, but round the corner of the hut.

Now Nada the Lily looked, then rubbed her eyes, and looked again.

“Surely I dream?” she said at last. “But now I spoke to an old man, and
in his place there stands before me the shape of one whom I desire to
see.”

“I thought, Maiden, that the voice of a certain Nada called upon one
Umslopogaas,” said he who leaned upon the axe.

“Ay, I called: but where is the old man who treated me so scurvily? Nay,
what does it matter?--where he is, there let him stop. At least, you are
Umslopogaas, my brother, or should be by your greatness and the axe. To
the man I cannot altogether swear in this light; but to the axe I can
swear, for once it passed so very near my eyes.”

Thus she spoke on, gaining time, and all the while she watched
Umslopogaas till she was sure that it was he and no other. Then she
ceased talking, and, flinging herself on him, she kissed him.

“Now I trust that Zinita sleeps sound,” murmured Umslopogaas, for
suddenly he remembered that Nada was no sister of his, as she thought.

Nevertheless, he took her by the hand and said, “Enter, sister. Of all
maidens in the world you are the most welcome here, for know I believed
you dead.”

But I, Mopo, ran into the hut before her, and when she entered she found
me sitting by the fire.

“Now, here, my brother,” said Nada, pointing at me with her finger,
“here is that old umfagozan, that low fellow, who, unless I dream, but
a very little while ago brought shame upon me--ay, my brother, he struck
me, a maid, with his kerrie, and that only because I said that I would
stab him for his insolence, and he did worse: he swore that he would
drag me to some old chief of his to be a gift to him, and this he
was about to do, had you not come. Will you suffer these things to go
unpunished, my brother?”

Now Umslopogaas smiled grimly, and I answered:--

“What was it that you called me just now, Nada, when you prayed me to
protect you? Father, was it not?” and I turned my face towards the blaze
of the fire, so that the full light fell upon it.

“Yes, I called you father, old man. It is not strange, for a homeless
wanderer must find fathers where she can--and yet! no, it cannot be--so
changed--and that white hand? And yet, oh! who are you? Once there was
a man named Mopo, and he had a little daughter, and she was called
Nada--Oh! my father, my father, I know you now!”

“Ay, Nada, and I knew you from the first; through all your man’s
wrappings I knew you after these many years.”

So the Lily fell upon my neck and sobbed there, and I remember that I
also wept.

Now when she had sobbed her fill of joy, Umslopogaas brought Nada the
Lily mass to eat and mealie porridge. She ate the curdled milk, but the
porridge she would not eat, saying that she was too weary.

Then she told us all the tale of her wanderings since she had fled away
from the side of Umslopogaas at the stronghold of the Halakazi, and
it was long, so long that I will not repeat it, for it is a story by
itself. This I will say only: that Nada was captured by robbers, and for
awhile passed herself off among them as a youth. But, in the end, they
found her out and would have given her as a wife to their chief, only
she persuaded them to kill the chief and make her their ruler. They
did this because of that medicine of the eyes which Nada had only among
women, for as she ruled the Halakazi so she ruled the robbers. But, at
the last, they all loved her, and she gave it out that she would wed
the strongest. Then some of them fell to fighting, and while they killed
each other--for it came about that Nada brought death upon the robbers
as on all others--she escaped, for she said that she did not wish to
look upon their struggle but would await the upshot in a place apart.

After that she had many further adventures, but at length she met an old
woman who guided her on her way to the Ghost Mountain. And who this old
woman was none could discover, but Galazi swore afterwards that she was
the Stone Witch of the mountain, who put on the shape of an aged woman
to guide Nada to Umslopogaas, to be the sorrow and the joy of the People
of the Axe. I do not know, my father, yet it seems to me that the old
witch would scarcely have put off her stone for so small a matter.

Now, when Nada had made an end of her tale, Umslopogaas told his, of how
things had gone with Dingaan. When he told her how he had given the body
of the girl to the king, saying that it was the Lily’s stalk, she said
it had been well done; and when he spoke of the slaying of the traitor
she clapped her hands, though Nada, whose heart was gentle, did not love
to hear of deeds of death. At last he finished, and she was somewhat
sad, and said it seemed that her fate followed her, and that now the
People of the Axe were in danger at the hands of Dingaan because of her.

“Ah! my brother,” she cried, taking Umslopogaas by the hand, “it were
better I should die than that I should bring evil upon you also.”

“That would not mend matters, Nada,” he answered. “For whether you be
dead or alive, the hate of Dingaan is already earned. Also, Nada, know
this: I am not your brother.”

When the Lily heard these words she uttered a little cry, and, letting
fall the hand of Umslopogaas, clasped mine, shrinking up against me.

“What is this tale, father?” she asked. “He who was my twin, he with
whom I have been bred up, says that he has deceived me these many years,
that he is not my brother; who, then, is he, father?”

“He is your cousin, Nada.”

“Ah,” she answered, “I am glad. It would have grieved me had he whom I
loved been shown to be but a stranger in whom I have no part,” and she
smiled a little in the eyes and at the corners of her mouth. “But tell
me this tale also.”

So I told her the tale of the birth of Umslopogaas, for I trusted her.

“Ah,” she said, when I had finished, “ah! you come of a bad stock,
Umslopogaas, though it is a kingly one. I shall love you little
henceforth, child of the hyena man.”

“Then that is bad news,” said Umslopogaas, “for know, Nada, I desire now
that you should love me more than ever--that you should be my wife and
love me as your husband!”

Now the Lily’s face grew sad and sweet, and all the hidden mockery went
out of her talk--for Nada loved to mock.

“Did you not speak to me on that night in the Halakazi caves,
Umslopogaas, of one Zinita, who is your wife, and Inkosikaas of the
People of the Axe?”

Then the brow of Umslopogaas darkened: “What of Zinita?” he said. “It is
true she is my chieftainess; is it not allowed a man to take more than
one wife?”

“So I trust,” answered Nada, smiling, “else men would go unwed for long,
for few maids would marry them who then must labour alone all their
days. But, Umslopogaas, if there are twenty wives, yet one must be
first. Now this has come about hitherto: that wherever I have been it
has been thrust upon me to be first, and perhaps it might be thus once
more--what then, Umslopogaas?”

“Let the fruit ripen before you pluck it, Nada,” he answered. “If you
love me and will wed me, it is enough.”

“I pray that it may not be more than enough,” she said, stretching out
her hand to him. “Listen, Umslopogaas: ask my father here what were the
words I spoke to him many years ago, before I was a woman, when, with my
mother, Macropha, I left him to go among the Swazi people. It was after
you had been borne away by the lion, Umslopogaas, I told my father that
I would marry no man all my life, because I loved only you, who were
dead. My father reproached me, saying that I must not speak thus of my
brother, but it was my heart which spoke, and it spoke truly; for see,
Umslopogaas, you are no brother to me! I have kept that vow. How many
men have sort me in wedlock since I became a woman, Umslopogaas? I tell
you that they are as the leaves upon a tree. Yet I have given myself to
none, and this has been my fortune: that none have sought to constrain
me to marriage. Now I have my reward, for he whom I lost is found again,
and to him alone I give my love. Yet, Umslopogaas, beware! Little luck
has come to those who have loved me in the past; no, not even to those
who have but sought to look on me.”

“I will bear the risk, Nada,” the Slaughterer answered, and gathering
her to his great breast he kissed her.

Presently she slipped from his arms and bade him begone, for she was
weary and would rest.

So he went.



CHAPTER XXXI. THE WAR OF THE WOMEN

Now on the morrow at daybreak, leaving his wolves, Galazi came down from
the Ghost Mountain and passed through the gates of the kraal.

In front of my hut he saw Nada the Lily and saluted her, for each
remembered the other. Then he walked on to the place of assembly and
spoke to me.

“So the Star of Death has risen on the People of the Axe, Mopo,” he
said. “Was it because of her coming that my grey people howled so
strangely last night? I cannot tell, but I know this, the Star shone
first on me this morning, and that is my doom. Well, she is fair enough
to be the doom of many, Mopo,” and he laughed and passed on, swinging
the Watcher. But his words troubled me, though they were foolish; for I
could not but remember that wherever the beauty of Nada had pleased the
sight of men, there men had been given to death.

Then I went to lead Nada to the place of assembly and found her awaiting
me. She was dressed now in some woman’s garments that I had brought her;
her curling hair fell upon her shoulders; on her wrist and neck and knee
were bracelets of ivory, and in her hand she bore a lily bloom which she
had gathered as she went to bathe in the river. Perhaps she did this, my
father, because she wished here, as elsewhere, to be known as the Lily,
and it is the Zulu fashion to name people from some such trifle. But
who can know a woman’s reason, or whether a thing is by chance alone, my
father? Also she had begged me of a cape I had; it was cunningly made by
Basutus, of the whitest feathers of the ostrich; this she put about her
shoulders, and it hung down to her middle. It had been a custom with
Nada from childhood not to go about as do other girls, naked except for
their girdles, for she would always find some rag or skin to lie upon
her breast. Perhaps it was because her skin was fairer than that of
other women, or perhaps because she knew that she who hides her beauty
often seems the loveliest, or because there was truth in the tale of her
white blood and the fashion came to her with the blood. I do not know,
my father; at the least she did so.

Now I took Nada by the hand and led her through the morning air to the
place of assembly, and ah! she was sweeter than the air and fairer than
the dawn.

There were many people in the place of assembly, for it was the day of
the monthly meeting of the council of the headmen, and there also were
all the women of the kraal, and at their head stood Zinita. Now it had
got about that the girl whom the Slaughterer went to seek in the caves
of the Halakazi had come to the kraal of the People of the Axe, and all
eyes watched for her.

“Wow!” said the men as she passed smiling, looking neither to the right
nor to the left, yet seeing all--“Wow! but this flower is fair! Little
wonder that the Halakazi died for her!”

The women looked also, but they said nothing of the beauty of Nada; they
scarcely seemed to see it.

“That is she for whose sake so many of our people lie unburied,” said
one.

“Where, then, does she find her fine clothes?” quoth another, “she who
came here last night a footsore wanderer?”

“Feathers are not enough for her: look! she must bear flowers also.
Surely they are fitter to her hands than the handle of a hoe,” said a
third.

“Now I think that the chief of the People of the Axe will find one to
worship above the axe, and that some will be left mourning,” put in a
fourth, glancing at Zinita and the other women of the household of the
Slaughterer.

Thus they spoke, throwing words like assegais, and Nada heard them all,
and knew their meaning, but she never ceased from smiling. Only Zinita
said nothing, but stood looking at Nada from beneath her bent brows,
while by one hand she held the little daughter of Umslopogaas, her
child, and with the other played with the beads about her neck.
Presently, we passed her, and Nada, knowing well who this must be,
turned her eyes full upon the angry eyes of Zinita, and held them there
awhile. Now what there was in the glance of Nada I cannot say, but I
know that Zinita, who was afraid of few things, found something to fear
in it. At the least, it was she who turned her head away, and the Lily
passed on smiling, and greeted Umslopogaas with a little nod.

“Hail, Nada!” said the Slaughterer. Then he turned to his headmen and
spoke: “This is she whom we went to the caves of the Halakazi to seek
for Dingaan. Ou! the story is known now; one told it up at the kraal
Umgugundhlovu who shall tell it no more. She prayed me to save her from
Dingaan, and so I did, and all would have gone well had it not been for
a certain traitor who is done with, for I took another to Dingaan. Look
on her now, my friends, and say if I did not well to win her--the Lily
flower, such as there is no other in the world, to be the joy of the
People of the Axe and a wife to me.”

With one accord the headmen answered: “Indeed you did well,
Slaughterer,” for the glamour of Nada was upon them and they would
cherish her as others had cherished her. Only Galazi the Wolf shook his
head. But he said nothing, for words do not avail against fate. Now as
I found afterwards, since Zinita, the head wife of Umslopogaas, had
learned of what stock he was, she had known that Nada was no sister to
him. Yet when she heard him declare that he was about to take the Lily
to wife she turned upon him, saying:--

“How can this be, Lord?”

“Why do you ask, Zinita?” he answered. “Is it not allowed to a man to
take another wife if he will?”

“Surely, Lord,” she said; “but men do not wed their sisters, and I have
heard that it was because this Nada was your sister that you saved her
from Dingaan, and brought the wrath of Dingaan upon the People of the
Axe, the wrath that shall destroy them.”

“So I thought then, Zinita,” he answered; “now I know otherwise. Nada is
daughter to Mopo yonder indeed, but he is no father to me, though he
has been named so, nor was the mother of Nada my mother. That is so,
Councillors.”

Then Zinita looked at me and muttered, “O fool of a Mouth, not for
nothing did I fear evil at your hands.”

I heard the words and took no note, and she spoke again to Umslopogaas,
saying: “Here is a mystery, O Lord Bulalio. Will it then please you to
declare to us who is your father?”

“I have no father,” he answered, waxing wroth; “the heavens above are
my father. I am born of Blood and Fire, and she, the Lily, is born of
Beauty to be my mate. Now, woman, be silent.” He thought awhile,
and added, “Nay, if you will know, my father was Indabazimbi the
Witch-finder, the smeller-out of the king, the son of Arpi.” This
Umslopogaas said at a hazard, since, having denied me, he must declare
a father, and dared not name the Black One who was gone. But in
after years the saying was taken up in the land, and it was told that
Umslopogaas was the son of Indabazimbi the Witch-finder, who had long
ago fled the land; nor did he deny it. For when all this game had been
played out he would not have it known that he was the son of Chaka, he
who no longer sought to be a king, lest he should bring down the wrath
of Panda upon him.

When the people heard this they thought that Umslopogaas mocked Zinita,
and yet in his anger he spoke truth when he said first that he was
born of the “heavens above,” for so we Zulus name the king, and so the
witch-doctor Indabazimbi named Chaka on the day of the great smelling
out. But they did not take it in this sense. They held that he
spoke truly when he gave it out that he was born of Indabazimbi the
Witch-doctor, who had fled the land, whither I do not know.

Then Nada turned to Zinita and spoke to her in a sweet and gentle voice:
“If I am not sister to Bulalio, yet I shall soon be sister to you who
are the Chief’s Inkosikaas, Zinita. Shall that not satisfy you, and will
you not greet me kindly and with a kiss of peace, who have come from
far to be your sister, Zinita?” and Nada held out her hands towards
her, though whether she did this from the heart or because she would
put herself in the right before the people I do not know. But Zinita
scowled, and jerked at her necklace of beads, breaking the string
on which they were threaded, so that the beads rolled upon the black
earthen floor this way and that.

“Keep your kisses for our lord, girl,” Zinita said roughly. “As my beads
are scattered so shall you scatter this People of the Axe.”

Now Nada turned away with a little sigh, and the people murmured, for
they thought that Zinita had treated her badly. Then she stretched out
her hand again, and gave the lily in it to Umslopogaas, saying:--

“Here is a token of our betrothal, Lord, for never a head of cattle
have my father and I to send--we who are outcasts; and, indeed, the
bridegroom must pay the cattle. May I bring you peace and love, my
Lord!”

Umslopogaas took the flower, and looked somewhat foolish with it--he who
was wont to carry the axe, and not a flower; and so that talk was ended.

Now as it chanced, this was that day of the year when, according to
ancient custom, the Holder of the Axe must challenge all and sundry to
come up against him to fight in single combat for Groan-Maker and
the chieftainship of the people. Therefore, when the talk was done,
Umslopogaas rose and went through the challenge, not thinking that any
would answer him, since for some years none had dared to stand before
his might. Yet three men stepped forward, and of these two were
captains, and men whom the Slaughterer loved. With all the people, he
looked at them astonished.

“How is this?” he said in a low voice to that captain who was nearest
and who would do battle with him.

For answer the man pointed to the Lily, who stood by. Then Umslopogaas
understood that because of the medicine of Nada’s beauty all men desired
to win her, and, since he who could win the axe would take her also, he
must look to fight with many. Well, fight he must or be shamed.

Of the fray there is little to tell. Umslopogaas killed first one man
and then the other, and swiftly, for, growing fearful, the third did not
come up against him.

“Ah!” said Galazi, who watched, “what did I tell you, Mopo? The curse
begins to work. Death walks ever with that daughter of yours, old man.”

“I fear so,” I answered, “and yet the maiden is fair and good and
sweet.”

“That will not mend matters,” said Galazi.

Now on that day Umslopogaas took Nada the Lily to wife, and for awhile
there was peace and quiet. But this evil thing came upon Umslopogaas,
that, from the day when he wedded Nada, he hated even to look upon
Zinita, and not at her alone, but on all his other wives also. Galazi
said it was because Nada had bewitched him, but I know well that the
only witcheries she used were the medicine of her eyes, her beauty, and
her love. Still, it came to pass that henceforward, and until she had
long been dead, the Slaughterer loved her, and her alone, and that is a
strange sickness to come upon a man.

As may be guessed, my father, Zinita and the other women took this ill.
They waited awhile, indeed, thinking that it would wear away, then they
began to murmur, both to their husband and in the ears of other people,
till at length there were two parties in the town, the party of Zinita
and the party of Nada.

The party of Zinita was made up of women and of certain men who loved
and feared their wives, but that of Nada was the greatest, and it was
all of men, with Umslopogaas at the head of them, and from this division
came much bitterness abroad, and quarrelling in the huts. Yet neither
the Lily nor Umslopogaas heeded it greatly, nor indeed, anything, so
lost and well content were they in each other’s love.

Now on a certain morning, after they had been married three full moons,
Nada came from her husband’s hut when the sun was already high, and went
down through the rock gully to the river to bathe. On the right of
the path to the river lay the mealie-fields of the chief, and in
them laboured Zinita and the other women of Umslopogaas, weeding
the mealie-plants. They looked up and saw Nada pass, then worked on
sullenly. After awhile they saw her come again fresh from the bath, very
fair to see, and having flowers twined among her hair, and as she walked
she sang a song of love. Now Zinita cast down her hoe.

“Is this to be borne, my sisters?” she said.

“No,” answered another, “it is not to be borne. What shall we do--shall
we fall upon her and kill her now?”

“It would be more just to kill Bulalio, our lord,” answered Zinita.
“Nada is but a woman, and, after the fashion of us women, takes all that
she can gather. But he is a man and a chief, and should know wisdom and
justice.”

“She has bewitched him with her beauty. Let us kill her,” said the other
women.

“Nay,” answered Zinita, “I will speak with her,” and she went and stood
in the path along which the Lily walked singing, her arms folded across
her breast.

Now Nada saw her and, ceasing her song, stretched out her hand to
welcome her, saying, “Greeting, sister.” But Zinita did not take it.
“It is not fitting, sister,” she said, “that my hand, stained with toil,
should defile yours, fresh with the scent of flowers. But I am charged
with a message, on my own behalf and the behalf of the other wives of
our Lord Bulalio; the weeds grow thick in yonder corn, and we women are
few; now that your love days are over, will not you come and help us? If
you brought no hoe from your Swazi home, surely we will buy you one.”

Now Nada saw what was meant, and the blood poured to her head. Yet she
answered calmly:--

“I would willingly do this, my sister, though I have never laboured in
the fields, for wherever I have dwelt the men have kept me back from all
work, save such as the weaving of flowers or the stringing of beads.
But there is this against it--Umslopogaas, my husband, charged me that I
should not toil with my hands, and I may not disobey my husband.”

“Our husband charged you so, Nada? Nay, then it is strange. See, now, I
am his head wife, his Inkosikaas--it was I who taught him how to win the
axe. Yet he has laid no command on me that I should not labour in the
fields after the fashion of women, I who have borne him children; nor,
indeed, has he laid such a command upon any of our sisters, his other
wives. Can it then be that Bulalio loves you better than us, Nada?”

Now the Lily was in a trap, and she knew it. So she grew bold.

“One must be most loved, Zinita,” she said, “as one must be most
fair. You have had your hour, leave me mine; perhaps it will be short.
Moreover this: Umslopogaas and I loved each other much long years before
you or any of his wives saw him, and we love each other to the end.
There is no more to say.”

“Nay, Nada, there is still something to say; there is this to say:
Choose one of two things. Go and leave us to be happy with our lord, or
stay and bring death on all.”

Now Nada thought awhile, and answered: “Did I believe that my love would
bring death on him I love, it might well chance that I would go and
leave him, though to do so would be to die. But, Zinita, I do not
believe it. Death chiefly loves the weak, and if he falls it will be on
the Flower, not on the Slayer of Men,” and she slipped past Zinita and
went on, singing no more.

Zinita watched her till she was over the ridge, and her face grew evil
as she watched. Then she returned to the women.

“The Lily flouts us all, my sisters,” she said. “Now listen: my counsel
is that we declare a feast of women to be held at the new moon in a
secret place far away. All the women and the children shall come to it
except Nada, who will not leave her lover, and if there be any man whom
a woman loves, perhaps, my sisters, that man would do well to go on a
journey about the time of the new moon, for evil things may happen at
the town of the People of the Axe while we are away celebrating our
feast.”

“What, then, shall befall, my sister?” asked one.

“Nay, how can I tell?” she answered. “I only know that we are minded
to be rid of Nada, and thus to be avenged on a man who has scorned our
love--ay, and on those men who follow after the beauty of Nada. Is it
not so, my sisters?”

“It is so,” they answered.

“Then be silent on the matter, and let us give out our feast.”

Now Nada told Umslopogaas of those words which she had bandied
with Zinita, and the Slaughterer was troubled. Yet, because of his
foolishness and of the medicine of Nada’s eyes, he would not turn from
his way, and was ever at her side, thinking of little else except of
her. Thus, when Zinita came to him, and asked leave to declare a feast
of women that should be held far away, he consented, and gladly, for,
above all things, he desired to be free from Zinita and her angry looks
for awhile; nor did he suspect a plot. Only he told her that Nada should
not go to the feast; and in a breath both Zinita and Nada answered that
his word was their will, as indeed it was, in this matter.

Now I, Mopo, saw the glamour that had fallen upon my fosterling, and
spoke of it with Galazi, saying that a means must be found to wake him.
Then I took Galazi fully into my mind, and told him all that he did not
know of Umslopogaas, and that was little. Also, I told him of my plans
to bring the Slaughterer to the throne, and of what I had done to that
end, and of what I proposed to do, and this was to go in person on a
journey to certain of the great chiefs and win them over.

Galazi listened, and said that it was well or ill, as the chance might
be. For his part, he believed that the daughter would pull down faster
than I, the father, could build up, and he pointed to Nada, who walked
past us, following Umslopogaas.

Yet I determined to go, and that was on the day before Zinita won leave
to celebrate the feast of women. So I sought Umslopogaas and told him,
and he listened indifferently, for he would be going after Nada, and
wearied of my talk of policy. I bade him farewell and left him; to Nada
also I bade farewell. She kissed me, yet the name of her husband was
mingled with her good-bye.

“Now madness has come upon these two,” I said to myself. “Well, it will
wear off, they will be changed before I come again.”

I guessed little, my father, how changed they would be.



CHAPTER XXXII. ZINITA COMES TO THE KING

Dingaan the king sat upon a day in the kraal Umgugundhlovu, waiting
till his impis should return from the Income that is now named the Blood
River. He had sent them thither to destroy the laager of the Boers, and
thence, as he thought, they would presently return with victory. Idly
he sat in the kraal, watching the vultures wheel above the Hill of
Slaughter, and round him stood a regiment.

“My birds are hungry,” he said to a councillor.

“Doubtless there shall soon be meat to feed them, O King!” the
councillor answered.

As he spoke one came near, saying that a woman sought leave to speak to
the king upon some great matter.

“Let her come,” he answered; “I am sick for tidings, perhaps she can
tell of the impi.”

Presently the woman was led in. She was tall and fair, and she held two
children by the hand.

“What is thine errand?” asked Dingaan.

“Justice, O King,” she answered.

“Ask for blood, it shall be easier to find.”

“I ask blood, O King.”

“The blood of whom?”

“The blood of Bulalio the Slaughterer, Chief of the People of the Axe,
the blood of Nada the Lily, and of all those who cling to her.”

Now Dingaan sprang up and swore an oath by the head of the Black One who
was gone.

“What?” he cried, “does the Lily, then, live as the soldier thought?”

“She lives, O King. She is wife to the Slaughterer, and because of
her witchcraft he has put me, his first wife, away against all law and
honour. Therefore I ask vengeance on the witch and vengeance also on him
who was my husband.”

“Thou art a good wife,” said the king. “May my watching spirit save me
from such a one. Hearken! I would gladly grant thy desire, for I, too,
hate this Slaughterer, and I, too, would crush this Lily. Yet, woman,
thou comest in a bad hour. Here I have but one regiment, and I think
that the Slaughterer may take some killing. Wait till my impis return
from wiping out the white Amaboona, and it shall be as thou dost desire.
Whose are those children?”

“They are my children and the children of Bulalio, who was my husband.”

“The children of him whom thou wouldst cause to be slain.”

“Yea, King.”

“Surely, woman, thou art as good a mother as wife!” said Dingaan. “Now I
have spoken--begone!”

But the heart of Zinita was hungry for vengeance, vengeance swift and
terrible, on the Lily, who lay in her place, and on her husband, who had
thrust her aside for the Lily’s sake. She did not desire to wait--no,
not even for an hour.

“Hearken, O King!” she cried, “the tale is not yet all told. This man,
Bulalio, plots against thy throne with Mopo, son of Makedama, who was
thy councillor.”

“He plots against my throne, woman? The lizard plots against the cliff
on which it suns itself? Then let him plot; and as for Mopo, I will
catch him yet!”

“Yes, O King! but that is not all the tale. This man has another
name--he is named Umslopogaas, son of Mopo. But he is no son of Mopo:
he is son to the Black One who is dead, the mighty king who was thy
brother, by Baleka, sister to Mopo. Yes, I know it from the lips of
Mopo. I know all the tale. He is heir to thy throne by blood, O King,
and thou sittest in his place.”

For a little while Dingaan sat astounded. Then he commanded Zinita to
draw near and tell him that tale.

Now behind the stool on which he sat stood two councillors, nobles whom
Dingaan loved, and these alone had heard the last words of Zinita. He
bade these nobles stand in front of him, out of earshot and away from
every other man. Then Zinita drew near, and told Dingaan the tale of
the birth of Umslopogaas and all that followed, and, by many a token and
many a deed of Chaka’s which he remembered, Dingaan the king knew that
it was a true story.

When at length she had done, he summoned the captain of the regiment
that stood around: he was a great man named Faku, and he also summoned
certain men who do the king’s bidding. To the captain of the impi he
spoke sharply, saying:--

“Take three companies and guides, and come by night to the town of the
People of the Axe, that is by Ghost Mountain, and burn it, and slay
all the wizards who sleep therein. Most of all, slay the Chief of the
People, who is named Bulalio the Slaughterer or Umslopogaas. Kill him
by torture if you may, but kill him and bring his head to me. Take that
wife of his, who is known as Nada the Lily, alive if ye can, and bring
her to me, for I would cause her to be slain here. Bring the cattle
also. Now go, and go swiftly, this hour. If ye return having failed in
one jot of my command, ye die, every one of you--ye die, and slowly.
Begone!”

The captain saluted, and, running to his regiment, issued a command.
Three full companies leapt forward at his word, and ran after him
through the gates of the kraal Umgugundhlovu, heading for the Ghost
Mountain.

Then Dingaan called to those who do the king’s bidding, and, pointing
to the two nobles, his councillors, who had heard the words of Zinita,
commanded that they should be killed.

The nobles heard, and, having saluted the king, covered their faces,
knowing that they must die because they had learned too much. So they
were killed. Now it was one of these councillors who had said that
doubtless meat would soon be found to feed the king’s birds.

Then the king commanded those who do his bidding that they should take
the children of Zinita and make away with them.

But when Zinita heard this she cried aloud, for she loved her children.
Then Dingaan mocked her.

“What?” he said, “art thou a fool as well as wicked? Thou sayest that
thy husband, whom thou hast given to death, is born of one who is dead,
and is heir to my throne. Thou sayest also that these children are born
of him; therefore, when he is dead, they will be heirs to my throne. Am
I then mad that I should suffer them to live? Woman, thou hast fallen
into thine own trap. Take them away!”

Now Zinita tasted of the cup which she had brewed for other lips, and
grew distraught in her misery, and wrung her hands, crying that she
repented her of the evil and would warn Umslopogaas and the Lily of that
which awaited them. And she turned to run towards the gates. But the
king laughed and nodded, and they brought her back, and presently she
was dead also.

Thus, then, my father, prospered the wickedness of Zinita, the head wife
of Umslopogaas, my fosterling.

Now these were the last slayings that were wrought at the kraal
Umgugundhlovu, for just as Dingaan had made an end of them and once more
grew weary, he lifted his eyes and saw the hillsides black with men, who
by their dress were of his own impi--men whom he had sent out against
the Boers.

And yet where was the proud array, where the plumes and shields, where
the song of victory? Here, indeed, were soldiers, but they walked in
groups like women and hung their heads like chidden children.

Then he learned the truth. The impi had been defeated by the banks of
the Income; thousands had perished at the laager, mowed down by the guns
of the Boers, thousands more had been drowned in the Income, till the
waters were red and the bodies of the slain pushed each other under, and
those who still lived walked upon them.

Dingaan heard, and was seized with fear, for it was said that the
Amaboona followed fast on the track of the conquered.

That day he fled to the bush on the Black Umfolozi river, and that night
the sky was crimson with the burning of the kraal Umgugundhlovu, where
the Elephant should trumpet no more, and the vultures were scared from
the Hill of Slaughter by the roaring of the flames.

* * * * *

Galazi sat on the lap of the stone Witch, gazing towards the wide plains
below, that were yet white with the moon, though the night grew towards
the morning. Greysnout whined at his side, and Deathgrip thrust his
muzzle into his hand; but Galazi took no heed, for he was brooding on
the fall of Umslopogaas from the man that he had been to the level of a
woman’s slave, and on the breaking up of the People of the Axe, because
of the coming of Nada. For all the women and the children were gone to
this Feast of Women, and would not return for long, and it seemed to
Galazi that many of the men had slipped away also, as though they smelt
some danger from afar.

“Ah, Deathgrip,” said Galazi aloud to the wild brute at his side,
“changed is the Wolf King my brother, all changed because of a woman’s
kiss. Now he hunts no more, no more shall Groan-Maker be aloft; it is
a woman’s kiss he craves, not the touch of your rough tongue, it is a
woman’s hand he holds, not the smooth haft of horn, he, who of all men,
was the fiercest and the first; for this last shame has overtaken
him. Surely Chaka was a great king though an evil, and he showed his
greatness when he forbade marriage to the warriors, marriage that makes
the heart soft and turns blood to water.”

Now Galazi ceased, and gazed idly towards the kraal of the People of the
Axe, and as he looked his eyes caught a gleam of light that seemed
to travel in and out of the edge of the shadow of Ghost Mountain as
a woman’s needle travels through a skin, now seen and now lost in the
skin.

He started and watched. Ah! there the light came out from the shadow.
Now, by Chaka’s head, it was the light of spears!

One moment more Galazi watched. It was a little impi, perhaps they
numbered two hundred men, running silently, but not to battle, for they
wore no plumes. Yet they went out to kill, for they ran in companies,
and each man carried assegais and a shield.

Now Galazi had heard tell of such impis that hunt by night, and he knew
well that these were the king’s dogs, and their game was men, a big
kraal of sleeping men, otherwise there had been fewer dogs. Is a whole
pack sent out to catch an antelope on its form? Galazi wondered whom
they sought. Ah! now they turned to the ford, and he knew. It was his
brother Umslopogaas and Nada the Lily and the People of the Axe. These
were the king’s dogs, and Zinita had let them slip. For this reason she
had called a feast of women, and taken the children with her; for this
reason so many had been summoned from the kraal by one means or another:
it was that they might escape the slaughter.

Galazi bounded to his feet. For one moment he thought. Might not these
hunters be hunted? Could he not destroy them by the jaws of the wolves
as once before they had destroyed a certain impi of the king’s? Ay, if
he had seen them but one hour before, then scarcely a man of them should
have lived to reach the stream, for he would have waylaid them with
his wolves. But now it might not be; the soldiers neared the ford, and
Galazi knew well that his grey people would not hunt on the further
plain, though for this he had heard one reason only, that which was
given him by the lips of the dead in a dream.

What, then, might be done? One thing alone: warn Umslopogaas. Yet how?
For him who could swim a rushing river, there was, indeed, a swifter way
to the place of the People of the Axe--a way that was to the path of the
impi as is the bow-string to the strung bow. And yet they had travelled
well-nigh half the length of the bow. Still, he might do it, he whose
feet were the swiftest in the land, except those of Umslopogaas. At the
least, he would try. Mayhap, the impi would tarry to drink at the ford.

So Galazi thought in his heart, and his thought was swift as the light.
Then with a bound he was away down the mountain side. From boulder to
boulder he leapt like a buck, he crashed through the brake like a bull,
he skimmed the level like a swallow. The mountain was travelled now;
there in front of him lay the yellow river foaming in its flood, so he
had swum it before when he went to see the dead. Ah! a good leap far out
into the torrent; it was strong, but he breasted it. He was through, he
stood upon the bank shaking the water from him like a dog, and now he
was away up the narrow gorge of stones to the long slope, running low as
his wolves ran.

Before him lay the town--one side shone silver with the sinking moon,
one was grey with the breaking dawn. Ah! they were there, he saw them
moving through the grass by the eastern gate; he saw the long lines of
slayers creep to the left and the right.

How could he pass them before the circle of death was drawn?
Six spear-throws to run, and they had but such a little way! The
mealie-plants were tall, and at a spot they almost touched the fence. Up
the path! Could Umslopogaas, his brother, move more fast, he wondered,
than the Wolf who sped to save him? He was there, hidden by the mealie
stalks, and there, along the fence to the right and to the left, the
slayers crept!

“Wow! What was that?” said one soldier of the king to another man as
they joined their guard completing the death circle. “Wow! something
great and black crashed through the fence before me.”

“I heard it, brother,” answered the other man. “I heard it, but I saw
nothing. It must have been a dog: no man could leap so high.”

“More like a wolf,” said the first; “at the least, let us pray that it
was not an Esedowan (1) who will put us into the hole in its back. Is
your fire ready, brother? Wow! these wizards shall wake warm; the signal
should be soon.”

 (1) A fabulous animal, reported by the Zulus to carry off human beings
    in a hole in its back.

Then arose the sound of a great voice crying, “Awake, ye sleepers, the
foe is at your gates!”



CHAPTER XXXIII. THE END OF THE PEOPLE, BLACK AND GREY

Galazi rushed through the town crying aloud, and behind him rose a stir
of men. All slept and no sentinels were set, for Umslopogaas was so lost
in his love for the Lily that he forgot his wisdom, and thought no more of
war or death or of the hate of Dingaan. Presently the Wolf came to the
large new hut which Umslopogaas had caused to be built for Nada the
Lily, and entered it, for there he knew that he should find his brother
Bulalio. On the far side of the hut the two lay sleeping, and the head
of Umslopogaas rested on the Lily’s breast, and by his side gleamed the
great axe Groan-Maker.

“Awake!” cried the Wolf.

Now Umslopogaas sprang to his feet grasping at his axe, but Nada threw
her arms wide, murmuring; “Let me sleep on, sweet is sleep.”

“Sound shall ye sleep, anon!” gasped Galazi. “Swift, brother, bind on
the wolf’s hide, take shield! Swift, I say--for the Slayers of the king
are at your gates!”

Now Nada sprang up also, and they did his bidding like people in a
dream; and, while they found their garments and a shield, Galazi took
beer and drank it, and got his breath again. They stood without the hut.
Now the heaven was grey, and east and west and north and south tongues
of flame shot up against the sky, for the town had been fired by the
Slayers.

Umslopogaas looked and his sense came back to him: he understood. “Which
way, brother?” he said.

“Through the fire and the impi to our Grey People on the mountain,” said
Galazi. “There, if we can win it, we shall find succour.”

“What of my people in the kraal,” asked Umslopogaas.

“They are not many, brother; the women and the children are gone. I have
roused the men--most will escape. Hence, ere we burn!”

Now they ran towards the fence, and as they went men joined them to the
number of ten, half awakened, fear-stricken, armed--some with spears,
some with clubs--and for the most part naked. They sped on together
towards the fence of the town that was now but a ring of fire,
Umslopogaas and Galazi in front, each holding the Lily by a hand. They
neared the fence--from without came the shouts of the Slayers--lo! it
was afire. Nada shrank back in fear, but Umslopogaas and Galazi dragged
her on. They rushed at the blazing fence, smiting with axe and club. It
broke before them, they were through but little harmed. Without were a
knot of the Slayers, standing back a small space because of the heat of
the flames. The Slayers saw them, and crying, “This is Bulalio, kill the
wizard!” sprang towards them with uplifted spears. Now the People of the
Axe made a ring round Nada, and in the front of it were Umslopogaas
and Galazi. Then they rushed on and met those of the Slayers who stood
before them, and the men of Dingaan were swept away and scattered by
Groan-Maker and the Watcher, as dust is swept of a wind, as grass is
swept by a sickle.

They were through with only one man slain, but the cry went up that the
chief of the wizards and the Lily, his wife, had fled. Then, as it was
these whom he was chiefly charged to kill, the captain called off the
impi from watching for the dwellers in the town, and started in pursuit
of Umslopogaas. Now, at this time nearly a hundred men of the People of
the Axe had been killed and of the Slayers some fifty men, for, having
been awakened by the crying of Galazi, the soldiers of the axe fought
bravely, though none saw where his brother stood, and none knew whither
their chief had fled except those ten who went with the brethren.

Meanwhile, the Wolf-Brethren and those with them were well away, and it
had been easy for them to escape, who were the swiftest-footed of any in
the land. But the pace of a regiment is the pace of its slowest-footed
soldier, and Nada could not run with the Wolf-Brethren. Yet they made
good speed, and were halfway down the gorge that led to the river before
the companies of Dingaan poured into it. Now they came to the end of it,
and the foe was near--this end of the gorge is narrow, my father, like
the neck of a gourd--then Galazi stopped and spoke:--

“Halt! ye People of the Axe,” he said, “and let us talk awhile with
these who follow till we get our breath again. But you, my brother, pass
the river with the Lily in your hand. We will join you in the forest;
but if perchance we cannot find you, you know what must be done: set
the Lily in the cave, then return and call up the grey impi. Wow! my
brother, I must find you if I may, for if these men of Dingaan have a
mind for sport there shall be such a hunting on the Ghost Mountain as
the old Witch has not seen. Go now, my brother!”

“It is not my way to turn and run while others stand and fight,” growled
Umslopogaas; “yet, because of Nada, it seems that I must.”

“Oh! heed me not, my love,” said Nada, “I have brought thee sorrow--I am
weary, let me die; kill me and save yourselves!”

For answer, Umslopogaas took her by the hand and fled towards the river;
but before he reached it he heard the sounds of the fray, the war-cry of
the Slayers as they poured upon the People of the Axe, the howl of his
brother, the Wolf, when the battle joined--ay, and the crash of the
Watcher as the blow went home.

“Well bitten, Wolf!” he said, stopping; “that one shall need no more;
oh! that I might”--but again he looked at Nada, and sped on.

Now they had leaped into the foaming river, and here it was well that
the Lily could swim, else both had been lost. But they won through and
passed forward to the mountain’s flank. Here they walked on among the
trees till the forest was almost passed, and at length Umslopogaas heard
the howling of a wolf.

Then he must set Nada on his shoulders and carry her as once Galazi had
carried another, for it was death for any except the Wolf-Brethren to
walk on the Ghost Mountain when the wolves were awake.

Presently the wolves flocked around him, and leaped upon him in joy,
glaring with fierce eyes at her who sat upon his shoulders. Nada saw
them, and almost fell from her seat, fainting with fear, for they were
many and dreadful, and when they howled her blood turned to ice.

But Umslopogaas cheered her, telling her that these were his dogs with
whom he went out hunting, and with whom he should hunt presently. At
length they came to the knees of the Old Witch and the entrance to
the cave. It was empty except for a wolf or two, for Galazi abode here
seldom now; but when he was on the mountain would sleep in the forest,
which was nearer the kraal of his brother the Slaughterer.

“Here you must stay, sweet,” said Umslopogaas when he had driven out the
wolves. “Here you must rest till this little matter of the Slayers is
finished. Would that we had brought food, but we had little time to seek
it! See, now I will show you the secret of the stone; thus far I will
push it, no farther. Now a touch only is needed to send it over the
socket and home; but then they must be two strong men who can pull it
back again. Therefore push it no farther except in the utmost need, lest
it remain where it fall, whether you will it or not. Have no fear, you
are safe here; none know of this place except Galazi, myself and the
wolves, and none shall find it. Now I must be going to find Galazi, if
he still lives; if not, to make what play I can against the Slayers,
alone with the wolves.”

Now Nada wept, saying that she feared to be left, and that she should
never see him more, and her grief rung his heart. Nevertheless,
Umslopogaas kissed her and went, closing the stone after him in that
fashion of which he had spoken. When the stone was shut the cave was
almost dark, except for a ray of light that entered by a hole little
larger than a man’s hand, that, looked at from within, was on the right
of the stone. Nada sat herself so that this ray struck full on her, for
she loved light, and without it she would pine as flowers do. There
she sat and thought in the darksome cave, and was filled with fear and
sorrow. And while she brooded thus, suddenly the ray went out, and she
heard a noise as of some beast that smells at prey. She looked, and in
the gloom she saw the sharp nose and grinning fangs of a wolf that were
thrust towards her through the little hole.

Nada cried aloud in fear, and the fangs were snatched back, but
presently she heard a scratching without the cave, and saw the stone
shake. Then she thought in her foolishness that the wolf knew how to
open the stone, and that he would do this, and devour her, for she had
heard the tale that all these wolves were the ghosts of evil men, having
the understanding of men. So, in her fear and folly, she seized the rock
and dragged on it as Umslopogaas had shown her how to do. It shook, it
slipped over the socket ledge, and rolled home like a pebble down the
mouth of a gourd.

“Now I am safe from the wolves,” said Nada. “See, I cannot so much as
stir the stone from within.” And she laughed a little, then ceased from
laughing and spoke again. “Yet it would be ill if Umslopogaas came
back no more to roll away that rock, for then I should be like one in a
grave--as one who is placed in a grave being yet strong and quick.” She
shuddered as she thought of it, but presently started up and set her
ear to the hole to listen, for from far down the mountain there rose a
mighty howling and a din of men.

When Umslopogaas had shut the cave, he moved swiftly down the mountain,
and with him went certain of the wolves; not all, for he had not
summoned them. His heart was heavy, for he feared that Galazi was no
more. Also he was mad with rage, and plotted in himself to destroy the
Slayers of the king, every man of them; but first he must learn what
they would do. Presently, as he wended, he heard a long, low howl far
away in the forest; then he rejoiced, for he knew the call--it was the
call of Galazi, who had escaped the spears of the Slayers.

Swiftly he ran, calling in answer. He won the place. There, seated on a
stone, resting himself, was Galazi, and round him surged the numbers
of the Grey People. Umslopogaas came to him and looked at him, for he
seemed somewhat weary. There were flesh wounds on his great breast and
arms, the little shield was well-nigh hewn to strips, and the Watcher
showed signs of war.

“How went it, brother?” asked Umslopogaas.

“Not so ill, but all those who stood with me in the way are dead, and
with them a few of the foe. I alone am fled like a coward. They came on
us thrice, but we held them back till the Lily was safe; then, all our
men being down, I ran, Umslopogaas, and swam the torrent, for I was
minded to die here in my own place.”

Now, though he said little of it, I must tell you, my father, that
Galazi had made a great slaughter there in the neck of the donga.
Afterwards I counted the slain, and they were many; the nine men of the
People of the Axe were hidden in them.

“Perhaps it shall be the Slayers who die, brother.”

“Perhaps, at least, there shall be death for some. Still it is in my
mind, Slaughterer, that our brotherhood draws to an end, for the fate of
him who bears the Watcher, and which my father foretold, is upon me.
If so, farewell. While it lasted our friendship has been good, and its
ending shall be good. Moreover, it would have endured for many a year
to come had you not sought, Slaughterer, to make good better, and to
complete our joy of fellowship and war with the love of women. From that
source flow these ills, as a river from a spring; but so it was fated.
If I fall in this fray may you yet live on to fight in many another, and
at the last to die gloriously with axe aloft; and may you find a brisker
man and a better Watcher to serve you in your need. Should you fall and
I live on, I promise this: I will avenge you to the last and guard the
Lily whom you love, offering her comfort, but no more. Now the foe draws
on, they have travelled round about by the ford, for they dared not face
the torrent, and they cried to me that they are sworn to slay us or be
slain, as Dingaan, the king, commanded. So the fighting will be of the
best, if, indeed, they do not run before the fangs of the Grey People.
Now, Chief, speak your word that I may obey it.”

Thus Galazi spoke in the circle of the wolves, while Umslopogaas leaned
upon his Axe Groan-Maker, and listened to him, ay, and wept as he
listened, for after the Lily and me, Mopo, he loved Galazi most dearly
of all who lived. Then he answered:--

“Were it not for one in the cave above, who is helpless and tender, I
would swear to you, Wolf, that if you fall, on your carcase I will die;
and I do swear that, should you fall, while I live Groan-Maker shall
be busy from year to year till every man of yonder impi is as you are.
Perchance I did ill, Galazi, when first I hearkened to the words of
Zinita and suffered women to come between us. May we one day find a land
where there are no women, and war only, for in that land we shall
grow great. But now, at the least, we will make a good end to this
fellowship, and the Grey People shall fight their fill, and the old
Witch who sits aloft waiting for the world to die shall smile to see
that fight, if she never smiled before. This is my word: that we fall
upon the men of Dingaan twice, once in the glade of the forest whither
they will come presently, and, if we are beaten back, then we must stand
for the last time on the knees of the Witch in front of the cave where
Nada is. Say, Wolf, will the Grey Folk fight?”

“To the last, brother, so long as one is left to lead them, after that
I do not know! Still they have only fangs to set against spears.
Slaughterer, your plan is good. Come, I am rested.”

So they rose and numbered their flock, and all were there, though it
was not as it had been years ago when first the Wolf-Brethren hunted
on Ghost Mountain; for many of the wolves had died by men’s spears when
they harried the kraals of men, and no young were born to them. Then,
as once before, the pack was halved, and half, the she-wolves, went with
Umslopogaas, and half, the dog-wolves, went with Galazi.

Now they passed down the forest paths and hid in the tangle of the
thickets at the head of the darksome glen, one on each side of the glen.
Here they waited till they heard the footfall of the impi of the king’s
Slayers, as it came slowly along seeking them. In front of the impi went
two soldiers watching for an ambush, and these two men were the same who
had talked together that dawn when Galazi sprang between them. Now also
they spoke as they peered this way and that; then, seeing nothing, stood
awhile in the mouth of the glen waiting the coming of their company; and
their words came to the ears of Umslopogaas.

“An awful place this, my brother,” said one. “A place full of ghosts and
strange sounds, of hands that seem to press us back, and whinings as of
invisible wolves. It is named Ghost Mountain, and well named. Would
that the king had found other business for us than the slaying of these
sorcerers--for they are sorcerers indeed, and this is the home of their
sorceries. Tell me, brother, what was that which leaped between us this
morning in the dark! I say it was a wizard. Wow! they are all wizards.
Could any who was but a man have done the deeds which he who is named
the Wolf wrought down by the river yonder, and then have escaped? Had
the Axe but stayed with the Club they would have eaten up our impi.”

“The Axe had a woman to watch,” laughed the other. “Yes, it is true this
is a place of wizards and evil things. Methinks I see the red eyes of
the Esedowana glaring at us through the dark of the trees and smell
their smell. Yet these wizards must be caught, for know this, my
brother: if we return to Umgugundhlovu with the king’s command undone,
then there are stakes hardening in the fire of which we shall taste the
point. If we are all killed in the catching, and some, it seems, are
missing already, yet they must be caught. Say, my brother, shall we draw
on? The impi is nigh. Would that Faku, our captain yonder, might find
two others to take our place, for in this thicket I had rather run last
than first. Well, here leads the spoor--a wondrous mass of wolf-spoor
mixed with the footprints of men; perhaps they are sometimes the one and
sometimes the other--who knows, my brother? It is a land of ghosts and
wizards. Let us on! Let us on!”

Now all this while the Wolf-Brethren had much ado to keep their people
quiet, for their mouths watered and their eyes shone at the sight of the
men, and at length it could be done no more, for with a howl a single
she-wolf rushed from her laid and leapt at the throat of the man who
spoke, nor did she miss her grip. Down went wolf and man, rolling
together on the ground, and there they killed each other.

“The Esedowana! the Esedowana are upon us!” cried the other scout,
and, turning, fled towards the impi. But he never reached it, for with
fearful howlings the ghost-wolves broke their cover and rushed on him
from the right and the left, and lo! there was nothing of him left
except his spear alone.

Now a low cry of fear rose from the impi, and some turned to fly, but
Faku, the captain, a great and brave man, shouted to them, “Stand firm,
children of the king, stand firm, these are no Esedowana, these are but
the Wolf-Brethren and their pack. What! will ye run from dogs, ye who
have laughed at the spears of men? Ring round! Stand fast!”

The soldiers heard the voice of their captain, and they obeyed his
voice, forming a double circle, a ring within a ring. They looked to the
right, there, Groan-Maker aloft, the wolf fangs on his brow, the worn
wolf-hide streaming on the wind, Bulalio rushed upon them like a storm,
and with him came his red-eyed company. They looked to the left--ah,
well they know that mighty Watcher! Have they not heard his strokes down
by the river, and well they know the giant who wields it like a wand,
the Wolf King, with the strength of ten! Wow! They are here! See the
people black and grey, hear them howl their war-chant! Look how they
leap like water--leap in a foam of fangs against the hedge of spears!
The circle is broken; Groan-Maker has broken it! Ha! Galazi also is
through the double ring; now must men stand back to back or perish!

How long did it last? Who can say? Time flies fast when blows fall
thick. At length the brethren are beaten back; they break out as they
broke in, and are gone, with such of their wolf-folk as were left alive.
Yet that impi was somewhat the worse, but one-third of those lived
who looked on the sun without the forest; the rest lay smitten, torn,
mangled, dead, hidden under the heaps of bodies of wild beasts.

“Now this is a battle of evil spirits that live in the shapes of wolves,
and as for the Wolf-Brethren, they are sorcerers of the rarest,” said
Faku the captain, “and such sorcerers I love, for they fight furiously.
Yet I will slay them or be slain. At the least, if there be few of us
left, the most of the wolves are dead also, and the arms of the wizards
grow weary.”

So he moved forward up the mountain with those of the soldiers who
remained, and all the way the wolves harried them, pulling down a man
here and a man there; but though they heard and saw them cheering on
their pack the Wolf-Brethren attacked them no more, for they saved their
strength for the last fight of all.

The road was long up the mountain, and the soldiers knew little of
the path, and ever the ghost-wolves harried on their flanks. So it was
evening before they came to the feet of the stone Witch, and began to
climb to the platform of her knees. There, on her knees as it were, they
saw the Wolf-Brethren standing side by side, such a pair as were not
elsewhere in the world, and they seemed afire, for the sunset beat upon
them, and the wolves crept round their feet, red with blood and fire.

“A glorious pair!” quoth great Faku; “would that I fought with them
rather than against them! Yet, they must die!” Then he began to climb to
the knees of the Witch.

Now Umslopogaas glanced up at the stone face of her who sat aloft, and
it was alight with the sunset.

“Said I not that the old Witch should smile at this fray?” he cried.
“Lo! she smiles! Up, Galazi, let us spend the remnant of our people on
the foe, and fight this fight out, man to man, with no beast to spoil
it! Ho! Blood and Greysnout! ho! Deathgrip! ho! wood-dwellers grey and
black, at them, my children!”

The wolves heard; they were few and they were sorry to see, with
weariness and wounds, but still they were fierce. With a howl, for the
last time they leaped down upon the foe, tearing, harrying, and killing
till they themselves were dead by the spear, every one of them except
Deathgrip, who crept back sorely wounded to die with Galazi.

“Now I am a chief without a people,” cried Galazi. “Well, it has been
my lot in life. So it was in the Halakazi kraals, so it is on Ghost
Mountain at the last, and so also shall it be even for the greatest
kings when they come to their ends, seeing that they, too, must die
alone. Say, Slaughterer, choose where you will stand, to the left or to
the right.”

Now, my father, the track below separated, because of a boulder, and
there were two little paths which led to the platform of the Witch’s
knees with, perhaps, ten paces between them. Umslopogaas guarded the
left-hand path and Galazi took the right. Then they waited, having
spears in their hands. Presently the soldiers came round the rock and
rushed up against them, some on one path and some on the other.

Then the brethren hurled their spears at them and killed three men.
Now the assegais were done, and the foe was on them. Umslopogaas bends
forward, his long arm shoots out, the axe gleams, and a man who came on
falls back.

“One!” cries Umslopogaas.

“One, my brother!” answers Galazi, as he draws back the Watcher from his
blow.

A soldier rushes forward, singing. To and fro he moves in front of
Umslopogaas, his spear poised to strike. Groan-Maker swoops down, but
the man leaps back, the blow misses, and the Slaughterer’s guard is
down.

“A poor stroke, Sorcerer!” cries the man as he rushes in to stab him.
Lo! the axe wheels in the air, it circles swiftly low down by the
ground; it smites upward. Before the spearsman can strike the horn of
Groan-Maker has sped from chin to brain.

“But a good return, fool!” says Umslopogaas.

“Two!” cries Galazi, from the right.

“Two! my brother,” answers Umslopogaas.

Again two men come on, one against each, to find no better luck. The cry
of “Three!” passes from brother to brother, and after it rises the cry
of “Four!”

Now Faku bids the men who are left to hold their shields together and
push the two from the mouths of the paths, and this they do, losing four
more men at the hands of the brethren before it is done.

“Now we are on the open! Ring them round and down with them!” cries
Faku.

But who shall ring round Groan-Maker that shines on all sides at once,
Groan-Maker who falls heavily no more, but pecks and pecks and pecks
like a wood-bird on a tree, and never pecks in vain? Who shall ring
round those feet swifter than the Sassaby of the plains? Wow! He is
here! He is there! He is a sorcerer! Death is in his hand, and death
looks out of his eyes!

Galazi lives yet, for still there comes the sound of the Watcher as it
thunders on the shields, and the Wolf’s hoarse cry of the number of the
slain. He has a score of wounds, yet he fights on! his leg is almost
hewn from him with an axe, yet he fights on! His back is pierced again
and again, yet he fights on! But two are left alive before him, one
twists round and spears him from behind. He heeds it not, but smites
down the foe in front. Then he turns and, whirling the Watcher on high,
brings him down for the last time, and so mightily that the man before
him is crushed like an egg.

Galazi brushes the blood from his eyes and glares round on the dead.
“All! Slaughterer,” he cries.

“All save two, my brother,” comes the answer, sounding above the clash
of steel and the sound of smitten shields.

Now the Wolf would come to him, but cannot, for his life ebbs.

“Fare you well, my brother! Death is good! Thus, indeed, I would die,
for I have made me a mat of men to lie on,” he cried with a great voice.

“Fare you well! Sleep softly, Wolf!” came the answer. “All save one!”

Now Galazi fell dying on the dead, but he was not altogether gone,
for he still spoke. “All save one! Ha! ha! ill for that one then when
Groan-Maker yet is up. It is well to have lived so to die. Victory!
Victory!”

And Galazi the Wolf struggled to his knees and for the last time shook
the Watcher about his head, then fell again and died.

Umslopogaas, the son of Chaka, and Faku, the captain of Dingaan, gazed
on each other. They alone were left standing upon the mountain, for the
rest were all down. Umslopogaas had many wounds. Faku was unhurt; he was
a strong man, also armed with an axe.

Faku laughed aloud. “So it has come to this, Slaughterer,” he said,
“that you and I must settle whether the king’s word be done or no. Well,
I will say that however it should fall out, I count it a great fortune
to have seen this fight, and the highest of honours to have had to do
with two such warriors. Rest you a little, Slaughterer, before we close.
That wolf-brother of yours died well, and if it is given me to conquer
in this bout, I will tell the tale of his end from kraal to kraal
throughout the land, and it shall be a tale forever.”



CHAPTER XXXIV. THE LILY’S FAREWELL

Umslopogaas listened, but he made no answer to the words of Faku the
captain, though he liked them well, for he would not waste his breath in
talking, and the light grew low.

“I am ready, Man of Dingaan,” he said, and lifted his axe.

Now for awhile the two circled round and round, each waiting for a
chance to strike. Presently Faku smote at the head of Umslopogaas, but
the Slaughterer lifted Groan-Maker to ward the blow. Faku crooked
his arm and let the axe curl downwards, so that its keen edge smote
Umslopogaas upon the head, severing his man’s ring and the scalp
beneath.

Made mad with the pain, the Slaughterer awoke, as it were. He grasped
Groan-maker with both hands and struck thrice. The first blow hewed away
the plumes and shield of Faku, and drove him back a spear’s length, the
second missed its aim, the third and mightiest twisted in his wet hands,
so that the axe smote sideways. Nevertheless, it fell full on the breast
of the captain Faku, shattering his bones, and sweeping him from the
ledge of rock on to the slope beneath, where he lay still.

“It is finished with the daylight,” said Umslopogaas, smiling grimly.
“Now, Dingaan, send more Slayers to seek your slain,” and he turned to
find Nada in the cave.

But Faku the captain was not yet dead, though he was hurt to death. He
sat up, and with his last strength he hurled the axe in his hand at
him whose might had prevailed against him. The axe sped true, and
Umslopogaas did not see it fly. It sped true, and its point struck him
on the left temple, driving in the bone and making a great hole. Then
Faku fell back dying, and Umslopogaas threw up his arms and dropped like
an ox drops beneath the blow of the butcher, and lay as one dead, under
the shadow of a stone.

All day long Nada crouched in the cave listening to the sounds of war
that crept faintly up the mountain side; howling of wolves, shouting
of men, and the clamour of iron on iron. All day long she sat, and now
evening came apace, and the noise of battle drew near, swelled, and
sank, and died away. She heard the voices of the Wolf-Brethren as they
called to each other like bucks, naming the number of the slain. She
heard Galazi’s cry of “Victory!” and her heart leapt to it, though she
knew that there was death in the cry. Then for the last time she heard
the faint ringing of iron on iron, and the light went out and all grew
still.

All grew still as the night. There came no more shouting of men and
no more clash of arms, no howlings of wolves, no cries of pain or
triumph--all was quiet as death, for death had taken all.

For awhile Nada the Lily sat in the dark of the cave, saying to herself,
“Presently he will come, my husband, he will surely come; the Slayers
are slain--he does not but tarry to bind his wounds; a scratch,
perchance, here and there. Yes, he will come, and it is well, for I am
weary of my loneliness, and this place is grim and evil.”

Thus she spoke to herself in hope, but nothing came except the silence.
Then she spoke again, and her voice echoed in the hollow cave. “Now I
will be bold, I will fear nothing, I will push aside the stone and go
out to find him. I know well he does but linger to tend some who are
wounded, perhaps Galazi. Doubtless Galazi is wounded. I must go and
nurse him, though he never loved me, and I do not love him overmuch who
would stand between me and my husband. This wild wolf-man is a foe to
women, and, most of all, a foe to me; yet I will be kind to him. Come, I
will go at once,” and she rose and pushed at the rock.

Why, what was this? It did not stir. Then she remembered that she had
pulled it beyond the socket because of her fear of the wolf, and that
the rock had slipped a little way down the neck of the cave. Umslopogaas
had told her that she must not do this, and she had forgotten his words
in her foolishness. Perhaps she could move the stone; no, not by the
breadth of a grain of corn. She was shut in, without food or water, and
here she must bide till Umslopogaas came. And if he did not come? Then
she must surely die.

Now she shrieked aloud in her fear, calling on the name of Umslopogaas.
The walls of the cave answered “Umslopogaas! Umslopogaas!” and that was
all.

Afterwards madness fell upon Nada, my daughter, and she lay in the
cave for days and nights, nor knew ever how long she lay. And with her
madness came visions, for she dreamed that the dead One whom Galazi had
told her of sat once more aloft in his niche at the end of the cave and
spoke to her, saying:--

“Galazi is dead! The fate of him who bears the Watcher has fallen on
him. Dead are the ghost-wolves; I also am dead of hunger in this cave, and as
I died so shall you die, Nada the Lily! Nada, Star of Death! because of
whose beauty and foolishness all this death has come about.”

This is seemed to Nada, in her madness, that the shadow of him who had
sat in the niche spoke to her from hour to hour.

It seemed to Nada, in her madness, that twice the light shone through
the hole by the rock, and that was day, and twice it went out, and that
was night. A third time the ray shone and died away, and lo! her madness
left her, and she awoke to know that she was dying, and that a voice she
loved spoke without the hole, saying in hollow accents:--

“Nada? Do you still live, Nada?”

“Yea,” she answered hoarsely. “Water! give me water!”

Next she heard a sound as of a great snake dragging itself along
painfully. A while passed, then a trembling hand thrust a little gourd
of water through the hole. She drank, and now she could speak, though
the water seemed to flow through her veins like fire.

“Is it indeed you, Umslopogaas?” she said, “or are you dead, and do I
dream of you?”

“It is I, Nada,” said the voice. “Hearken! have you drawn the rock
home?”

“Alas! yes,” she answered. “Perhaps, if the two of us strive at it, it
will move.”

“Ay, if our strength were what it was--but now! Still, let us try.”

So they strove with a rock, but the two of them together had not the
strength of a girl, and it would not stir.

“Give over, Umslopogaas,” said Nada; “we do but waste the time that is
left to me. Let us talk!”

For awhile there was no answer, for Umslopogaas had fainted, and Nada
beat her breast, thinking that he was dead.

Presently he spoke, however, saying, “It may not be; we must perish
here, one on each side of the stone, not seeing the other’s face, for
my might is as water; nor can I stand upon my feet to go and seek for
food.”

“Are you wounded, Umslopogaas?” asked Nada.

“Ay, Nada, I am pierced to the brain with the point of an axe; no fair
stroke, the captain of Dingaan hurled it at me when I thought him dead,
and I fell. I do not know how long I have lain yonder under the shadow
of the rock, but it must be long, for my limbs are wasted, and those who
fell in the fray are picked clean by the vultures, all except Galazi,
for the old wolf Deathgrip lies on his breast dying, but not dead,
licking my brother’s wounds, and scares the fowls away. It was the beak
of a vulture, who had smelt me out at last, that woke me from my sleep
beneath the stone, Nada, and I crept hither. Would that he had not
awakened me, would that I had died as I lay, rather than lived a little
while till you perish thus, like a trapped fox, Nada, and presently I
follow you.”

“It is hard to die so, Umslopogaas,” she answered, “I who am yet young
and fair, who love you, and hoped to give you children; but so it has
come about, and it may not be put away. I am well-nigh sped, husband;
horror and fear have conquered me, my strength fails, but I suffer
little. Let us talk no more of death, let us rather speak of our
childhood, when we wandered hand in hand; let us talk also of our love,
and of the happy hours that we have spent since your great axe rang upon
the rock in the Halakazi caves, and my fear told you the secret of my
womanhood. See, I thrust my hand through the hole; can you not kiss it,
Umslopogaas?”

Now Umslopogaas stooped his shattered head, and kissed the Lily’s little
hand, then he held it in his own, and so they sat till the end--he
without, resting his back against the rock, she within, lying on her
side, her arm stretched through the little hole. They spoke of their
love, and tried to forget their sorrow in it; he told her also of the
fray which had been and how it went.

“Ah!” she said, “that was Zinita’s work, Zinita who hated me, and
justly. Doubtless she set Dingaan on this path.”

“A little while gone,” quoth Umslopogaas; “and I hoped that your last
breath and mine might pass together, Nada, and that we might go together
to seek great Galazi, my brother, where he is. Now I hope that help
will find me, and that I may live a little while, because of a certain
vengeance which I would wreak.”

“Speak not of vengeance, husband,” she answered, “I, too, am near to
that land where the Slayer and the Slain, the Shedder of Blood and the
Avenger of Blood are lost in the same darkness. I would die with love,
and love only, in my heart, and your name, and yours only, on my lips,
so that if anywhere we live again it shall be ready to spring forth to
greet you. Yet, husband, it is in my heart that you will not go with me,
but that you shall live on to die the greatest of deaths far away from
here, and because of another woman. It seems that, as I lay in the
dark of this cave, I saw you, Umslopogaas, a great man, gaunt and grey,
stricken to the death, and the axe Groan-maker wavering aloft, and many
a man dead upon a white and shimmering way, and about you the fair faces
of white women; and you had a hole in your forehead, husband, on the
left side.”

“That is like to be true, if I live,” he answered, “for the bone of my
temple is shattered.”

Now Nada ceased speaking, and for a long while was silent; Umslopogaas
was also silent and torn with pain and sorrow because he must lose the
Lily thus, and she must die so wretchedly, for one reason only, that the
cast of Faku had robbed him of his strength. Alas! he who had done many
deeds might not save her now; he could scarcely hold himself upright
against the rock. He thought of it, and the tears flowed down his face
and fell on to the hand of the Lily. She felt them fall and spoke.

“Weep not, my husband,” she said, “I have been all too ill a wife to
you. Do not mourn for me, yet remember that I loved you well.” And again
she was silent for a long space.

Then she spoke and for the last time of all, and her voice came in a
gasping whisper through the hole in the rock:--

“Farewell, Umslopogaas, my husband and my brother, I thank you for your
love, Umslopogaas. Ah! I die!”

Umslopogaas could make no answer, only he watched the little hand he
held. Twice it opened, twice it closed upon his own, then it opened for
the third time, turned grey, quivered, and was still forever!

Now it was at the hour of dawn that Nada died.



CHAPTER XXXV. THE VENGEANCE OF MOPO AND HIS FOSTERLING

It chanced that on this day of Nada’s death and at that same hour of
dawn I, Mopo, came from my mission back to the kraal of the People of
the Axe, having succeeded in my end, for that great chief whom I had
gone out to visit had hearkened to my words. As the light broke I
reached the town, and lo! it was a blackness and a desolation.

“Here is the footmark of Dingaan,” I said to myself, and walked to and
fro, groaning heavily. Presently I found a knot of men who were of the
people that had escaped the slaughter, hiding in the mealie-fields lest
the Slayers should return, and from them I drew the story. I listened
in silence, for, my father, I was grown old in misfortune; then I asked
where were the Slayers of the king? They replied that they did not know;
the soldiers had gone up the Ghost Mountain after the Wolf-Brethren
and Nada the Lily, and from the forest had come a howling of beasts and
sounds of war; then there was silence, and none had been seen to return
from the mountain, only all day long the vultures hung over it.

“Let us go up the mountain,” I said.

At first they feared, because of the evil name of the place; but in the
end they came with me, and we followed on the path of the impi of the
Slayers and guessed all that had befallen it. At length we reached
the knees of stone, and saw the place of the great fight of the
Wolf-Brethren. All those who had taken part in that fight were now but
bones, because the vultures had picked them every one, except Galazi,
for on the breast of Galazi lay the old wolf Deathgrip, that was yet
alive. I drew near the body, and the great wolf struggled to his feet
and ran at me with bristling hair and open jaws, from which no sound
came. Then, being spent, he rolled over dead.

Now I looked round seeking the axe Groan-Maker among the bones of
the slain, and did not find it and the hope came into my heart that
Umslopogaas had escaped the slaughter. Then we went on in silence to
where I knew the cave must be, and there by its mouth lay the body of
a man. I ran to it--it was Umslopogaas, wasted with hunger, and in his
temple was a great wound and on his breast and limbs were many other
wounds. Moreover, in his hand he held another hand--a dead hand, that
was thrust through a hole in the rock. I knew its shape well--it was the
little hand of my child, Nada the Lily.

Now I understood, and, bending down, I felt the heart of Umslopogaas,
and laid the down of an eagle upon his lips. His heart still stirred and
the down was lifted gently.

I bade those with me drag the stone, and they did so with toil. Now
the light flowed into the cave, and by it we saw the shape of Nada
my daughter. She was somewhat wasted, but still very beautiful in her
death. I felt her heart also: it was still, and her breast grew cold.

Then I spoke: “The dead to the dead. Let us tend the living.”

So we bore in Umslopogaas, and I caused broth to be made and poured it
down his throat; also I cleansed his great wound and bound healing
herbs upon it, plying all my skill. Well I knew the arts of healing, my
father; I who was the first of the izinyanga of medicine, and, had it
not been for my craft, Umslopogaas had never lived, for he was very near
his end. Still, there where he had once been nursed by Galazi the Wolf,
I brought him back to life. It was three days till he spoke, and, before
his sense returned to him, I caused a great hole to be dug in the floor
of the cave. And there, in the hole, I buried Nada my daughter, and we
heaped lily blooms upon her to keep the earth from her, and then closed
in her grave, for I was not minded that Umslopogaas should look upon her
dead, lest he also should die from the sight, and because of his desire
to follow her. Also I buried Galazi the Wolf in the cave, and set the
Watcher in his hand, and there they both sleep who are friends at last,
the Lily and the Wolf together. Ah! when shall there be such another man
and such another maid?

At length on the third day Umslopogaas spoke, asking for Nada. I pointed
to the earth, and he remembered and understood. Thereafter the strength
of Umslopogaas gathered on him slowly, and the hole in his skull skinned
over. But now his hair was grizzled, and he scarcely smiled again, but
grew even more grim and stern than he had been before.

Soon we learned all the truth about Zinita, for the women and children
came back to the town of the People of the Axe, only Zinita and the
children of Umslopogaas did not come back. Also a spy reached me from
the Mahlabatine and told me of the end of Zinita and of the flight of
Dingaan before the Boers.

Now when Umslopogaas had recovered, I asked him what he would do, and
whether or not I should pursue my plots to make him king of the land.

But Umslopogaas shook his head, saying that he had no heart that way. He
would destroy a king indeed, but now he no longer desired to be a
king. He sought revenge alone. I said that it was well, I also sought
vengeance, and seeking together we would find it.

Now, my father, there is much more to tell, but shall I tell it? The
snow has melted, your cattle have been found where I told you they
should be, and you wish to be gone. And I also, I would be gone upon a
longer journey.

Listen, my father, I will be short. This came into my mind: to play off
Panda against Dingaan; it was for such an hour of need that I had saved
Panda alive. After the battle of the Blood River, Dingaan summoned Panda
to a hunt. Then it was that I journeyed to the kraal of Panda on the
Lower Tugela, and with me Umslopogaas. I warned Panda that he should not
go to this hunt, for he was the game himself, but that he should rather
fly into Natal with all his people. He did so, and then I opened
talk with the Boers, and more especially with that Boer who was named
Ungalunkulu, or Great Arm. I showed the Boer that Dingaan was wicked and
not to be believed, but Panda was faithful and good. The end of it was
that the Boers and Panda made war together on Dingaan. Yes, I made that
war that we might be revenged on Dingaan. Thus, my father, do little
things lead to great.

Were we at the big fight, the battle of Magongo? Yes, my father; we were
there. When Dingaan’s people drove us back, and all seemed lost, it was
I who put into the mind of Nongalaza, the general, to pretend to direct
the Boers where to attack, for the Amaboona stood out of that fight,
leaving it to us black people. It was Umslopogaas who cut his way with
Groan-Maker through a wing of one of Dingaan’s regiments till he came
to the Boer captain Ungalunkulu, and shouted to him to turn the flank of
Dingaan. That finished it, my father, for they feared to stand against
us both, the white and the black together. They fled, and we followed
and slew, and Dingaan ceased to be a king.

He ceased to be a king, but he still lived, and while he lived our
vengeance was hungry. So we went to the Boer captain and to Panda, and
spoke to them nicely, saying, “We have served you well, we have fought
for you, and so ordered things that victory is yours. Now grant us this
request, that we may follow Dingaan, who has fled into hiding, and
kill him wherever we find him, for he has worked us wrong, and we would
avenge it.”

Then the white captain and Panda smiled and said, “Go children, and
prosper in your search. No one thing shall please us more than to know
that Dingaan is dead.” And they gave us men to go with us.

Then we hunted that king week by week as men hunt a wounded buffalo. We
hunted him to the jungles of the Umfalozi and through them. But he fled
ever, for he knew that the avengers of blood were on his spoor. After
that for awhile we lost him. Then we heard that he had crossed the
Pongolo with some of the people who still clung to him. We followed him
to the place Kwa Myawo, and there we lay hid in the bush watching. At
last our chance came. Dingaan walked in the bush and with him two men
only. We stabbed the men and seized him.

Dingaan looked at us and knew us, and his knees trembled with fear. Then
I spoke:--

“What was that message which I sent thee, O Dingaan, who art no more a
king--that thou didst evil to drive me away, was it not? because I set
thee on thy throne and I alone could hold thee there?”

He made no answer, and I went on:--

“I, Mopo, son of Makedama, set thee on thy throne, O Dingaan, who wast a
king, and I, Mopo, have pulled thee down from thy throne. But my message
did not end there. It said that, ill as thou hadst done to drive me
away, yet worse shouldst thou do to look upon my face again, for that
day should be thy day of doom.”

Still he made no answer. Then Umslopogaas spoke:--

“I am that Slaughterer, O Dingaan, no more a king, whom thou didst send
Slayers many and fierce to eat up at the kraal of the People of the Axe.
Where are thy Slayers now, O Dingaan? Before all is done thou shalt look
upon them.”

“Kill me and make an end; it is your hour,” said Dingaan.

“Not yet awhile, O son of Senzangacona,” answered Umslopogaas, “and not
here. There lived a certain woman and she was named Nada the Lily. I was
her husband, O Dingaan, and Mopo here, he was her father. But, alas!
she died, and sadly--she lingered three days and nights before she died.
Thou shalt see the spot and hear the tale, O Dingaan. It will wring
thy heart, which was ever tender. There lived certain children, born
of another woman named Zinita, little children, sweet and loving. I was
their father, O Elephant in a pit, and one Dingaan slew them. Of them
thou shalt hear also. Now away, for the path is far!”

Two days went by, my father, and Dingaan sat bound and alone in the cave
on Ghost Mountain. We had dragged him slowly up the mountain, for he was
heavy as an ox. Three men pushing at him and three others pulling on a
cord about his middle, we dragged him up, staying now and again to show
him the bones of those whom he had sent out to kill us, and telling him
the tale of that fight.

Now at length we were in the cave, and I sent away those who were with
us, for we wished to be alone with Dingaan at the last. He sat down on
the floor of the cave, and I told him that beneath the earth on which
he sat lay the bones of that Nada whom he had murdered and the bones of
Galazi the Wolf.

On the third day before the dawn we came again and looked upon him.

“Slay me,” he said, “for the Ghosts torment me!”

“No longer art thou great, O shadow of a king,” I said, “who now dost
tremble before two Ghosts out of all the thousands that thou hast made.
Say, then, how shall it fare with thee presently when thou art of their
number?”

Now Dingaan prayed for mercy.

“Mercy, thou hyena!” I answered, “thou prayest for mercy who showed
none to any! Give me back my daughter. Give this man back his wife and
children; then we will talk of mercy. Come forth, coward, and die the
death of cowards.”

So, my father, we dragged him out, groaning, to the cleft that is above
in the breast of the old Stone Witch, that same cleft where Galazi had
found the bones. There we stood, waiting for the moment of the dawn,
that hour when Nada had died. Then we cried her name into his ears and
the names of the children of Umslopogaas, and cast him into the cleft.

This was the end of Dingaan, my father--Dingaan, who had the fierce
heart of Chaka without its greatness.



CHAPTER XXXVI. MOPO ENDS HIS TALE

That is the tale of Nada the Lily, my father, and of how we avenged
her. A sad tale--yes, a sad tale; but all was sad in those days. It was
otherwise afterwards, when Panda reigned, for Panda was a man of peace.

There is little more to tell. I left the land where I could stay no
longer who had brought about the deaths of two kings, and came here to
Natal to live near where the kraal Duguza once had stood.

The bones of Dingaan as they lay in the cleft were the last things my
eyes beheld, for after that I became blind, and saw the sun no more, nor
any light--why I do not know, perhaps from too much weeping, my father.
So I changed my name, lest a spear might reach the heart that had
planned the death of two kings and a prince--Chaka, Dingaan, and
Umhlangana of the blood royal. Silently and by night Umslopogaas, my
fosterling, led me across the border, and brought me here to Stanger;
and here as an old witch-doctor I have lived for many, many years. I am
rich. Umslopogaas craved back from Panda the cattle of which Dingaan had
robbed me, and drove them hither. But none were here who had lived in
the kraal Duguza, none knew, in Zweete the blind old witch-doctor, that
Mopo who stabbed Chaka, the Lion of the Zulu. None know it now. You have
heard the tale, and you alone, my father. Do not tell it again till I am
dead.

Umslopogaas? Yes, he went back to the People of the Axe and ruled them,
but they were never so strong again as they had been before they smote
the Halakazi in their caves, and Dingaan ate them up. Panda let him be
and liked him well, for Panda did not know that the Slaughterer was son
to Chaka his brother, and Umslopogaas let that dog lie, for when Nada
died he lost his desire to be great. Yet he became captain of the
Nkomabakosi regiment, and fought in many battles, doing mighty deeds,
and stood by Umbulazi, son of Panda, in the great fray on the Tugela,
when Cetywayo slew his brother Umbulazi.

After that also he plotted against Cetywayo, whom he hated, and had it
not been for a certain white man, a hunter named Macumazahn, Umslopogaas
would have been killed. But the white man saved him by his wit. Yes, and
at times he came to visit me, for he still loved me as of old; but now
he has fled north, and I shall hear his voice no more. Nay, I do not
know all the tale; there was a woman in it. Women were ever the bane
of Umslopogaas, my fostering. I forget the story of that woman, for I
remember only these things that happened long ago, before I grew very
old.

Look on this right hand of mine, my father! I cannot see it now; and
yet I, Mopo, son of Makedama, seem to see it as once I saw, red with the
blood of two kings. Look on--

Suddenly the old man ceased, his head fell forward upon his withered
breast. When the White Man to whom he told this story lifted it and
looked at him, he was dead!





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