H. Rider Haggard
TABLE OF CONTENTS Part 2
|Dedication.||Part 1 in ERBzine 1887|
|Chapter I.||The Boy Chaka Prophesies.|
|Chapter II.||Mopo is in Trouble|
|Chapter III.||Mopo Ventures Home|
|Chapter IV.||The Flight of Mopo and Baleka|
|Chapter V.||Mopo Becomes the King's Doctor|
|Chapter VI.||The Birth of Umslopogaas|
|Chapter VII.||Umslopogaas Answers the King|
|Chapter VIII.||The Great Imgomboco|
|Chapter IX.||The Loss of Umplopogaas|
|PART 2 (ERBzine 1887a)|
|Chapter X.||The Trial of Mopo|
|Chapter XI.||The Counsel of Baleka|
|Chapter XII.||The Tale of Galazi the Wolf|
|Chapter XIII.||Galazi Becomes King of the Wolves|
|Chapter XIV.||The Wolf-Brethren|
|Chapter XV.||The Death of the King's Slayers|
|Chapter XVI.||Umslopogaas Ventures Out to Win the Axe|
|Chapter XVII.||Umslopogaas Becomes Chief of the People of the Axe|
|Chapter XVIII.||The Curse of Baleka|
|Part 3 in ERBzine 1887b|
|Chapter XIX.||Masilo Comes to the Kraal Duguza|
|Chapter XX.||Mopo Bargains with the Princes|
|Chapter XXI.||The Death of Chaka|
|Chapter XXII.||Mopo Goes to Seek the Slaughterer|
|Chapter XXIII.||Mopo Reveals Himself to the Slaughterer|
|Chapter XXIV.||The Slaying of the Boers|
|Chapter XXV.||The War with the Halakazi People|
|Chapter XXVI.||The Finding of Nada|
|Chapter XXVII.||The Stamping of the Fire|
|Part 4 in ERBzine 1887c|
|Chapter XXVIII.||The Lily is Brought to Dingaan|
|Chapter XXIX.||Mopo Tells His Taletd>|
|Chapter XXX.||The Coming of Nada|
|Chapter XXXI.||The War of the Women|
|Chapter XXXII.||Zinita Comes to the King|
|Chapter XXXIII.||The End of the People, Balck and Grey|
|Chapter XXXIV.||The Lily's Farewell|
|Chapter XXXV.||The Vengeance of Mopo and His Fosterling|
|Chapter XXXVI.||Mopo Ends His Tale|
Now I sat four days in the huts of the tribe whither I had been sent, and did the king's business. And on the fifth morning I rose up, together with those with me, and we turned our faces towards the king's kraal. But when we had journeyed a little way we met a party of soldiers, who commanded us to stand.
"What is it, king's men?" I asked boldly.
"This, son of Makedama," answered their spokesman: "give over to us your wife Macropha and your children Umslopogaas and Nada, that we may do with them as the king commands."
"Umslopogaas," I answered, "has gone where the king's arm cannot stretch, for he is dead; and for my wife Macropha and my daughter Nada, they are by now in the caves of the Swazis, and the king must seek them there with an army if he will find them. To Macropha he is welcome, for I hate her, and have divorced her; and as for the girl, well, there are many girls, and it is no great matter if she lives or dies, yet I pray him to spare her."
Thus I spoke carelessly, for I knew well that my wife and child were beyond the reach of Chaka.
"You do well to ask the girl's life," said the soldier, laughing, "for all those born to you are dead, by order of the king."
"Is it indeed so?" I answered calmly, though my knees shook and my tongue clove to my lips. "The will of the king be done. A cut stick puts out new leaves; I can have more children."
"Ay, Mopo; but first you must get new wives, for yours are dead also, all five of them."
"Is it indeed so?" I answered. "The king's will be done. I wearied of those brawling women."
"So, Mopo," said the soldier; "but to get other wives and have more children born to you, you must live yourself, for no children are born to the dead, and I think that Chaka has an assegai which you shall kiss."
"Is it so?" I answered. "The king's will be done. The sun is hot, and I tire of the road. He who kisses the assegai sleeps sound."
Thus I spoke, my father, and, indeed, in that hour I desired to die. The world was empty for me. Macropha and Nada were gone, Umslopogaas was dead, and my other wives and children were murdered. I had no heart to begin to build up a new house, none were left for me to love, and it seemed well that I should die also.
The soldiers asked those with me if that tale was true which I told of the death of Umslopogaas and of the going of Macropha and Nada into Swaziland. They said, Yes, it was true. Then the soldiers said that they would lead me back to the king, and I wondered at this, for I thought that they would kill me where I stood. So we went on, and piece by piece I learned what had happened at the king's kraal.
On the day after I left, it came to the ears of Chaka, by the mouth of his spies, that my second wife -- Anadi -- was sick and spoke strange words in her sickness. Then, taking three soldiers with him, he went to my kraal at the death of the day. He left the three soldiers by the gates of the kraal, bidding them to suffer none to come in or go out, but Chaka himself entered the large hut where Anadi lay sick, having his toy assegai, with the shaft of the royal red wood, in his hand. Now, as it chanced, in the hut were Unandi, the mother of Chaka, and Baleka, my sister, the wife of Chaka, for, not knowing that I had taken away Umslopogaas, the son of Baleka, according to their custom, these two foolish women had come to kiss and fondle the lad. But when they entered the hut they found it full of my other wives and children. These they sent away, all except Moosa, the son of Anadi -- that boy who was born eight days before Umslopogaas, the son of Chaka. But they kept Moosa in the hut, and kissed him, giving him imphi (15) to eat, fearing lest it should seem strange to the women, my wives, if, Umslopogaas being gone, they refused to take notice of any other child.
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 sickness."
But Chaka stood up in the hut and laughed terribly. "Truly, Nobela prophesied well," he cried, "and I did ill to slay her. So this is the trick thou hast played upon me, my mother. Thou wouldst give a son to 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 to 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 it.
So I thought as I sat through the watches of the night, ay! and drew out the bitter drug and laid it on my tongue. But as I did so I remembered my daughter Nada, who was left to me, though she sojourned in a far country, and my wife Macropha and my sister Baleka, who still lived, so said the soldiers, though how it came about that the king had not killed her I did not know then. Also another thought was born in my heart. While life remained to me, I might be revenged upon him who had wrought me this woe; but can the dead strike? Alas! the dead are strengthless, and if they still have hearts to suffer, they have no hands to give back blow for blow. Nay, I would live on. Time to die when death could no more be put away. Time to die when the voice of Chaka spoke my doom. Death chooses for himself and answers no questions; he is a guest to whom none need open the door of his hut, for when he wills he can pass through the thatch like air. Not yet would I taste of that medicine of mine.
So I lived on, my father, and the soldiers led me back to the kraal of Chaka. Now when we came to the kraal it was night, for the sun had sunk as we passed through the gates. Still, as he had been commanded, the captain of those who watched me went in before the king and told him that I lay without in bonds. And the king said, "Let him be brought before me, who was my physician, that I may tell him how I have doctored those of his house."
So they took me and led me to the royal house, and pushed me through the doorway of the great hut.
Now a fire burned in the hut, for the night was cold, and Chaka sat on the further side of the fire, looking towards the opening of the hut, and the smoke from the fire wreathed him round, and its light shone upon his face and flickered in his terrible eyes.
At the door of the hut certain councillors seized me by the arms and dragged me towards the fire. But I broke from them, and prostrating myself, for my arms were free, I praised the king and called him by his royal names. The councillors sprang towards me to seize me again, but Chaka said, "Let him be; I would talk with my servant." Then the councillors bowed themselves on either side, and laid their hands on their sticks, their foreheads touching the ground. But I sat down on the floor of the hut over against the king, and we talked through the fire.
"Tell me of the cattle that I sent thee to number, Mopo, son of Makedama," said Chaka. "Have my servants dealt honestly with my cattle?"
"They have dealt honestly, O king," I answered.
"Tell me, then, of the number of the cattle and of their markings, Mopo, forgetting none."
So I sat and told him, ox by ox, cow by cow, and heifer by heifer, forgetting none; and Chaka listened silently as one who is asleep. But I knew that he did not sleep, for all the while the firelight flickered in his fierce eyes. Also I knew that he did but torment me, or that, perhaps, he would learn of the cattle before he killed me. At length all the tale was told.
"So," said the king, "it goes well. There are yet honest men left in the land. Knowest thou, Mopo, that sorrow has come upon thy house while thou wast about my business."
"I have heard it, O king!" I answered, as one who speaks of a small matter.
"Yes, Mopo, sorrow has come upon thy house, the curse of Heaven has fallen upon thy kraal. They tell me, Mopo, that the fire from above ran briskly through they huts."
"I have heard it, I king!"
"They tell me, Mopo, that those within thy gates grew mad at the sight of the fire, and dreaming there was no escape, that they stabbed themselves with assegais or leaped into the flames."
"I have heard it, O king! What of it? Any river is deep enough to drown a fool!"
"Thou hast heard these things, Mopo, but thou hast not yet heard all. Knowest thou, Mopo, that among those who died in thy kraal was she who bore me, she who was named Mother of the Heavens?"
Then, my father, I, Mopo, acted wisely, because of the thought which my good spirit gave me, for I cast myself upon the ground, and wailed aloud as though in utter grief.
"Spare my ears, Black One!" I wailed. "Tell me not that she who bore thee is dead, O Lion of the Zulu. For the others, what is it? It is a breath of wind, it is a drop of water; but this trouble is as the gale or as the sea."
"Cease, my servant, cease!" said the mocking voice of Chaka; "but know this, thou hast done well to grieve aloud, because the Mother of the Heavens is no more, and ill wouldst thou have done to grieve because the fire from above has kissed thy gates. For hadst thou done this last thing or left the first undone, I should have known that thy heart was wicked, and by now thou wouldst have wept indeed -- tears of blood, Mopo. It is well for thee, then, that thou hast read my riddle aright."
Now I saw the depths of the pit that Chaka had dug for me, and blessed my Ehlosé who had put into my heart those words which I should answer. I hoped also that Chaka would now let me go; but it was not to be, for this was but the beginning of my trial.
"Knowest thou, Mopo," said the king, "that as my mother died yonder in the flames of thy kraal she cried out strange and terrible words which came to my ears through the singing of the fire. These were her words: that thou, Mopo, and thy sister Baleka, and thy wives, had conspired together to give a child to me who would be childless. These were her words, the words that came to me through the singing of the fire. Tell me now, Mopo, where are those children that thou leddest from thy kraal, the boy with the lion eyes who is named Umslopogaas, and the girl who is named Nada?"
"Umslopogaas is dead by the lion's mouth, O king!" I answered, "and Nada sits in the Swazi caves." And I told him of the death of Umslopogaas and of how I had divorced Macropha, my wife.
"The boy with the lion eyes to the lion's mouth!" said Chaka. "Enough of him; he is gone. Nada may yet be sought for with the assegai in the Swazi caves; enough of her. Let us speak of this song that my mother -- who, alas! is dead, Mopo -- this song she sang through the singing of the flames. Tell me, Mopo, tell me now, was it a true tale."
"Nay, O king! surely the Mother of the Heavens was maddened by the Heavens when she sang that song," I answered. "I know nothing of it, O king."
"Thou knowest naught of it, Mopo?" said the king. And again he looked at me terribly through the reek of the fire. "Thou knowest naught of it, Mopo? Surely thou art a-cold; thy hands shake with cold. Nay, man, fear not -- warm them, warm them, Mopo. See, now, plunge that hand of thine into the heart of the flame!" And he pointed with his little assegai, the assegai handled with the royal wood, to where the fire glowed reddest -- ay, he pointed and laughed.
Then, my father, I grew cold indeed -- yes, I grew cold who soon should be hot, for I saw the purpose of Chaka. He would put me to the trial by fire.
For a moment I sat silent, thinking. Then the king spoke again in a great voice: "Nay, Mopo, be not so backward; shall I sit warm and see thee suffer cold? What, my councillors, rise, take the hand of Mopo, and hold it to the flame, that his heart may rejoice in the warmth of the flame while we speak together of this matter of the child that was, so my mother sang, born to Baleka, my wife, the sister of Mopo, my servant."
"There is little need for that, O king," I answered, being made bold by fear, for I saw that if I did nothing death would swiftly end my doubts. Once, indeed, I bethought me of the poison that I bore, and was minded to swallow it and make an end, but the desire to live is great, and keen is the thirst for vengeance, so I said to my heart, "Not yet awhile; I will endure this also; afterwards, if need be, I can die."
"I thank the king for his graciousness, and I will warm me at the fire. Speak on, O king, while I warm myself, and thou shalt hear true words," I said boldly.
Then, my father, I stretched out my left hand and plunged it into the fire -- not into the hottest of the fire, but where the smoke leapt from the flame. Now my flesh was wet with the sweat of fear, and for a little moment the flames curled round it and did not burn me. But I knew that the torment was to come.
For a short while Chaka watched me, smiling. Then he spoke slowly, that the fire might find time to do its work.
"Say, then, Mopo, thou knowest nothing of this matter of the birth of a son to thy sister Baleka?"
"I know this only, O king!" I answered, "that a son was born in past years to thy wife Baleka, that I killed the child in obedience to thy word, and laid its body before thee."
Now, my father, the steam from my flesh had been drawn from my hand by the heat, and the flame got hold of me and ate into my flesh, and its torment was great. But of this I showed no sign upon my face, for I knew well that if I showed sign or uttered cry, then, having failed in the trial, death would be my portion.
Then the king spoke again, "Dost thou swear by my head, Mopo, that no son of mine was suckled in thy kraals?"
"I swear it, O king! I swear it by thy head," I answered.
And now, my father, the agony of the fire was such as may not be told. I felt my eyes start forward in their sockets, my blood seemed to boil within me, it rushed into my head, and down my face their ran two tears of blood. But yet I held my hand in the fire and made no sign, while the king and his councillors watched me curiously. Still, for a moment Chaka said nothing, and that moment seemed to me as all the years of my life.
"Ah!" he said at length, "I see that thou growest warm, Mopo! Withdraw thy hand from the flame. I am answered; thou hast passed the trial; thy heart is clean; for had there been lies in it the fire had given them tongue, and thou hadst cried aloud, making thy last music, Mopo!"
Now I took my hand from the flame, and for awhile the torment left me.
"It is well, O king," I said calmly. "Fire has no power of hurt on those whose heart is pure."
But as I spoke I looked at my left hand. It was black, my father -- black as a charred stick, and the nails were gone from the twisted fingers. Look at it now, my father; you can see, though my eyes are blind. The hand is white, like yours -- it is white and dead and shrivelled. These are the marks of the fire in Chaka's hut -- the fire that kissed me many, many years ago; I have had but little use of that hand since this night of torment. But my right arm yet remained to me, my father, and, ah! I used it.
"It seems that Nobela, the doctress, who is dead, lied when she prophesied evil on me from thee, Mopo," said Chaka again. "It seems that thou art innocent of this offence, and that Baleka, thy sister, is innocent, and that the song which the Mother of the Heavens sang through the singing flames was no true song. It is well for thee, Mopo, for in such a matter my oath had not helped thee. But my mother is dead -- dead in the flames with thy wives and children, Mopo, and in this there is witchcraft. We will have a mourning, Mopo, thou and I, such a mourning as has not been seen in Zululand, for all the people on the earth shall weep at it. And there shall be a 'smelling out' at this mourning, Mopo. But we will summon no witch-doctors, thou and I will be witch-doctors, and ourselves shall smell out those who have brought these woes upon us. What! shall my mother die unavenged, she who bore me and has perished by witchcraft, and shall thy wives and children die unavenged -- thou being innocent? Go forth, Mopo, my faithful servant, whom I have honoured with the warmth of my fire, go forth!" And once again he stared at me through the reek of the flame, and pointed with his assegai to the door of the hut.
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 Ehlosé, 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 hear.
"Pass in, children of my people, pass in to the judgment. Why tarry ye? Pass in through the gates of light."
But still they tarried, and in my vision Unandi spoke: "We tarry, Queen of the Heavens -- we tarry to pray for justice on him who murdered us. I, who on earth was named Mother of the Heavens, on behalf of all this company, pray to thee, Queen of the Heavens, for justice on him who murdered us."
"How is he named?" asked the voice that was low and awful.
"Chaka, king of the Zulus," answered the voice of Unandi. "Chaka, my son."
"Many have come to ask for vengeance on that head," said the voice of the Queen of the Heavens, "and many more shall come. Fear not, Unandi, it shall fall. Fear not, Anadi and ye wives and children of Mopo, it shall fall, I say. With the spear that pierced thy breast, Unandi, shall the breast of Chaka be also pierced, and, ye wives and children of Mopo, the hand that pierces shall be the hand of Mopo. As I guide him so shall he go. Ay, I will teach him to wreak my vengeance on the earth! Pass in, children of my people -- pass in to the judgment, for the doom of Chaka is written."
Thus I dreamed, my father. Ay, this was the vision that was sent me as I lay in pain and misery among the bones of my dead in the ashes of my kraal. Thus it was given me to see the Inkosazana of the Heavens as she is in her own place. Twice more I saw her, as you shall hear, but that was on the earth and with my waking eyes. Yes, thrice has it been given to me in all to look upon that face that I shall now see no more till I am dead, for no man may look four times on the Inkosazana and live. Or am I mad, my father, and did I weave these visions from the woof of my madness? I do not know, but it is true that I seemed to see them.
I woke when the sky was grey with the morning light; it was the pain of my burnt hand that aroused me from my sleep or from my stupor. I rose shaking the ashes from me, and went without the kraal to wash away their defilement. Then I returned, and sat outside the gates of the Emposeni, waiting till the king's women, whom he named his sisters, should come to draw water according to their custom. At last they came, and, sitting with my kaross thrown over my face to hide it, looked for the passing of Baleka. Presently I saw her; she was sad- faced, and walked slowly, her pitcher on her head. I whispered her name, and she drew aside behind an aloe bush, and, making pretence that her foot was pierced with a thorn, she lingered till the other women had gone by. Then she came up to me, and we greeted one another, gazing heavily into each other's eyes.
"In an ill day did I hearken to you, Baleka," I said, "to you and to the Mother of the Heavens, and save your child alive. See now what has sprung from this seed! Dead are all my house, dead is the Mother of the Heavens -- all are dead -- and I myself have been put to the torment by fire," and I held out my withered hand towards her.
"Ay, Mopo, my brother," she answered, "but flesh is nearest to flesh, and I should think little of it were not my son Umslopogaas also dead, as I have heard but now."
"You speak like a woman, Baleka. Is it, then, nothing to you that I, your brother, have lost -- all I love?"
"Fresh seed can yet be raised up to you, my brother, but for me there is no hope, for the king looks on me no more. I grieve for you, but I had this one alone, and flesh is nearest to flesh. Think you that I shall escape? I tell you nay. I am but spared for a little, then I go where the others have gone. Chaka has marked me for the grave; for a little while I may be left, then I die: he does but play with me as a leopard plays with a wounded buck. I care not, I am weary, but I grieve for the boy; there was no such boy in the land. Would that I might die swiftly and go to seek him."
"And if the boy is not dead, Baleka, what then?"
"What is that you said?" she answered, turning on me with wild eyes. "Oh, say it again -- again, Mopo! I would gladly die a hundred deaths to know that Umslopogaas still lives."
"Nay, Baleka, I know nothing. But last night I dreamed a dream," and I told her all my dream, and also of that which had gone before the dream.
She listened as one listens to the words of a king when he passes judgement for life or for death.
"I think that there is wisdom in your dreams, Mopo," she said at length. "You were ever a strange man, to whom the gates of distance are no bar. Now it is borne in upon my heart that Umslopogaas still lives, and now I shall die happy. Yes, gainsay me not; I shall die, I know it. I read it in the king's eyes. But what is it? It is nothing, if only the prince Umslopogaas yet lives."
"Your love is great, woman," I said; "and this love of yours has brought many woes upon us, and it may well happen that in the end it shall all be for nothing, for there is an evil fate upon us. Say now, what shall I do? Shall I fly, or shall I abide here, taking the chance of things?"
"You must stay here, Mopo. See, now! This is in the king's mind. He fears because of the death of his mother at his own hand -- yes, even he; he is afraid lest the people should turn upon him who killed his own mother. Therefore he will give it out that he did not kill her, but that she perished in the fire which was called down upon your kraals by witchcraft; and, though all men know the lie, yet none shall dare to gainsay him. As he said to you, there will be a smelling out, but a smelling out of a new sort, for he and you shall be the witch- finders, and at that smelling out he will give to death all those whom he fears, all those whom he knows hate him for his wickedness and because with his own hand he slew his mother. For this cause, then, he will save you alive, Mopo -- yes, and make you great in the land, for if, indeed, his mother Unandi died through witchcraft, as he shall say, are you not also wronged by him, and did not your wives and children also perish by witchcraft? Therefore, do not fly; abide here and become great -- become great to the great end of vengeance, Mopo, my brother. You have much wrong to wreak; soon you will have more, for I, too, shall be gone, and my blood also shall cry for vengeance to you. Hearken, Mopo. Are there not other princes in the land? What of Dingaan, what of Umhlangana, what of Umpanda, brothers to the king? Do not these also desire to be kings? Do they not day by day rise from sleep feeling their limbs to know if they yet live, do they not night by night lie down to sleep not knowing if it shall be their wives that they shall kiss ere dawn or the red assegai of the king? Draw near to them, my brother; creep into their hearts and learn their counsel or teach them yours; so in the end shall Chaka be brought to that gate through which your wives have passed, and where I also am about to tread."
Thus Baleka spoke and she was gone, leaving me pondering, for her words were heavy with wisdom. I knew well that the brothers of the king went heavily and in fear of death, for his shadow was on them. With Panda, indeed, little could be done, for he lived softly, speaking always as one whose wits are few. But Dingaan and Umhlangana were of another wood, and from them might be fashioned a kerrie that should scatter the brains of Chaka to the birds. But the time to speak was not now; not yet was the cup of Chaka full.
Then, having finished my thought, I rose, and, going to the kraal of my friend, I doctored my burnt hand, that pained me, and as I was doctoring it there came a messenger to me summoning me before the king.
I went in before the king, and prostrated myself, calling him by his royal names; but he took me by the hand and raised me up, speaking softly.
"Rise, Mopo, my servant!" he said. "Thou hast suffered much woe because of the witchcraft of thine enemies. I, I have lost my mother, and thou, thou hast lost thy wives and children. Weep, my councillors, weep, because I have lost my mother, and Mopo, my servant, 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 war- shield, and in the other he grasped a heavy club shod with iron.
Now the lioness crouched herself to spring, growling terribly, but the lad with the club did not wait for her onset. He ran in upon her and struck her on the head with the club. He smote hard and well, but this did not kill her, for she reared herself upon her hind legs and struck at him heavily. He caught the blow upon his shield, but the shield was driven against his breast so strongly that he fell backwards beneath it, and lay there howling like a wolf in pain. Then the lioness sprang upon him and worried him. Still, because of the shield, as yet she could not come at him to slay him; but Umslopogaas saw that this might not endure, for presently the shield would be torn aside and the stranger must be killed. Now in the breast of the lioness still stood the half of Umslopogaas's broken spear, and its blade was a span deep in her breast. Then this thought came into the mind of Umslopogaas, that he would drive the spear home or die. So he rose swiftly, for strength came back to him in his need, and ran to where the lioness worried at him who lay beneath the shield. She did not heed him, so he flung himself upon his knees before her, and, seizing the haft of the broken spear, 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 bonds!'
"'Big words for a young mouth,' said my father. 'Yet shall you live to bring these things about, Galazi. This I know of you now in my hour of death: you shall be a wanderer for a few years of your life, child of Siguyana, and wandering in another land you shall die a man's death, and not such a death as yonder witch has given to me.' Then, having spoken thus, he lifted up his head, looked at me, and with a great groan he died.
"Now I passed out of the hut dragging the body of the dead girl after me. In front of the hut were gathered many headmen waiting for the end, and I saw that their looks were sullen.
"'The chief, my father, is dead!' I cried in a loud voice, 'and I, Galazi, who am the chief, have slain her who murdered him!' And I rolled the body of the girl over on to her back so that they might look upon her face.
"Now the father of the girl was among those who stood before me, he who had persuaded her to the deed, and he was maddened at the sight.
"'What, my brothers?' he cried. 'Shall we suffer that this young Zulu dog, this murderer of a girl, be chief over us? Never! The old lion is dead, now for the cub!' And he ran at me with spear aloft.
"'Never!' shouted the others, and they, too, ran towards me, shaking their spears.
"I waited, I did not hasten, for I knew well that I should not die then, I knew it from my father's last words. I waited till the man was near me; he thrust, I sprang aside and drove my spear through him, and on the daughter's body the father fell dead. Then I shouted aloud and rushed through them. None touched me; none could catch me; the man does not live who can overtake me when my feet are on the ground and I am away."
"Yet I might try," said Umslopogaas, smiling, for of all lads among the Zulus he was the swiftest of foot.
"First walk again, then run," answered Galazi.
"Take up the tale," quoth Umslopogaas; "it is a merry one."
"Something is left to tell, stranger. I fled from the country of the Halakazi, nor did I linger at all in the land of the Swazis, but came on swiftly into the Zulu. Now, it was in my mind to go to Chaka and tell him of my wrongs, asking that he would send an impi to make an end of the Halakazi. But while I journeyed, finding food and shelter as I might, I came one night to the kraal of an old man who knew Chaka, and had known Siguyana, my grandfather, and to him, when I had stayed there two days, I told my tale. But the old man counselled me against my plan, saying that Chaka, the king, did not love to welcome new shoots sprung from the royal stock, and would kill me; moreover, the man offered me a place in his kraal. Now, I held that there was wisdom in his words, and thought no more of standing before the king to cry for justice, for he who cries to kings for justice sometimes finds death. Still, I would not stay in the kraal of the old man, for he had sons to come after him who looked on me with no liking; moreover, I wished to be a chief myself, even if I lived alone. So I left the kraal by night and walked on, not knowing where I should go.
"Now, on the third night, I came to a little kraal that stands on the farther side of the river at the foot of the mountain. In front of the kraal sat a very old woman basking in the rays of the setting sun. She saw me, and spoke to me, saying, 'Young man, you are tall and strong and swift of foot. Would you earn a famous weapon, a club, that destroys all who stand before it?'
"I said that I wished to have such a club, and asked what I should do to win it.
"'You shall do this,' said the old woman: 'to-morrow morning, at the first light, you shall go up to yonder mountain,' and she pointed to the mountain where you are now, stranger, on which the stone Witch sits forever waiting for the world to die. 'Two-thirds of the way up the mountain you will come to a path that is difficult to climb. You shall climb the path and enter a gloomy forest. It is very dark in the forest, but you must push through it till you come to an open place with a wall of rock behind it. In the wall of rock is a cave, and in the cave you will find the bones of a man. Bring down the bones in a bag, and I will give you the club!'
"While she spoke thus people came out of the kraal and listened.
"'Do not heed her, young man,' they said, 'unless you are weary of life. Do not heed her: she is crazy. The mountain is haunted; it is a place of ghosts. Look at the stone Witch who sits upon it! Evil spirits live in that forest, and no man has walked there for many years. This woman's son was foolish: he went to wander in the forest, saying that he cared nothing for ghosts, and the Amatongo, the ghost-folk, killed him. That was many years ago, and none have dared to seek his bones. Ever she sits here and asks of the passers by that they should bring him to her, offering the great club for a reward; but they dare not!'
"'They lie!' said the old woman. 'There are no ghosts there. The ghosts live only in their cowardly hearts; there are but wolves. I know that the bones of my son lie in the cave, for I have seen them in a dream; but, alas! my old limbs are too weak to carry me up the mountain path, and all these are cowards; there is no man among them since the Zulus killed my husband, covering him with wounds!'
"Now, I listened, answering nothing; but when all had done, I asked to see the club which should be given to him who dared to face the Amatongo, the spirits who lived in the forest upon the Ghost Mountain. Then the old woman rose, and creeping on her hands went into the hut. Presently she returned again, dragging the great club after her.
"Look at it, stranger! look at it! Was there ever such a club?" And Galazi held it up before the eyes of Umslopogaas.
In truth, my father, that was a club, for I, Mopo, saw it in after days. It was great and knotty, black as iron that had been smoked in the fire, and shod with metal that was worn smooth with smiting.
"I looked at it," went on Galazi, "and I tell you, stranger, a great desire came into my heart to possess it.
"'How is this club named?' I asked of the old woman.
"'It is named Watcher of the Fords,' she answered, 'and it has not watched in vain. Five men have held that club in war and a hundred- and-seventy-three have given up their lives beneath its strokes. He who held it last slew twenty before he was slain himself, for this fortune goes with the club -- that he who owns it shall die holding it, but in a noble fashion. There is but one other weapon to match with it in Zululand, and that is the great axe of Jikiza, the chief of the People of the Axe, who dwells in the kraal yonder; the ancient horn- hafted Imbubuzi, the Groan-Maker, that brings victory. Were axe, Groan-Maker, and club, Watcher of the Fords, side by side, there are no thirty men in Zululand who could stand before them. I have said. Choose!' And the aged woman watched me cunningly through her horny eyes.
"'She speaks truly now,' said one of those who stood near. 'Let the club be, young man: he who owns it smites great blows indeed, but in the end he dies by the assegai. None dare own the Watcher of the Fords.'
"'A good death and a swift!' I answered. And pondered a time, while still the old woman watched me through her horny eyes. At length she rose, 'La!, la!' she said, 'the Watcher is not for this one. This is but a child, I must seek me a man, I must seek me a man!'
"'Not so fast, old wife,' I said. 'Will you lend me this club to hold in my hand while I go to find the bones of your son and to snatch them from the people of the ghosts?'
"'Lend you the Watcher, boy? Nay, nay! I should see little of you again or of the good club either.'
"'I am no thief,' I answered. 'If the ghosts kill me, you will see me no more, or the club either; but if I live I will bring you back the bones, or, if I do not find them, I will render the Watcher into your hands again. At the least I say that if you will not lend me the club, then I will not go into the haunted place.'
"'Boy, your eyes are honest,' she said, still peering at me. 'Take the Watcher, go seek the bones. If you die, let the club be lost with you; if you fail, bring it back to me; but if you win the bones, then it is yours, and it shall bring you glory and you shall die a man's death at last holding him aloft among the dead.'
"So on the morrow at dawn I took the club Watcher in my hand and a little dancing shield, and made ready to start. The old woman blessed me and bade me farewell, but the other people of the kraal mocked, saying: 'A little man for so big a club! Beware, little man, lest the ghosts use the club on you!' So they spoke, but one girl in the kraal -- she is a granddaughter of the old woman -- led me aside, praying me not to go, for the forest on the Ghost Mountain had an evil name: none dared walk there, since it was certainly full of spirits, who howled like wolves. I thanked the girl, but to the others I said nothing, only I asked of the path to the Ghost Mountain.
"Now stranger, if you have strength, come to the mouth of the cave and look out, for the moon is bright."
So Umslopogaas rose and crept through the narrow mouth of the cave. There, above him, a great grey peak towered high into the air, shaped like a seated woman, her chin resting upon her breast, the place where the cave was being, as it were, on the lap of the woman. Below this place the rock sloped sharply, and was clothed with little bushes. Lower down yet was a forest, great and dense, that stretched to the top of a cliff, and at the foot of the cliff, beyond the waters of the river, lay the wide plains of Zululand.
"Yonder, stranger," said Galazi, pointing with the club Watcher of the Fords far away to the plain beneath; "yonder is the kraal where the aged woman dwelt. There is a cliff rising from the plain, up which I must climb; there is the forest where dwell the Amatongo, the people of the ghosts; there, on the hither side of the forest, runs the path to the cave, and here is the cave itself. See this stone lying at the mouth of the cave, it turns thus, shutting up the entrance hole -- it turns gently; though it is so large, a child may move it, for it rests upon a sharp point of rock. Only mark this, the stone must be pushed too far; for, look! if it came to here," and he pointed to a mark in the mouth of the cave, "then that man need be strong who can draw it back again, though I have done it myself, who am not a man full grown. But if it pass beyond this mark, then, see, it will roll down the neck of the cave like a pebble down the neck of a gourd, and I think that two men, one striving from within and one dragging from without, scarcely could avail to push it clear. Look now, I close the stone, as is my custom of a night, so," -- and he grasped the rock and swung it round upon its pivot, on which it turned as a door turns. "Thus I leave it, and though, except those to whom the secret is know, none would guess that a cave was here, yet it can be rolled back again with a push of the hand. But enough of the stone. Enter again, wanderer, and I will go forward with my tale, for it is long and strange.
"I started from the kraal of the old woman, and the people of the kraal followed me to the brink of the river. It was in flood, and few had dared to cross it.
"'Ha! ha!' they cried, 'now your journey is done, little man; watch by the ford you who would win the Watcher of the Ford! Beat the water with the club, perhaps so it shall grow gentle that your feet may pass it!'
"I answered nothing to their mocking, only I bound the shield upon my shoulders with a string, and the bag that I had brought I made fast about my middle, and I held the great club in my teeth by the thong. Then I plunged into the river and swam. Twice, stranger, the current bore me under, and those on the bank shouted that I was lost; but I rose again, and in the end I won the farther shore.
"Now those on the bank mocked no more; they stood still wondering, and I walked on till I came to the foot of the cliff. That cliff is hard to climb, stranger; when you are strong upon your feet, I will show you the path. Yet I found a way up it, and by midday I came to the forest. Here, on the edge of the forest, I rested awhile, and ate a little food that I had brought with me in the bag, for now I must gather up my strength to meet the ghosts, if ghosts there were. Then I rose and plunged into the forest. The trees were great that grow there, stranger, and their leaves are so think that in certain places the light is as that of night when the moon is young. Still, I wended on, often losing my path. But from time to time between the tops of the trees I saw the figure of the grey stone woman who sits on the top of Ghost Mountain, and shaped my course towards her knees. My heart beat as I travelled through the forest in dark and loneliness like that of the night, and ever I looked round searching for the eyes of the Amatongo. But I saw no spirits, though at times great spotted snakes crept from before my feet, and perhaps these were the Amatongo. At times, also, I caught glimpses of some grey wolf as he slunk from tree to tree watching me, and always high above my head the wind sighed in the great boughs with a sound like the sighing of women.
"Still, I went on, singing to myself as I went, that my heart might not be faint with fear, and at length, towards the end of the second hour, the trees grew fewer, the ground sloped upwards, and the light poured down from the heavens again. But, stranger, you are weary, and the night wears on; sleep now, and to-morrow I will end the tale. Say, first, how are you named?"
"I am named Umslopogaas, son of Mopo," he answered, "and my tale shall be told when yours is done; let us sleep!"
Now when Galazi heard this name he started and was troubled, but said nothing. So they laid them down to sleep, and Galazi wrapped Umslopogaas with the skins of bucks.
But Galazi the Wolf was so hardy that he lay on the bare ground and had no covering. So they slept, and without the door of the cave the wolves howled, scenting the blood of men.
On the morrow Umslopogaas awoke, and knew that strength was growing on him fast. Still, all that day he rested in the cave, while Galazi went out to hunt. In the evening he returned, bearing a buck upon his shoulders, and they skinned the buck and ate of it as they sat by the fire. And when the sun was down Galazi took up his tale.
"Now Umslopogaas, son of Mopo, hear! I had passed the forest, and had come, as it were, to the legs of the old stone Witch who sits up aloft there forever waiting for the world to die. Here the sun shone merrily, here lizards ran and birds flew to and fro, and though it grew towards the evening -- for I had wandered long in the forest -- I was afraid no more. So I climbed up the steep rock, where little bushes grow like hair on the arms of a man, till at last I came to the knees of the stone Witch, which are the space before the cave. I lifted by head over the brink of the rock and looked, and I tell you, Umslopogaas, my blood ran cold and my heart turned to water, for there, before the cave, rolled wolves, many and great. Some slept and growled in their sleep, some gnawed at the skulls of dead game, some sat up like dogs and their tongues hung from their grinning jaws. I looked, I saw, and beyond I discovered the mouth of the cave, where the bones of the boy should be. But I had no wish to come there, being afraid of the wolves, for now I knew that these were the ghosts who live upon the mountain. So I bethought me that I would fly, and turned to go. And, Umslopogaas, even as I turned, the great club Watcher of the Fords swung round and smote me on the back with such a blow as a man smites upon a coward. Now whether this was by chance or whether the Watcher would shame him who bore it, say you, for I do not know. At the least, shame entered into me. Should I go back to be mocked by the people of the kraal and by the old woman? And if I wished to go, should I not be killed by the ghosts at night in the forest? Nay, it was better to die in the jaws of the wolves, and at once.
"Thus I thought in my heart; then, tarrying not, lest fear should come upon me again, I swung up the Watcher, and crying aloud the war-cry of the Halakazi, I sprang over the brink of the rock and rushed upon the wolves. They, too, sprang up and stood howling, with bristling hides and fiery eyes, and the smell of them came into my nostrils. Yet when they saw it was a man that rushed upon them, they were seized with sudden fear and fled this way and that, leaping by great bounds from the place of rock, which is the knees of the stone Witch, so that presently I stood alone in front of the cave. Now, having conquered the wolf ghosts and no blow struck, my heart swelled within me, and I walked to the mouth of the cave proudly, as a cock walks upon a roof, and looked in through the opening. As it chanced, the sinking sun shone at this hour full into the cave, so that all its darkness was made red with light. Then, once more, Umslopogaas, I grew afraid indeed, for I could see the end of the cave.
"Look now! There is a hole in the wall of the cave, where the firelight falls below the shadow of the roof, twice the height of a man from the floor. It is a narrow hole and a high, is it not? -- as though one had cut it with iron, and a man might sit in it, his legs hanging towards the floor of the cave. Ay, Umslopogaas, a man might sit in it, might he not? And there a man sat, or that which had been a man. There sat the bones of a man, and the black skin had withered on his bones, holding them together, and making him awful to see. His hands were open beside him, he leaned upon them, and in the right hand was a piece of hide from his moocha. It was half eaten, Umslopogaas; he had eaten it before he died. His eyes also were bound round with a band of leather, as though to hide something from their gaze, one foot was gone, one hung over the edge of the niche towards the floor, and beneath it on the floor, red with rust, lay the blade of a broken spear.
"Now come hither, Umslopogaas, place your hand upon the wall of the cave, just here; it is smooth, is it not? -- smooth as the stones on which women grind their corn. 'What made it so smooth?' you ask. I will tell you.
"When I peered through the door of the cave I saw this: on the floor of the cave lay a she-wolf panting, as though she had galloped many a mile; she was great and fierce. Near to her was another wolf -- he was a dog -- old and black, bigger than any I have seen, a very father of wolves, and all his head and flanks were streaked with grey. But this wolf was on his feet. As I watched he drew back nearly to the mouth of the cave, then of a sudden he ran forward and bounded high into the air towards the withered foot of that which hung from the cleft of the rock. His pads struck upon the rock here where it is smooth, and there for a second he seemed to cling, while his great jaws closed with a clash but a spear's breadth beneath the dead man's foot. Then he fell back with a howl of rage, and drew slowly down the cave. Again he ran and leaped, again the great jaws closed, again he fell down howling. Then the she-wolf rose, and they sprang together, striving to pull down him who sat above. But it was all in vain; they could never come nearer than within a spear's breadth of the dead man's foot. And now, Umslopogaas, you know why the rock is smooth and shines. From month to month and year to year the wolves had ravened there, seeking to devour the bones of him who sat above. Night upon night they had leaped thus against the wall of the cave, but never might their clashing jaws close upon his foot. One foot they had, indeed, but the other they could not come by.
"Now as I watched, filled with fear and wonder, the she-wolf, her tongue lolling from her jaws, made so mighty a bound that she almost reached the hanging foot, and yet not quite. She fell back, and then I saw that the leap was her last for that time, for she had oversprung herself, and lay there howling, the black blood flowing from her mouth. The wolf saw also: he drew near, sniffed at her, then, knowing that she was hurt, seized her by the throat and worried her. Now all the place was filled with groans and choking howls, as the wolves rolled over and over beneath him who sat above, and in the blood-red light of the dying sun the sight and sounds were so horrid that I trembled like a child. The she-wolf grew faint, for the fangs of her mate were buried in her throat. Then I saw that now was the time to smite him, lest when he had killed her he should kill me also. So I lifted the Watcher and sprang into the cave, having it in my mind to slay the wolf before he lifted up his head. But he heard my footsteps, or perhaps my shadow fell upon him. Loosing his grip, he looked up, this father of wolves; then, making no sound, he sprang straight at my throat.
"I saw him, and whirling the Watcher aloft, I smote with all my strength. The blow met him in mid-air; it fell full on his chest and struck him backwards to the earth. But there he would not say, for, rising before I could smite again, once more he sprang at me. This time I leaped aside and struck downwards, and the blow fell upon his right leg and broke it, so that he could spring no more. Yet he ran at me on three feet, and, though the club fell on his side, he seized me with his teeth, biting through that leather bag, which was wound about my middle, into the flesh behind. Then I yelled with pain and rage, and lifting the Watcher endways, drove it down with both hands, as a man drives a stake into the earth, and that with so great a stroke that the skull of the wolf was shattered like a pot, and he fell dead, dragging me with him. Presently I sat up on the ground, and, placing the handle of the Watcher between his jaws, I forced them open, freeing my flesh from the grip of his teeth. Then I looked at my wounds; they were not deep, for the leather bag had saved me, yet I feel them to this hour, for there is poison in the mouth of a wolf. Presently I glanced up, and saw that the she-wolf had found her feet again, and stood as though unhurt; for this is the nature of these ghosts, Umslopogaas, that, though they fight continually, they cannot destroy each other. They may be killed by man alone, and that hardly. There she stood, and yet she did not look at me or on her dead mate, but at him who sat above. I saw, and crept softly behind her, then, lifting the Watcher, I dashed him down with all my strength. The blow fell on her neck and broke it, so that she rolled over and at once was dead.
"Now I rested awhile, then went to the mouth of the cave and looked out. The sun was sinking: all the depth of the forest was black, but the light still shone on the face of the stone woman who sits forever on the mountain. Here, then, I must bide this night, for, though the moon shone white and full in the sky, I dared not wend towards the plains alone with the wolves and the ghosts. And if I dared not go alone, how much less should I dare to go bearing with me him who sat in the cleft of the rock! Nay, here I must bide, so I went out of the cave to the spring which flows from the rock on the right yonder and washed my wounds and drank. Then I came back and sat in the mouth of the cave, and watched the light die away from the face of the world. While it was dying there was silence, but when it was dead the forest awoke. A wind sprang up and tossed it till the green of its boughs waved like troubled water on which the moon shines faintly. From the heart of it, too, came howlings of ghosts and wolves, that were answered by howls from the rocks above -- hearken, Umslopogaas, such howlings as we hear to-night!
"It was awful here in the mouth of the cave, for I had not yet learned the secret of the stone, and if I had known it, should I have dared to close it, leaving myself alone with the dead wolves and him whom the wolves had struggled to tear down? I walked out yonder on to the platform and looked up. The moon shone full upon the face of the stone Witch who sits aloft forever. She seemed to grin at me, and, oh! I grew afraid, for now I knew that this was a place of dead men, a place where spirits perch like vultures in a tree, as they sweep round and round the world. I went back to the cave, and feeling that I must do something lest I should go mad, I drew to me the carcase of the great dog-wolf which I had killed, and, taking my knife of iron, I began to skin it by the light of the moon. For an hour or more I skinned, singing to myself as I worked, and striving to forget him who sat in the cleft above and the howlings which ran about the mountains. But ever the moonlight shone more clearly into the cave: now by it I could see his shape of bone and skin, ay, and even the bandage about his eyes. Why had he tied it there? I wondered -- perhaps to hide the faces of the fierce wolves as they sprang upwards to grip him. And always the howlings drew nearer; now I could see grey forms creeping to and fro in the shadows of the rocky place before me. Ah! there before me glared two red eyes: a sharp snout sniffed at the carcase which I skinned. With a yell, I lifted the Watcher and smote. There came a scream of pain, and something galloped away into the shadows.
"Now the skin was off. I cast it behind me, and seizing the carcase dragged it to the edge of the rock and left it. Presently the sound of howlings drew near again, and I saw the grey shapes creep up one by one. Now they gathered round the carcase, now they fell upon it and rent it, fighting horribly till all was finished. Then, licking their red chops, they slunk back to the forest.
"Did I sleep or did I wake? Nay, I cannot tell. But I know this, that of a sudden I seemed to look up and see. I saw a light -- perchance, Umslopogaas, it was the light of the moon, shining upon him that sat aloft at the end of the cave. It was a red light, and he glowed in it as glows a thing that is rotten. I looked, or seemed to look, and then I thought that the hanging jaw moved, and from it came a voice that was harsh and hollow as of one who speaks from an empty belly, through a withered throat.
"'Hail, Galazi, child of Siguyana!' said the voice, 'Galazi the Wolf! Say, what dost thou here in the Ghost Mountain, where the stone Witch sits forever, waiting for the world to die?'
"Then, Umslopogaas, I answered, or seemed to answer, and my voice, too, sounded strange and hollow: --
"'Hail, Dead One, who sittest like a vulture on a rock! I do this on the Ghost Mountain. I come to seek thy bones and bear them to thy mother for burial.'
"'Many and many a year have I sat aloft, Galazi,' answered the voice,'watching the ghost-wolves leap and leap to drag me down, till the rock grew smooth beneath the wearing of their feet. So I sat seven days and nights, being yet alive, the hungry wolves below, and hunger gnawing at my heart. So I have sat many and many a year, being dead in the heart of the old stone Witch, watching the moon and the sun and the stars, hearkening to the howls of the ghost-wolves as they ravened beneath me, and learning the wisdom of the old witch who sits above in everlasting stone. Yet my mother was young and fair when I trod the haunted forest and climbed the knees of stone. How seems she now, Galazi?'
"'She is white and wrinkled and very aged,' I answered. 'They call her mad, yet at her bidding I came to seek thee, Dead One, bearing the Watcher that was thy father's and shall be mine.'
"'It shall be thine, Galazi,' said the voice, 'for thou alone hast dared the ghosts to me sleep and burial. Hearken, thine also shall be the wisdom of the old witch who sits aloft forever, frozen into everlasting stone -- thine and one other's. These are not wolves that thou hast seen, that is no wolf which thou hast slain; nay, they are ghosts -- evil ghosts of men who lived in ages gone, and who must now live till they be slain by men. And knowest thou how they lived, Galazi, and what was the food they ate? When the light comes again, Galazi, climb to the breasts of the stone Witch, and look in the cleft which is between her breasts. There shalt thou see how these men lived. And now this doom is on them: they must wander gaunt and hungry in the shape of wolves, haunting that Ghost Mountain where they once fed, till they are led forth to die at the hands of men. Because of their devouring hunger they have leapt from year to year, striving to reach my bones; and he whom thou hast slain was the king of them, and she at his side was their queen.
"'Now, Galazi the Wolf, this is the wisdom that I give thee: thou shalt be king of the ghost-wolves, thou and another, whom a lion shall bring thee. Gird the black skin upon thy shoulders, and the wolves shall follow thee; all the three hundred and sixty and three of them that are left, and let him who shall be brought to thee gird on the skin of grey. Where ye twain lead them, there shall they raven, bringing you victory till all are dead. But know this, that there only may they raven where in life they ravened, seeking for their food. Yet, that was an ill gift thou tookest from my mother -- the gift of the Watcher, for though without the Watcher thou hadst never slain the king of the ghost-wolves, yet, bearing the Watcher, thou shalt thyself be slain. Now, on the morrow carry me back to my mother, so that I may sleep where the ghost-wolves leap no more. I have spoken, Galazi.'
"Now the Dead One's voice seemed to grow ever fainter and more hollow as he spoke, till at the last I could scarcely hear his words, yet I answered him, asking him this: --
"'Who is it, then, that the lion shall bring to me to rule with me over the ghost-wolves, and how is he named?'
"Then the Dead One spoke once more very faintly, yet in the silence of the place I heard his words: --
"'He is named Umslopogaas the Slaughterer, son of Chaka, Lion of the Zulu."
Now Umslopogaas started up from his place by the fire.
"I am named Umslopogaas," he said, "but the Slaughterer I am not named, and I am the son of Mopo, and not the son of Chaka, Lion of the Zulu; you have dreamed a dream, Galazi, or, if it was no dream, then the Dead One lied to you."
"Perchance this was so, Umslopogaas," answered Galazi the Wolf. "Perhaps I dreamed, of perhaps the Dead One lied; nevertheless, if he lied in this matter, in other matters he did not lie, as you shall hear.
"After I had heard these words, or had dreamed that I heard them, I slept indeed, and when I woke the forest beneath was like the clouds of mist, but the grey light glinted upon the face of her who sits in stone above. Now I remembered the dream that I had dreamed, and I would see if it were all a dream. So I rose, and leaving the cave, found a place where I might climb up to the breasts and head of the stone Witch. I climbed, and as I went the rays of the sun lit upon her face, and I rejoiced to see them. But, when I drew near, the likeness to the face of a woman faded away, and I saw nothing before me but rugged heaps of piled-up rock. For this, Umslopogaas, is the way of witches, be they of stone or flesh -- when you draw near to them they change their shape.
"Now I was on the breast of the mountain, and wandered to and 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 him.
"For awhile I went on thus, till I drew near to the heart of the forest. Then I heard a wolf howl on my right, and from the left came answering howls, and these, again, were answered by others in front of and behind me. I walked on boldly, for I dared not stay, guiding myself by the sun, which from time to time shone down on me redly through the boughs of the great trees. Now I could see forms grey and black slinking near my path, sniffing at the air as they went, and now I came to a little open place, and, behold! all the wolves in the world were gathered together there. My heart melted, my legs trembled beneath me. On every side were the brutes, great and hungry. And I stood still, with club aloft, and slowly they crept up, muttering and growling as they came, till they formed a deep circle round me. Yet they did not spring on me, only drew nearer and ever nearer. Presently one sprang, indeed, but not at me; he sprang at that which sat upon my shoulders. I moved aside, and he missed his aim, and, coming to the ground again, stood there growling and whining like a beast afraid. Then I remembered the words of my dream, if dream it were, how that the Dead One had given me wisdom that I should be king of the ghost- wolves -- I and another whom a lion should bear to me. Was it not so? If it was not so, how came it that the wolves did not devour me?
"For a moment I stood thinking, then I lifted up my voice and howled like a wolf, and lo! Umslopogaas, all the wolves howled in answer with a mighty howling. I stretched out my hand and called to them. They ran to me, gathering round me as though to devour me. But they did not harm me; they licked my legs with their red tongues, and fighting to come near me, pressed themselves against me as does a cat. One, indeed, snatched at him who sat on my shoulder, but I struck him with the Watcher and he slunk back like a whipped hound; moreover, the others bit him so that he yelled. Now I knew that I had no more to fear, for I was king of the ghost-wolves, so I walked on, and with me came all the great pack of them. I walked on and on, and they trotted beside me silently, and the fallen leaves crackled beneath their feet, and the dust rose up about them, till at length I reached the edge of the forest.
Now I know that I had no more to fear, for I was king of the ghost-wolves
"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 to- night, my father, and Galazi took up his tale.
"I passed on till I came to the river; it was still full, but the water had run down a little, so that my feet found foothold. I waded into the river, using the Watcher as a staff, and the stream reached to my elbows, but no higher. Now one on the farther bank of the river saw that which sat upon my shoulders, and saw also the wolf's skin on my head, and ran to the kraal crying, 'Here comes one who walks the waters on the back of a wolf.'
"So it came about that when I drew towards the kraal all the people of the kraal were gathered together to meet me, except the old woman, who could not walk so far. But when they saw me coming up the slope of the hill, and when they knew what it was that sat upon my shoulders, they were smitten with fear. Yet they did not run, because of their great wonder, only they walked backward before me, clinging each to each and saying nothing. I too came on silently, till at length I reached the kraal, and before its gates sat the old woman basking in the sun of the afternoon. Presently she looked up and cried: --
"'What ails you, people of my house, that you walk backwards like men bewitched, and who is that tall and deathly man who comes toward you?'
"But still they drew on backward, saying no word, the little children clinging to the women, the women clinging to the men, till they had passed the old wife and ranged themselves behind her like a regiment of soldiers. Then they halted against the fence of the kraal. But I came on to the old woman, and lifted him who sat upon my shoulders, and placed him on the ground before her, saying, 'Woman, here is your son; I have snatched him with much toil from the jaws of the ghosts -- and they are many up yonder -- all save one foot, which I could not find. Take him now and bury him, for I weary of his fellowship.'
"She looked upon that which sat before her. She put out her withered hand and drew the bandage from his sunken eyes. Then she screamed aloud a shrill scream, and, flinging her arms about the neck of the Dead One, she cried: 'It is my son whom I bore -- my very son, whom for twice ten years and half a ten I have not looked upon. Greeting, my son, greeting! Now shalt thou find burial, and I with three -- ay, I with thee!'
"And once more she cried aloud, standing upon her feet with arms outstretched. Then of a sudden foam burst from her lips, and she fell forward upon the body of her son, and was dead.
"Now silence came upon the place again, for all were fearful. At last one cried: 'How is this man named who has won the body from the ghosts?'
"'I am named Galazi,' I answered.
"'Nay,' said he. 'The Wolf you are named. Look at the wolf's red hide upon his head!'
"'I am named Galazi, and the Wolf you have named me,' I said again.
So be it: I am named Galazi the Wolf.'
"'Methinks he is a wolf,' said he. 'Look, now, at his teeth, how they grin! This is no man, my brothers, but a wolf.'
"'No wolf and no man,' said another, 'but a wizard. None but a wizard could have passed the forest and won the lap of her who sits in stone forever.'
"'Yes, yes! he is a wolf -- he is a wizard!' they screamed. 'Kill him! Kill the wolf-wizard before he brings the ghosts upon us!' And they ran towards me with uplifted spears.
"'I am a wolf indeed,' I cried, 'and I am a wizard indeed, and I will bring wolves and ghosts upon you ere all is done.' And I turned and fled so swiftly that soon they were left behind me. Now as I ran I met a girl; a basket of mealies was on her head, and she bore a dead kid in her hand. I rushed at her howling like a wolf, and I snatched the mealies from her head and the kid from her hand. Then I fled on, and coming to the river, I crossed it, and for that night I hid myself in the rocks beyond, eating the mealies and the flesh of the kid.
"On the morrow at dawn I rose and shook the dew from the wolf-hide. Then I went on into the forest and howled like a wolf. They knew my voice, the ghost-wolves, and howled in answer from far and near. Then I heard the pattering of their feet, and they came round me by tens and by twenties, and fawned upon me. I counted their number; they numbered three hundred and sixty and three.
"Afterwards, I went on to the cave, and I have lived there in the cave, Umslopogaas, for nigh upon twelve moons, and I have become a wolf-man. For with the wolves I hunt and raven, and they know me, and what I bid them that they do. Stay, Umslopogaas, now you are strong again, and, if your courage does not fail you, you shall see this very night. Come now, have you the heart, Umslopogaas?"
Then Umslopogaas rose and laughed aloud. "I am young in years," he cried, "and scarcely come to the full strength of men; yet hitherto I have not turned my back on lion or witch, on wolf or man. Now let us see this impi of yours -- this impi black and grey, that runs on four legs with fangs for spears!"
"You must first bind on the she-wolf's hide, Umslopogaas," quoth Galazi, "else, before a man could count his fingers twice there would be little enough left of you. Bind it about the neck and beneath the arms, and see that the fastenings do not burst, lest it be the worse for you."
So Umslopogaas took the grey wolf's hide and bound it on with thongs of leather, and its teeth gleamed upon his head, and he took a spear in his hand. Galazi also bound on the hide of the king of the wolves, and they went out on to the space before the cave. Galazi stood there awhile, and the moonlight fell upon him, and Umslopogaas saw that his face grew wild and beastlike, that his eyes shone, and his teeth grinned beneath his curling lips. He lifted up his head and howled out upon the night. Thrice Galazi lifted his head and thrice he howled loudly, and yet more loud. But before ever the echoes had died in the air, from the heights of the rocks above and the depths of the forest beneath, there came howlings in answer. Nearer they grew and nearer; now there was a sound of feet, and a wolf, great and grey, bounded towards them, and after him many another. They came to Galazi, they sprang upon him, fawning round him, but he beat them down with the Watcher. Then of a sudden they saw Umslopogaas, and rushed at him open-mouthed.
"Stand and do not move!" cried Galazi. "Be not afraid!"
"I have always fondled dogs," answered Umslopogaas, "shall I learn to fear them now?"
Yet though he spoke boldly, in his heart he was afraid, for this was the most terrible of all sights. The wolves rushed on him open- mouthed, from before and from behind, so that in a breath he was well- nigh hidden by their forms. Yet no fang pierced him, for as they leapt they smelt the smell of the skin upon him. Then Umslopogaas saw that the wolves leapt at him no more, but the she-wolves gathered round him who wore the she-wolf's skin. They were great and gaunt and hungry, all were full-grown, there were no little ones, and their number was so many that he could not count them in the moonlight. Umslopogaas, looking into their red eyes, felt his heart become as the heart of a wolf, and he, too, lifted up his head and howled, and the she-wolves howled in answer.
"The pack is gathered; now for the hunt!" cried Galazi. "Make your feet swift, my brother, for we shall journey far to-night. Ho, Blackfang! ho, Greysnout! Ho, my people black and grey, away! away!"
He spoke and bounded forward, and with him went Umslopogaas, and after him streamed the ghost-wolves. They fled down the mountain sides, leaping from boulder to boulder like bucks. Presently they stood by a kloof that was thick with trees. Galazi stopped, holding up the Watcher, and the wolves stopped with him.
"I smell a quarry," he cried; "in, my people, in!"
Then the wolves plunged silently into the great kloof, but Galazi and Umslopogaas drew to the foot of it and waited. Presently there came a sound of breaking boughs, and lo! before them stood a buffalo, a bull who lowed fiercely and sniffed the air.
"This one will give us a good chase, my brother; see, he is gaunt and thin! Ah! that meat is tender which my people have hunted to the death!"
As Galazi spoke, the first of the wolves drew from the covert and saw the buffalo; then, giving tongue, they sprang towards it. The bull saw also, and dashed down the hill, and after him came Galazi and Umslopogaas, and with them all their company, and the rocks shook with the music of their hunting. They rushed down the mountain side, and it came into the heart of Umslopogaas, that he, too, was a wolf. They rushed madly, yet his feet were swift as the swiftest; no wolf could outstrip him, and in him was but one desire -- the desire of prey. Now they neared the borders of the forest, and Galazi shouted. He shouted to Greysnout and to Blackfang, to Blood and to Deathgrip, and these four leaped forward from the pack, running so swiftly that their bellies seemed to touch the ground. They passed about the bull, turning him from the forest and setting his head up the slope of the mountain. Then the chase wheeled, the bull leaped and bounded up the mountain side, and on one flank lay Greysnout and Deathgrip and on the other lay Blood and Blackfang, while behind came the Wolf-Brethren, and after them the wolves with lolling tongues. Up the hill they sped, but the feet of Umslopogaas never wearied, his breath did not fail him. Once more they drew near the lap of the Grey Witch where the cave was. On rushed the bull, mad with fear. He ran so swiftly that the wolves were left behind, since here for a space the ground was level to his feet. Galazi looked on Umslopogaas at his side, and grinned.
"You do not run so ill, my brother, who have been sick of late. See now if you can outrun me! Who shall touch the quarry first?"
Now the bull was ahead by two spear-throws. Umslopogaas looked and grinned back at Galazi. "Good!" he cried, "away!"
They sped forward with a bound, and for awhile it seemed to Umslopogaas as though they stood side by side, only the bull grew nearer and nearer. Then he put out his strength and the swiftness of his feet, and lo! when he looked again he was alone, and the bull was very near. Never were feet so swift as those of Umslopogaas. Now he reached the bull as he laboured on. Umslopogaas placed his hands upon the back of the bull and leaped; he was on him, he sat him as you white men sit a horse. Then he lifted the spear in his hand, and drove it down between the shoulders to the spine, and of a sudden the great buffalo staggered, stopped, and fell dead.
He lifted the spear...and drove it down between the shoulders
Galazi came up. "Who now is the swiftest, Galazi?" cried Umslopogaas, "I, or you, or your wolf host?"
"You are the swiftest, Umslopogaas," said Galazi, gasping for his breath. "Never did a man run as you run, nor ever shall again."
Now the wolves streamed up, and would have torn the carcase, but Galazi beat them back, and they rested awhile. Then Galazi said, "Let us cut meat from the bull with a spear."
So they cut meat from the bull, and when they had finished Galazi motioned to the wolves, and they fell upon the carcase, fighting furiously. In a little while nothing was left except the larger bones, and yet each wolf had but a little.
Then they went back to the cave and slept.
Afterwards Umslopogaas told Galazi all his tale, and Galazi asked him if he would abide with him and be his brother, and rule with him over the wolf-kind, or seek his father Mopo at the kraal of Chaka.
Umslopogaas said that it was rather in his mind to seek his sister Nada, for he was weary of the kraal of Chaka, but he thought of Nada day and night.
"Where, then, is Nada, your sister?" asked Galazi.
"She sleeps in the caves of your people, Galazi; she tarries with the Halakazi."
"Stay awhile, Umslopogaas," cried Galazi; "stay till we are men indeed. Then we will seek this sister of yours and snatch her from the caves of the Halakazi."
Now the desire of this wolf-life had entered into the heart of Umslopogaas, and he said that it should be so, and on the morrow they made them blood-brethren, to be one till death, before all the company of ghost-wolves, and the wolves howled when they smelt the blood of men. In all things thenceforth these two were equal, and the ghost- wolves hearkened to the voice of both of them. And on many a moonlight night they and the wolves hunted together, winning their food. At times they crossed the river, hunting in the plains, for game was scarce on the mountain, and the people of the kraal would come out, hearing the mighty howling, and watch the pack sweep across the veldt, and with them a man or men. Then they would say that the ghosts were abroad and creep into their huts shivering with fear. But as yet the Wolf-Brethren and their pack killed no men, but game only, or, at times, elephants and lions.
Now when Umslopogaas had abode some moons in the 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 Ehlosé bade him hold his peace. So he sat in a corner of the big hut and listened. Presently the headman of the kraal, who trembled with fear, for he believed that the impi had been sent to destroy him and all that were his, asked the captain what was his will.
"A little matter, and a vain," said the captain. "We are sent by the king to search for a certain youth, Umslopogaas, the son of Mopo, the king's doctor. Mopo gave it out that the youth was killed by a lion near these mountains, and Chaka would learn if this is true."
"We know nothing of the youth," said the headman. "But what would ye with him?"
"Only this," answered the captain, "to kill him."
"That is yet to do," thought Umslopogaas.
"Who is this Mopo?" asked the headman.
"An evildoer, whose house the king has eaten up -- man, woman, and child," answered the captain.
When Umslopogaas heard these words his heart was heavy, and a great anger burned in his breast, for he thought that I, Mopo, was dead with the rest of his house, and he loved me. But he said nothing; only, watching till none were looking, he slipped past the backs of the captains and won the door of the hut. Soon he was clear of the kraal, and, running swiftly, crossed the river and came to the Ghost Mountain. Meanwhile, the captain asked the headman of the kraal if he knew anything of such a youth as him for whom they sought. The headman told the captain of Galazi the Wolf, but the captain said that this could not be the lad, for Galazi had dwelt many moons upon the Ghost Mountain.
"There is another youth," said the headman; "a stranger, fierce, strong and tall, with eyes that shine like spears. He is in the hut now; he sits yonder in the shadow."
The captain rose and looked into the shadow, but Umslopogaas was gone.
"Now this youth is fled," said the headman, "and yet none saw him fly! Perhaps he also is a wizard! Indeed, I have heard that now there are two of them upon the Ghost Mountain, and that they hunt there at night with the ghost-wolves, but I do not know if it is true."
"Now I am minded to kill you," said the captain in wrath, "because you have suffered this youth to escape me. Without doubt it is Umslopogaas, son of Mopo."
"It is no fault of mine," said the headmen. "These young men are wizards, who can pass hither and thither at will. But I say this to you, captain of the king, if you will go on the Ghost Mountain, you must go there alone with your soldiers, for none in these parts dare to tread upon that mountain."
"Yet I shall dare to-morrow," said the captain. "We grow brave at the kraal of Chaka. There men do not fear spears or ghosts or wild beasts or magic, but they fear the king's word alone. The sun sets -- give us food. To-morrow we will search the mountain."
Thus, my father, did this captain speak in his folly, -- he who should never see another sun.
Now Umslopogaas reached the mountain, and when he had passed the forest -- of which he had learned every secret way -- the darkness gathered, and the wolves awoke in the darkness and drew near howling. Umslopogaas howled in answer, and presently that great wolf Deathgrip came to him. Umslopogaas saw him and called him by his name; but, behold! the brute did not know him, and flew at him, growling. Then Umslopogaas remembered that the she-wolf's skin was not bound about his shoulders, and therefore it was that the wolf Deathgrip knew him not. For though in the daytime, when the wolves slept, he might pass to and fro without the skin, at night it was not so. He had not brought the skin, because he dared not wear it in the sight of the men of the kraal, lest they should know him for one of the Wolf-Brethren, and it had not been his plan to seek the mountain again that night, but rather on the morrow. Now Umslopogaas knew that his danger was great indeed. He beat back Deathgrip with his kerrie, but others were behind him, for the wolves gathered fast. Then he bounded away towards the cave, for he was so swift of foot that the wolves could not catch him, though they pressed him hard, and once the teeth of one of them tore his moocha. Never before did he run so fast, and in the end he reached the cave and rolled the rock to, and as he did so the wolves dashed themselves against it. Then he clad himself in the hide of the she-wolf, and, pushing aside the stone, came out. And, lo! the eyes of the wolves were opened, and they knew him for one of the brethren who ruled over them, and slunk away at his bidding.
Now Umslopogaas sat himself down at the mouth of the cave waiting for Galazi, and he thought. Presently Galazi came, and in few words Umslopogaas told him all his tale.
"You have run a great risk, my brother," said Galazi. "What now?"
"This," said Umslopogaas: "these people of ours are hungry for the flesh of men; let us feed them full on the soldiers of Chaka, who sit yonder at the kraal seeking my life. I would take vengeance for Mopo, my father, and all my brethren who are dead, and for my mothers, the wives of Mopo. What say you?"
Galazi laughed aloud. "That will be merry, my brother," he said. "I weary of hunting beasts, let us hunt men to-night."
"Ay, to-night," said Umslopogaas, nodding. "I long to look upon that captain as a maid longs for her lover's kiss. But first let us rest and eat, for the night is young; then, Galazi, summon our impi."
So they rested and ate, and afterwards went out armed, and Galazi howled to the wolves, and they came in tens and twenties till all were gathered together. Galazi moved among them, shaking the Watcher, as they sat upon their haunches, and followed him with their fiery eyes.
"We do not hunt game to-night, little people," he cried, "but men, and you love the flesh of men."
Now all the wolves howled as though they understood. Then the pack divided itself as was its custom, the she-wolves following Umslopogaas, the dog-wolves following Galazi, and in silence they moved swiftly down towards the plain. They came to the river and swam it, and there, eight spear throws away, on the farther side of the river stood the kraal. Now the Wolf-Brethren took counsel together, and Galazi, with the dog-wolves, went to the north gate, and Umslopogaas with the she-wolves to the south gate. They reached them safely and in silence, for at the bidding of the brethren the wolves ceased from their howlings. The gates were stopped with thorns, but the brethren pulled out the thorns and made a passage. As they did this it chanced that certain dogs in the kraal heard the sound of the stirred boughs, and awakening, caught the smell of the wolves that were with Umslopogaas, for the wind blew from that quarter. These dogs ran out barking, and presently they came to the south gate of the kraal, and flew at Umslopogaas, who pulled away the thorns. Now when the wolves saw the dogs they could be restrained no longer, but sprang on them and tore them to fragments, and the sound of their worrying came to the ears of the soldiers of Chaka and of the dwellers in the kraal, so that they sprang from sleep, snatching their arms. And as they came out of the huts they saw in the moonlight a man wearing a wolf's hide rushing across the empty cattle kraal, for the grass was long and the cattle were out at graze, and with him countless wolves, black and grey. Then they cried aloud in terror, saying that the ghosts were on them, and turned to flee to the north gate of the kraal. But, behold! here also they met a man clad in a wolf's skin only, and with him countless wolves, black and grey.
Now, some flung themselves to earth screaming in their fear, and some strove to run away, but the greater part of the soldiers, and with them many of the men of the kraal, came together in knots, being minded to die like men at teeth of the ghosts, and that though they shook with fear. Then Umslopogaas howled aloud, and howled Galazi, and they flung themselves upon the soldiers and the people of the kraal, and with them came the wolves. Then a crying and a baying rose up to heaven as the grey wolves leaped and bit and tore. Little they heeded the spears and kerries of the soldiers. Some were killed, but the rest did not stay. Presently the knots of men broke up, and to each man wolves hung by twos and threes, dragging him to earth. Some few fled, indeed, but the wolves hunted them by gaze and scent, and pulled them down before they passed the gates of the kraal.
The Wolf-Brethren also ravened with the rest. Busy was the Watcher, and many bowed beneath him, and often the spear of Umslopogaas flashed in the moonlight. It was finished; none were left living in that kraal, and the wolves growled sullenly as they took their fill, they who had been hungry for many days. Now the brethren met, and laughed in their wolf joy, because they had slaughtered those who were sent out to slaughter. They called to the wolves, bidding them search the huts, and the wolves entered the huts as dogs enter a thicket, and killed those who lurked there, or drove them forth to be slain without. Presently a man, great and tall, sprang from the last of the huts, where he had hidden himself, and the wolves outside rushed on him to drag him down. But Umslopogaas beat them back, for he had seen the face of the man: it was that captain whom Chaka had sent out to kill him. He beat them back, and stalked up to the captain, saying: "Greeting to you, captain of the king! Now tell us what is your errand here, beneath the shadow of her who sits in stone?" And he pointed with his spear to the Grey Witch on the Ghost Mountain, on which the moon shone bright.
Now the captain had a great heart, though he had hidden from the wolves, and answered boldly: --
"What is that to you, wizard? Your ghost wolves had made an end of my errand. Let them make an end of me also."
"Be not in haste, captain," said Umslopogaas. "Say, did you not seek a certain youth, the son of Mopo?"
"That is so," answered the captain. "I sought one youth, and I have found many evil spirits." And he looked at the wolves tearing their prey, and shuddered.
"Say, captain," quoth Umslopogaas, drawing back his hood of wolf's hide so that the moonlight fell upon his face, "is this the face of that youth whom you sought?"
"It is the face," answered the captain, astonished.
"Ay," laughed Umslopogaas, "it is the face. Fool! I knew your errand and heard your words, and thus have I answered them." And he pointed to the dead. "Now choose, and swiftly. Will you run for your life against my wolves? Will you do battle for your life against these four?" And he pointed to Greysnout and to Blackfang, to Blood and to Deathgrip, who watched him with slavering lips; "or will you stand face to face with me, and if I am slain, with him who bears the club, and with whom I rule this people black and grey?"
"I fear ghosts, but of men I have no fear, though they be wizards," answered the captain.
"Good!" cried Umslopogaas, shaking his spear.
Then they rushed together, and that fray was fierce. For presently the spear of Umslopogaas was broken in the shield of the captain and he was left weaponless. Now Umslopogaas turned and fled swiftly, bounding over the dead and the wolves who preyed upon them, and the captain followed with uplifted spear, and mocked him as he came. Galazi also wondered that Umslopogaas should fly from a single man. Hither and thither fled Umslopogaas, and always his eyes were on the earth. Of a sudden, Galazi, who watched, saw him sweep forward like a bird and stoop to the ground. Then he wheeled round, and lo! there was an axe in his hand. The captain rushed at him, and Umslopogaas smote as he rushed, and the blade of the great spear that was lifted to pierce him fell to the ground hewn from its haft. Again Umslopogaas smote: the moon-shaped axe sank through the stout shield deep into the breast beyond. Then the captain threw up his arms and fell to the earth.
"Ah!" cried Umslopogaas, "you sought a youth to slay him, and have found an axe to be slain by it! Sleep softly, captain of Chaka."
Then Umslopogaas spoke to Galazi, saying: "My brother, I will fight no more with the spear, but with the axe alone; it was to seek an axe that I ran to and fro like a coward. But this is a poor thing! See, the haft is split because of the greatness of my stroke! Now this is my desire -- to win that great axe of Jikiza, which is called Groan- Maker, of which we have heard tell, so that axe and club may stand together in the fray."
"That must be for another night," said Galazi. "We have not done so ill for once. Now let us search for pots and corn, of which we stand in need, and then to the mountain before dawn finds us."
Thus, then, did the Wolf-Brethren bring death on the impi of Chaka, and this was but the first of many deaths that they wrought with the help of the wolves. For ever they ravened through the land at night, and, falling on those they hated, they ate them up, till their name and the name of the ghost-wolves became terrible in the ears of men, and the land was swept clean. But they found that the wolves would not go abroad to worry everywhere. Thus, on a certain night, they set out to fall upon the kraals of the People of the Axe, where dwelt the chief Jikiza, who was named the Unconquered, and owned the axe Groan- Maker, but when they neared the kraal the wolves turned back and fled. Then Galazi remembered the dream that he had dreamed, in which the Dead One in the cave had seemed to speak, telling him that there only where the men-eaters had hunted in the past might the wolves hunt to- day. So they returned home, but Umslopogaas set himself to find a plan to win the axe.
Now many moons had gone by since Umslopogaas became a king of the wolves, and he was a man full grown, a man fierce and tall and keen; a slayer of men, fleet of foot and of valour unequalled, seeing by night as well as by day. But he was not yet named the Slaughterer, and not yet did he hold that iron chieftainess, the axe Groan-Maker. Still, the desire to win the axe was foremost in his mind, for no woman had entered there, who when she enters drives out all other desire -- ay, my father, even that of good weapons. At times, indeed, Umslopogaas would lurk in the reeds by the river looking at the kraal of Jikiza the Unconquered, and would watch the gates of his kraal, and once as he lurked he saw a man great, broad and hairy, who bore upon his shoulder a shining axe, hafted with the horn of a rhinoceros. After that his greed for this axe entered into Umslopogaas more and more, till at length he scarcely could sleep for thinking of it, and to Galazi he spoke of little else, wearying him much with his talk, for Galazi loved silence. But for all his longing he could find no means to win it.
Now it befell that as Umslopogaas hid one evening in the reeds, watching the kraal of Jikiza, he saw a maiden straight and fair, whose skin shone like the copper anklets on her limbs. She walked slowly towards the reeds where he lay hidden. Nor did she 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."
The ghost-wolves are at hand, damsel
Now the maid saw him and screamed faintly, then grew silent, wondering at the greatness and the fierce eyes of the man who spoke to her.
"Who are you?" she asked. "I fear you not, whoever you are."
"There you are wrong, damsel, for all men fear me, and they have cause to fear. I am one of the Wolf-Brethren, whose names have been told of; I am a wizard of the Ghost Mountain. Take heed, now, lest I kill you. It will be of little avail to call upon your people, for my feet are fleeter than theirs."
"I have no wish to call upon my people, Wolf-Man," she answered. "And for the rest, I am too young to kill."
"That is so, maiden," answered Umslopogaas, looking at her beauty. "What were the words upon your lips as to Jikiza and a certain Masilo? Were they not fierce words, such as my heart likes well?"
"It seems that you heard them," answered the girl. "What need to waste breath in speaking them again?"
"No need, maiden. Now tell me your story; perhaps I may find a way to help you."
"There is little to tell," she answered. "It is a small tale and a common. My name is Zinita, and Jikiza the Unconquered is my step- father. He married my mother, who is dead, but none of his blood is in me. Now he would give me in marriage to a certain Masilo, a fat man and an old, whom I hate, because Masilo offers many cattle for me."
"Is there, then, another whom you would wed, maiden?" asked Umslopogaas.
"There is none," answered Zinita, looking him in the eyes.
"And is there no path by which you may escape from Masilo?"
"There is only one path, Wolf-Man -- by death. If I die, I shall escape; if Masilo dies, I shall escape; but to little end, for I shall be given to another; but if Jikiza dies, then it will be well. What of that wolf-people of yours, are they not hungry, Wolf-Man?"
"I cannot bring them here," answered Umslopogaas. "Is there no other way?"
"There is another way," said Zinita, "if one can be found to try it." And again she looked at him strangely, causing the blood to beat within him. "Hearken! do you not know how our people are governed? They are governed by him who holds the axe Groan-Maker. He that can win the axe in war from the hand of him who holds it, shall be our chief. But if he who holds the axe dies unconquered, then his son takes his place and with it the axe. It has been thus, indeed, for four generations, since he who held Groan-Maker has always been unconquerable. But I have heard that the great-grandfather of Jikiza won the axe from him who held it in his day; he won it by fraud. For when the axe had fallen on him but lightly, he fell over, feigning death. Then the owner of the axe laughed, and turned to walk away. But the forefather of Jikiza sprang up behind him and pierced him through with a spear, and thus he became chief of the People of the Axe. Therefore, it is the custom of Jikiza to hew off the heads of those whom he kills with the axe."
"Does he, then, slay many?" asked Umslopogaas.
"Of late years, few indeed," she said, "for none dare stand against him -- no, not with all to win. For, holding the axe Groan-Maker, he is unconquerable, and to fight with him is sure death. Fifty-and-one have tried in all, and before the hut of Jikiza there are piled fifty-and- one white skulls. And know this, the axe must be won in fight; if it is stolen or found, it has no virtue -- nay, it brings shame and death to him who holds it."
"How, then, may a man give battle to Jikiza?" he asked again.
"Thus: Once in every year, on the first day of the new moon of the summer season, Jikiza holds a meeting of the headmen. Then he must rise and challenge all or any to come forward and do battle with him to win the axe and become chief in his place. Now if one comes forward, they go into the cattle kraal, and there the matter is ended. Afterwards, when the head is hewn from his foe, Jikiza goes back to the meeting of the headmen, and they talk as before. All are free to come to the meeting, and Jikiza must fight with them if they wish it, whoever they be."
"Perhaps I shall be there," said Umslopogaas.
"After this meeting at the new moon, I am to be given in marriage to Masilo," said the maid. "But should one conquer Jikiza, then he will be chief, and can give me in marriage to whom he will."
Now Umslopogaas understood her meaning, and knew that he had found favour in her sight; and the thought moved him a little, for women were strange to him as yet.
"If perchance I should be there," he said, "and if perchance I should win the iron chieftainess, the axe Groan-Maker, and rule over the People of the Axe, you should not live far from the shadow of the axe thenceforward, maid Zinita."
"It is well, Wolf-Man, though some might not wish to dwell in that shadow; but first you must win the axe. Many have tried, and all have failed."
"Yet one must succeed at last," he said, "and so, farewell!" and he leaped into the torrent of the river, and swam it with great strokes.
Now the maid Zinita watched him till he was gone, and love of him entered into her heart -- a love that was fierce and jealous and strong. But as he wended to the Ghost Mountain Umslopogaas thought rather of axe Groan-Maker than of Maid Zinita; for ever, at the bottom, Umslopogaas loved war more than women, though this has been his fate, that women have brought sorrow on his head.
Fifteen days must pass before the day of the new moon, and during this time Umslopogaas thought much and said little. Still, he told Galazi something of the tale, and that he was determined to do battle with Jikiza the Unconquered for the axe Groan-Maker. Galazi said that he would do well to let it be, and that it was better to stay with the wolves than to go out seeking strange weapons. He said also that even if he won the axe, the matter might not stay there, for he must take the girl also, and his heart boded no good of women. It had been a girl who poisoned his father in the kraals of the Halakazi. To all of which Umslopogaas answered nothing, for his heart was set both on the axe and the girl, but more on the first than the last.
So the time wore on, and at length came the day of the new moon. At the dawn of that day Umslopogaas arose and clad himself in a moocha, binding the she-wolf's skin round his middle beneath the moocha. In his hand he took a stout fighting-shield, which he had made of buffalo hide, and that same light moon-shaped axe with which he had slain the captain of Chaka.
"A poor weapon with which to kill Jikiza the Unconquerable," said Galazi, eyeing it askance.
"It shall serve my turn," answered Umslopogaas.
Now Umslopogaas ate, and then they moved together slowly down the mountain and crossed the river by a ford, for he wished to save his strength. On the farther side of the river Galazi hid himself in the reeds, because his face was known, and there Umslopogaas bade him farewell, not knowing if he should look upon him again. Afterwards he walked up to the Great Place of Jikiza. Now when he reached the gates of the kraal, he saw that many people were streaming through them, and mingled with the people. Presently they came to the open space in front of the huts of Jikiza, and there the headmen were gathered together. In the centre of them, and before a heap of the skulls of men which were piled up against his 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 greedily.
"Yon man," thought Umslopogaas, "is Masilo. The better for blood- letting will you be, Masilo."
Presently Jikiza spoke, rolling his eyes: "This is the matter before you, councillors. I have settled it in my mind to give my step- daughter Zinita in marriage to Masilo, but the marriage gift is not yet agreed on. I demand a hundred head of cattle from Masilo, for the maid is fair and straight, a proper maid, and, moreover, my daughter, though not of my blood. But Masilo offers fifty head only, therefore I ask you to settle it."
"We hear you, Lord of the Axe," answered one of the councillors, "but first, O Unconquered, you must on this day of the year, according to ancient custom, give public challenge to any man to fight you for the Groan-Maker and for your place as chief of the People of the Axe."
"This is a wearisome thing," grumbled Jikiza. "Can I never have done in it? Fifty-and-three have I slain in my youth without a wound, and now for many years I have challenged, like a cock on a dunghill, and none crow in answer."
"Ho, now! Is there any man who will come forward and do battle with me, Jikiza, for the great axe Groan-Maker? To him who can win it, it shall be, and with it the chieftainship of the People of the Axe."
Thus he spoke very fast, as a man gabbles a prayer to a spirit in whom he has little faith, then turned once more to talk of the cattle of Masilo and of the maid Zinita. But suddenly Umslopogaas stood up, looking at him over the top of his war shield, and crying, "Here is one, O Jikiza, who will do battle with you for the axe Groan-Maker and for the chieftainship that is to him who holds the axe."
Now, all the people laughed, and Jikiza glared at him.
"Come forth from behind that big shield of yours," he said. "Come out and tell me your name and lineage -- you who would do battle with the Unconquered for the ancient axe."
Then Umslopogaas came forward, and he looked so fierce, though he was but young, that the people laughed no more.
"What is my name and lineage to you, Jikiza?" he said. "Let it be, and hasten to do me battle, as you must by the custom, for I am eager to handle the Groan-Maker and to sit in your seat and settle this matter of the cattle of Masilo the Pig. When I have killed you I will take a name who now have none."
Now once more the people laughed, but Jikiza grew mad with wrath, and sprang up gasping.
"What!" he said, "you dare to speak thus to me, you babe unweaned, to me the Unconquered, the holder of the axe! Never did I think to live to hear such talk from a long-legged pup. On to the cattle kraal, to the cattle kraal, People of the Axe, that I may hew this braggart's head from his shoulders. He would stand in my place, would he? -- the place that I and my fathers have held for four generations by virtue of the axe. I tell you all, that presently I will stand upon his head, and then we will settle the matter of Masilo."
"Babble not so fast, man," quoth Umslopogaas, "or if you must babble, speak those words which you would say ere you bid the sun farewell."
Now, Jikiza choked with rage, and foam came from his lips so that he could not speak, but the people found this sport -- all except Masilo, who looked askance at the stranger, tall and fierce, and Zinita, who looked at Masilo, and with no love. So they moved down to the cattle kraal, and Galazi, seeing it from afar, could keep away no longer, but drew near and mingled with the crowd.
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 rush, a light of downward falling steel
A great shout went up from the crowd of watchers when they knew that Jikiza the Unconquered was killed at last, and there were many who hailed Umslopogaas, naming him Chief and Lord of the People of the Axe. But the sons of Jikiza to the number of ten, great men and brave, rushed on Umslopogaas to kill him. Umslopogaas ran backwards, lifting up the Groan-Maker, when certain councillors of the people flung themselves in between them, crying, "Hold!"
"Is not this your law, ye councillors," said Umslopogaas, "that, having conquered the chief of the People of the Axe, I myself am chief?"
"That is our law indeed, stranger," answered an aged councillor, "but this also is our law: that now you must do battle, one by one, with all who come against you. So it was in my father's time, when the grandfather of him who now lies dead won the axe, and so it must be again to-day."
"I have nothing to say against the rule," said Umslopogaas. "Now who is there who will come up against me to do battle for the axe Groan- Maker and the chieftainship of the People of the Axe?"
Then all the ten sons of Jikiza stepped forward as one man, for their hearts were made with wrath because of the death of their father and because the chieftainship had gone from their race, so that in truth they cared little if they lived or died. But there were none besides these, for all men feared to stand before Umslopogaas and the Groan- Maker.
Umslopogaas counted them. "There are ten, by the head of Chaka!" he cried. "Now if I must fight all these one by one, no time will be left to me this day to talk of the matter of Masilo and of the maid Zinita. Hearken! What say you, sons of Jikiza the Conquered? If I find one other to stand beside me in the fray, and all of you come on at once against us twain, ten against two, to slay us or be slain, will that be to your minds?"
The brethren consulted together, and held that so they should be in better case than if they went up one by one.
"So be it," they said, and the councillors assented.
Now, as he fled round and round, Umslopogaas had seen the face of Galazi, his brother, in the throng, and knew that he hungered to share the fight. So he called aloud that he whom he should choose, and who would stand back to back with him in the fray, if victory were theirs, should be the first after him among the People of the Axe, and as he called, he walked slowly down the line scanning the faces of all, till he came to where Galazi stood leaning on the Watcher.
"Here is a great fellow who bears a great club," said Umslopogaas. "How are you named, fellow?"
"I am named Wolf," answered Galazi.
"Say, now, Wolf, are you willing to stand back to back with me in this fray of two against ten? If victory is ours, you shall be next to me amongst this people."
"Better I love the wild woods and the mountain's breast than the kraals of men and the kiss of wives, Axebearer," answered Galazi. "Yet, because you have shown yourself a warrior of might, and to taste again of the joy of battle, I will stand back to back with you, Axebearer, and see this matter ended."
"A bargain, Wolf!" cried Umslopogaas. And they walked side by side -- a mighty pair! -- till they came to the centre of the cattle kraal. All there looked on them wondering, and it came into the thoughts of some of them that these were none other than the Wolf-Brethren who dwelt upon the Ghost Mountain.
"Now axe Groan-maker and club Watcher are come together, Galazi," said Umslopogaas as they walked, "and I think that few can stand before them."
"Some shall find it so," answered Galazi. "At the least, the fray will be merry, and what matter how frays end?"
"Ah," said Umslopogaas, "victory is good, but death ends all and is best of all."
Then they spoke of the fashion in which they would fight, and Umslopogaas looked curiously at the axe he carried, and at the point on its hammer, balancing it in his hand. When he had looked long, the pair took their stand back to back in the centre of the kraal, and people saw that Umslopogaas held the axe in a new fashion, its curved blade being inwards towards his breast, and the hollow point turned towards the foe. The ten brethren gathered themselves together, shaking their assegais; five of them stood before Umslopogaas and five before Galazi the Wolf. They were all great men, made fierce with rage and shame.
"Now nothing except witchcraft can save these two," said a councillor to one who stood by him.
"Yet there is virtue in the axe," answered the other, "and for the club, it seems that I know it: I think it is named Watcher of the Fords, and woe to those who stand before the Watcher. I myself have seen him aloft when I was young; moreover, these are no cravens who hold the axe and the club. They are but lads, indeed, yet they have drunk wolf's milk."
Meanwhile, an aged man drew near to speak the word of onset; it was that same man who had set out the law to Umslopogaas. He must give the signal by throwing up a spear, and when it struck the ground, then the fight would begin. The old man took the spear and threw it, but his hand was weak, and he cast so clumsily that it fell among the sons of Jikiza, who stood before Umslopogaas, causing them to open up to let it pass between them, and drawing the eyes of all ten of them to it. but Umslopogaas watched for the touching of the spear only, being careless where it touched. As the point of it kissed the earth, he said a word, and lo! Umslopogaas and Galazi, not waiting for the onslaught of the ten, as men had thought they must, sprang forward, each at the line of foes who were before him. While the ten still stood confused, for it had been their plan to attack, the Wolf- Brethren were upon them. Groan-Maker was up, but as for no great stroke. He did but peck, as a bird pecks with his bill, and yet a man dropped dead. The Watcher also was up, but he fell like a falling tree, and was the death of one. Through the lines of the ten passed the Wolf-Brethren in the gaps that each had made. Then they turned swiftly and charged towards each other again; again Groan-Maker pecked, again the Watcher thundered, and lo! once more Umslopogaas stood back to back unhurt, but before them lay four men dead.
The onslaught and the return were so swift, that men scarcely understood what had been done; even those of the sons of Jikiza who were left stared at each other wondering. Then they knew that they were but six, for four of them were dead. With a shout of rage they rushed upon the pair from both sides, but in either case one was the most eager, and outstepped the other two, and thus it came about that time was given the Wolf-Brethren to strike at him alone, before his fellows were at his side. He who came at Umslopogaas drove at him with his spear, but he was not to be caught 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 him.
"Yonder Woodpecker has a bill of steel, and he can use it well," said the councillor to him who stood by him.
"This is a Slaughterer indeed," the man answered, and the people heard the names. Thenceforth they knew Umslopogaas as the Woodpecker, and as Bulalio, or the Slaughterer, and by no other names. Now, he who came at Galazi the Wolf rushed on wildly, holding his spear short. But Galazi was cunning in war. He took one step forward to meet him, then, swinging the Watcher backward, he let him fall at the full length of arms and club. The child of Jikiza lifted his shield to catch the blow, but the shield was to the Watcher what a leaf is to the wind. Full on its hide the huge club fell, making a loud sound; the war- shield doubled up like a raw skin, and he who bore it fell crushed to the earth.
Now for a moment, the four who were left of the sons of Jikiza hovered round the pair, feinting at them from afar, but never coming within reach of axe or club. One threw a spear indeed, and though Umslopogaas leaped aside, and as it sped towards him smote the haft in two with the blade of Groan-Maker, yet its head flew on, wounding Galazi in the flank. Then he who had thrown the spear turned to fly, for his hands were empty, and the others followed swiftly, for the heart was out of them, and they dared to do battle with these two no more.
Thus the fight was ended, and from its beginning till the finish was not longer than the time in which men might count a hundred slowly.
"It seems that none are left for us to kill, Galazi," said Umslopogaas, laughing aloud. "Ah, that was a cunning fight! Ho! you sons of the Unconquered, who run so fast, stay your feet. I give you peace; you shall live to sweep my huts and to plough my fields with the other women of my kraal. Now, councillors, the fighting is done, so let us to the chief's hut, where Masilo waits us," and he turned and went with Galazi, and after him followed all the people, wondering and in silence.
When he reached the hut Umslopogaas sat himself down in the place where Jikiza had sat that morning, and the maid Zinita came to him with a wet cloth and washed the wound that the spear had made. He thanked her; then she would have washed Galazi's wound also, and this was deeper, but Galazi bade her to let him be roughly, as he would have no woman meddling with his wounds. For neither then nor at any other time did Galazi turn to women, but he hated Zinita most of them all.
Then Umslopogaas spoke to Masilo the Pig, who sat before him with a frightened face, saying, "It seems, O Masilo, that you have sought this maid Zinita in marriage, and against her will, persecuting her. Now I had intended to kill you as an offering to her anger, but there has been enough blood-letting to-day. Yet you shall have a marriage gift to this girl, whom I myself will take in marriage: you shall give a hundred head of cattle. Then get you gone from among the People of the Axe, lest a worse thing befall you, Masilo the Pig."
So Masilo rose up and went, and his face was green with fear, but he paid the hundred head of cattle and fled towards the kraal of Chaka. Zinita watched him go, and she was glad of it, and because the Slaughterer had named her for his wife.
"I am well rid of Masilo," she said aloud, in the hearing of Galazi, "but I had been better pleased to see him dead before me."
"This woman has a fierce heart," thought Galazi, "and she will bring no good to Umslopogaas, my brother."
Now the councillors and the captains of the People of the Axe konzaed to him whom they named the Slaughterer, doing homage to him as chief and holder of the axe, and also they did homage to the axe itself. So Umslopogaas became chief over this people, and their number was many, and he grew great and fat in cattle and wives, and none dared to gainsay him. From time to time, indeed, a man ventured to stand up before him in fight, but none could conquer him, and in a little while no one sought to face Groan-Maker when he lifted himself to peck.
Galazi also was great among the people, but dwelt with them little, for best he loved the wild woods and the mountain's breast, and often, as of old, he swept at night across the forest and the plains, and the howling of the ghost-wolves went with him.
But henceforth Umslopogaas the Slaughterer hunted very rarely with the wolves at night; he slept at the side of Zinita, and she loved him much and bore him children.
Now, my father, my story winds back again as the river bends towards its source, and I tell of those events which happened at the king's kraal of Gibamaxegu, which you white people name Gibbeclack, the kraal that is called "Pick-out-the-old-men," for it was there that Chaka murdered all the aged who were unfit for war.
After I, Mopo, had stood before the king, and he had given me new wives and fat cattle and a kraal to dwell in, the bones of Unandi, the Great Mother Elephant, Mother of the Heavens, were gathered together from the ashes of my huts, and because all could not be found, some of the bones of my wives were collected also to make up the number. But Chaka never knew this. When all were brought together, a great pit was dug and the bones were set out in order in the pit and buried; but not alone, for round them were placed twelve maidens of the servants of Unandi, and these maidens were covered over with the earth, and left to die in the pit by the bones of Unandi, their mistress. Moreover, all those who were present at the burial were made into a regiment and commanded that they should dwell by the grave for the space of a year. They were many, my father, but I was not one of them. Also Chaka gave orders that no crops should be sown that year, that the milk of the cows should be spilled upon the ground, and that no woman should give birth to a child for a full year, and that if any should dare to bear children, then that they should be slain and their husbands with them. And for a space of some months these things were done, my father, and great sorrow came upon the land.
Then for a little while there was quiet, and Chaka went about heavily, and he wept often, and we who waited on him wept also as we walked, till at length it came about by use that we could weep without ceasing for many hours. No angry woman can weep as we wept in those days; it was an art, my father, for the teaching of which I received many cattle, for woe to him who had no tears in those days. Then it was also that Chaka sent out the captain and fifty soldiers to search for Umslopogaas, for, though he said nothing more to me of this matter, he did not believe all the tale that I had told him of the death of Umslopogaas in the jaws of a lion and the tale of those who were with me. How that company fared at the hands of Umslopogaas and of Galazi the Wolf, and at the fangs of the people black and grey, I have told you, my father. None of them ever came back again. In after days it was reported to the king that these soldiers were missing, never having returned, but he only laughed, saying that the lion which ate Umslopogaas, son of Mopo, was a fierce one, and had eaten them also.
At last came the night of the new moon, that dreadful night to be followed by a more dreadful morrow. I sat in the kraal of Chaka, and he put his arm about my neck and groaned and wept for his mother, whom he had murdered, and I groaned also, but I did not weep, because it was dark, and on the morrow I must weep much in the sight of king and men. Therefore, I spared my tears, lest they should fail me in my need.
All night long the people drew on from every side towards the kraal, and, as they came in thousands and tens of thousands, they filled the night with their cries, till it seemed as though the whole world were mourning, and loudly. None might cease their crying, and none dared to drink so much as a cup of water. The daylight came, and Chaka rose, saying, "Come, let us go forth, Mopo, and look on those who mourn with us." So we went out, and after us came men armed with clubs to do the bidding of the king.
Outside the kraal the people were gathered, and their number was countless as the leaves upon the trees. On every side the land was black with them, as at times the veldt is black with game. When they saw the king they ceased from their howling and sang the war-song, then once again they howled, and Chaka walked among them weeping. Now, my father, the sight became dreadful, for, as the sun rose higher the day grew hot, and utter weariness came upon the people, who were packed together like herds of cattle, and, though oxen slain in sacrifice lay around, they might neither eat nor drink. Some fell to the ground, and were trampled to death, others took too much snuff to make them weep, others stained their eyes with saliva, others walked to and fro, their tongues hanging from their jaws, while groans broke from their parched throats.
"Now, Mopo, we shall learn who are the wizards that have brought these ills upon us," said the king, "and who are the true-hearted men."
As we spoke we cam upon a man, a chief of renown. He was named Zwaumbana, chief of the Amabovus, and with him were his wives and followers. This man could weep no more; he gasped with thirst and heat. The king looked at him.
"See, Mopo," he said, "see that brute who has no tears for my mother who is dead! Oh, the monster without a heart! Shall such as he live to look upon the sun, while I and thou must weep, Mopo? Never! never! Take him away, and all those who are with him! Take them away, the people without hearts, who do not weep because my mother is dead by witchcraft!"
And Chaka walked on weeping, and I followed also weeping, but the chief Zwaumbana and those with him were all slain by those who do the bidding of the king, and the slayers also must weep as they slew. Presently we came upon another man, who, seeing the king, took snuff secretly to bring tears to his eyes. But the glance of Chaka was quick, and he noted it.
"Look at him, Mopo," he said, "look at the wizard who has no tears, though my mother is dead by witchcraft. See, he takes snuff to bring tears to his eyes that are dry with wickedness. Take him away, the heartless brute! Oh, take him away!"
So this one also was killed, and these were but the first of thousands, for presently Chaka grew mad with wickedness, with fury, and with the lust of blood. He walked to and fro, weeping, going now and again into his hut to drink beer, and I with him, for he said that we who sorrowed must have food. And ever as he walked he would wave his arm or his assegai, saying, "Take them away, the heartless brutes, who do not weep because my mother is dead," and those who chanced to stand before his arm were killed, till at length the slayers could slay no more, and themselves were slain, because their strength had failed them, and they had no more tears. And I also, I must slay, lest if I slew not I should myself be slain.
And now, at length, the people also went mad with their thirst and the fury of their fear. They fell upon each other, killing each other; every man who had a foe sought him out and killed him. None were spared, the place was but a shambles; there on that day died full seven thousand men, and still Chaka walked weeping among them, saying, "Take them away, the heartless brutes, take them away!" Yet, my father, there was cunning in his cruelty, for though he destroyed many for sport alone, also he slew on this day all those whom he hated or whom he feared.
At length the night came down, the sun sank red that day, all the sky was like blood, and blood was all the earth beneath. Then the killing ceased, because none had now the strength to kill, and the people lay panting in heaps upon the ground, the living and the dead together. I looked at them, and saw that if they were not allowed to eat and drink, before day dawned again the most of them would be dead, and I spoke to the king, for I cared little in that hour if I lived or died; even my hope of vengeance was forgotten in the sickness of my heart.
"A mourning indeed, O King," I said, "a merry mourning for true- hearted men, but for wizards a mourning such as they do not love. I think that thy sorrows are avenged, O King, thy sorrows and mine also."
"Not so, Mopo," answered the king, "this is but the beginning; our mourning was merry to-day, it shall be merrier to-morrow."
"To-morrow, O King, few will be left to mourn; for the land will be swept of men."
"Why, Mopo, son of Makedama? But a few have perished of all the thousands who are gathered together. Number the people and they will not be missed."
"But a few have died beneath the assegai and the kerrie, O King. Yet hunger and thirst shall finish the spear's work. The people have neither eaten nor drunk for a day and a night, and for a day and a night they have wailed and moaned. Look without, Black One, there they lie in heaps with the dead. By to-morrow's light they also will be dead or dying."
Now, Chaka thought awhile, and he saw that the work would go too far, leaving him but a small people over whom to rule.
"It is hard, Mopo," he said, "that thou and I must mourn alone over our woes while these dogs feast and make merry. Yet, because of the gentleness of my heart, I will deal gently with them. Go out, son of Makedama, and bid my children eat and drink if they have the heart, for this mourning is ended. Scarcely will Unandi, my mother, sleep well, seeing that so little blood has been shed on her grave -- surely her spirit will haunt my dreams. Yet, because of the gentleness of my heart, I declare this mourning ended. Let my children eat and drink, if, indeed, they have the heart."
"Happy are the people over whom such a king is set," I said in answer. Then I went out and told the words of Chaka to the chiefs and captains, and those of them who had the voice left to them praised the goodness of the king. But the most gave over sucking the dew from their sticks, and rushed to the water like cattle that have wandered five days in the desert, and drank their fill. Some of them were trampled to death in the water.
Afterwards I slept as I might best; it was not well, my father, for I knew that Chaka was not yet gutted with slaughter.
On the morrow many of the people went back to their homes, having sought leave from the king, others drew away the dead to the place of bones, and yet others were sent out in impis to kill such as had not come to the mourning of the king. When midday was past, Chaka said that he would walk, and ordered me and other of his indunas and servants to walk with him. We went on in silence, the king leaning on my shoulder as on a stick. "What of thy people, Mopo," he said at length, "what of the Langeni tribe? Were they at my mourning? I did not see them."
Then I answered that I did not know, they had been summoned, but the way was long and the time short for so many to march so far.
"Dogs should run swiftly when their master calls, Mopo, my servant," said Chaka, and the dreadful light came into his eyes that never shone in the eyes of any other man. Then I grew sick at heart, my father -- ay, though I loved my people little, and they had driven me away, I grew sick at heart. Now we had come to a spot where there is a great rift of black rock, and the name of that rift is U'Donga-lu-ka- Tatiyana. On either side of this donga the ground slopes steeply down towards its yawning lips, and from its end a man may see the open country. Here Chaka sat down at the end of the rift, pondering. Presently he looked up and saw a vast multitude of men, women, and children, who wound like a snake across the plain beneath towards the kraal Gibamaxegu.
"I think, Mopo," said the king, "that by the colour of their shields, yonder should be the Langeni tribe -- thine own people, Mopo."
"It is my people, O King," I answered.
Then Chaka sent messengers, running swiftly, and bade them summon the Langeni people to him where he sat. Other messengers he sent also to the kraal, whispering in their ears, but what he said I did not know then.
Now, for a while, Chaka watched the long black snake of men winding towards him across the plain till the messengers met them and the snake began to climb the slope of the hill.
"How many are these people of thine, Mopo?" asked the king.
"I know not, O Elephant," I answered, "who have not seen them for many years. Perhaps they number three full regiments."
"Nay, more," said the king; "what thinkest thou, Mopo, would this people of thine fill the rift behind us?" and he nodded at the gulf of stone.
Now, my father, I trembled in all my flesh, seeing the purpose of Chaka; but I could find no words to say, for my tongue clave to the roof of my mouth.
"The people are many," said Chaka, "yet, Mopo, I bet thee fifty head of cattle that they will not fill the donga."
"The king is pleased to jest," I said.
"Yea, Mopo, I jest; yet as a jest take thou the bet."
"As the king wills," I murmured -- who could not refuse. Now the people of my tribe drew near: at their head was an old man, with white hair and beard, and, looking at him, I knew him for my father, Makedama. When he came within earshot of the king, he gave him the royal salute of Bayete, and fell upon his hands and knees, crawling towards him, and konzaed to the king, praising him as he came. All the thousands of the people also fell on their hands and knees, and praised the king aloud, and the sound of their praising was like the sound of a great thunder.
At length Makedama, my father, writhing on his breast like a snake, lay before the majesty of the king. Chaka bade him rise, and greeted him kindly; but all the thousands of the people yet lay upon their breasts beating the dust with their heads.
"Rise, Makedama, my child, father of the people of the Langeni," said Chaka, "and tell me why art thou late in coming to my mourning?"
"The way was far, O King," answered Makedama, my father, who did not know me. "The way was far and the time short. Moreover, the women and the children grew weary and footsore, and they are weary in this hour."
"Speak not of it, Makedama, my child," said the king. "Surely thy heart mourned and that of thy people, and soon they shall rest from their weariness. Say, are they here every one?"
"Every one, O Elephant! -- none are wanting. My kraals are desolate, the cattle wander untended on the hills, birds pick at the unguarded crops."
"It is well, Makedama, thou faithful servant! Yet thou wouldst mourn with me an hour -- is it not so? Now, hearken! Bid thy people pass to the right and to the left of me, and stand in all their numbers upon the slopes of the grass that run down to the lips of the rift."
So Makedama, my father, bade the people do the bidding of the king, for neither he nor the indunas saw his purpose, but I, who knew his wicked heart, I saw it. Then the people filed past to the right and to the left by hundreds and by thousands, and presently the grass of the slopes could be seen no more, because of their number. When all had passed, Chaka spoke again to Makedama, my father, bidding him climb down to the bottom of the donga, and thence lift up his voice in mourning. The old man obeyed the king. Slowly, and with much pain, he clambered to the bottom of the rift and stood there. It was so deep and narrow that the light scarcely seemed to reach to where he stood, for I could only see the white of his hair gleaming far down in the shadows.
Then, standing far beneath, he lifted up his voice, and it reached the thousands of those who clustered upon the slopes. It seemed still and small, yet it came to them faintly like the voice of one speaking from a mountain-top in a time of snow: --
"Mourn, children of Makedama!"
And all the thousands of the people -- men, women, and children -- echoed his words in a thunder of sound, crying: --
"Mourn, children of Makedama!"
Again he cried: --
"Mourn, people of the Langeni, mourn with the whole world!"
And the thousands answered: --
"Mourn, people of the Langeni, mourn with the whole world!"
A third time came his voice: --
"Mourn, children of Makedama, mourn, people of the Langeni, mourn with the whole world!
"Howl, ye warriors; weep, ye women; beat your breasts, ye maidens; sob, ye little children!
"Drink of the water of tears, cover yourselves with the dust of affliction.
"Mourn, O tribe of the Langeni, because the Mother of the Heavens is no more.
"Mourn, children of Makedama, because the Spirit of Fruitfulness is no more.
"Mourn, O ye people, because the Lion of the Zulu is left so desolate.
"Let your tears fall as the rain falls, let your cries be as the cries of women who bring forth.
"For sorrow is fallen like the rain, the world has conceived and brought forth death.
"Great darkness is upon us, darkness and the shadow of death.
"The Lion of the Zulu wanders and wanders in desolation, because the Mother of the Heavens is no more.
"Who shall bring him comfort? There is comfort in the crying of his children.
"Mourn, people of the Langeni; let the voice of your mourning beat against the skies and rend them.
"Ou-ai! Ou-ai! Ou-ai!"
Thus sang the old man, my father Makedama, far down in the deeps of the cleft. He sang it in a still, small voice, but, line after line, his song was caught up by the thousands who stood on the slopes above, and thundered to the heavens till the mountains shook with its sound. Moreover, the noise of their crying opened the bosom of a heavy rain- cloud that had gathered as they mourned, and the rain fell in great slow drops, as though the sky also wept, and with the rain came lightning and the roll of thunder.
Chaka listened, and large tears coursed down his cheeks, whose heart was easily stirred by the sound of song. Now the rain hissed fiercely, making as it were a curtain about the thousands of the people; but still their cry went up through the rain, and the roll of the thunder was lost in it. Presently there came a hush, and I looked to the right. There, above the heads of the people, coming over the brow of the hill, were the plumes of warriors, and in their hands gleamed a hedge of spears. I looked to the left; there also I saw the plumes of warriors dimly through the falling rain, and in their hands a hedge of spears. I looked before me, towards the end of the cleft; there also loomed the plumes of warriors, and in their hands was a hedge of spears.
Then, from all the people there arose another cry, a cry of terror and of agony.
"Ah! now they mourn indeed, Mopo," said Chaka in my ear; "now thy people mourn from the heart and not with the lips alone."
As he spoke the multitude of the people on either side of the rift surged forward like a wave, surged back again, once more surged forward, then, with a dreadful crying, driven on by the merciless spears of the soldiers, they began to fall in a torrent of men, women, and children, far into the black depths below.
My father, forgive me the tears that fall from these blind eyes of mine; I am very aged, I am but as a little child, and as a little child I weep. I cannot tell it. At last it was done, and all grew still.
Thus was Makedama buried beneath the bodies of his people; thus was ended the tribe of the Langeni; as my mother had dreamed, so it came about; and thus did Chaka take vengeance for that cup of milk which was refused to him many a year before.
"Thou hast not won thy bet, Mopo," said the king presently. "See there is a little space where one more may find room to sleep. Full to the brim is this corn-chamber with the ears of death, in which no living grain is left. Yet there is one little space, and is there not one to fill it? Are all the tribe of the Langeni dead indeed?"
"There is one, O King!" I answered. "I am of the tribe of the Langeni, let my carcase fill the place."
"Nay, Mopo, nay! Who then should take the bet? Moreover, I slay thee not, for it is against my oath. Also, do we not mourn together, thou and I?"
"There is no other left living of the tribe of the Langeni, O King! The bet is lost; it shall be paid."
"I think that there is another," said Chaka. "There is a sister to thee and me, Mopo. Ah, see, she comes!"
I looked up, my father, and I saw this: I saw Baleka, my sister, walking towards us, and on her shoulders was a kaross of wild-cat skins, and behind her were two soldiers. She walked proudly, holding her head high, and her step was like the step of a queen. Now she saw the sight of death, for the dead lay before her like black water in a sunless pool. A moment she stood shivering, having guessed all, then walked on and stood before Chaka.
"What is thy will with me, O King?" she said.
"Thou art come in a good hour, sister," said Chaka, turning his eyes from hers. "It is thus: Mopo, my servant and thy brother, made a bet with me, a bet of cattle. It was a little matter that we wagered on -- as to whether the people of the Langeni tribe -- thine own tribe, Baleka, my sister -- would fill yonder place, U'Donga-lu-ka-Tatiyana. When they heard of the bet, my sister, the people of the Langeni hurled themselves into the rift by thousands, being eager to put the matter to the proof. And now it seems that thy brother has lost the bet, for there is yet place for one yonder ere the donga is full. Then, my sister, thy brother Mopo brought it to my mind that there was still one of the Langeni tribe left upon the earth, who, should she sleep in that place, would turn the bet in his favour, and prayed me to send for her. So, my sister, as I would not take that which I have not won, I have done so, and now do thou go apart and talk with Mopo, thy brother, alone upon this matter, as once before thou didst talk when a child was born to thee, my sister!"
Now Baleka took no heed of the words of Chaka which he spoke of me, for she knew his meaning well. Only she looked him in the eyes and said: --
"Ill shalt thou sleep from this night forth, Chaka, till thou comest to a land where no sleep is. I have spoken."
Chaka saw and heard, and of a sudden he quailed, growing afraid in his heart, and turned his head away.
"Mopo, my brother," said Baleka, "let us speak together for the last time; it is the king's word."
So I drew apart with Baleka, my sister, and a spear was in my hand. We stood together alone by the people of the dead and Baleka threw the corner of the kaross about her brows and spoke to me swiftly from beneath its shadow.
"What did I say to you a while ago, Mopo? It has come to pass. Swear to me that you will live on and that this same hand of yours shall taken vengeance for me."
"I swear it, my sister."
"Swear to me that when the vengeance is done you will seek out my son Umslopogaas if he still lives, and bless him in my name."
"I swear it, my sister."
"Fare you well, Mopo! We have always loved each other much, and now all fades, and it seems to me that once more we are little children playing about the kraals of the Langeni. So may we play again in another land! Now, Mopo" -- and she looked at me steadily, and with great eyes -- "I am weary. I would join the spirits of my people. I hear them calling in my ears. It is finished."
For the rest, I will not tell it to you, my father.
(15)A variety of sugar-cane. -- ED.
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