Monday, November 5, 2007


NADA THE LILY By H. Rider Haggard

By H. Rider Haggard
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
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!
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!
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 Tiberiius 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-nothlolamazibuko,
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
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.
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.
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
[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
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
"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
"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
"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
So we rose and went home. But I held my peace, for I was afraid, very
much afraid.
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
"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 my 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.
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
ehre. 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
"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 watergourd,
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 cal 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
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.
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
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
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,
thought 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 good 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 took
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 shadows, and from the shallows to the bank, and there she fell
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 day 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 antheaps;
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
"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
"Very well, Mopo and thy sister Baleka," said Chaka, grimly. "Goodmorning
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
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
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
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.
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 this: 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
"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
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.
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
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 they 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
"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
"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
"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
"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
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
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. "Tomorrow
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? My
myself I swear, though she is my mother--if I thought"--and he ceased.
Thee 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
"It is tagati, it is bewitched, O king. It is not wise to look on
"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
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 the 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
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, sot hat 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 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
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
"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.
After this there was quiet until the Feast of the First-fruits was
ended. But few people were killed at these feast, though there was a
great Ingomboco, or witch-hunt, and many were smelt out by the witchdoctors
as working magic against the king. Now things had come to this
pass in Zululand--that the whole people cowered before the witchdoctors.
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
"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 witchdoctors,
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
When they scent the blood of the slain.
We come not alone, O king: with each Wise One there passes a
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
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 dancingdresses,
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 hears 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!"
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 witchwork.
"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 witchdoctors
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
"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 witchdoctors
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-fingers 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.
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
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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
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.
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
"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
[1] A variety of sugar-cane.--ED.
Now as they sat this, 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
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
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 by son. But he commanded the messengers that
they should not slay me, but bring me living before them.
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
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
"Tell me of the cattle that I sent thee to number, Mopo, son of
Makedama," said Chaka. "Have my servants dealt honestly with my
"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
"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
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
"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.
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
wee 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
"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
"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
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 sadfaced,
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
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 witchfinders,
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
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
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
"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, as 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.
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 warshield,
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, drive 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
"'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 ghostfolk,
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 hundredand-
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 hornhafted
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
"'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
"'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 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
"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.
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
"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
"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
"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,
"'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 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
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
"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 for
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
"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 ghostwolves--
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."
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 tonight,
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
"'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
"'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
"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 openmouthed,
from before and from behind, so that in a breath he was wellnigh
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
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
"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 ghostwolves
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 Watch 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
"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.
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
"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 today.
So they returned home, but Umslopogaas set himself to find a plan
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
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 top 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 stepfather.
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
"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
"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-andone
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
"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 doorposts, 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
"Yon man," thought Umslopogaas, "is Masilo. The better for bloodletting
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 stepdaughter
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.
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 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
"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-
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
"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 this, 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
"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 warshield
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
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.
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
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
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 truehearted
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
"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
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
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
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
"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
"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
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
"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
"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
"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 raincloud
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
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
* * * * *
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
"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.
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 Inkosazanay-
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
"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
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
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.
Eight-and-twenty days went by, my father, and on the nine-andtwentieth
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
"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.
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
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
"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
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
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
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
"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 captain's 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
"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 be
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 home 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
Now, Dingaan wa 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.
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
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 had 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
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,
"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
"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
"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
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."
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 talked 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
"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 were 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 wrote 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
"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 yes of
"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
"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
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
wee, 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.
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 do."
"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
"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 peaceoffering
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
"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
"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
Now there arose a mighty shout of "We will die together who have lived
"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
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
Then two young men sprang forward who were flushed with victory and
desired nothing more than to make a great name and win cattle,
"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
"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 way 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 son again." Now he heard the Halakazi soldiers
talking without.
"The Zulu rats do not love this run," said one, "they fear the ratcatcher'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.
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
"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 should 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
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
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!"
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 made 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
"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 to 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
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 bear 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.
"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: my 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
"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
"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
"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
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:--
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,
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,
"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
"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
"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
"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.
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
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
"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
"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
"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
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 tonight
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
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
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 for 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.
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
"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 word 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
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
"Where now is your valour, you who name my 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,
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. 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.
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
"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
"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
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 poke 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 Witchfinder,
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
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
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
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
"I fear so," I answered, "and yet the maiden is fair and good and
"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
"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,
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 is word was their will, as indeed it was, in this
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.
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
"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
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
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 mealieplants
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!"
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 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
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
"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
"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
"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
"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
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
"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!
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."
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
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 drive 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
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 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
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
"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
"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
"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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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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