|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 in 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 (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 Tale|
|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|
That night the curse of Baleka fell upon Chaka, and he slept ill. So ill did he sleep that he summoned me to him, bidding me walk abroad with him. I went, and we walked alone and in silence, Chaka leading the way and I following after him. Now I saw that his feet led him towards the U'Donga-lu-ka-Tatiyana, that place where all my people lay dead, and with them Baleka, my sister. We climbed the slope of the hill slowly, and came to the mouth of the cleft, to that same spot where Chaka had stood when the people fell over the lips of the rock like water. Then there had been noise and crying, now there was silence, for the night was very still. The moon was full also, and lighted up the dead who lay near to us, so that I could see them all; yes, I could see even the face of Baleka, my sister -- they had thrown her into the midst of the dead. Never had it looked so beautiful as in this hour, and yet as I gazed I grew afraid. Only the far end of the donga was hid in shadow.
"Thou wouldst not have won thy bet now, Mopo, my servant," said Chaka. "See, they have sunk together! The donga is not full by the length of a stabbing-spear."
I did not answer, but at the sound of the king's voice jackals stirred and slunk away.
Presently he spoke again, laughing loudly as he spoke: "Thou shouldst sleep well this night, my mother, for I have sent many to hush thee to rest. Ah, people of the Langeni tribe, you forgot, but I remembered! You forgot how a woman and a boy came to you seeking food and shelter, and you would give them none -- no, not a gourd of milk. What did I promise you on that day, people of the Langeni tribe? Did I not promise you that for every drop the gourd I craved would hold I would take the life of a man? And have I not kept my promise? Do not men lie here more in number than the drops of water in a gourd, and with them woman and children countless as the leaves? O people of the Langeni tribe, who refused me milk when I was little, having grown great, I am avenged upon you! Having grown great! Ah! who is there so great as I? The earth shakes beneath my feet; when I speak the people tremble, when I frown they die -- they die in thousands. I have grown great, and great I shall remain! The land is mine, far as the feet of man can travel the land is mine, and mine are those who dwell in it. And I shall grow greater yet -- greater, ever greater. Is it thy face, Baleka, that stares upon me from among the faces of the thousands whom I have slain? Thou didst promise me that I should sleep ill henceforth. Baleka, I fear thee not -- at the least, thou sleepest sound. Tell me, Baleka -- rise from thy sleep and tell me whom there is that I should fear!" -- and suddenly he ceased the ravings of his pride.
O! people of the Langeni tribe...I am avenged upon you
Now, my father, while Chaka the king spoke thus, it came into my mind to make an end of things and kill him, for my heart was made with rage and the thirst of vengeance. Already I stood behind him, already the stick in my hand was lifted to strike out his brains, when I stopped also, for I saw something. There, in the midst of the dead, I saw an arm stir. It stirred, it lifted itself, it beckoned towards the shadow which hid the head of the cleft and the piled-up corpses that lay there, and it seemed to me that the arm was the arm of Baleka. Perchance it was not her arm, perchance it was but the arm of one who yet lived among the thousands of the dead, say you, my father! At the least, the arm rose at her side, and was ringed with such bracelets as Baleka wore, and it beckoned from her side, though her cold face changed not at all. Thrice the arm rose, thrice it stood awhile in air, thrice it beckoned with crooked finger, as though it summoned something from the depths of the shadow, and from the multitudes of the dead. Then it fell down, and in the utter silence I heard its fall and a clank of brazen bracelets. And as it fell there rose from the shadow a sound of singing, of singing wild and sweet, such as I had never heard. The words of that song came to me then, my father; but afterwards they passed from me, and I remember them no more. Only I know this, that the song was of the making of Things, and of the beginning and the end of Peoples. It told of how the black folk grew, and of how the white folk should eat them up, and wherefore they were and wherefore they should cease to be. It told of Evil and of Good, of Woman and of Man, and of how these war against each other, and why it is that they war, and what are the ends of the struggle. It told also of the people of the Zulu, and it spoke of a place of a Little Hand where they should conquer, and of a place where a White Hand should prevail against them, and how they shall melt away beneath the shadow of the White Hand and be forgotten, passing to a land where things do not die, but live on forever, the Good with the Good, the Evil with the Evil. It told of Life and of Death, of Joy and of Sorrow, of Time and of that sea in which Time is but a floating leaf, and of why all these things are. Many names also came into the song, and I knew but a few of them, yet my own was there, and the name of Baleka and the name of Umslopogaas, and the name of Chaka the Lion. But a little while did the voice sing, yet all this was in the song -- ay, and much more; but the meaning of the song is gone from me, though I knew it once, and shall know it again when all is done. The voice in the shadow sang on till the whole place was full of the sound of its singing, and even the dead seemed to listen. Chaka heard it and shook with fear, but his ears were deaf to its burden, though mine were open.
The voice came nearer, and now in the shadow there was a faint glow of light, like the glow that gathers on the six-days' dead. Slowly it drew nearer, through the shadow, and as it came I saw that the shape of the light was the shape of a woman. Now I could see it well, and I knew the face of glory. My father, it was the face of the Inkosazana-y-Zulu, the Queen of Heaven! She came towards us very slowly, gliding down the gulf that was full of dead, and the path she trod was paved with the dead; and as she came it seemed to me that shadows rose from the dead, following her, the Queen of the Dead -- thousands upon thousands of them. And, ah! her glory, my father -- the glory of her hair of molten gold -- of her eyes, that were as the noonday sky -- the flash of her arms and breast, that were like the driven snow, when it glows in the sunset. Her beauty was awful to look on, but I am glad to have lived to see it as it shone and changed in the shifting robe of light which was her garment.
Now she drew near to us, and Chaka sank upon the earth, huddled up in fear, hiding his face in his hands; but I was not afraid, my father -- only the wicked need fear to look on the Queen of Heaven. Nay, I was not afraid: I stood upright and gazed upon her glory face to face. In her hand she held a little spear hafted with the royal wood: it was the shadow of the spear that Chaka held in his hand, the same with which he had slain his mother and wherewith he should himself be slain. Now she ceased her singing, and stood before the crouching king and before me, who was behind the king, so that the light of her glory shone upon us. She lifted the little spear, and with it touched Chaka, son of Senzangacona, on the brow, giving him to doom. Then she spoke; but, though Chaka felt the touch, he did not hear the words, that were for my ears alone.
"Mopo, son of Makedama," said the low voice, "stay thy hand, the cup of Chaka is not full. When, for the third time, thou seest me riding down the storm, then Smite, Mopo, my child."
Thus she spoke, and a cloud swept over the face of the moon. When it passed she was gone, and once more I was alone with Chaka, with the night and the dead.
Chaka looked up, and his face was grey with the sweat of fear.
"Who was this, Mopo?" he said in a hollow voice.
"This was the Inkosazana of the Heavens, she who watches ever over the people of our race, O King, and who from time to time is seen of men ere great things shall befall."
"I have heard speak of this queen," said Chaka. "Wherefore came she now, what was the song she sang, and why did she touch me with a spear?"
"She came, O King, because the dead hand of Baleka summoned her, as thou sawest. The song she sang was of things too high for me; and why she touched thee on the forehead with the spear I do not know, O King! Perchance it was to crown thee chief of a yet greater realm."
"Yea, perchance to crown me chief of a realm of death."
"That thou art already, Black One," I answered, glancing at the silent multitude before us and the cold shape of Baleka.
Again Chaka shuddered. "Come, let us be going, Mopo," he said; "now I have learnt what it is to be afraid."
"Early or late, Fear is a guest that all must feast, even kings, O Earth-Shaker!" I answered; and we turned and went homewards in silence.
Now after this night Chaka gave it out that the kraal of Gibamaxegu was bewitched, and bewitched was the land of the Zulus, because he might sleep no more in peace, but woke ever crying out with fear, and muttering the name of Baleka. Therefore, in the end he moved his kraal far away, and built the great town of Duguza here in Natal.
Look now, my father! There on the plain far away is a place of the white men -- it is called Stanger. There, where is the white man's town, stood the great kraal Duguza. I cannot see, for my eyes are dark; but you can see. Where the gate of the kraal was built there is a house; it is the place where the white man gives out justice; that is the place of the gate of the kraal, through which Justice never walked. Behind is another house, where the white men who have sinned against Him pray to the King of Heaven for forgiveness; there on that spot have I seen many a one who had done no wrong pray to a king of men for mercy, but I have never seen but one who found it. Ou! the words of Chaka have come true: I will tell them to you presently, my father. The white man holds the land, he goes to and fro about his business of peace where impis ran forth to kill; his children laugh and gather flowers where men died in blood by hundreds; they bathe in the waters of the Imbozamo, where once the crocodiles were fed daily with human flesh; his young men woo the maidens where other maids have kissed the assegai. It is changed, nothing is the same, and of Chaka are left only a grave yonder and a name of fear.
Now, after Chaka had come to the Duguza kraal, for a while he sat quiet, then the old thirst of blood came on him, and he sent his impis against the people of the Pondos, and they destroyed that people, and brought back their cattle. But the warriors might not rest; again they were doctored for war, and sent out by tens of thousands to conquer Sotyangana, chief of the people who live north of the Limpopo. They went singing, after the king had looked upon them and bidden them return victorious or not at all. Their number was so great that from the hour of dawn till the sun was high in the heavens they passed the gates of the kraal like countless herds of cattle -- they the unconquered. Little did they know that victory smiled on them no more; that they must die by thousands of hunger and fever in the marshes of the Limpopo, and that those of them who returned should come with their shields in their bellies, having devoured their shields because of their ravenous hunger! But what of them? They were nothing. "Dust" was the name of one of the great regiments that went out against Sotyangana, and dust they were -- dust to be driven to death by the breath of Chaka, Lion of the Zulu.
Now few men remained in the kraal Duguza, for nearly all had gone with the impi, and only women and aged people were left. Dingaan and Umhlangana, brothers of the king, were there, for Chaka would not suffer them to depart, fearing lest they should plot against him, and he looked on them always with an angry eye, so that they trembled for their lives, though they dared not show their fear lest fate should follow fear. But I guessed it, and like a snake I wound myself into their secrets, and we talked together darkly and in hints. But of that presently, my father, for I must tell of the coming of Masilo, he who would have wed Zinita, and whom Umslopogaas the Slaughterer had driven out from the kraals of the People of the Axe.
It was on the day after the impi had left that Masilo came to the kraal Duguza, craving leave to speak with the king. Chaka sat before his hut, and with him were Dingaan and Umhlangana, his royal brothers. I was there also, and certain of the indunas, councillors of the king. Chaka was weary that morning, for he had slept badly, as now he always did. Therefore, when one told him that a certain wanderer named Masilo would speak with him, he did not command that the man should be killed, but bade them bring him before him. Presently there was a sound of praising, and I saw a fat man, much worn with travel, who crawled through the dust towards us giving the sibonga, that is, naming the king by his royal names. Chaka bade him cease from praising and tell his business. Then the man sat up and told all that tale which you have heard, my father, of how a young man, great and strong, came to the place of the People of the Axe and conquered Jikiza, the holder of the axe, and become chief of that people, and of how he had taken the cattle of Masilo and driven him away. Now Chaka knew nothing of this People of the Axe, for the land was great in those days, my father, and there were many little tribes in it, living far away, of whom the king had not even heard; so he questioned Masilo about them, and of the number of their fighting-men, of their wealth in cattle, of the name of the young man who ruled them, and especially as to the tribute which they paid to the king.
Masilo answered, saying that the number of their fighting-men was perhaps the half of a full regiment, that their cattle were many, for they were rich, that they paid no tribute, and that the name of the young man was Bulalio the Slaughterer -- at the least, he was known by that name, and he had heard no other.
Then the king grew wroth. "Arise, Masilo," he said, "and run to this people, and speak in the ear of the people, and of him who is named the Slaughterer, saying: 'There is another Slaughterer, who sits in a kraal that is named Duguza, and this is his word to you, O People of the Axe, and to thee, thou who holdest the axe. Rise up with all the people, and with all the cattle of your people, and come before him who sits in the kraal Duguza, and lay in his hands the great axe Groan-Maker. Rise up swiftly and do this bidding, lest ye sit down shortly and for the last time of all.'" (16)
Masilo heard, and said that it should be so, though the way was far, and he feared greatly to appear before him who was called the Slaughterer, and who sat twenty days' journey to the north, beneath the shadow of the Witch Mountain.
"Begone," said the king, "and stand before me on the thirtieth day from now with the answer of this boy with an axe! If thou standest not before me, then some shall come to seek thee and the boy with an axe also."
So Masilo turned and fled swiftly to do the bidding of the king, and Chaka spoke no more of that matter. But I wondered in my heart who this young man with an axe might be; for I thought that he had dealt with Jikiza and with the sons of Jikiza as Umslopogaas would have dealt with them had he come to the years of his manhood. But I also said nothing of the matter.
Now on this day also there came to me news that my wife Macropha and my daughter Nada were dead among their people in Swaziland. It was said that the men of the chief of the Halakazi tribe had fallen on their kraal and put all in it to the assegai, and among them Macropha and Nada. I heard the news, but I wept no tear, for, my father, I was so lost in sorrows that nothing could move me any more.
Eight-and-twenty days went by, my father, and on the nine-and- twentieth it befell that Chaka, having dreamed a dream in his troubled sleep, summoned before him certain women of the kraal, to the number of a hundred or more. Some of these were his women, whom he named his "sisters," and some were maidens not yet given in marriage; but all were young and fair. Now what this dream of Chaka may have been I do not know, or have forgotten, for in those days he dreamed many dreams, and all his dreams led to one end, the death of men. He sat in front of his hut scowling, and I was with him. To the left of him were gathered the girls and women, and their knees were weak with fear. One by one they were led before him, and stood before him with bowed heads. Then he would bid them be of good cheer, and speak softly to them, and in the end would ask them this question: "Hast thou, my sister, a cat in thy hut?"
Now, some would say that they had a cat, and some would say that they had none, and some would stand still and make no answer, being dumb with fear. But, whatever they said, the end was the same, for the king would sigh gently and say: "Fare thee well, my sister; it is unfortunate for thee that there is a cat in thy hut," or "that there is no cat in thy hut," or "that thou canst not tell me whether there be a cat in thy hut or no."
Then the woman would be taken by the slayers, dragged without the kraal, and their end was swift. So it went on for the most part of that day, till sixty-and-two women and girls had been slaughtered. But at last a maiden was brought before the king, and to this one her snake had given a ready wit; for when Chaka asked her whether or no there was a cat in her hut, she answered, saying that she did not know, "but that there was a half a cat upon her," and she pointed to a cat's-skin which was bound about her loins.
Then the king laughed, and clapped his hands, saying that at length his dream was answered; and he killed no more that day nor ever again -- save once only.
That evening my heart was heavy within me, and I cried in my heart, "How long?" -- nor might I rest. So I wandered out from the kraal that was named Duguza to the great cleft in the mountains yonder, and sat down upon a rock high up in the cleft, so that I could see the wide lands rolling to the north and the south, to my right and to my left. Now, the day was drawing towards the night, and the air was very still, for the heat was great and a tempest was gathering, as I, who am a Heaven-Herd, knew well. The sun sank redly, flooding the land with blood; it was as though all the blood that Chaka had shed flowed about the land which Chaka ruled. Then from the womb of the night great shapes of cloud rose up and stood before the sun, and he crowned them with his glory, and in their hearts the lightning quivered like a blood of fire. The shadow of their wings fell upon the mountain and the plains, and beneath their wings was silence. Slowly the sun sank, and the shapes of cloud gathered together like a host at the word of its captain, and the flicker of the lightning was as the flash of the spears of a host. I looked, and my heart grew afraid. The lightning died away, the silence deepened and deepened till I could hear it, no leaf moved, no bird called, the world seemed dead -- I alone lived in the dead world.
Now, of a sudden, my father, a bright star fell from the height of heaven and lit upon the crest of the storm, and as it lit the storm burst. The grey air shivered, a moan ran about the rocks and died away, then an icy breath burst from the lips of the tempest and rushed across the earth. It caught the falling star and drove it on towards me, a rushing globe of fire, and as it came the star grew and took shape, and the shape it took was the shape of a woman. I knew her now, my father; while she was yet far off I knew her -- the Inkosazana who came as she had promised, riding down the storm. On she swept, borne forward by the blast, and oh! she was terrible to see, for her garment was the lightning, lightnings shone from her wide eyes and lightnings were in her streaming hair, while in her hand was a spear of fire, and she shook it as she came. Now she was at the mouth of the pass; before her was stillness, behind her beat the wings of the storm, the thunder roared, the rain hissed like snakes; she rushed on past me, and as she passed she turned her awful eyes upon me, withering me. She was there! she was gone! but she spoke no word, only shook her flaming spear. Yet it seemed to me that the storm spoke, that the rocks cried aloud, that the rain hissed out a word in my ear, and the word was: --
I heard it in my heart, or with my ears, what does it matter? Then I turned to look; through the rush of the tempest and the reek of the rain, still I could see her sweeping forward high in air. Now the kraal Duguza was beneath her feet, and the flaming spear fell from her hand upon the kraal and fire leaped up in answer.
Then she passed on over the edge of the world, seeking her own place. Thus, my father, for the third and last time did my eyes see the Inkosazana-y-Zulu, or mayhap my heart dreamed that I saw her. Soon I shall see her again, but it will not be here.
For a while I sat there in the cleft, then I rose and fought my way through the fury of the storm back to the kraal Duguza. As I drew near the kraal I heard cries of fear coming through the roaring of the wind and the hiss of the rain. I entered and asked one of the matter, and it was told me that fire from above had fallen on the hut of the king as he lay sleeping, and all the roof of the hut was burned away, but that the rain had put out the fire.
Then I went on till I came to the front of the great hut, and I saw by the light of the moon, which now shone out in the heavens, that there before it stood Chaka, shaking with fear, and the water of the rain was running down him, while he stared at the great hut, of which all the thatch was burned.
I saluted the king, asking him what evil thing had happened. Seeing me, he seized me by the arm, and clung to me as, when the slayers are at hand, a child clings to his father, drawing me after him into a small hut that was near.
"What evil thing has befallen, O King?" I said again, when light had been made.
"Little have I known of fear, Mopo," said Chaka, "yet I am afraid now; ay, as much afraid as when once on a bygone night the dead hand of Baleka summoned something that walked upon the faces of the dead."
"And what fearest thou, O King, who art the lord of all the earth?"
Now Chaka leaned forward and whispered to me: "Hearken, Mopo, I have dreamed a dream. When the judgment of those witches was done with, I went and laid me down to sleep while it was yet light, for I can scarcely sleep at all when darkness has swallowed up the world. My sleep has gone from me -- that sister of thine, Baleka, took my sleep with her to the place of death. I laid me down and I slept, but a dream arose and sat by me with a hooded face, and showed me a picture. It seemed to me that the wall of my hut fell down, and I saw an open place, and in the centre of the place I lay dead, covered with many wounds, while round my corpse my brothers Dingaan and Umhlangana stalked in pride like lions. On the shoulders of Umhlangana was my royal kaross, and there was blood on the kaross; and in the hand of Dingaan was my royal spear, and there was blood upon the spear. Then, in the vision of my dream, Mopo, thou didst draw near, and, lifting thy hand, didst give the royal salute of Bayéte to these brothers of mine, and with thy foot didst spurn the carcase of me, thy king. Then the hooded Dream pointed upwards and was gone, and I awoke, and lo! fire burned in the roof of my hut. Thus I dreamed, Mopo, and now, my servant, say thou, wherefore should I not slay thee, thou who wouldst serve other kings than I, thou who wouldst give my royal salute to the princes, my brothers?" and he glared upon me fiercely.
"As thou wilt, O King!" I answered gently. "Doubtless thy dream was evil, and yet more evil was the omen of the fire that fell upon thy hut. And yet -- " and I ceased.
"And yet -- Mopo, thou faithless servant?"
"And yet, O King, it seems to me in my folly that it were well to strike the head of the snake and not its tail, for without the tail the head may live, but not the tail without the head."
"Thou wouldst say, Mopo, that if these princes die never canst thou or any other man give them the royal names. Do I hear aright, Mopo?"
"Who am I that I should lift up my voice asking for the blood of princes?" I answered. "Judge thou, O King!"
Now, Chaka brooded awhile, then he spoke: "Say, Mopo, can it be done this night?"
"There are but few men in the kraal, O King. All are gone out to war; and of those few many are the servants of the princes, and perhaps they might give blow for blow."
"How then, Mopo?"
"Nay, I know not, O King; yet at the great kraal beyond the river sits that regiment which is named the Slayers. By midday to-morrow they might be here, and then -- "
"Thou speakest wisely, my child Mopo; it shall be for to-morrow. Go summon the regiment of the Slayers, and, Mopo, see that thou fail me not."
"If I fail thee, O King, then I fail myself, for it seems that my life hangs on this matter."
"If all the words that ever passed thy lips are lies, yet is that word true, Mopo," said Chaka: "moreover, know this, my servant: if aught miscarries thou shalt die no common death. Begone!"
"I hear the king," I answered, and went out.
Now, my father, I knew well that Chaka had doomed me to die, though first he would use me to destroy the princes. But I feared nothing, for I knew this also, that the hour of Chaka was come at last.
For a while I sat in my hut pondering, then when all men slept I arose and crept like a snake by many paths to the hut of Dingaan the prince, who awaited me on that night. Following the shadow of the hut, I came to the door and scratched upon it after a certain fashion. Presently it was opened, and I crawled in, and the door was shut again. Now there was a little light in the hut, and by its flame I saw the two princes sitting side by side, wrapped about with blankets which hung before their brows.
"Who is this that comes?" said the Prince Dingaan.
Then I lifted the blanket from my head so that they might see my face, and they also drew the blankets from their brows. I spoke, saying: "Hail to you, Princes, who to-morrow shall be dust! Hail to you, sons of Senzangacona, who to-morrow shall be spirits!" and I pointed towards them with my withered hand.
Now the princes were troubled, and shook with fear.
"What meanest thou, thou dog, that thou dost speak to us words of such ill-omen?" said the Prince Dingaan in a low voice.
"Where dost thou point at us with that white and withered hand of thine, Wizard?" hissed the Prince Umhlangana.
"Have I not told you, O ye Princes!" I whispered, "that ye must strike or die, and has not your heart failed you? Now hearken! Chaka has dreamed another dream; now it is Chaka who strikes, and ye are already dead, ye children of Senzangacona."
"If the slayers of the king be without the gates, at least thou shalt die first, thou who hast betrayed us!" quoth the Prince Dingaan, and drew an assegai from under his kaross.
"First hear the king's dream, O Prince," I said; "then, if thou wilt, kill me, and die. Chaka the king slept and dreamed that he lay dead, and that one of you, the princes, wore his royal kaross."
"Who wore the royal kaross?" asked Dingaan, eagerly; and both looked up, waiting on my words.
"The Prince Umhlangana wore it -- in the dream of Chaka -- O Dingaan, shoot of a royal stock!" I answered slowly, taking snuff as I spoke, and watching the two of them over the edge of my snuff-spoon.
Now Dingaan scowled heavily at Umhlangana; but the face of Umhlangana was as the morning sky.
"Chaka dreamed this also," I went on: "that one of you, the princes, held his royal spear."
"Who held the royal spear?" asked Umhlangana.
"The Prince Dingaan held it -- in the dream of Chaka -- O Umhlangana, sprung from the root of kings! -- and it dripped blood."
Now the face of Umhlangana grew dark as night, but that of Dingaan brightened like the dawn.
"Chaka dreamed this also: that I, Mopo, your dog, who am not worthy to be mentioned with such names, came up and gave the royal salute, even the Bayéte."
"To whom didst thou give the Bayéte, O Mopo, son of Makedama?" asked both of the princes as with one breath, waiting on my words.
"I gave it to both of you, O twin stars of the morning, princes of the Zulu -- in the dream of Chaka I gave it to both of you."
I gave it to both of you, O twin stars of the morning...
in the dream of Chaka I gave it to both of you.
Now the princes looked this way and that, and were silent, not knowing what to say, for these princes hated each other, though adversity and fear had brought them to one bed.
"But what avails it to talk thus, ye lords of the land," I went on, "seeing that, both of you, ye are already as dead men, and that vultures which are hungry to-night to-morrow shall be filled with meat of the best? Chaka the king is now a Doctor of Dreams, and to clear away such a dream as this he has a purging medicine."
Now the brows of these brothers grew black indeed, for they saw that their fate was on them.
"These are the words of Chaka the king, O ye bulls who lead the herd! All are doomed, ye twain and I, and many another man who loves us. In the great kraal beyond the river there sits a regiment: it is summoned -- and then -- good-night! Have ye any words to say to those yet left upon the earth? Perhaps it will be given to me to live a little while after ye are gone, and I may bring them to their ears."
"Can we not rise up now and fall upon Chaka?" asked Dingaan.
"It is not possible," I said; "the king is guarded."
"Hast thou no plan, Mopo?" groaned Umhlangana. "Methinks thou hast a plan to save us."
"And if I have a plan, ye Princes, what shall be my reward? It must be great, for I am weary of life, and I will not use my wisdom for a little thing."
Now both the princes offered me good things, each of them promising more than the other, as two young men who are rivals promise to the father of a girl whom both would wed. I listened, saying always that it was not enough, till in the end both of them swore by their heads, and by the bones of Senzangacona, their father, and by many other things, that I should be the first man in the land, after them, its kings, and should command the impis of the land, if I would but show them a way to kill Chaka and become kings. Then, when they had done swearing, I spoke, weighing my words: --
"In the great kraal beyond the river, O ye Princes, there sit, not one regiment but two. One is named the Slayers and loves Chaka the king, who has done well by them, giving them cattle and wives. The other is named the Bees, and that regiment is hungry and longs for cattle and girls; moreover, of that regiment the Prince Umhlangana is the general, and it loves him. Now this is my plan -- to summon the Bees in the name of Umhlangana, not the Slayers in the name of Chaka. Bend forward, O Princes, that I may whisper in your ears."
So they bent forward, and I whispered awhile of the death of a king, and the sons of Senzangacona nodded their heads as one man in answer. Then I rose up, and crept from the hut as I had entered it, and rousing certain trusty messengers, I dispatched them, running swiftly through the night.
Now, on the morrow, two hours before midday, Chaka came from the hut where he had sat through the night, and moved to a little kraal surrounded by a fence that was some fifty paces distant from the hut. For it was my duty, day by day, to choose that place where the king should sit to hear the counsel of his indunas, and give judgment on those whom he would kill, and to-day I had chosen this place. Chaka went alone from his hut to the kraal, and, for my own reasons, I accompanied him, walking after him. As we went the king glanced back at me over his shoulder, and said in a low voice: --
"Is all prepared, Mopo?"
"All is prepared, Black One," I answered. "The regiment of the Slayers will be here by noon."
"Where are the princes, Mopo?" asked the king again.
"The princes sit with their wives in the houses of their women, O King," I answered; "they drink beer and sleep in the laps of their wives."
Chaka smiled grimly, "For the last time, Mopo!"
"For the last time, O King."
We came to the kraal, and Chaka sat down in the shade of the reed fence, upon an ox-hide that was brayed soft. Near to him stood a girl holding a gourd of beer; there were also present the old chief Inguazonca, brother of Unandi, Mother of the Heavens, and the chief Umxamama, whom Chaka loved. When we had sat a little while in the kraal, certain men came in bearing cranes' feathers, which the king had sent them to gather a month's journey from the kraal Duguza, and they were admitted before the king. These men had been away long upon their errand, and Chaka was angry with them. Now the leader of the men was an old captain of Chaka's, who had fought under him in many battles, but whose service was done, because his right hand had been shorn away by the blow of an axe. He was a great man and very brave.
Chaka asked the man why he had been so long in finding the feathers, and he answered that the birds had flown from that part of the country whither he was sent, and he must wait there till they returned, that he might snare them.
"Thou shouldst have followed the cranes, yes, if they flew through the sunset, thou disobedient dog!" said the king. "Let him be taken away, and all those who were with him."
Now some of the men prayed a little for mercy, but the captain did but salute the king, calling him "Father," and craving a boon before he died.
"What wouldst thou?" asked Chaka.
"My father," said the man, "I would ask thee two things. I have fought many times at thy side in battle while we both were young; nor did I ever turn my back upon the foe. The blow that shore the hand from off this arm was aimed at thy head, O King; I stayed it with my naked arm. It is nothing; at thy will I live, and at thy will I die. Who am I that I should question the word of the king? Yet I would ask this, that thou wilt withdraw the kaross from about thee, O King, that for the last time my eyes may feast themselves upon the body of him whom, above all men, I love."
"Thou art long-winded," said the king, "what more?"
"This, my father, that I may bid farewell to my son; he is a little child, so high, O King," and he held his hand above his knee.
"Thy first boon is granted," said the king, slipping the kaross from his shoulders and showing the great breast beneath. "For the second it shall be granted also, for I will not willingly divide the father and the son. Bring the boy here; thou shalt bid him farewell, then thou shalt slay him with thine own hand ere thou thyself art slain; it will be good sport to see."
Now the man turned grey beneath the blackness of his skin, and trembled a little as he murmured, "The king's will is the will of his servant; let the child be brought."
But I looked at Chaka and saw that the tears were running down his face, and that he only spoke thus to try the captain who loved him to the last.
"Let the man go," said the king, "him and those with him."
So they went glad at heart, and praising the king.
I have told you this, my father, though it has not to do with my story, because then, and then only, did I ever see Chaka show mercy to one whom he had doomed to die.
As the captain and his people left the gate of the kraal, it was spoken in the ear of the king that a man sought audience with him. He was admitted crawling on his knees. I looked and saw that this was that Masilo whom Chaka had charged with a message to him who was named Bulalio, or the Slaughterer, and who ruled over the People of the Axe. It was Masilo indeed, but he was no longer fat, for much travel had made him thin; moreover, on his back were the marks of rods, as yet scarcely healed over.
"Who art thou?" said Chaka.
"I am Masilo, of the People of the Axe, to whom command was given to run with a message to Bulalio the Slaughterer, their chief, and to return on the thirtieth day. Behold, O King, I have returned, though in a sorry plight!"
"It seems so!" said the king, laughing aloud. "I remember now: speak on, Masilo the Thin, who wast Masilo the Fat; what of this Slaughterer? Does he come with his people to lay the axe Groan-Maker in my hands?"
"Nay, O King, he comes not. He met me with scorn, and with scorn he drove me from his kraal. Moreover, as I went I was seized by the servants of Zinita, she whom I wooed, but who is now the wife of the Slaughterer, and laid on my face upon the ground and beaten cruelly while Zinita numbered the strokes."
"Hah!" said the king. "And what were the words of this puppy?"
"These were his words, O King: 'Bulalio the Slaughterer, who sits beneath the shadow of the Witch Mountain, to Bulalio the Slaughterer who sits in the kraal Duguza -- To thee I pay no tribute; if thou wouldst have the axe Groan-Maker, come to the Ghost Mountain and take it. This I promise thee: thou shalt look on a face thou knowest, for there is one there who would be avenged for the blood of a certain Mopo.'"
Now, while Masilo told this tale I had seen two things -- first, that a little piece of stick was thrust through the straw of the fence, and, secondly, that the regiment of the Bees was swarming on the slope opposite to the kraal in obedience to the summons I had sent them in the name of Umhlangana. The stick told me that the princes were hidden behind the fence waiting the signal, and the coming of the regiment that it was time to do the deed.
When Masilo had spoken Chaka sprang up in fury. His eyes rolled, his face worked, foam flew from his lips, for such words as these had never offended his ears since he was king, and Masilo knew him little, else he had not dared to utter them.
For a while he gasped, shaking his small spear, for at first he could not speak. At length he found words: --
"The dog," he hissed, "the dog who dares thus to spit in my face! Hearken all! As with my last breath I command that this Slaughterer be torn limb from limb, he and all his tribe! And thou, thou darest to bring me this talk from a skunk of the mountains. And thou, too, Mopo, thy name is named in it. Well, of thee presently. Ho! Umxamama, my servant, slay me this slave of a messenger, beat out his brains with thy stick. Swift! swift!"
Now, the old chief Umxamama sprang up to do the king's bidding, but he was feeble with age, and the end of it was that Masilo, being mad with fear, killed Umxamama, not Umxamama Masilo. Then Inguazonca, brother of Unandi, Mother of the Heavens, fell upon Masilo and ended him, but was hurt himself in so doing. Now I looked at Chaka, who stood shaking the little red spear, and thought swiftly, for the hour had come.
"Help!" I cried, "one is slaying the King!"
As I spoke the reed fence burst asunder, and through it plunged the princes Umhlangana and Dingaan, as bulls plunge through a brake.
Then I pointed to Chaka with my withered hand, saying, "Behold your king!"
Now, from beneath the shelter of his kaross, each Prince drew out a short stabbing spear, and plunged it into the body of Chaka the king. Umhlangana smote him on the left shoulder, Dingaan struck him in the right side. Chaka dropped the little spear handled with the red wood and looked round, and so royally that the princes, his brothers, grew afraid and shrank away from him.
Twice he looked on each; then he spoke, saying: "What! do you slay me, my brothers -- dogs of mine own house, whom I have fed? Do you slay me, thinking to possess the land and to rule it? I tell you it shall not be for long. I hear a sound of running feet -- the feet of a great white people. They shall stamp you flat, children of my father! They shall rule the land that I have won, and you and your people shall be their slaves!"
Thus Chaka spoke while the blood ran down him to the ground, and again he looked on them royally, like a buck at gaze.
"Make an end, O ye who would be kings!" I cried; but their hearts had turned to water and they could not. Then I, Mopo, sprang forward and picked from the ground that little assegai handled with the royal wood -- the same assegai with which Chaka had murdered Unandi, his mother, and Moosa, my son, and lifted it on high, and while I lifted it, my father, once more, as when I was young, a red veil seemed to wave before my eyes.
"Wherefore wouldst thou kill me, Mopo?" said the king.
"For the sake of Baleka, my sister, to whom I swore the deed, and of all my kin," I cried, and plunged the spear through him. He sank down upon the tanned ox-hide, and lay there dying. Once more he spoke, and once only, saying: "Would now that I had hearkened to the voice of Nobela, who warned me against thee, thou dog!"
Then he was silent for ever. But I knelt over him and called in his ear the names of all those of my blood who had died at his hands -- the names of Makedama, my father, of my mother, of Anadi my wife, of Moosa my son, and all my other wives and children, and of Baleka my sister. His eyes and ears were open, and I think, my father, that he saw and understood; I think also that the hate upon my face as I shook my withered hand before him was more fearful to him that the pain of death. At the least, he turned his head aside, shut his eyes, and groaned. Presently they opened again, and he was dead.
I shook my withered hand before him.
Thus then, my father, did Chaka the King, the greatest man who has ever lived in Zululand, and the most evil, pass by my hand to those kraals of the Inkosazana where no sleep is. In blood he died as he had lived in blood, for the climber at last falls with the tree, and in the end the swimmer is borne away by the stream. Now he trod that path which had been beaten flat for him by the feet of people whom he had slaughtered, many as the blades of grass upon a mountain-side; but it is a lie to say, as some do, that he died a coward, praying for mercy. Chaka died, as he had lived, a brave man. Ou! my father, I know it, for these eyes saw it and this hand let out his life.
Now he was dead and the regiment of the Bees drew near, nor could I know how they would take this matter, for, though the Prince Umhlangana was their general, yet all the soldiers loved the king, because he had no equal in battle, and when he gave he gave with an open hand. I looked round; the princes stood like men amazed; the girl had fled; the chief Umxamama was dead at the hands of dead Masilo; and the old chief Inguazonca, who had killed Masilo, stood by, hurt and wondering; there were no others in the kraal.
"Awake, ye kings," I cried to the brothers, "the impi is at the gates! Swift, now stab that man!" -- and I pointed to the old chief -- "and leave the matter to my wit."
Then Dingaan roused himself, and springing upon Inguazonca, the brother of Unandi, smote him a great blow with his spear, so that he sank down dead without a word. Then again the princes stood silent and amazed.
"This one will tell no tales," I cried, pointing at the fallen chief.
Now a rumour of the slaying had got abroad among the women, who had heard cries and seen the flashing of spears above the fence, and from the women it had come to the regiment of the Bees, who advanced to the gates of the kraal singing. Then of a sudden they ceased their singing and rushed towards the hut in front of which we stood.
Then I ran to meet them, uttering cries of woe, holding in my hand the little assegai of the king red with the king's blood, and spoke with the captain's in the gate, saying: --
"Lament, ye captains and ye soldiers, weep and lament, for your father is no more! He who nursed you is no more! The king is dead! now earth and heaven will come together, for the king is dead!"
"How so, Mopo?" cried the leader of the Bees. "How is our father dead?"
"He is dead by the hand of a wicked wanderer named Masilo, who, when he was doomed to die by the king, snatched this assegai from the king's hand and stabbed him; and afterwards, before he could be cut down himself by us three, the princes and myself, he killed the chiefs Inguazonca and Umxamama also. Draw near and look on him who was the king; it is the command of Dingaan and Umhlangana, the kings, that you draw near and look on him who was the king, that his death at the hand of Masilo may be told through all the land."
"You are better at making of kings, Mopo, than at the saving of one who was your king from the stroke of a wanderer," said the leader of the Bees, looking at me doubtfully.
But his words passed unheeded, for some of the captains went forward to look on the Great One who was dead, and some, together with most of the soldiers, ran this way and that, crying in their fear that now the heaven and earth would come together, and the race of man would cease to be, because Chaka, the king, was dead.
Now, my father, how shall I, whose days are few, tell you of all the matters that happened after the dead of Chaka? Were I to speak of them all they would fill many books of the white men, and, perhaps, some of them are written down there. For this reason it is, that I may be brief, I have only spoken of a few of those events which befell in the reign of Chaka; for my tale is not of the reign of Chaka, but of the lives of a handful of people who lived in those days, and of whom I and Umslopogaas alone are left alive -- if, indeed, Umslopogaas, the son of Chaka, is still living on the earth. Therefore, in a few words I will pass over all that came about after the fall of Chaka and till I was sent down by Dingaan, the king, to summon him to surrender to the king who was called the Slaughterer and who ruled the People of the Axe. Ah! would that I had known for certain that this was none other than Umslopogaas, for then had Dingaan gone the way that Chaka went and which Umhlangana followed, and Umslopogaas ruled the people of the Zulus as their king. But, alas! my wisdom failed me. I paid no heed to the voice of my heart which told me that this was Umslopogaas who sent the message to Chaka threatening vengeance for one Mopo, and I knew nothing till too late; surely, I thought, the man spoke of some other Mopo. For thus, my father, does destiny make fools of us men. We think that we can shape our fate, but it is fate that shapes us, and nothing befalls except fate will it. All things are a great pattern, my father, drawn by the hand of the Umkulunkulu upon the cup whence he drinks the water of his wisdom; and our lives, and what we do, and what we do not do, are but a little bit of the pattern, which is so big that only the eyes of Him who is above, the Umkulunkulu, can see it all. Even Chaka, the slayer of men, and all those he slew, are but as a tiny grain of dust in the greatness of that pattern. How, then, can we be wise, my father, who are but the tools of wisdom? how can be build who are but pebbles in a wall? how can we give life who are babes in the womb of fate? or how can we slay who are but spears in the hands of the slayer?
This came about, my father. Matters were made straight in the land after the death of Chaka. At first people said that Masilo, the stranger, had stabbed the king; then it was known that Mopo, the wise man, the doctor and the body-servant of the king, had slain the king, and that the two great bulls, his brothers Umhlangana and Dingaan, children of Senzangacona, had also lifted spears against him. But he was dead, and earth and heaven had not come together, so what did it matter? Moreover, the two new kings promised to deal gently with the people, and to lighten the heavy yoke of Chaka, and men in a bad case are always ready to home for a better. So it came about that the only enemies the princes found were each other and Engwade, the son of Unandi, Chaka's half-brother. But I, Mopo, who was now the first man in the land after the kings, ceasing to be a doctor and becoming a general, went up against Engwade with the regiment of the Bees and the regiment of the Slayers and smote him in his kraals. It was a hard fight, but in the end I destroyed him and all his people: Engwade killed eight men with his own hand before I slew him. Then I came back to the kraal with the few that were left alive of the two regiments.
After that the two kings quarrelled more and more, and I weighed them both in my balance, for I would know which was the most favourable to me. In the end I found that both feared me, but that Umhlangana would certainly put me to death if he gained the upper hand, whereas this was not yet in the mind of Dingaan. So I pressed down the balance of Umhlangana and raised that of Dingaan, sending the fears of Umhlangana to sleep till I could cause his hut to be surrounded. Then Umhlangana followed upon the road of Chaka his brother, the road of the assegai; and Dingaan ruled alone for awhile. Such are the things that befall princes of this earth, my father. See, I am but a little man, and my lot is humble at the last, yet I have brought about the death of three of them, and of these two died by my hand.
It was fourteen days after the passing away of the Prince Umhlangana that the great army came back in a sorry plight from the marshes of the Limpopo, for half of them were left dead of fever and the might of the foe, and the rest were starving. It was well for them who yet lived that Chaka was no more, else they had joined their brethren who were dead on the way; since never before for many years had a Zulu impi returned unvictorious and without a single head of cattle. Thus it came about that they were glad enough to welcome a king who spared their lives, and thenceforth, till his fate found him, Dingaan reigned unquestioned.
Now, Dingaan wa a prince of the blood of Chaka indeed; for, like Chaka, he was great in presence and cruel at heart, but he had not the might and the mind of Chaka. Moreover, he was treacherous and a liar, and these Chaka was not. Also, he loved women much, and spent with them the time that he should have given to matters of the State. Yet he reigned awhile in the land. I must tell this also; that Dingaan would have killed Panda, his half-brother, so that the house of Senzangacona, his father, might be swept out clean. Now Panda was a man of gentle heart, who did not love war, and therefore it was thought that he was half-witted; and, because I loved Panda, when the question of his slaying came on, I and the chief Mapita spoke against it, and pleaded for him, saying that there was nothing to be feared at his hands who was a fool. So in the end Dingaan gave way, saying, "Well, you ask me to spare this dog, and I will spare him, but one day he will bite me."
So Panda was made governor of the king's cattle. Yet in the end the words of Dingaan came true, for it was the grip of Panda's teeth that pulled him from the throne; only, if Panda was the dog that bit, I, Mopo, was the man who set him on the hunt.
Now Dingaan, deserting the kraal Duguza, moved back to Zululand, and built a great kraal by the Mahlabatine, which he named "Umgugundhlovu" -- that is, "the rumbling of the elephant." Also, he caused all the fairest girls in the land to be sought out as his wives, and though many were found yet he craved for more. And at this time a rumour came to the ears of the King Dingaan that there lived in Swaziland among the Halakazi tribe a girl of the most wonderful beauty, who was named the Lily, and whose skin was whiter than are the skins of our people, and he desired greatly to have this girl to wife. So Dingaan sent an embassy to the chief of the Halakazi, demanding that the girl should be given to him. At the end of a month the embassy returned again, and told the king that they had found nothing but hard words at the kraal of the Halakazi, and had been driven thence with scorn and blows.
This was the message of the chief of the Halakazi to Dingaan, king of the Zulus: That the maid who was named the Lily, was, indeed, the wonder of the earth, and as yet unwed; for she had found no man upon whom she looked with favour, and she was held in such love by this people that it was not their wish to force any husband on her. Moreover, the chief said that he and his people defied Dingaan and the Zulus, as their fathers had defied Chaka before him, and spat upon his name, and that no maid of theirs should go to be the wife of a Zulu dog.
Then the chief of the Halakazi caused the maid who was named the Lily to be led before the messengers of Dingaan, and they found her wonderfully fair, for so they said: she was tall as a reed, and her grace was the grace of a reed that is shaken in the wind. Moreover, her hair curled, and hung upon her shoulders, her eyes were large and brown, and soft as a buck's, her colour was the colour of rich cream, her smile was like a ripple on the waters, and when she spoke her voice was low and sweeter than the sound of an instrument of music. They said also that the girl wished to speak with them, but the chief forbade it, and caused her to be led thence with all honour.
Now, when Dingaan heard this message he grew mad as a lion in a net, for he desired this maid above everything, and yet he who had all things could not win the maid. This was his command, that a great impi should be gathered and sent to Swaziland against the Halakazi tribe, to destroy them and seize the maid. But when the matter came on to be discussed with the indunas in the presence of the king, at the Amapakati or council, I, as chief of the indunas, spoke against it, saying that the tribe of the Halakazi were great and strong, and that war with them would mean war with the Swazis also; moreover, they had their dwelling in caves which were had to win. Also, I said, that this was no time to send impis to seek a single girl, for few years had gone by since the Black One fell; and foes were many, and the soldiers of the land had waxed few with slaughter, half of them having perished in the marshes of the Limpopo. Now, time must be given them to grow up again, for to-day they were as a little child, or like a man wasted with hunger. Maids were many, let the king take them and satisfy his heart, but let him make no war for this one.
Thus I spoke boldly in the face of the king, as none had dared to speak before Chaka; and courage passed from me to the hearts of the other indunas and generals, and they echoed my words, for they knew that, of all follies, to begin a new war with the Swazi people would be the greatest.
Dingaan listened, and his brow grew dark, yet he was not so firmly seated on the throne that he dared put away our words, for still there were many in the land who loved the memory of Chaka, and remembered that Dingaan had murdered him and Umhlangana also. For now that Chaka was dead, people forgot how evilly he had dealt with them, and remembered only that he was a great man, who had made the Zulu people out of nothing, as a smith fashions a bright spear from a lump of iron. Also, though they had changed masters, yet their burden was not lessened, for, as Chaka slew, so Dingaan slew also, and as Chaka oppressed, so did Dingaan oppress. Therefore Dingaan yielded to the voice of his indunas and no impi was sent against the Halakazi to seek the maid that was named the Lily. But still he hankered for her in his heart, and from that hour he hated me because I had crossed his will and robbed him of his desire.
Now, my father, there is this to be told: though I did not know it then, the maid who was named the Lily was no other than my daughter Nada. The thought, indeed, came into my mind, that none but Nada could be so fair. Yet I knew for certain that Nada and her mother Macropha were dead, for he who brought me the news of their death had seen their bodies locked in each other's arms, killed, as it were, by the same spear. Yet, as it chanced, he was wrong; for though Macropha indeed was killed, it was another maid who lay in blood beside her; for the people whither I had sent Macropha and Nada were tributary to the Halakazi tribe, and that chief of the Halakazi who sat in the place of Galazi the Wolf had quarrelled with them, and fallen on them by night and eaten them up.
As I learned afterwards, the cause of their destruction, as in later days it was the cause of the slaying of the Halakazi, was the beauty of Nada and nothing else, for the fame of her loveliness had gone about the land, and the old chief of the Halakazi had commanded that the girl should be sent to his kraal to live there, that her beauty might shine upon his place like the sun, and that, if so she willed, she should choose a husband from the great men of the Halakazi. But the headmen of the kraal refused, for none who had looked on her would suffer their eyes to lose sight of Nada the Lily, though there was this fate about the maid that none strove to wed her against her will. Many, indeed, asked her in marriage, both there and among the Halakazi people, but ever she shook her head and said, "Nay, I would wed no man," and it was enough.
For it was the saying among men, that it was better that she should remain unmarried, and all should look on her, than that she should pass from their sight into the house of a husband; since they held that her beauty was given to be a joy to all, like the beauty of the dawn and of the evening. Yet this beauty of Nada's was a dreadful thing, and the mother of much death, as shall be told; and because of her beauty and the great love she bore, she, the Lily herself, must wither, and the cup of my sorrows must be filled to overflowing, and the heart of Umslopogaas the Slaughterer, son of Chaka the king, must become desolate as the black plain when fire has swept it. So it was ordained, my father, and so it befell, seeing that thus all men, white and black, seek that which is beautiful, and when at last they find it, then it passes swiftly away, or, perchance, it is their death. For great joy and great beauty are winged, nor will they sojourn long upon the earth. They come down like eagles out of the sky, and into the sky they return again swiftly.
Thus then it came about, my father, that I, Mopo, believing my daughter Nada to be dead, little guessed that it was she who was named the Lily in the kraals of the Halakazi, and whom Dingaan the king desired for a wife.
Now after I had thwarted him in this matter of the sending of an impi to pluck the Lily from the gardens of the Halakazi, Dingaan learned to hate me. Also I was in his secrets, and with me he had killed his brother Chaka and his brother Umhlangana, and it was I who held him back from the slaying of his brother Panda also; and, therefore, he hated me, as is the fashion of small-hearted men with those who have lifted them up. Yet he did not dare to do away with me, for my voice was loud in the land, and when I spoke the people listened. Therefore, in the end, he cast about for some way to be rid of me for a while, till he should grow strong enough to kill me.
"Mopo," said the king to me one day as I sat before him in council with others of the indunas and generals, "mindest thou of the last words of the Great Elephant, who is dead?" This he said meaning Chaka his brother, only he did not name him, for now the name of Chaka was blonipa in the land, as is the custom with the names of dead kings -- that is, my father, it was not lawful that it should pass the lips.
"I remember the words, O King," I answered. "They were ominous words, for this was their burden: that you and your house should not sit long in the throne of kings, but that the white men should take away your royalty and divide your territories. Such was the prophecy of the Lion of the Zulu, why speak of it? Once before I heard him prophecy, and his words were fulfilled. May the omen be an egg without meat; may it never become fledged; may that bird never perch upon your roof, O King!"
Now Dingaan trembled with fear, for the words of Chaka were in his mind by night and by day; then he grew angry and bit his lip, saying: --
"Thou fool, Mopo! canst thou not hear a raven croak at the gates of a kraal but thou must needs go tell those who dwell within that he waits to pick their eyes? Such criers of ill to come may well find ill at hand, Mopo." He ceased, looked on me threateningly awhile, and went on: "I did not speak of those words rolling by chance from a tongue half loosed by death, but of others that told of a certain Bulalio, of a Slaughterer who rules the People of the Axe and dwells beneath the shadow of the Ghost Mountain far away to the north yonder. Surely I heard them all as I sat beneath the shade of the reed-fence before ever I came to save him who was my brother from the spear of Masilo, the murderer, whose spear stole away the life of a king?"
"I remember those words also, O King!" I said. "Is it the will of the king that an impi should be gathered to eat up this upstart? Such was the command of the one who is gone, given, as it were, with his last breath."
"Nay, Mopo, that is not my will. If no impi can be found by thee to wipe away the Halakazi and bring one whom I desire to delight my eyes, then surely none can be found to eat up this Slaughterer and his people. Moreover, Bulalio, chief of the People of the Axe, has not offended against me, but against an elephant whose trumpetings are done. Now this is my will, Mopo, my servant: that thou shouldst take with thee a few men only and go gently to this Bulalio, and say to him: 'A greater Elephant stalks through the land than he who has gone to sleep, and it has come to his ears -- that thou, Chief of the People of the Axe, dost pay no tribute, and hast said that, because of the death of a certain Mopo, thou wilt have nothing to do with him whose shadow lies upon the land. Now one Mopo is sent to thee, Slaughterer, to know if this tale is true, for, if it be true, then shalt thou learn the weight of the hoof of that Elephant who trumpets in the kraal of Umgugundhlovu. Think, then, and weigh thy words before thou dost answer, Slaughterer.'"
Now I, Mopo, heard the commands of the king and pondered them in my mind, for I knew well that it was the design of Dingaan to be rid of me for a space that he might find time to plot my overthrow, and that he cared little for this matter of a petty chief, who, living far away, had dared to defy Chaka. Yet I wished to go, for there had arisen in me a great desire to see this Bulalio, who spoke of vengeance to be taken for one Mopo, and whose deeds were such as the deeds of Umslopogaas would have been, had Umslopogaas lived to look upon the light. Therefore I answered: --
"I hear the king. The king's word shall be done, though, O King, thou sendest a big man upon a little errand."
"Not so, Mopo," answered Dingaan. "My heart tells me that this chicken of a Slaughterer will grow to a great cock if his comb is not cut presently; and thou, Mopo, art versed in cutting combs, even of the tallest."
"I hear the king," I answered again.
So, my father, it came about that on the morrow, taking with me but ten chosen men, I, Mopo, started on my journey towards the Ghost Mountain, and as I journeyed I thought much of how I had trod that path in bygone days. Then, Macropha, my wife, and Nada, my daughter, and Umslopogaas, the son of Chaka, who was thought to be my son, walked at my side. Now, as I imagined, all were dead and I walked alone; doubtless I also should soon be dead. Well, people lived few days and evil in those times, and what did it matter? At the least I had wreaked vengeance on Chaka and satisfied my heart.
At length I came one night to that lonely spot where we had camped in the evil hour when Umslopogaas was borne away by the lioness, and once more I looked upon the cave whence he had dragged the cub, and upon the awful face of the stone Witch who sits aloft upon the Ghost Mountain forever and forever. I could sleep little that night, because of the sorrow at my heart, but sat awake looking, in the brightness of the moon, upon the grey face of the stone Witch, and on the depths of the forest that grew about her knees, wondering the while if the bones of Umslopogaas lay broken in that forest. Now as I journeyed, many tales had been told to me of this Ghost Mountain, which all swore was haunted, so said some, by men in the shape of wolves; and so said some, by the Esemkofu -- that is, by men who have died and who have been brought back again by magic. They have no tongues, the Esemkofu, for had they tongues they would cry aloud to mortals the awful secrets of the dead, therefore, they can but utter a wailing like that of a babe. Surely one may hear them in the forests at night as they wail "Ai! -- ah! Ai -- ah!" among the silent trees!
You laugh, my father, but I did not laugh as I thought of these tales; for, if men have spirits, where do the spirits go when the body is dead? They must go somewhere, and would it be strange that they should return to look upon the lands where they were born? Yet I never thought much of such matters, though I am a doctor, and know something of the ways of the Amatongo, the people of the ghosts. To speak truth, my father, I have had so much to do with the loosing of the spirits of men that I never troubled myself overmuch with them after they were loosed; there will be time to do this when I myself am of their number.
So I sat and gazed on the mountain and the forest that grew over it like hair on the head of a woman, and as I gazed I heard a sound that came from far away, out of the heart of the forest as it seemed. At first it was faint and far off, a distant thing like the cry of children in a kraal across a valley; then it grew louder, but still I could not say what it might be; now it swelled and swelled, and I knew it -- it was the sound of wild beats at chase. Nearer came the music, the rocks rang with it, and its voice set the blood beating but to hearken to it. That pack was great which ran a-hunting through the silent night; and now it was night, on the other side of the slope only, and the sound swelled so loud that those who were with me awoke also and looked forth. Now of a sudden a great koodoo bull appeared for an instant standing out against the sky on the crest of the ridge, then vanished in the shadow. He was running towards us; presently we saw him again speeding on his path with great bounds. We saw this also -- forms grey and gaunt and galloping, in number countless, that leaped along his path, appearing on the crest of the rise, disappearing into the shadow, seen again on the slope, lost in the valley; and with them two other shapes, the shapes of men.
Now the big buck bounded past us not half a spear's throw away, and behind him streamed the countless wolves, and from the throats of the wolves went up that awful music. And who were these two that came with the wolves, shapes of men great and strong? They ran silently and swift, wolves' teeth gleamed upon their heads, wolves' hides hung about their shoulders. In the hands of one was an axe -- the moonlight shone upon it -- in the hand of the other a heavy club. Neck and neck they ran; never before had we seen men travel so fast. See! they sped down the slope towards us; the wolves were left behind, all except four of them; we heard the beating of their feet; they came, they passed, they were gone, and with them their unnumbered company. The music grew faint, it died, it was dead; the hunt was far away, and the night was still again!
"Now, my brethren," I asked of those who were with me, "what is this that we have seen?"
Then one answered, "We have seen the Ghosts who live in the lap of the old Witch, and those men are the Wolf-Brethren, the wizards who are kings of the Ghosts."
All that night we watched, but we neither saw nor heard any more of the wolves, nor of the men who hunted with them. On the morrow, at dawn, I sent a runner to Bulalio, chief of the People of the Axe, saying that a messenger came to him from Dingaan, the king, who desired to speak with him in peace within the gates of his kraal. I charged the messenger, however, that he should not tell my name, but should say only that it was "Mouth of Dingaan." Then I and those with me followed slowly on the path of the man whom I sent forward, for the way was still far, and I had bidden him return and meet me bearing the words of the Slaughterer, Holder of the Axe.
All that day till the sun grew low we talked round the base of the great Ghost Mountain, following the line of the river. We met no one, but once we came to the ruins of a kraal, and in it lay the broken bones of many men, and with the bones rusty assegais and the remains of ox-hide shields, black and white in colour. Now I examined the shields, and knew from their colour that they had been carried in the hands of those soldiers who, years ago, were sent out by Chaka to seek for Umslopogaas, but who had returned no more.
"Now," I said, "it has fared ill with those soldiers of the Black One who is gone, for I think that these are the shields they bore, and that their eyes once looked upon the world through the holes in yonder skulls."
"These are the shields they bore, and those are the skulls they wore," answered one. "See, Mopo, son of Makedama, this is no man's work that has brought them to their death. Men do not break the bones of their foes in pieces as these bones are broken. Wow! men do not break them, but wolves do, and last night we saw wolves a-hunting; nor did they hunt alone, Mopo. Wow! this is a haunted land!"
Then we went on in silence, and all the way the stone face of the Witch who sits aloft forever stared down on us from the mountain top. At length, an hour before sundown, we came to the open lands, and there, on the crest of a rise beyond the river, we saw the kraal of the People of the Axe. It was a great kraal and well built, and their cattle were spread about the plains like to herds of game for number. We went to the river and passed it by the ford, then sat down and waited, till presently I saw the man whom I had sent forward returning towards us. He came and saluted me, and I asked him for news.
"This is my news, Mopo," he said: "I have seen him who is named Bulalio, and he is a great man -- long and lean, with a fierce face, and carrying a mighty axe, such an axe as he bore last night who hunted with the wolves. When I had been led before the chief I saluted him and spoke to him -- the words you laid upon my tongue I told to him. He listened, then laughed aloud, and said: 'Tell him who sent you that the mouth of Dingaan shall be welcome, and shall speak the words of Dingaan in peace; yet I would that it were the head of Dingaan that came and not his mouth only, for then Axe Groan-Maker would join in our talk -- ay, because of one Mopo, whom his brother Chaka murdered, it would also speak with Dingaan. Still, the mouth is not the head, so the mouth may come in peace.'"
Now I started when for the second time I heard talk of one Mopo, whose name had been on the lips of Bulalio the Slaughterer. Who was there that would thus have loved Mopo except one who was long dead? And yet, perhaps the chief spoke of some other Mopo, for the name was not my own only -- in truth, Chaka had killed a chief of that name at the great mourning, because he said that two Mopos in the land were one too many, and that though this Mopo wept sorely when the tears of others were dry. So I said only that this Bulalio had a high stomach, and we went on to the gates of the kraal.
There were none to meet us at the gates, and none stood by the doors of the huts within them, but beyond, from the cattle kraal that was in the centre of the huts, rose a dust and a din as of men gathering for war. Now some of those were with me were afraid, and would have turned back, fearing treachery, and they were yet more afraid when, on coming to the inner entrance of the cattle kraal, we saw some five hundred soldiers being mustered there company by company, by two great men, who ran up and down the ranks shouting.
But I cried, "Nay! nay! Turn not back! Bold looks melt the hearts of foes. Moreover, if this Bulalio would have murdered us, there was no need for him to call up so many of his warriors. He is a proud chief, and would show his might, not knowing that the king we serve can muster a company for every man he has. Let us go on boldly."
So we walked forward towards the impi that was gathered on the further side of the kraal. Now the two great men who were marshalling the soldiers saw us, and came to meet us, one following the other. He who came first bore the axe upon his shoulder, and he who followed swung a huge club. I looked upon the foremost of them, and ah! my father, my heart grew faint with joy, for I knew him across the years. It was Umslopogaas! my fosterling, Umslopogaas! and none other, now grown into manhood -- ay, into such a man as was not to be found beside him in Zululand. He was great and fierce, somewhat spare in frame, but wide shouldered and shallow flanked. His arms were long and not over big, but the muscles stood out on them like knots in a rope; his legs were long also, and very thick beneath the knee. His eye was like an eagle's, his nose somewhat hooked, and he held his head a little forward, as a man who searches continually for a hidden foe. He seemed to walk slowly, and yet he came swiftly, but with a gliding movement like that of a wolf or a lion, and always his fingers played round the horn handle of the axe Groan-Maker. As for him who followed, he was great also, shorter than Umslopogaas by the half of a head, but of a sturdier build. His eyes were small, and twinkled unceasingly like little stars, and his look was very wild, for now and again he grinned, showing his white teeth.
When I saw Umslopogaas, my father, my bowels melted within me, and I longed to run to him and throw myself upon his neck. Yet I took council with myself and did not -- nay, I dropped the corner of the kaross I wrote over my eyes, hiding my face lest he should know me. Presently he stood before me, searching me out with his keen eyes, for I drew forward to greet him.
"Greeting, Mouth of Dingaan!" he said in a loud voice. "You are a little man to be the mouth of so big a chief."
"The mouth is a little member, even of the body of a great king, O Chief Bulalio, ruler of the People of the Axe, wizard of the wolves that are upon the Ghost Mountain, who aforetime was named Umslopogaas, son of Mopo, son of Makedama."
Now when Umslopogaas heard these words he started like a child at a rustling in the dark and stared hard at me.
"You are well instructed," he said.
"The ears of the king are large, if his mouth be small, O Chief Bulalio," I answered, "and I, who am but the mouth, speak what the ears have heard."
"How know you that I have dwelt with the wolves upon the Ghost Mountain, O Mouth?" he asked.
"The eyes of the king see far, O Chief Bulalio. Thus last night they saw a great chase and a merry. It seems that they saw a koodoo bull running at speed, and after him countless wolves making their music, and with the wolves two men clad in wolves' skins, such men as you, Bulalio, and he with the club who follows you."
Now Umslopogaas lifted the axe Groan-Maker as though he would cut me down, then let it fall again, while Galazi the Wolf glared at me with wide-opened eyes.
"How know you that once I was named Umslopogaas, who have lost that name these many days? Speak, O Mouth, lest I kill you."
"Slay if you will, Umslopogaas," I answered, "but know that when the brains are scattered the mouth is dumb. He who scatters brains loses wisdom."
"Answer!" he said.
"I answer not. Who are you that I should answer you? I know; it is enough. To my business."
Now Umslopogaas ground his teeth in anger. "I am not wont to be thwarted here in my own kraal," he said; "but do your business. Speak it, little Mouth."
"This is my business, little Chief. When the Black One who is gone yet lived, you sent him a message by one Masilo -- such a message as his ears had never heard, and that had been your death, O fool puffed up with pride, but death came first upon the Black One, and his hand was stayed. Now Dingaan, whose shadow lies upon the land, the king whom I serve, and who sits in the place of the Black One who is gone, speaks to you by me, his mouth. He would know this: if it is true that you refuse to own his sovereignty, to pay tribute to him in men and maids and cattle, and to serve him in his wars? Answer, you little headman! -- answer in few words and short!"
Now Umslopogaas gasped for breath in his rage, and again he fingered the great axe. "It is well for you, O Mouth," he said, "that I swore safe conduct to you, else you had not gone hence -- else you had been served as I served certain soldiers who in bygone years were sent to search out one Umslopogaas. Yet I answer you in few words and short. Look on those spears -- they are but a fourth part of the number I can muster: that is my answer. Look now on yonder mountain, the mountain of ghosts and wolves -- unknown, impassable, save to me and one other: that is my answer. Spears and mountains shall come together -- the mountain shall be alive with spears and with the fangs of beasts. Let Dingaan seek his tribute there! I have spoken!"
Now I laughed shrilly, desiring to try the heart of Umslopogaas, my fosterling, yet further.
"Fool!" I said. "Boy with the brain of a monkey, for every spear you have Dingaan, whom I serve, can send a hundred, and your mountain shall be stamped flat; and for your ghosts and wolves, see, with the mouth of Dingaan I spit upon them!" and I spat upon the ground.
Now Umslopogaas shook in his rage, and the great axe glimmered as he shook. He turned to the captain who was behind him, and said: "Say, Galazi the Wolf, shall we kill this man and those with him?"
"Nay," answered the Wolf, grinning, "do not kill them; you have given them safe conduct. Moreover, let them go back to their dog of a king, that he may send out his puppies to do battle with our wolves. It will be a pretty fight."
"Get you gone, O Mouth," said Umslopogaas; "get you gone swiftly, lest mischief befall you! Without my gates you shall find food to satisfy your hunger. Eat of it and begone, for if to-morrow at the noon you are found within a spear's throw of this kraal, you and those with you shall bide there forever, O Mouth of Dingaan the king!"
Now I made as though I would depart, then, turning suddenly, I spoke once more, saying: --
"There were words in your message to the Black One who is dead of a certain man -- nay, how was he named? -- of a certain Mopo."
Now Umslopogaas started as one starts who is wounded by a spear, and stared at me.
"Mopo! What of Mopo, O Mouth, whose eyes are veiled? Mopo is dead, whose son I was!"
"Ah!" I said, "yes, Mopo is dead -- that is, the Black One who is gone killed a certain Mopo. How came it, O Bulalio, that you were his son?"
"Mopo is dead," quoth Umslopogaas again; "he is dead with all his house, his kraal is stamped flat, and that is why I hated the Black One, and therefore I hate Dingaan, his brother, and will be as are Mopo and the house of Mopo before I pay him tribute of a single ox."
All this while I had spoken to Umslopogaas in a feigned voice, my father, but now I spoke again and in my own voice, saying: --
"So! Now you speak from your heart, young man, and by digging I have reached the root of the matter. It is because of this dead dog of a Mopo that you defy the king."
Umslopogaas heard the voice, and trembled no more with anger, but rather with fear and wonder. He looked at me hard, answering nothing.
"Have you a hut near by, O Chief Bulalio, foe of Dingaan the king, where I, the mouth of the king, may speak with you a while apart, for I would learn your message word by word that I may deliver it without fault. Fear not, Slaughterer, to sit alone with me in an empty hut! I am unarmed and old, and there is that in your hand which I should fear," and I pointed to the axe.
Now Umslopogaas, still shaking in his limbs, answered "Follow me, O Mouth, and you, Galazi, stay with these men."
So I followed Umslopogaas, and presently we came to a large hut. He pointed to the doorway, and I crept through it and he followed after me. Now for a while it seemed dark in the hut, for the sun was sinking without and the place was full of shadow; so I waited while a man might count fifty, till our eyes could search the darkness. Then of a sudden I threw the blanket from my face and looked into the yes of Umslopogaas.
"Look on me now, O Chief Bulalio, O Slaughterer, who once was named Umslopogaas -- look on me and say who am I?" Then he looked at me and his jaw fell.
"Either you are Mopo my father grown old -- Mopo, who is dead, or the Ghost of Mopo," he answered in a low voice.
"I am Mopo, your father, Umslopogaas," I said. "You have been long in knowing me, who knew you from the first."
Then Umslopogaas cried aloud, but yet softly, and letting fall the axe Groan-Maker, he flung himself upon my breast and wept there. And I wept also.
"Oh! my father," he said, "I thought that you were dead with the others, and now you have come back to me, and I, I would have lifted the axe against you in my folly. Oh, it is well that I have lived, and not died, since once more I look upon your face -- the face that I thought dead, but which yet lives, though it be sorely changed, as though by grief and years."
Oh! my father, I thought you dead.
"Peace, Umslopogaas, my son," I said. "I also deemed you dead in the lion's mouth, though in truth it seemed strange to me that any other man than Umslopogaas could have wrought the deeds which I have heard of as done by Bulalio, Chief of the People of the Axe -- ay, and thrown defiance in the teeth of Chaka. But you are not dead, and I, I am not dead. It was another Mopo whom Chaka killed; I slew Chaka, Chaka did not slay me."
"And of Nada, what of Nada, my sister?" he said.
"Macropha, your mother, and Nada, your sister, are dead, Umslopogaas. They are dead at the hands of the people of the Halakazi, who dwell in Swaziland."
"I have heard of that people," he answered presently, "and so has Galazi the Wolf, yonder. He has a hate to satisfy against them -- they murdered his father; now I have two, for they have murdered my mother and my sister. Ah, Nada, my sister! Nada, my sister!" and the great man covered his face with his hands, and rocked himself to and fro in his grief.
Now, my father, it came into my thoughts to make the truth plain to Umslopogaas, and tell him that Nada was no sister of his, and that he was no son of mine, but rather of that Chaka whom my hand had finished. And yet I did not, though now I would that I had done so. For I saw well how great was the pride and how high was the heart of Umslopogaas, and I saw also that if once he should learn that the throne of Zululand was his by right, nothing could hold him back, for he would swiftly break into open rebellion against Dingaan the king, and in my judgment the time was not ripe for that. Had I known, indeed, but one short year before that Umslopogaas still lived, he had sat where Dingaan sat this day; but I did not know it, and the chance had gone by for a while. Now Dingaan was king and mustered many regiments about him, for I had held him back from war, as in the case of the raid that he wished to make upon the Swazis. The chance had gone by, but it would come again, and till it came I must say nothing. I would do this rather, I would bring Dingaan and Umslopogaas together, that Umslopogaas might become known in the land as a great chief and the first of warriors. Then I would cause him to be advanced to be an induna, and a general ready to lead the impis of the king, for he who leads the impis is already half a king.
So I held my peace upon this matter, but till the dawn was grey Umslopogaas and I sat together and talked, each telling the tale of those years that had gone since he was borne from me in the lion's mouth. I told him how all my wives and children had been killed, how I had been put to the torment, and showed him my white and withered hand. I told him also of the death of Baleka, my sister, and of all my people of the Langeni, and of how I had revenged my wrongs upon Chaka, and made Dingaan to be king in his place, and was now the first man in the land under the king, though the king feared me much and loved me little. But I did not tell him that Baleka, my sister, was his own mother.
When I had done my tale, Umslopogaas told me his: how Galazi had rescued him from the lioness; how he became one of the Wolf-Brethren; how he had conquered Jikiza and the sons of Jikiza, and become chief of the People of the Axe, and taken Zinita to wife, and grown great in the land.
I asked him how it came about that he still hunted with the wolves as he had done last night. He answered that now he was great and there was nothing more to win, and at times a weariness of life came upon him, and then he must up, and together with Galazi hunt and harry with the wolves, for thus only could he find rest.
I said that I would show him better game to hunt before all was done, and asked him further if he loved his wife, Zinita. Umslopogaas answered that he would love her better if she loved him not so much, for she was jealous and quick to anger, and that was a sorrow to him. Then, when he had slept awhile, he led me from the hut, and I and my people were feasted with the best, and I spoke with Zinita and with Galazi the Wolf. For the last, I liked him well. This was a good man to have at one's back in battle; but my heart spoke to me against Zinita. She was handsome and tall, but with fierce eyes which always watched Umslopogaas, my fosterling; and I noted that he who was fearless of all other things yet seemed to fear Zinita. Neither did she love me, for when she saw how the Slaughterer clung to me, as it wee, instantly she grew jealous -- as already she was jealous of Galazi -- and would have been rid of me if she might. Thus it came about that my heart spoke against Zinita; nor did it tell me worse things of her than those which she was to do.
On the morrow I led Umslopogaas apart, and spoke to him thus: --
"My son, yesterday, when you did not know me except as the Mouth of Dingaan, you charged me with a certain message for Dingaan the king, that, had it been delivered into the ears of the king, had surely brought death upon you and all your people. The tree that stands by itself on a plain, Umslopogaas, thinks itself tall and that there is no shade to equal its shade. Yet are there other and bigger trees. You are such a solitary tree, Umslopogaas, but the topmost branches of him whom I serve are thicker than your trunk, and beneath his shadow live many woodcutters, who go out to lop those that would grow too high. You are no match for Dingaan, though, dwelling here alone in an empty land, you have grown great in your own eyes and in the eyes of those about you. Moreover, Umslopogaas, know this: Dingaan already hates you because of the words which in bygone years you sent by Masilo the fool to the Black One who is dead, for he heard those words, and it is his will to eat you up. He has sent me hither for one reason only, to be rid of me awhile, and, whatever the words I bring back to him, the end will be the same -- that night shall come when you will find an impi at your gates."
"Then what need to talk more of the matter, my father?" asked Umslopogaas. "That will come which must come. Let me wait here for the impi of Dingaan, and fight till I do."
"Not so, Umslopogaas, my son; there are more ways of killing a man than by the assegai, and a crooked stick can still be bent straight in the stream. It is my desire, Umslopogaas, that instead of hate Dingaan should give you love; instead of death, advancement; and that you shall grow great in his shadow. Listen! Dingaan is not what Chaka was, though, like Chaka, he is cruel. This Dingaan is a fool, and it may well come about that a man can be found who, growing up in his shadow, in the end shall overshadow him. I might do it -- I myself; but I am old, and, being worn with sorrow, have no longing to rule. But you are young, Umslopogaas, and there is no man like you in the land. Moreover, there are other matters of which it is not well to speak, that shall serve you as a raft whereon to swim to power."
Now Umslopogaas glanced up sharply, for in those days he was ambitious, and desired to be first among the people. Indeed, having the blood of Chaka in his veins, how could it be otherwise?
"What is your plan, my father?" he asked. "Say how can this be brought about?"
"This and thus, Umslopogaas. Among the tribe of the Halakazi in Swaziland there dwells a maid who is named the Lily. She is a girl of the most wonderful beauty, and Dingaan is afire with longing to have her to wife. Now, awhile since Dingaan dispatched an embassy to the chief of the Halakazi asking the Lily in marriage, and the chief of the Halakazi sent back insolent words, saying that the Beauty of the Earth should be given to no Zulu dog as a wife. Then Dingaan was angry, and he would have gathered his impis and sent them against the Halakazi to destroy them, and bring him the maid, but I held him back from it, saying that now was no time to begin a new war; and it is for this cause that Dingaan hates me, he is so set upon the plucking of the Swazi Lily. Do you understand now, Umslopogaas?"
"Something," he answered. "But speak clearly."
"Wow, Umslopogaas! Half words are better than whole ones in this land of ours. Listen, then! This is my plan: that you should fall upon the Halakazi tribe, destroy it, and bring back the maid as a peace- offering to Dingaan."
"That is a good plan, my father," he answered. "At the least, maid or no maid, there will be fighting in it, and cattle to divide when the fighting is done."
"First conquer, then reckon up the spoils, Umslopogaas."
Now he thought awhile, then said, "Suffer that I summon Galazi the Wolf, my captain. Do not fear, he is trusty and a man of few words."
Presently Galazi came and sat down before us. Then I put the matter to him thus: that Umslopogaas would fall upon the Halakazi and bring to Dingaan the maid he longed for as a peace-offering, but that I wished to hold him back from the venture because the Halakazi people were great and strong. I spoke in this sense so that I might have a door to creep out should Galazi betray the plot; and Umslopogaas read my purpose, though my craft was needless, for Galazi was a true man.
Galazi the Wolf listened in silence till I had finished, then he answered quietly, but it seemed to me that a fire shone in his eyes as he spoke: --
"I am chief by right of the Halakazi, O Mouth of Dingaan, and know them well. They are a strong people, and can put two full regiments under arms, whereas Bulalio here can muster but one regiment, and that a small one. Moreover, they have watchmen out by night and day, and spies scattered through the land, so that it will be hard to take them unawares; also their stronghold is a vast cave open to the sky in the middle, and none have won that stronghold yet, nor could it be found except by those who know its secret. They are few, yet I am one of them, for my father showed it to me when I was a lad. Therefore, Mouth of Dingaan, you will know that this is no easy task which Bulalio would set himself and us -- to conquer the Halakazi. That is the face of the matter so far as it concerns Bulalio, but for me, O Mouth, it has another face. Know that, long years ago, I swore to my father as he lay dying by the poison of a witch of this people that I would not rest till I had avenged him -- ay, till I had stamped out the Halakazi, and slain their men, and brought their women to the houses of strangers, and their children to bonds! Year by year and month by month, and night by night, as I have lain alone upon the Ghost Mountain yonder, I have wondered how I might bring my oath to pass, and found no way. Now it seems that there is a way, and I am glad. Yet this is a great adventure, and perhaps before it is done with the People of the Axe will be no more." And he ceased and took snuff, watching our faces over the spoon.
"Galazi the Wolf," said Umslopogaas, "for me also the matter has another face. You have lost your father at the hands of these Halakazi dogs, and, though till last night I did not know it, I have lost my mother by their spears, and with her one whom I loved above all in the world, my sister Nada, who loved me also. Both are dead and the Halakazi have killed them. This man, the mouth of Dingaan," and he pointed to me, Mopo, "this man says that if I can stamp out the Halakazi and make captive of the Lily maid, I shall win the heart of Dingaan. Little do I care for Dingaan, I who would go my way alone, and live while I may live, and die when I must, by the hands of Dingaan as by those of another -- what does it matter? Yet, for this reason, because of the death of Macropha, my mother, and Nada, the sister who was dear to me, I will make war upon these Halakazi and conquer them, or be conquered by them. Perhaps, O Mouth of Dingaan, you will see me soon at the king's kraal on the Mahlabatine, and with me the Lily maid and the cattle of the Halakazi; or perhaps you shall not see me, and then you will know that I am dead, and the Warriors of the Axe are no more."
So Umslopogaas spoke to me before Galazi the Wolf, but afterwards he embraced me and bade me farewell, for he had no great hope that we should meet again. And I also doubted it; for, as Galazi said, the adventure was great; yet, as I had seen many times, it is the bold thrower who oftenest wins. So we parted -- I to return to Dingaan and tell him that Bulalio, Chief of the People of the Axe, had gone up against the Halakazi to win the Lily maid and bring her to him in atonement; while Umslopogaas remained to make ready his impi for war.
I went swiftly from the Ghost Mountain back to the kraal Umgugundhlovu, and presented myself before Dingaan, who at first looked on me coldly. But when I told him my message, and how that the Chief Bulalio the Slaughterer had taken the war-path to win him the Lily, his manner changed. He took me by the hand and said that I had done well, and he had been foolish to doubt me when I lifted up my voice to persuade him from sending an impi against the Halakazi. Now he saw that it was my purpose to rake this Halakazi fire with another hand than his, and to save his hand from the burning, and he thanked me.
Moreover, he said, that if this Chief of the People of the Axe brought him the maid his heart desired, not only would he forgive him the words he had spoken by the mouth of Masilo to the Black One who was dead, but also all the cattle of the Halakazi should be his, and he would make him great in the land. I answered that all this was as the king willed. I had but done my duty by the king and worked so that, whatever befell, a proud chief should be weakened and a foe should be attacked at no cost to the king, in such fashion also that perhaps it might come about that the king would shortly have the Lily at his side.
Then I sat down to wait what might befall.
Now it is, my father, that the white men come into my story, whom we named the Amaboona, but you call the Boers. Ou! I think ill of those Amaboona, though it was I who gave them the victory over Dingaan -- I and Umslopogaas.
Before this time, indeed, a few white men had come to and fro to the kraals of Chaka and Dingaan, but these came to pray and not to fight. Now the Boers both fight and pray, also they steal, or used to steal, which I do not understand, for the prayers of you white men say that these things should not be done.
Well, when I had been back from the Ghost Mountain something less than a moon, the Boers came, sixty of them commanded by a captain named Retief, a big man, and armed with roers -- the long guns they had in those days -- or, perhaps they numbered a hundred in all, counting their servants and after-riders. This was their purpose: to get a grant of the land in Natal that lies between the Tugela and the Umzimoubu rivers. But, by my council and that of other indunas, Dingaan, bargained with the Boers that first they should attack a certain chief named Sigomyela, who had stolen some of the king's cattle, and who lived near the Quathlamba Mountains, and bring back those cattle. This the Boers agreed to, and went to attack the chief, and in a little while they came back again, having destroyed the people of Sigomyela, and driving his cattle before them as well as those which had been stolen from the king.
The face of Dingaan shone when he saw the cattle, and that night he called us, the council of the Amapakati, together, and asked us as to the granting of the country. I spoke the first, and said that it mattered little if he granted it, seeing that the Black One who was dead had already given it to the English, the People of George, and the end of the matter would be that the Amaboona and the People of George would fight for the land. Yet the words of the Black One were coming to pass, for already it seemed we could hear the sound of the running of a white folk who should eat up the kingdom.
Now when I had spoken thus the heart of Dingaan grew heavy and his face dark, for my words stuck in his breast like a barbed spear. Still, he made no answer, but dismissed the council.
On the morrow the king promised to sign the paper giving the lands they asked for to the Boers, and all was smooth as water when there is no wind. Before the paper was signed the king gave a great dance, for there were many regiments gathered at the kraal, and for three days this dance went on, but on the third day he dismissed the regiments, all except one, an impi of lads, who were commanded to stay. Now all this while I wondered what was in the mind of Dingaan and was afraid for the Amaboona. But he was secret, and told nothing except to the captains of the regiment alone -- no, not even to one of his council. Yet I knew that he planned evil, and was half inclined to warn the Captain Retief, but did not, fearing to make myself foolish. Ah! my father, if I had spoken, how many would have lived who were soon dead! But what does it matter? In any case most of them would have been dead by now.
On the fourth morning, early, Dingaan sent a messenger to the Boers, bidding them meet him in the cattle kraal, for there he would mark the paper. So they came, stacking their guns at the gate of the kraal, for it was death for any man, white or black, to come armed before the presence of the king. Now, my father, the kraal Umgugundhlovu was built in a great circle, after the fashion of royal kraals. First came the high outer fence, then the thousands of huts that ran three parts round between the great fence and the inner one. Within this inner fence was the large open space, big enough to hold five regiments, and at the top of it -- opposite the entrance -- stood the cattle kraal itself, that cut off a piece of the open space by another fence bent like a bow. Behind this again were the Emposeni, the place of the king's women, the guard-house, the labyrinth, and the Intunkulu, the house of the king. Dingaan came out on that day and sat on a stool in front of the cattle kraal, and by him stood a man holding a shield over his head to keep the sun from him. Also we of the Amapakati, the council, were there, and ranged round the fence of the space, armed with short sticks only -- not with kerries, my father -- was that regiment of young men which Dingaan had not sent away, the captain of the regiment being stationed near to the king, on the right.
Presently the Boers came in on foot and walked up to the king in a body, and Dingaan greeted them kindly and shook hands with Retief, their captain. Then Retief drew the paper from a leather pouch, which set out the boundaries of the grant of land, and it was translated to the king by an interpreter. Dingaan said that it was good, and put his mark upon it, and Retief and all the Boers were pleased, and smiled across their faces. Now they would have said farewell, but Dingaan forbade them, saying that they must not go yet: first they must eat and see the soldiers dance a little, and he commanded dishes of boiled flesh which had been made ready and bowls of milk to be brought to them. The Boers said that they had already eaten; still, they drank the milk, passing the bowls from hand to hand.
Now the regiment began to dance, singing the Ingomo, that is the war chant of us Zulus, my father, and the Boers drew back towards the centre of the space to give the soldiers room to dance in. It was at this moment that I heard Dingaan give an order to a messenger to run swiftly to the white Doctor of Prayers, who was staying without the kraal, telling him not to be afraid, and I wondered what this might mean; for why should the Prayer Doctor fear a dance such as he had often seen before? Presently Dingaan rose, and, followed by all, walked through the press to where the Captain Retief stood, and bade him good-bye, shaking him by the hand and bidding him hambla gachle, to go in peace. Then he turned and walked back again towards the gateway which led to his royal house, and I saw that near this entrance stood the captain of the regiments, as one stands by who waits for orders.
Now, of a sudden, my father, Dingaan stopped and cried with a loud voice, "Bulalani Abatakati!" (slay the wizards), and having cried it, he covered his face with the corner of his blanket, and passed behind the fence.
We, the councillors, stood astounded, like men who had become stone; but before we could speak or act the captain of the regiment had also cried aloud, "Bulalani Abatakati!" and the signal was caught up from every side. Then, my father, came a yell and a rush of thousands of feet, and through the clouds of dust we saw the soldiers hurl themselves upon the Amaboona, and above the shouting we heard the sound of falling sticks. The Amaboona drew their knives and fought bravely, but before a man could count a hundred twice it was done, and they were being dragged, some few dead, but the most yet living, towards the gates of the kraal and out on to the Hill of Slaughter, and there, on the Hill of Slaughter, they were massacred, every one of them. How? Ah! I will not tell you -- they were massacred and piled in a heap, and that was the end of their story, my father.
Now I and the other councillors turned away and walked silently towards the house of the king. We found him standing before his great hut, and, lifting our hands, we saluted him silently, saying no word. It was Dingaan who spoke, laughing a little as he spoke, like a man who is uneasy in his mind.
"Ah, my captains," he said, "when the vultures plumed themselves this morning, and shrieked to the sky for blood, they did not look for such a feast as I have given them. And you, my captains, you little guessed how great a king the Heavens have set to rule over you, nor how deep is the mind of the king that watches ever over his people's welfare. Now the land is free from the White Wizards of whose footsteps the Black One croaked as he gave up his life, or soon shall be, for this is but a beginning. Ho! Messengers!" and he turned to some men who stood behind him, "away swiftly to the regiments that are gathered behind the mountains, away to them, bearing the king's words to the captains. This is the king's word: that the impi shall run to the land of Natal and slay the Boers there, wiping them out, man, woman, and child. Away!"
Now the messengers cried out the royal salute of Bayete, and, leaping forward like spears from the hand of the thrower, were gone at once. But we, the councillors, the members of the Amapakati, still stood silent.
Then Dingaan spoke again, addressing me: --
"Is thy heart at rest now, Mopo, son of Makedama? Ever hast thou bleated in my ear of this white people and of the deeds that they shall do, and lo! I have blown upon them with my breath and they are gone. Say, Mopo, are the Amaboona wizards yonder all dead? If any be left alive, I desire to speak with one of them."
Then I looked Dingaan in the face and spoke.
"They are all dead, and thou, O King, thou also art dead."
"It were well for thee, thou dog," said Dingaan, "that thou shouldst make thy meaning plain."
"Let the king pardon me," I answered; "this is my meaning. Thou canst not kill this white men, for they are not of one race, but of many races, and the sea is their home; they rise out of the black water. Destroy those that are here, and others shall come to avenge them, more and more and more! Now thou hast smitten in thy hour; in theirs they shall smite in turn. Now they lie low in blood at thy hand; in a day to come, O King, thou shalt lie low in blood at theirs. Madness has taken hold of thee, O King, that thou hast done this thing, and the fruit of thy madness shall be thy death. I have spoken, I, who am the king's servant. Let the will of the king be done."
Then I stood still waiting to be killed, for, my father, in the fury of my heart at the wickedness which had been worked I could not hold back my words. Thrice Dingaan looked on me with a terrible face, and yet there was fear in his face striving with its rage, and I waited calmly to see which would conquer, the fear or the rage. When at last he spoke, it was one word, "Go!" not three words, "Take him away." So I went yet living, and with me the councillors, leaving the king alone.
I went with a heavy heart, my father, for of all the evil sights that I have seen it seemed to me that this was the most evil -- that the Amaboona should be slaughtered thus treacherously, and that the impis should be sent out treacherously to murder those who were left of them, together with their women and children. Ay, and they slew -- six hundred of them did they slay -- yonder in Weenen, the land of weeping.
Say, my father, why does the Umkulunkulu who sits in the Heavens above allow such things to be done on the earth beneath? I have heard the preaching of the white men, and they say that they know all about Him -- that His names are Power and Mercy and Love. Why, then, does He suffer these things to be done -- why does He suffer such men as Chaka and Dingaan to torment the people of the earth, and in the end pay them but one death for all the thousands that they have given to others? Because of the wickedness of the peoples, you say; but no, no, that cannot be, for do not the guiltless go with the guilty -- ay, do not the innocent children perish by the hundred? Perchance there is another answer, though who am I, my father, that I, in my folly, should strive to search out the way of the Unsearchable? Perchance it is but a part of the great plan, a little piece of that pattern of which I spoke -- the pattern on the cup that holds the waters of His wisdom. Wow! I do not understand, who am but a wild man, nor have I found more knowledge in the hearts of you tamed white people. You know many things, but of these you do not know: you cannot tell us what we were an hour before birth, nor what we shall be an hour after death, nor why we were born, nor why we die. You can only hope and believe -- that is all, and perhaps, my father, before many days are sped I shall be wiser than all of you. For I am very aged, the fire of my life sinks low -- it burns in my brain alone; there it is still bright, but soon that will go out also, and then perhaps I shall understand.
Now, my father, I must tell of how Umslopogaas the Slaughterer and Galazi the Wolf fared in their war against the People of the Halakazi. When I had gone from the shadow of the Ghost Mountain, Umslopogaas summoned a gathering of all his headmen, and told them it was his desire that the People of the Axe should no longer be a little people; that they should grow great and number their cattle by tens of thousands.
The headmen asked how this might be brought about -- would he then make war on Dingaan the King? Umslopogaas answered no, he would win the favour of the king thus: and he told them of the Lily maid and of the Halakazi tribe in Swaziland, and of how he would go up against that tribe. Now some of the headmen said yea to this and some said nay, and the talk ran high and lasted till the evening. But when the evening was come Umslopogaas rose and said that he was chief under the Axe, and none other, and it was his will that they should go up against the Halakazi. If there was any man there who would gainsay his will, let him stand forward and do battle with him, and he who conquered should order all things. To this there was no answer, for there were few who cared to face the beak of Groan-Maker, and so it came about that it was agreed that the People of the Axe should make war upon the Halakazi, and Umslopogaas sent out messengers to summon every fighting-man to his side.
But when Zinita, his head wife, came to hear of the matter she was angry, and upbraided Umslopogaas, and heaped curses on me, Mopo, whom she knew only as the mouth of Dingaan, because, as she said truly, I had put this scheme into the mind of the Slaughterer. "What!" she went on, "do you not live here in peace and plenty, and must you go to make war on those who have not harmed you; there, perhaps, to perish or to come to other ill? You say you do this to win a girl for Dingaan and to find favour in his sight. Has not Dingaan girls more than he can count? It is more likely that, wearying of us, your wives, you go to get girls for yourself, Bulalio; and as for finding favour, rest quiet, so shall you find most favour. If the king sends his impis against you, then it will be time to fight, O fool with little wit!"
Thus Zinita spoke to him, very roughly -- for she always blurted out what was in her mind, and Umslopogaas could not challenge her to battle. So he must bear her talk as best he might, for it is often thus, my father, that the greatest of men grow small enough in their own huts. Moreover, he knew that it was because Zinita loved him that she spoke so bitterly.
Now on the third day all the fighting-men were gathered, and there might have been two thousand of them, good men and brave. Then Umslopogaas went out and spoke to them, telling them of this adventure, and Galazi the Wolf was with him. They listened silently, and it was plain to see that, as in the case of the headmen, some of them thought one thing and some another. Then Galazi spoke to them briefly, telling them that he knew the roads and the caves and the number of the Halakazi cattle; but still they doubted. Thereon Umslopogaas added these words: --
"To-morrow, at the dawn, I, Bulalio, Holder of the Axe, Chief of the People of the Axe, go up against the Halakazi, with Galazi the Wolf, my brother. If but ten men follow us, yet we will go. Now, choose, you soldiers! Let those come who will, and let those who will stop at home with the women and the little children."
Now a great shout rose from every throat.
"We will go with you, Bulalio, to victory or death!"
So on the morrow they marched, and there was wailing among the women of the People of the Axe. Only Zinita did not wail, but stood by in wrath, foreboding evil; nor would she bid her lord farewell, yet when he was gone she wept also.
Now Umslopogaas and his impi travelled fast and far, hungering and thirsting, till at length they came to the land of the Umswazi, and after a while entered the territory of the Halakazi by a high and narrow pass. The fear of Galazi the Wolf was that they should find this pass held, for though they had harmed none in the kraals as they went, and taken only enough cattle to feed themselves, yet he knew well that messengers had sped by day and night to warn the people of the Halakazi. But they found no man in the pass, and on the other side of it they rested, for the night was far spent. At dawn Umslopogaas looked out over the wide plains beyond, and Galazi showed him a long low hill, two hours' march away.
"There, my brother," he said, "lies the head kraal of the Halakazi, where I was born, and in that hill is the great cave."
Then they went on, and before the sun was high they came to the crest of a rise, and heard the sound of horns on its farther side. They stood upon the rise, and looked, and lo! yet far off, but running towards them, was the whole impi of the Halakazi, and it was a great impi.
"They have gathered their strength indeed," said Galazi. "For every man of ours there are three of these Swazis!"
The soldiers saw also, and the courage of some of them sank low. Then Umslopogaas spoke to them: --
"Yonder are the Swazi dogs, my children; they are many and we are few. Yet, shall it be told at home that we, men of the Zulu blood, were hunted by a pack of Swazi dogs? Shall our women and children sing THAT song in our ears, O Soldiers of the Axe?"
Now some cried "Never!" but some were silent; so Umslopogaas spoke again: --
"Turn back all who will: there is yet time. Turn back all who will, but ye who are men come forward with me. Or if ye will, go back all of you, and leave Axe Groan-Maker and Club Watcher to see this matter out alone."
Now there arose a mighty shout of "We will die together who have lived together!"
"Do you swear it?" cried Umslopogaas, holding Groan-Maker on high.
"We swear it by the Axe," they answered.
Then Umslopogaas and Galazi made ready for the battle. They posted all the young men in the broken ground above the bottom of the slope, for these could best be spared to the spear, and Galazi the Wolf took command of them; but the veterans stayed upon the hillside, and with them Umslopogaas.
Now the Halakazi came on, and there were four full regiments of them. The plain was black with them, the air was rent with their shoutings, and their spears flashed like lightnings. On the farther side of the slope they halted and sent a herald forward to demand what the People of the Axe would have from them. The Slaughterer answered that they would have three things: First, the head of their chief, whose place Galazi should fill henceforth; secondly, that fair maid whom men named the Lily; thirdly, a thousand head of cattle. If these demands were granted, then he would spare them, the Halakazi; if not, he would stamp them out and take all.
So the herald returned, and when he reached the ranks of the Halakazi he called aloud his answer. Then a great roar of laughter went up from the Halakazi regiments, a roar that shook the earth. The brow of Umslopogaas the Slaughterer burned red beneath the black when he heard it, and he shook Groan-Maker towards their host.
"Ye shall sing another song before this sun is set," he cried, and strode along the ranks speaking to this man and that by name, and lifting up their hearts with great words.
Now the Halakazi raised a shout, and charged to come at the young men led by Galazi the Wolf; but beyond the foot of the slope was peaty ground, and they came through it heavily, and as they came Galazi and the young men fell upon them and slew them; still, they could not hold them back for long, because of their great numbers, and presently the battle ranged all along the slope. But so well did Galazi handle the young men, and so fiercely did they fight beneath his eye, that before they could be killed or driven back all the force of the Halakazi was doing battle with them. Ay, and twice Galazi charged with such as he could gather, and twice he checked the Halakazi rush, throwing them into confusion, till at length company was mixed with company and regiment with regiment. But it might not endure, for now more than half the young men were down, and the rest were being pushed back up the hill, fighting madly.
But all this while Umslopogaas and the veterans sat in their ranks upon the brow of the slope and watched. "Those Swazi dogs have a fool for their general," quoth Umslopogaas. "He has no men left to fall back on, and Galazi has broken his array and mixed his regiments as milk and cream are mixed in a bowl. They are no longer an impi, they are a mob."
Now the veterans moved restlessly on their haunches, pushing their legs out and drawing them in again. They glanced at the fray, they looked into each other's eyes and spoke a word here, a word there, "Well smitten, Galazi! Wow! that one is down! A brave lad! Ho! a good club is the Watcher! The fight draws near, my brother!" And ever as they spoke their faces grew fiercer and their fingers played with their spears.
At length a captain called aloud to Umslopogaas: --
"Say, Slaughterer, is it not time to be up and doing? The grass is wet to sit on, and our limbs grow cramped."
"Wait awhile," answered Umslopogaas. "Let them weary of their play. Let them weary, I tell you."
As he spoke the Halakazi huddled themselves together, and with a rush drove back Galazi and those who were left of the young men. Yes, at last they were forced to flee, and after them came the Swazis, and in the forefront of the pursuit was their chief, ringed round with a circle of his bravest.
Umslopogaas saw it and bounded to his feet, roaring like a bull. "At them now, wolves!" he shouted.
Then the lines of warriors sprang up as a wave springs, and their crests were like foam upon the wave. As a wave that swells to break they rose suddenly, like a breaking wave they poured down the slope. In front of them was the Slaughterer, holding Groan-Maker aloft, and oh! his feet were swift. So swift were his feet that, strive as they would, he outran them by the quarter of a spear's throw. Galazi heard the thunder of their rush; he looked round, and as he looked, lo! the Slaughterer swept past him, running like a buck. Then Galazi, too, bounded forward, and the Wolf-Brethren sped down the hill, the length of four spears between them.
The Halakazi also saw and heard, and strove to gather themselves together to meet the rush. In front of Umslopogaas was their chief, a tall man hedged about with assegais. Straight at the shield-hedge drove Umslopogaas, and a score of spears were lifted to greet him, a score of shields heaved into the air -- this was a fence that none might pass alive. Yet would the Slaughterer pass it -- not alone! See! he steadies his pace, he gathers himself together, and now he leaps! High into the air he leaps; his feet knock the heads of the warriors and rattle against the crowns of their shields. They smite upwards with the spear, but he has swept over them like a swooping bird. He has cleared them -- he has lit -- and now the shield-hedge guards two chiefs. But not for long. Ou! Groan-Maker is aloft, he falls -- and neither shield nor axe may stay his stroke, both are cleft through, and the Halakazi lack a leader.
They smite upwards...but he has swept over them like a swooping bird
The shield-ring wheels in upon itself. Fools! Galazi is upon you! What was that? Look, now! see how many bones are left unbroken in him whom the Watcher falls on full! What! -- another down! Close up, shield-men -- close up! Ai! are you fled?
Ah! the wave has fallen on the beach. Listen to its roaring -- listen to the roaring of the shields! Stand, you men of the Halakazi -- stand! Surely they are but a few. So! it is done! By the head of Chaka! they break -- they are pushed back -- now the wave of slaughter seethes along the sands -- now the foe is swept like floating weed, and from all the line there comes a hissing like the hissing of thin waters. "S'gee!" says the hiss. "S'gee! S'gee!"
There, my father, I am old. What have I do with the battle any more, with the battle and its joy? Yet it is better to die in such a fight as that than to live any other way. I have seen such -- I have seen many such. Oh! we could fight when I was a man, my father, but none that I knew could ever fight like Umslopogaas the Slaughterer, son of Chaka, and his blood-brother Galazi the Wolf! So, so! they swept them away, those Halakazi; they swept them as a maid sweeps the dust of a hut, as the wind sweeps the withered leaves. It was soon done when once it was begun. Some were fled and some were dead, and this was the end of that fight. No, no, not of all the war. The Halakazi were worsted in the field, but many lived to win the great cave, and there the work must be finished. Thither, then, went the Slaughterer presently, with such of his impi as was left to him. Alas! many were killed; but how could they have died better than in that fight? Also those who were left were as good as all, for now they knew that they should not be overcome easily while Axe and Club still led the way.
Now they stood before a hill, measuring, perhaps, three thousand paces round its base. It was of no great height, and yet unclimbable, for, after a man had gone up a little way, the sides of it were sheer, offering no foothold except to the rock-rabbits and the lizards. No one was to be seen without this hill, nor in the great kraal of the Halakazi that lay to the east of it, and yet the ground about was trampled with the hoofs of oxen and the feet of men, and from within the mountain came a sound of lowing cattle.
"Here is the nest of Halakazi," quoth Galazi the Wolf.
"Here is the nest indeed," said Umslopogaas; "but how shall we come at the eggs to suck them? There are no branches on this tree."
"But there is a hole in the trunk," answered the Wolf.
Now he led them a little way till they came to a place where the soil was trampled as it is at the entrance to a cattle kraal, and they saw that there was a low cave which led into the cliff, like an archway such as you white men build. but this archway was filled up with great blocks of stone placed upon each other in such a fashion that it could not be forced from without. After the cattle were driven in it had been filled up.
"We cannot enter here," said Galazi. "Follow me."
So they followed him, and came to the north side of the mountain, and there, two spear-casts away, a soldier was standing. But when he saw them he vanished suddenly.
"There is the place," said Galazi, "and the fox has gone to earth in it."
Now they ran to the spot and saw a little hole in the rock, scarcely bigger than an ant-bear's burrow, and through the hole came sounds and some light.
"Now where is the hyena who will try a new burrow?" cried Umslopogaas. "A hundred head of cattle to the man who wins through and clears the way!"
Then two young men sprang forward who were flushed with victory and desired nothing more than to make a great name and win cattle, crying: --
"Here are hyenas, Bulalio."
"To earth, then!" said Umslopogaas, "and let him who wins through hold the path awhile till others follow."
The two young men sprang at the hole, and he who reached it first went down upon his hands and knees and crawled in, lying on his shield and holding his spear before him. For a little while the light in the burrow vanished, and they heard the sound of his crawling. Then came the noise of blows, and once more light crept through the hole. The man was dead.
"This one had a bad snake," said the second soldier; "his snake deserted him. Let me see if mine is better."
So down he went on his hands and knees, and crawled as the first had done, only he put his shield over his head. For awhile they heard him crawling, then once more came the sound of blows echoing on the ox-hide shield, and after the blows groans. He was dead also, yet it seemed that they had left his body in the hole, for now no light came through. This was the cause, my father: when they struck the man he had wriggled back a little way and died there, and none had entered from the farther side to drag him out.
Now the soldiers stared at the mouth of the passage and none seemed to love the look of it, for this was but a poor way to die. Umslopogaas and Galazi also looked at it, thinking.
"Now I am named Wolf," said Galazi, "and a wolf should not fear the dark; also, these are my people, and I must be the first to visit them," and he went down on his hands and knees without more ado. But Umslopogaas, having peered once more down the burrow, said: "Hold, Galazi; I will go first! I have a plan. Do you follow me. And you, my children, shout loudly, so that none may hear us move; and, if we win through, follow swiftly, for we cannot hold the mouth of that place for long. Hearken, also! this is my counsel to you: if I fall choose another chief -- Galazi the Wolf, if he is still living."
"Nay, Slaughterer, do not name me," said the Wolf, "for together we live or die."
"So let it be, Galazi. Then choose you some other man and try this road no more, for if we cannot pass it none can, but seek food and sit down here till those jackals bolt; then be ready. Farewell, my children!"
"Farewell, father," they answered, "go warily, lest we be left like cattle without a herdsman, wandering and desolate."
Then Umslopogaas crept into the hole, taking no shield, but holding Groan-Maker before him, and at his heels crept Galazi. When he had covered the length of six spears he stretched out his hand, and, as he trusted to do, he found the feet of that man who had gone before and died in the place. Then Umslopogaas the way did this: he put his head beneath the dead man's legs and thrust himself onward till all the body was on his back, and there he held it with one hand, gripping its two wrists in his hand. Then he crawled forward a little space and saw that he was coming to the inner mouth of the burrow, but that the shadow was deep there because of a great mass of rock which lay before the burrow shutting out the light. "This is well for me," thought Umslopogaas, "for now they will not know the dead from the living. I may yet look upon the son again." Now he heard the Halakazi soldiers talking without.
"The Zulu rats do not love this run," said one, "they fear the rat- catcher's stick. This is good sport," and a man laughed.
Then Umslopogaas pushed himself forward as swiftly as he could, holding the dead man on his back, and suddenly came out of the hole into the open place in the dark shadow of the great rock.
"By the Lily," cried a soldier, "here's a third! Take this, Zulu rat!" And he struck the dead man heavily with a kerrie. "And that!" cried another, driving his spear through him so that it pricked Umslopogaas beneath. "And that! and this! and that!" said others, as they smote and stabbed.
Now Umslopogaas groaned heavily in the deep shadow and lay still. "No need to waste more blows," said the man who had struck first. "This one will never go back to Zululand, and I think that few will care to follow him. Let us make an end: run, some of you, and find stones to stop the burrow, for now the sport is done."
He turned as he spoke and so did the others, and this was what the Slaughter sought. With a swift movement, he freed himself from the dead man and sprang to his feet. They heard the sound and turned again, but as they turned Groan-Maker pecked softly, and that man who had sworn by the Lily was no more a man. Then Umslopogaas leaped forwards, and, bounding on to the great rock, stood there like a buck against the sky.
"A Zulu rat is not so easily slain, O ye weasels!" he cried, as they came at him from all sides at once with a roar. He smote to the right and the left, and so swiftly that men could scarcely see the blows fall, for he struck with Groan-Maker's beak. But though men scarcely saw the blows, yet, my father, men fell beneath them. Now foes were all around, leaping up at the Slaughterer as rushing water leaps to hide a rock -- everywhere shone spears, thrusting at him from this side and from that. Those in front and to the side Groan-Maker served to stay, but one wounded Umslopogaas in the neck, and another was lifted to pierce his back when the strength of its holder was bowed to the dust -- to the dust, to become of the dust.
For now the Wolf was through the hole also, and the Watcher grew very busy; he was so busy that soon the back of the Slaughterer had nothing to fear -- yet those had much to fear who stood behind his back. The pair fought bravely, making a great slaughter, and presently, one by one, plumed heads of the People of the Axe showed through the burrow and strong arms mingled in the fray. Swiftly they came, leaping into battle as otters leap to the water -- now there were ten of them, now there were twenty -- and now the Halakazi broke and fled, since they did not bargain for this. Then the rest of the Men of the Axe came through in peace, and the evening grew towards the dark before all had passed the hole.
Umslopogaas marshalled his companies.
"There is little light left," he said, "but it must serve us to start these conies from their burrows. Come, my brother Galazi, you know where the conies hide, take my place and lead us."
So Galazi led the impi. Turning a corner of the glen, he came with them to a large open space that had a fountain in its midst, and this place was full of thousands of cattle. Then he turned again to the left, and brought them to the inner side of the mountain, where the cliff hung over, and here was the mouth of a great cave. Now the cave was dark, but by its door was stacked a pile of resinous wood to serve as torches.
"Here is that which will give us light," said Galazi, and one man of every two took a torch and lit it at a fire that burned near the mouth of the cave. Then they rushed in, waving the flaring torches and with assegais aloft. Here for the last time the Halakazi stood against them, and the torches floated up and down upon the wave of war. But they did not stand for very long, for all the heart was out of them. Wow! yes, many were killed -- I do not know how many. I know this only, that the Halakazi are no more a tribe since Umslopogaas, who is named Bulalio, stamped them with his feet -- they are nothing but a name now. The People of the Axe drove them out into the open and finished the fight by starlight among the cattle.
In one corner of the cave Umslopogaas saw a knot of men clustering round something as though to guard it. He rushed at the men, and with him went Galazi and others. But when Umslopogaas was through, by the light of his torch he perceived a tall and slender man, who leaned against the wall of the cave and held a shield before his face.
"You are a coward!" he cried, and smote with Groan-Maker. The great axe pierced the hide, but, missing the head behind, rang loudly against the rock, and as it struck a sweet voice said: --
"Ah! soldier, do not kill me! Why are you angry with me?"
Now the shield had come away from its holder's hands upon the blade of the axe, and there was something in the notes of the voice that caused Umslopogaas to smite no more: it was as though a memory of childhood had come to him in a dream. His torch was burning low, but he thrust it forward to look at him who crouched against the rock. The dress was the dress of a man, but this was no man's form -- nay, rather that of a lovely woman, well-nigh white in colour. She dropped her hands from before her face, and now he could see her well. He saw eyes that shone like stars, hair that curled and fell upon the shoulders, and such beauty as was not known among our people. And as the voice had spoken to him of something that was lost, so did the eyes seem to shine across the blackness of many years, and the beauty to bring back he knew not what.
He looked at the girl in all her loveliness, and she looked at him in his fierceness and his might, red with war and wounds. They both looked long, while the torchlight flared on them, on the walls of the cave, and the broad blade of Groan-Maker, and from around rose the sounds of the fray.
"How are you named, who are so fair to see?" he asked at length.
How are you named, who are so fair?
"I am named the Lily now: once I had another name. Nada, daughter of Mopo, I was once; but name and all else are dead, and I go to join them. Kill me and make an end. I will shut my eyes, that I may not see the great axe flash."
Now Umslopogaas gazed upon her again, and Groan-Maker fell from his hand.
"Look on me, Nada, daughter of Mopo," he said in a low voice; "look at me and say who am I."
She looked once more and yet again. Now her face was thrust forward as one who gazes over the edge of the world; it grew fixed and strange. "By my heart," she said, "by my heart, you are Umslopogaas, my brother who is dead, and whom dead as living I have loved ever and alone."
Then the torch flared out, but Umslopogaas took hold of her in the darkness and pressed her to him and kissed her, the sister whom he found after many years, and she kissed him.
"You kiss me now," she said, "yet not long ago that great axe shore my locks, missing me but by a finger's-breadth -- and still the sound of fighting rings in my ears! Ah! a boon of you, my brother -- a boon: let there be no more death since we are met once more. The people of the Halakazi are conquered, and it is their just doom, for thus, in this same way, they killed those with whom I lived before. Yet they have treated me well, not forcing me into wedlock, and protecting me from Dingaan; so spare them, my brother, if you may."
Then Umslopogaas lifted up his voice, commanding that the killing should cease, and sent messengers running swiftly with these words: "This is the command of Bulalio: that he should lifts hand against one more of the people of the Halakazi shall be killed himself"; and the soldiers obeyed him, though the order came somewhat late, and no more of the Halakazi were brought to doom. They were suffered to escape, except those of the women and children who were kept to be led away as captives. And they ran far that night. Nor did they come together again to be a people, for they feared Galazi the Wolf, who would be chief over them, but they were scattered wide in the world, to sojourn among strangers.
Now when the soldiers had eaten abundantly of the store of the Halakazi, and guards had been sent to ward the cattle and watch against surprise, Umslopogaas spoke long with Nada the Lily, taking her apart, and he told her all his story. She told him also the tale which you know, my father, of how she had lived with the little people that were subject to the Halakazi, she and her mother Macropha, and how the fame of her beauty had spread about the land. Then she told him how the Halakazi had claimed her, and of how, in the end, they had taken her by force of arms, killing the people of that kraal, and among them her own mother. Thereafter, she had dwelt among the Halakazi, who named her anew, calling her the Lily, and they had treated her kindly, giving her reverence because of her sweetness and beauty, and not forcing her into marriage.
"And why would you not wed, Nada, my sister?" asked Umslopogaas, "you who are far past the age of marriage?"
"I cannot tell you," she answered, hanging her head; "but I have no heart that way. I only seek to be left alone."
Now Umslopogaas thought awhile and spoke. "Do you not know then, Nada, why it is that I have made this war, and why the people of the Halakazi are dead and scattered and their cattle the prize of my arm? I will tell you: I am come here to win you, whom I knew only by report as the Lily maid, the fairest of women, to be a wife to Dingaan. The reason that I began this war was to win you and make my peace with Dingaan, and now I have carried it through to the end."
Now when she heard these words, Nada the Lily trembled and wept, and, sinking to the earth, she clasped the knees of Umslopogaas in supplication: "Oh, do not this cruel thing by me, your sister," she prayed; "take rather that great axe and make an end of me, and of the beauty which has wrought so much woe, and most of all to me who wear it! Would that I had not moved my head behind the shield, but had suffered the axe to fall upon it. To this end I was dressed as a man, that I might meet the fate of a man. Ah! a curse be on my woman's weakness that snatched me from death to give me up to shame!"
Thus she prayed to Umslopogaas in her low sweet voice, and his heart was shaken in him, though, indeed, he did not now purpose to give Nada to Dingaan, as Baleka was given to Chaka, perhaps in the end to meet the fate of Baleka.
"There are many, Nada," he said, "who would think it no misfortune that they should be given as a wife to the first of chiefs."
"Then I am not of their number," she answered; "nay, I will die first, by my own hand if need be."
Now Umslopogaas wondered how it came about that Nada looked upon marriage thus, but he did not speak of the matter; he said only, "Tell me then, Nada, how I can deliver myself of this charge. I must go to Dingaan as I promised our father Mopo, and what shall I say to Dingaan when he asks for the Lily whom I went out to pluck and whom his heart desires? What shall I say to save myself alive from the wrath of Dingaan?"
Then Nada thought and answered, "You shall say this, my brother. You shall tell him that the Lily, being clothed in the war-dress of a warrior, fell by chance in the fray. See, now, none of your people know that you have found me; they are thinking of other things than maids in the hour of their victory. This, then, is my plan: we will search now by the starlight till we find the body of a fair maid, for, doubtless, some were killed by hazard in the fight, and on her we will set a warrior's dress, and lay by her the corpse of one of your own men. To-morrow, at the light, you shall take the captains of your soldiers and, having laid the body of the girl in the dark of the cave, you shall show it to them hurriedly, and tell them that this was the Lily, slain by one of your own people, whom in your wrath you slew also. They will not look long on so common a sight, and if by hazard they see the maid, and think her not so very fair, they will deem that it is death which has robbed her of her comeliness. So the tale which you must tell to Dingaan shall be built up firmly, and Dingaan shall believe it to be true."
"And how shall this be, Nada?" asked Umslopogaas. "How shall this be when men see you among the captives and know you by your beauty? Are there, then, two such Lilies in the land?"
"I shall not be known, for I shall not be seen, Umslopogaas. You must set me free to-night. I will wander hence disguised as a youth and covered with a blanket, and if any meet me, who shall say that I am the Lily?"
"And where will you wander, Nada? to your death? Must we, then, meet after so many years to part again for ever?"
"Where was it that you said you lived, my brother? Beneath the shade of a Ghost Mountain, that men may know by a shape of stone which is fashioned like an old woman frozen into stone, was it not? Tell me of the road thither."
So Umslopogaas told her the road, and she listened silently.
"Good," she said. "I am strong and my feet are swift; perhaps they may serve to bring me so far, and perhaps, if I win the shadow of that mountain, you will find me a hut to hide in, Umslopogaas, my brother."
"Surely it shall be so, my sister," answered Umslopogaas, "and yet the way is long and many dangers lie in the path of a maid journeying alone, without food or shelter," and as he spoke Umslopogaas thought of Zinita his wife, for he guessed that she would not love Nada, although she was only his sister.
"Still, it must be travelled, and the dangers must be braved," she answered, smiling. "Alas! there is no other way."
Then Umslopogaas summoned Galazi the Wolf and told him all this story, for Galazi was the only man whom he could trust. The Wolf listened in silence, marvelling the while at the beauty of Nada, as the starlight showed it. When everything was told, he said only that he no longer wondered that the people of the Halakazi had defied Dingaan and brought death upon themselves for the sake of this maid. Still, to be plain, his heart thought ill of the matter, for death was not done with yet: there before them shone the Star of Death, and he pointed to the Lily.
Now Nada trembled at his words of evil omen, and the Slaughterer grew angry, but Galazi would neither add to them nor take away from them. "I have spoken that which my heart hears," he answered.
Then they rose and went to search among the dead for a girl who would suit their purpose; soon they found one, a tall and fair maiden, and Galazi bore her in his arms to the great cave. Here in the cave were none but the dead, and, tossed hither and thither in their last sleep, they looked awful in the glare of the torches.
"They sleep sound," said the Lily, gazing on them; "rest is sweet."
"We shall soon win it, maiden," answered Galazi, and again Nada trembled.
Then, having arrayed her in the dress of a warrior, and put a shield and spear by her, they laid down the body of the girl in a dark place in the cave, and, finding a dead warrior of the People of the Axe, placed him beside her. Now they left the cave, and, pretending that they visited the sentries, Umslopogaas and Galazi passed from spot to spot, while the Lily walked after them like a guard, hiding her face with a shield, holding a spear in her hand, and having with her a bag of corn and dried flesh.
So they passed on, till at length they came to the entrance in the mountain side. The stones that had blocked it were pulled down so as to allow those of the Halakazi to fly who had been spared at the entreaty of Nada, but there were guards by the entrance to watch that none came back. Umslopogaas challenged them, and they saluted him, but he saw that they were worn out with battle and journeying, and knew little of what they saw or said. Then he, Galazi, and Nada and passed through the opening on to the plain beyond.
Here the Slaughterer and the Lily bade each other farewell, while Galazi watched, and presently the Wolf saw Umslopogaas return as one who is heavy at heart, and caught sight of the Lily skimming across the plain lightly like a swallow.
"I do not know when we two shall meet again," said Umslopogaas so soon as she had melted into the shadows of the night.
"May you never meet," answered Galazi, "for I am sure that if you meet that sister of yours will bring death on many more than those who now lie low because of her loveliness. She is a Star of Death, and when she sets the sky shall be blood red."
Umslopogaas did not answer, but walked slowly through the archway in the mountain side.
"How is this, chief?" said he who was captain of the guard. "Three went out, but only two return."
"Fool!" answered Umslopogaas. "Are you drunk with Halakazi beer, or blind with sleep? Two went out, and two return. I sent him who was with us back to the camp."
"So be it, father," said the captain. "Two went out, and two return. All is well!"
On the morrow the impi awoke refreshed with sleep, and, after they had eaten, Umslopogaas mustered them. Alas! nearly half of those who had seen the sun of yesterday would wake no more forever. The Slaughterer mustered them and thanked them for that which they had done, winning fame and cattle. They were merry, recking little of those who were dead, and sang his praises and the praises of Galazi in a loud song. When the song was ended Umslopogaas spoke to them again, saying that the victory was great, and the cattle they had won were countless. Yet something was lacking -- she was lacking whom he came to seek to be a gift to Dingaan the king, and for whose sake this war was made. Where now was the Lily? Yesterday she had been here, clad in a moocha like a man and bearing a shield; this he knew from the captives. Where, then, was she now?
Then all the soldiers said that they had seen nothing of her. When they had done, Galazi spoke a word, as was agreed between him and Umslopogaas. He said that when they stormed the cave he had seen a man run at a warrior in the cave to kill him. Then as he came, he who was about to be slain threw down the shield and cried for mercy, and Galazi knew that this was no warrior of the Halakazi, but a very beautiful girl. So he called to the man to let her alone and not to touch her, for the order was that no women should be killed. But the soldier, being made with the lust of fight, shouted that maid or man she should die, and slew her. Thereon, he -- Galazi -- in his wrath ran up and smote the man with the Watcher and killed him also, and he prayed that he had done no wrong.
"You have done well, my brother," said Umslopogaas. "Come now, some of you, and let us look at this dead girl. Perhaps it is the Lily, and if so that is unlucky for us, for I do not know what tale we shall tell to Dingaan of the matter."
So the captains went with Umslopogaas and Galazi, and came to the spot where the girl had been laid, and by her the man of the People of the Axe.
"All is as the Wolf, my brother, has told," said Umslopogaas, waving the torch in his hand over the two who lay dead. "Here, without a doubt, lies she who was named the Lily, whom we came to win, and by her that fool who slew her, slain himself by the blow of the Watcher. An ill sight to see, and an ill tale for me to tell at the kraal of Dingaan. Still, what is is, and cannot be altered; and this maid who was the fairest of the fair is now none to lovely to look on. Let us away!" And he turned swiftly, then spoke again, saying: --
"Bind up this dead girl in ox hides, cover her with salt, and let her be brought with us." And they did so.
Then the captains said: "Surely it is so, my father; now it cannot be altered, and Dingaan must miss his bride." So said they all except that man who had been captain of the guard when Umslopogaas and Galazi and another passed through the archway. This man, indeed, said nothing, yet he was not without his thoughts. For it seemed to him that he had seen three pass through the archway, and not two. It seemed to him, moreover, that the kaross which the third wore had slipped aside as she pressed past him, and that beneath it he had seen the shape of a beautiful woman, and above it had caught the glint of a woman's eye -- an eye full and dark, like a buck's.
Also, this captain noted that Bulalio called none of the captives to swear to the body of the Lily maid, and that he shook the torch to and fro as he held it over her -- he whose hand was of the steadiest. All of this he kept in his mind, forgetting nothing.
Now it chanced afterwards, on the homeward march, my father, that Umslopogaas had cause to speak angrily to this man, because he tried to rob another of his share of the spoil of the Halakazi. He spoke sharply to him, degrading him from his rank, and setting another over him. Also he took cattle from the man, and gave them to him whom he would have robbed.
And thereafter, though he was justly served, this man thought more and more of the third who had passed through the arch of the cave and had not returned, and who seemed to him to have a fair woman's shape, and eyes which gleamed like those of a woman.
On that day, then, Umslopogaas began his march to the kraal Umgugundhlovu, where Dingaan sat. But before he set his face homewards, in the presence of the soldiers, he asked Galazi the Wolf if he would come back with him, or if he desired to stay to be chief of the Halakazi, as he was by right of birth and war. Then the Wolf laughed, and answered that he had come out to seek for vengeance, and not for the place of a chief, also that there were few of the Halakazi people left over whom he might rule if he wished. Moreover, he added this: that, like twin trees, they two blood-brethren had grown up side by side till their roots were matted together, and that, were one of them dug up and planted in Swazi soil, he feared lest both should wither, or, at the last, that he, Galazi, would wither, who loved but one man and certain wolves.
So Umslopogaas said no more of the chieftainship, but began his journey. With him he brought a great number of cattle, to be a gift for Dingaan, and a multitude of captives, young women and children, for he would appease the heart of Dingaan, because he did not bring her whom he sought -- the Lily, flower of flowers. Yet, because he was cautious and put little faith in the kindness of kings, Umslopogaas, so soon as he reached the borders of Zululand, sent the best of the cattle and the fairest of the maids and children on to the kraal of the People of the Axe by the Ghost Mountain. And he who had been captain of the guard but now was a common soldier noticed this also.
Now it chanced that on a certain morning I, Mopo, sat in the kraal Umgugundhlovu in attendance on Dingaan. For still I waited on the king, though he had spoken no word to me, good or bad, since the yesterday, when I foretold to him that in the blood of the white men whom he had betrayed grew the flower of his own death. For, my father, it was on the morrow of the slaying of the Amaboona that Umslopogaas came to the kraal Umgugundhlovu.
Now the mind of Dingaan was heavy, and he sought something to lighten it. Presently he bethought himself of the white praying man, who had come to the kraal seeking to teach us people of the Zulu to worship other gods than the assegai and the king. Now this was a good man, but no luck went with his teaching, which was hard to understand; and, moreover, the indunas did not like it, because it seemed to set a master over the master, and a king over the king, and to preach of peace to those whose trade was war. Still, Dingaan sent for the white man that he might dispute with him, for Dingaan thought that he himself was the cleverest of all men.
Now the white man came, but his face was pale, because of that which he had seen befall the Boers, for he was gentle and hated such sights. The king bade him be seated and spoke to him saying: --
"The other day, O White Man, thou toldest me of a place of fire whither those go after death who have done wickedly in life. Tell me now of thy wisdom, do my fathers lie in that place?"
"How can I know, King," answered the prayer-doctor, "who may not judge of the deeds of men? This I say only: that those who murder and rob and oppress the innocent and bear false witness shall lie in that place of fire."
"It seems that my fathers have done all these things, and if they are in this place I would go there also, for I am minded to be with my fathers at the last. Yet I think that I should find a way to escape if ever I came there."
Now Dingaan had set this trap for the prayer-doctor. In the centre of that open space where he had caused the Boers to be fallen upon he had built up a great pyre of wood -- brushwood beneath, and on top of the brushwood logs, and even whole trees. Perhaps, my father, there were sixty full wagonloads of dry wood piled together there in the centre of the place.
"Thou shalt see with thine eyes, White Man," he answered, and bidding attendants set fire to the pile all round, he summoned that regiment of young men which was left in the kraal. Maybe there were a thousand and half a thousand of them -- not more -- the same that had slain the Boers.
Now the fire began to burn fiercely, and the regiment filed in and took its place in ranks. By the time that all had come, the pyre was everywhere a sheet of raging flame, and, though we sat a hundred paces from it, its heat was great when the wind turned our way.
"Now, Doctor of Prayers, is thy hot place hotter than yonder fire?" said the king.
He answered that he did not know, but the fire was certainly hot.
"Then I will show thee how I will come out of it if ever I go to lie in such a fire -- ay, though it be ten times as big and fierce. Ho! my children!" he cried to the soldiers, and, springing up, "You see yonder fire. Run swiftly and stamp it flat with your feet. Where there was fire let there be blackness and ashes."
Now the White Man lifted his hands and prayed Dingaan not to do this thing that should be the death of many, but the king bade him be silent. Then he turned his eyes upward and prayed to his gods. For a moment also the soldiers looked on each other in doubt, for the fire raged furiously, and spouts of flame shot high toward the heaven, and above it and about it the hot air danced. But their captain called to them loudly: "Great is the king! Hear the words of the king, who honours you! Yesterday we ate up the Amaboona -- it was nothing, they were unarmed. There is a foe more worthy of our valour. Come, my children, let us wash in the fire -- we who are fiercer than the fire! Great is the king who honours us!"
Thus he spoke and ran forward, and, with a roar, after him sprang the soldiers, rank by rank. They were brave men indeed; moreover, they knew that if death lay before them death also awaited him who lagged behind, and it is far better to die with honour than ashamed. On they went, as to the joy of battle, their captain leading them, and as they went they sang the Ingomo, the war-chant of the Zulu. Now the captain neared the raging fire; we saw him lift his shield to keep off its heat. Then he was gone -- he had sprung into the heart of the furnace, and but little of him was ever found again. After him went the first company. In they went, beating at the flames with their ox-hide shields, stamping them out with their naked feet, tearing down the burning logs and casting them aside. Not one man of that company lived, my father; they fell down like moths which flutter through a candle, and where they fell they perished. But after them came other companies, and it was well for those in this fight who were last to grapple with the foe. Now a great smoke was mixed with the flame, now the flame grew less and less, and the smoke more and more; and now blackened men, hairless, naked, and blistered, white with the scorching of the fire, staggered out on the farther side of the flames, falling to earth here and there. After them came others; now there was no flame, only a great smoke in which men moved dimly; and presently, my father, it was done: they had conquered the fire, and that with but very little hurt to the last seven companies, though every man had trodden it. How many perished? -- nay, I know not, they were never counted; but what between the dead and the injured that regiment was at half strength till the king drafted more men into it.
"See, Doctor of Prayers," said Dingaan, with a laugh, "thus shall I escape the fires of that land of which thou tellest, if such there be indeed: I will bid my impis stamp them out."
Then the praying man went from the kraal saying that he would teach no more among the Zulus, and afterwards he left the land. When he had gone the burnt wood and the dead were cleared away, the injured were doctored or killed according to their hurts, and those who had little harm came before the king and praised him.
"New shields and headresses must be found for you, my children," said Dingaan, for the shields were black and shrivelled, and of heads of hair and plumes there were but few left among that regiment.
"Wow!" said Dingaan again, looking at the soldiers who still lived: "shaving will be easy and cheap in that place of fire of which the white man speaks."
Then he ordered bear to be brought to the men, for the heat had made them thirsty.
Now though you may not guess it, my father, I have told you this tale because it has something to do with my story; for scarcely had the matter been ended when messengers came, saying that Bulalio, chief of the People of the Axe, and his impi were without, having returned with much spoil from the slaying of the Halakazi in Swaziland. Now when I heard this my heart leapt for joy, seeing that I had feared greatly for the fate of Umslopogaas, my fosterling. Dingaan also was very glad, and, springing up, danced to and fro like a child.
"Now at last we have good tidings," he said, at once forgetting the stamping of the fire, "and now shall my eyes behold that Lily whom my hand has longed to pluck. Let Bulalio and his people enter swiftly."
For awhile there was silence; then from far away, without the high fence of the great place, there came a sound of singing, and through the gates of the kraal rushed two great men, wearing black plumes upon their heads, having black shields in their left hands, and in their right, one an axe and one a club; while about their shoulders were bound wolf-skins. They ran low, neck and neck, with outstretched shields and heads held forward, as a buck runs when he is hard pressed by dogs, and no such running had been seen in the kraal Umgugundhlovu as the running of the Wolf-Brethren. Half across the space they ran, and halted suddenly, and, as they halted, the dead ashes of the fire flew up before their feet in a little cloud.
"By my head! look, these come armed before me!" said Dingaan, frowning, "and to do this is death. Now say who is that man, great and fierce, who bears an axe aloft? Did I not know him dead I should say it was the Black One, my brother, as he was in the days of the smiting of Zwide: so was his head set on his shoulders and so he was wont to look round, like a lion."
"I think that is Bulalio the Slaughterer, chief of the People of the Axe, O King," I answered.
"And who is the other with him? He is a great man also. Never have I seen such a pair!"
"I think that is Galazi the Wolf, he who is blood-brother to the Slaughterer, and his general," I said again.
Now after these two came the soldiers of the People of the Axe, armed with short sticks alone. Four by four they came, all holding their heads low, and with black shields outstretched, and formed themselves into companies behind the Wolf-Brethren, till all were there. Then, after them, the crowd of the Halakazi slaves were driven in, -- women, boys, and maids, a great number -- and they stood behind the ranks huddled together like frightened calves.
"A gallant sight, truly!" said Dingaan, as he looked upon the companies of black-plumed and shielded warriors. "I have no better soldiers in my impis, and yet my eyes behold these for the first time," and again he frowned.
Now suddenly Umslopogaas lifted his axe and started forward at full speed, and after him thundered the companies. On they rushed, and their plumes lay back upon the wind, till it seemed as though they must stamp us flat. But when he was within ten paces of the king Umslopogaas lifted Groan-Maker again, and Galazi held the Watcher on high, and every man halted where he was, while once more the dust flew up in clouds. They halted in long, unbroken lines, with outstretched shields and heads held low; no man's head rose more than the length of a dance kerrie from the earth. So they stood one minute, then, for the third time, Umslopogaas lifted Groan-Maker, and in an instant every man straightened himself, each shield was tossed on high, and from every throat was roared the royal salute, "Bayéte!"
"A pretty sight forsooth," quoth Dingaan; "but these soldiers are too well drilled who have never done me service nor the Black One who was before me, and this Slaughterer is too good a captain, I say. Come hither, ye twain!" he cried aloud.
Then the Wolf-Brethren strode forward and stood before the king, and for awhile they looked upon each other.
(16) The Zulu are buried sitting.
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