|Dedication.||Part 1 at 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 in ERBzine 1887b|
|Chapter XIX.||Masilo Comes to the Kraal Duguza|
|Chapter XX.||Mopo Bargains with the Princes|
|Chapter XXI.||The Death of Chaka|
|Chapter XXII.||Mopo Goes to Seek the Slaughterer|
|Chapter XXIII.||Mopo Reveals Himself to the Slaughterer|
|Chapter XXIV.||The Slaying of the Boers|
|Chapter XXV.||The War with the Halakazi People|
|Chapter XXVI.||The Finding of Nada|
|Chapter XXVII.||The Stamping of the Fire|
|PART 4 (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|
"How are you named?" said Dingaan.
"We are named Bulalio the Slaughterer and Galazi the Wolf, O King," answered Umslopogaas.
"Was it thou who didst send a certain message to the Black One who is dead, Bulalio?"
"Yea, O King, I sent a message, but from all I have heard, Masilo, my messenger, gave more than the message, for he stabbed the Black One. Masilo had an evil heart."
Now Dingaan winced, for he knew well that he himself and one Mopo had stabbed the Black One, but he thought that this outland chief had not heard the tale, so he said no more of the message.
"How is it that ye dare to come before me armed? Know ye not the rule that he who appears armed before the king dies?"
"We have not heard that law, O King," said Umslopogaas. "Moreover, there is this to be told: my virtue of the axe I bear I rule alone. If I am seen without the axe, then any man may take my place who can, for the axe is chieftainess of the People of the Axe, and he who holds it is its servant."
"A strange custom," said Dingaan, "but let it pass. And thou, Wolf, what hast thou to say of that great club of thine?"
"There is this to be told of the club, O King," answered Galazi: "by virtue of the club I guard my life. If I am seen without the club, then may any man take my life who can, for the club is my Watcher, not I Watcher of the club."
"Never wast thou nearer to the losing of both club and life," said Dingaan, angrily.
"It may be so, O King," answered the Wolf. "When the hour is, then, without a doubt, the Watcher shall cease from his watching."
"Ye are a strange pair," quoth Dingaan. "Where have you been now, and what is your business at the Place of the Elephant?"
"We have been in a far country, O King!" answered Umslopogaas. "We have wandered in a distant land to search for a Flower to be a gift to a king, and in our searching we have trampled down a Swazi garden, and yonder are some of those who tended it" -- and he pointed to the captives -- "and without are the cattle that ploughed it."
"Good, Slaughterer! I see the gardeners, and I hear the lowing of the cattle, but what of the Flower? Where is this Flower ye went so far to dig in Swazi soil? Was it a Lily-bloom, perchance?"
"It was a Lily-bloom, O King! and yet, alas! the Lily has withered. Nothing is left but the stalk, white and withered as are the bones of men."
"What meanest thou?" said Dingaan, starting to his feet.
"That the king shall learn," answered Umslopogaas; and, turning, he spoke a word to the captains who were behind him. Presently the ranks opened up, and four men ran forward from the rear of the companies. On their shoulders they bore a stretcher, and upon the stretcher lay something wrapped about with raw ox-hides, and bound round with rimpis. The men saluted, and laid their burden down before the king.
"Open!" said the Slaughterer; and they opened, and there within the hides, packed in salt, lay the body of a girl who once was tall and fair."
"Here lies the Lily's stalk, O King!" said Umslopogaas, pointing with the axe, "but if her flower blooms on any air, it is not here."
Now Dingaan stared at the sight of death, and bitterness of heart took hold of him, since he desired above all things to win the beauty of the Lily for himself.
"Bear away this carrion and cast it to the dogs!" he cried, for thus he could speak of her whom he would have taken to wife, when once he deemed her dead. "Take it away, and thou, Slaughterer, tell me how it came about that the maid was slain. It will be well for thee if thou hast a good answer, for know thy life hangs on the words."
So Umslopogaas told the king all that tale which had been made ready against the wrath of Dingaan. And when he had finished Galazi told his story, of how he had seen the soldier kill the maid, and in his wrath had killed the soldier. Then certain of the captains who had seen the soldier and the maid lying in one death came forward and spoke to it.
Now Dingaan was very angry, and yet there was nothing to be done. The Lily was dead, and by no fault of any except of one, who was also dead and beyond his reach.
"Get you hence, you and your people," he said to the Wolf-Brethren. "I take the cattle and the captives. Be thankful that I do not take all your lives also -- first, because ye have dared to make war without my word, and secondly, because, having made war, ye have so brought it about that, though ye bring me the body of her I sought, ye do not bring the life."
Now when the king spoke of taking the lives of all the People of the Axe, Umslopogaas smiled grimly and glanced at his companies. Then saluting the king, he turned to go. But as he turned a man sprang forwards from the ranks and called to Dingaan, saying: --
"Is it granted that I may speak truth before the king, and afterwards sleep in the king's shadow?"
Now this was that man who had been captain of the guard on the night when three passed out through the archway and two returned, that same man whom Umslopogaas had degraded from his rank.
"Speak on, thou art safe," answered Dingaan.
"O King, thy ears have been filled with lies," said the soldier. "Hearken, O King! I was captain of the guard of the gate on that night of the slaying of the Halakazi. Three came to the gate of the mountain -- they were Bulalio, the Wolf Galazi, and another. That other was tall and slim, bearing a shield high -- so. As the third passed the gate, the kaross he wore brushed against me and slipped aside. Beneath that kaross was no man's breast, O King, but the shape of a woman, almost white in colour, and very fair. In drawing back the kaross this third one moved the shield. Behind that shield was no man's face, O King, but the face of a girl, lovelier than the moon, and having eyes brighter than the stars. Three went out at the mountain gate, O King, only two returned, and, peeping after them, it seemed that I saw the third running swiftly across the plains, as a young maid runs, O King. This also, Elephant, Bulalio yonder denied me when, as captain of the guard, I asked for the third who had passed the gate, saying that only two had passed. Further, none of the captives were called to swear to the body of the maid, and now it is too late, and that man who lay beside her was not killed by Galazi in the cave. He was killed outside the cave by a blow of a Halakazi kerrie. I saw him fall with my own eyes, and slew the man who smote him. One thing more, King of the World, the best of the captives and the cattle are not here for a gift to thee -- they are at the kraal of Bulalio, Chief of the People of the Axe. I have spoken, O King, yes, because my heart loves not lies. I have spoken the truth, and now do thou protect me from these Wolf- Brethren, O King, for they are very fierce."
Now all this while that the traitor told his tale Umslopogaas, inch by inch, was edging near to him and yet nearer, till at length he might have touched him with an outstretched spear. None noted him except I, Mopo, alone, and perhaps Galazi, for all were watching the face of Dingaan as men watch a storm that is about to burst.
"Fear thou not the Wolf-Brethren, soldier," gasped Dingaan, rolling his red eyes; "the paw of the Lion guards thee, my servant."
Ere the words had left the king's lips the Slaughterer leapt. He leaped full on to the traitor, speaking never a word, and oh! his eyes were awful. He leaped upon him, he seized him with his hands, lifting no weapon, and in his terrible might he broke him as a child breaks a stick -- nay, I know not how, it was too swift to see. He broke him, and, hurling him on high, cast him dead at the feet of Dingaan, crying in a great voice: --
"Take thy servant, King! Surely he 'sleeps in thy shadow'!"
Take thy servant, king: surely he 'sleeps in thy shadow'
Then there was silence, only through the silence was heard a gasp of fear and wonder, for no such deed as this had been wrought in the presence of the king -- no, not since the day of Senzangacona the Root.
Now Dingaan spoke, and his voice came thick with rage, and his limbs trembled.
"Slay him!" he hissed. "Slay the dog and all those with him!"
"Now we come to a game which I can play," answered Umslopogaas. "Ho, People of the Axe! Will you stand to be slaughtered by these singed rats?" and he pointed with Groan-Maker at those warriors who had escaped without hurt in the fire, but whose faces the fire had scorched.
Then for answer a great shout went up, a shout and a roar of laughter. And this was the shout: --
"No, Slaughterer, not so are we minded!" and right and left they faced to meet the foe, while from all along the companies came the crackling of the shaken shields.
Back sprang Umslopogaas to head his men; forward leaped the soldiers of the king to work the king's will, if so they might. And Galazi the Wolf also sprang forward, towards Dingaan, and, as he sprang, swung up the Watcher, crying in a great voice: --
Again there was silence, for men saw that the shadow of the Watcher lay dark upon the head of Dingaan.
"It is a pity that many should die when one will suffice," cried the Wolf again. "Let a blow be struck, and where his shadow lies there shall the Watcher be, and lo! the world will lack a king. A word, King!"
Now Dingaan looked up at the great man who stood above him, and felt the shadow of the shining club lie cold upon his brow, and again he shook -- this time it was with fear.
"Begone in peace!" he said.
"A good word for thee, King," said the Wolf, grinning, and slowly he drew himself backwards towards the companies, saying, "Praise the king! The king bids his children go in peace."
But when Dingaan felt that his brow was no longer cold with the shadow of death his rage came back to him, and he would have called to the soldiers to fall upon the People of the Axe, only I stayed him, saying: --
"Thy death is in it, O King; the Slaughterer will grind such men as thou hast here beneath his feet, and then once more shall the Watcher look upon thee."
Now Dingaan saw that this was true, and gave no command, for he had only those men with him whom the fire had left. All the rest were gone to slaughter the Boers in Natal. Still, he must have blood, so he turned on me.
"Thou art a traitor, Mopo, as I have known for long, and I will serve thee as yonder dog served his faithless servant!" and he thrust at me with the assegai in his hand.
But I saw the stroke, and, springing high into the air, avoided it. Then I turned and fled very swiftly, and after me came certain of the soldiers. The way was not far to the last company of the People of the Axe; moreover, it saw me coming, and, headed by Umslopogaas, who walked behind them all, ran to meet me. Then the soldiers who followed to kill me hung back out of reach of the axe.
"Here with the king is no place for me any more, my son," I said to Umslopogaas.
"Fear not, my father, I will find you a place," he answered.
Then I called a message to the soldiers who followed me, saying: --
"Tell this to the king: that he has done ill to drive me from him, for I, Mopo, set him on the throne and I alone can hold him there. Tell him this also, that he will do yet worse to seek me where I am, for that day when we are once more face to face shall be his day of death. Thus speaks Mopo the inyanga, Mopo the doctor, who never yet prophesied that which should not be."
Then we marched from the kraal Umgugundhlovu, and when next I saw that kraal it was to burn all of it which Dingaan had left unburnt, and when next I saw Dingaan -- ah! that is to be told of, my father.
We marched from the kraal, none hindering us, for there were none to hinder, and after we had gone a little way Umslopogaas halted and said: --
"Now it is in my mind to return whence we came and slay this Dingaan, ere he slay me."
"Yet it is well to leave a frightened lion in his thicket, my son, for a lion at bay is hard to handle. Doubt not that every man, young and old, in Umgugundhlovu now stands armed about the gates, lest such a thought should take you, my son; and though just now he was afraid, yet Dingaan will strike for his life. When you might have killed you did not kill; now the hour has gone."
"Wise words!" said Galazi. "I would that the Watcher had fallen where his shadow fell."
"What is your counsel now, father?" asked Umslopogaas.
"This, then: that you two should abide no more beneath the shadow of the Ghost Mountain, but should gather your people and your cattle, and pass to the north on the track of Mosilikatze the Lion, who broke away from Chaka. There you may rule apart or together, and never dream of Dingaan."
"I will not do that, father," he answered. "I will dwell beneath the shadow of the Ghost Mountain while I may."
"And so will I," said Galazi, "or rather among its rocks. What! shall my wolves lack a master when they would go a-hunting? Shall Greysnout and Blackfang, Blood and Deathgrip, and their company black and grey, howl for me in vain?"
"So be it, children. Ye are young and will not listen to the counsel of the old. Let it befall as it chances."
I spoke thus, for I did not know then why Umslopogaas would not leave his kraals. It was for this reason: because he had bidden Nada to meet him there.
Afterwards, when he found her he would have gone, but then the sky was clear, the danger-clouds had melted for awhile.
Oh! that Umslopogaas my fosterling had listened to me! Now he would have reigned as a king, not wandered an outcast in strange lands I know not where; and Nada should have lived, not died, nor would the People of the Axe have ceased to be a people.
This of Dingaan. When he heard my message he grew afraid once more, for he knew me to be no liar.
Therefore he held his hand for awhile, sending no impi to smite Umslopogaas, lest it might come about that I should bring him his death as I had promised. And before the fear had worn away, it happened that Dingaan's hands were full with the war against the Amaboona, because of his slaughter of the white people, and he had no soldiers to spare with whom to wreak vengeance on a petty chief living far away.
Yet his rage was great because of what had chanced, and, after his custom, he murdered many innocent people to satisfy it.
Now afterwards, as we went upon our road, Umslopogaas told me all there was to tell of the slaying of the Halakazi and of the finding of Nada.
When I heard that Nada, my daughter, still lived, I wept for joy, though like Umslopogaas I was torn by doubt and fear, for it is far for an unaided maid to travel from Swaziland to the Ghost Mountain. Yet all this while I said nothing to Umslopogaas of the truth as to his birth, because on the journey there were many around us, and the very trees have ears, and the same wind to which we whispered might whisper to the king. Still I knew that the hour had come now when I must speak, for it was in my mind to bring it about that Umslopogaas should be proclaimed the son of Chaka, and be made king of the Zulus in the place of Dingaan, his uncle. Yet all these things had gone cross for us, because it was fated so, my father. Had I known that Umslopogaas still lived when I slew Chaka, then I think that I could have brought it about that he should be king. Or had things fallen out as I planned, and the Lily maid been brought to Dingaan, and Umslopogaas grew great in his sight, then, perhaps, I could have brought it about. But all things had gone wrong. The Lily was none other than Nada; and how could Umslopogaas give Nada, whom he thought his sister, and who was my daughter, to Dingaan against her will? Also, because of Nada, Dingaan and Umslopogaas were now at bitter enmity, and for this same cause I was disgraced and a fugitive, and my counsels would no longer be heard in the ear of the king.
So everything must be begun afresh: and as I walked with the impi towards the Ghost Mountain, I thought much and often of the manner in which this might be done. But as yet I said nothing.
Now at last we were beneath the Ghost Mountain, and looked upon the face of the old Witch who sits there aloft forever waiting for the world to die; and that same night we came to the kraal of the People of the Axe, and entered it with a great singing. But Galazi did not enter at that time; he was away to the mountain to call his flock of wolves, and as we passed its foot we heard the welcome that the wolves howled in greeting to him.
Now as we drew near the kraal, all the women and children came out to meet us, headed by Zinita, the head wife of Umslopogaas. They came joyfully, but when they found how many were wanting who a moon before had gone thence to fight, their joy was turned to mourning, and the voice of their weeping went up to heaven.
Umslopogaas greeted Zinita kindly; and yet I thought that there was something lacking. At first she spoke to him softly, but when she learned all that had come to pass, her words were not soft, for she reviled me and sang a loud song at Umslopogaas.
"See now, Slaughterer," she said, "see now what has came about because you listened to this aged fool!" -- that was I, my father -- "this fool who calls himself 'Mouth'! Ay, a mouth he is, a mouth out of which proceed folly and lies! What did he counsel you to do? -- to go up against these Halakazi and win a girl for Dingaan! And what have you done? -- you have fallen upon the Halakazi, and doubtless have killed many innocent people with that great axe of yours, also you have left nearly half of the soldiers of the Axe to whiten in the Swazi caves, and in exchange have brought back certain cattle of a small breed, and girls and children whom we must nourish!
"Nor does the matter end here. You went, it seems, to win a girl whom Dingaan desired, yet when you find that girl you let her go, because, indeed, you say she was your sister and would not wed Dingaan. Forsooth, is not the king good enough for this sister of yours? Now what is the end of the tale? You try to play tricks on the king, because of your sister, and are found out. Then you kill a man before Dingaan and escape, bringing this fool of an aged Mouth with you, that he may teach you his own folly. So you have lost half of your men, and you have gained the king for a foe who shall bring about the death of all of us, and a fool for a councillor. Wow! Slaughterer, keep to your trade and let others find you wit."
Thus she spoke without ceasing, and there was some truth in her words. Zinita had a bitter tongue. I sat silent till she had finished, and Umslopogaas also remained silent, though his anger was great, because there was no crack in her talk through which a man might thrust a word.
"Peace, woman!" I said at length, "do not speak ill of those who are wise and who had seen much before you were born."
"Speak no ill of him who is my father," growled Umslopogaas. "Ay! though you do not know it, this Mouth whom you revile is Mopo, my father."
"Then there is a man among the People of the Axe who has a fool for a father. Of all tidings this is the worst."
"There is a man among the People of the Axe who has a jade and a scold for a wife," said Umslopogaas, springing up. "Begone, Zinita! -- and know this, that if I hear you snarl such words of him who is my father, you shall go further than your own hut, for I will put you away and drive you from my kraal. I have suffered you too long."
"I go," said Zinita. "Oh! I am well served! I made you chief, and now you threaten to put me away."
"My own hands made me chief," said Umslopogaas, and, springing up, he thrust her from the hut.
"It is a poor thing to be wedded to such a woman, my father," he said presently.
"Yes, a poor thing, Umslopogaas, yet these are the burdens that men must bear. Learn wisdom from it, Umslopogaas, and have as little to do with women as may be; at the least, do not love them overmuch, so shall you find the more peace." Thus I spoke, smiling, and would that he had listened to my counsel, for it is the love of women which has brought ruin on Umslopogaas!
All this was many years ago, and but lately I have heard that Umslopogaas is fled into the North, and become a wanderer to his death because of the matter of a woman who had betrayed him, making it seem that he had murdered one Loustra, who was his blood brother, just as Galazi had been. I do not know how it came about, but he who was so fierce and strong had that weakness like his uncle Dingaan, and it has destroyed him at the last, and for this cause I shall behold him no more.
Now, my father, for awhile we were silent and alone in the hut, and as we sat I thought I heard a rat stir in the thatch.
Then I spoke. "Umslopogaas, at length the hour has come that I should whisper something into your ear, a word which I have held secret ever since you were born."
"Speak on, my father," he said, wondering.
I crept to the door of the hut and looked out. The night was dark and I could see none about, and could hear no one move, yet, being cautious, I walked round the hut. Ah, my father, when you have a secret to tell, be not so easily deceived. It is not enough to look forth and to peer round. Dig beneath the floor, and search the roof also; then, having done all this, go elsewhere and tell your tale. The woman was right: I was but a fool, for all my wisdom and my white hairs. Had I not been a fool I would have smoked out that rat in the thatch before ever I opened my lips. For the rat was Zinita, my father -- Zinita, who had climbed the hut, and now lay there in the dark, her ear upon the smoke-hole, listening to every word that passed. It was a wicked thing to do, and, moreover, the worst of omens, but there is little honour among women when they learn that which others wish to hide away from them, nor, indeed, do they then weight omens.
So having searched and found nothing, I spoke to Umslopogaas, my fosterling, not knowing that death in a woman's shape lay on the hut above us. "Hearken," I said, "you are no son of mine, Umslopogaas, though you have called me father from a babe. You spring from a loftier stock, Slaughterer."
"Yet I was well pleased with my fathering, old man," said Umslopogaas. "The breed is good enough for me. Say, then, whose son am I?"
Now I bent forward and whispered to him, yet, alas! not low enough. "You are the son of the Black One who is dead, yea, sprung from the blood of Chaka and of Baleka, my sister."
"I still have some kinship with you then, Mopo, and that I am glad of. Wow! who would have guessed that I was the son of the Silwana, of that hyena man? Perhaps it is for this reason that, like Galazi, I love the company of the wolves, though no love grows in my heart for my father or any of his house."
"You have little cause to love him, Umslopogaas, for he murdered your mother, Baleka, and would have slain you also. But you are the son of Chaka and of no other man."
"Well, his eyes must be keen indeed, my uncle, who can pick his own father out of a crowd. And yet I once heard this tale before, though I had long forgotten it."
"From whom did you hear it, Umslopogaas? An hour since, it was known to one alone, the others are dead who knew it. Now it is known to two" -- ah! my father, I did not guess of the third; -- "from whom, then, did you hear it?"
"It was from the dead; at least, Galazi the Wolf heard it from the dead One who sat in the cave on Ghost Mountain, for the dead One told him that a man would come to be his brother who should be named Umslopogaas Bulalio, son of Chaka, and Galazi repeated it to me, but I had long forgotten it."
"It seems that there is wisdom among the dead," I answered, "for lo! to-day you are named Umslopogaas Bulalio, and to-day I declare you the son of Chaka. But listen to my tale."
Then I told him all the story from the hour of his birth onwards, and when I spoke of the words of his mother, Baleka, after I had told my dream to her, and of the manner of her death by the command of Chaka, and of the great fashion in which she had died, then, I say, Umslopogaas wept, who, I think, seldom wept before or after. But as my tale drew it its end I saw that he listened ill, as a man listens who has a weightier matter pressing on his heart, and before it was well done he broke in: --
"So, Mopo, my uncle, if I am the son of Chaka and Baleka, Nada the Lily is no sister to me."
"Nay, Umslopogaas, she is only your cousin."
"Over near of blood," he said; "yet that shall not stand between us," and his face grew glad.
I looked at him in question.
"You grow dull, my uncle. This is my meaning: that I will marry Nada if she still lives, for it comes upon me now that I have never loved any woman as I love Nada the Lily," and while he spoke, I heard the rat stir in the thatch of the hut.
"Wed her if you will, Umslopogaas," I answered, "yet I think that one Zinita, your Inkosikasi, will find words to say in the matter."
"Zinita is my head wife indeed, but shall she hold me back from taking other wives, after the lawful custom of our people?" he asked angrily, and his anger showed that he feared the wrath of Zinita.
"The custom is lawful and good," I said, "but it has bred trouble at times. Zinita can have little to say if she continues in her place and you still love her as of old. But enough of her. Nada is not yet at your gates, and perhaps she will never find them. See, Umslopogaas, it is my desire that you should rule in Zululand by right of blood, and, though things point otherwise, yet I think a way can be found to bring it about."
"How so?" he asked.
"Thus: Many of the great chiefs who are friends to me hate Dingaan and fear him, and did they know that a son of Chaka lived, and that son the Slaughterer, he well might climb to the throne upon their shoulders. Also the soldiers love the name of Chaka, though he dealt cruelly with them, because at least he was brave and generous. But they do not love Dingaan, for his burdens are the burdens of Chaka but his gifts are the gifts of Dingaan; therefore they would welcome Chaka's son if once they knew him for certain. But it is here that the necklet chafes, for there is but my word to prove it. Yet I will try."
"Perhaps it is worth trying and perhaps it is not, my uncle," answered Umslopogaas. "One thing I know: I had rather see Nada at my gates to- night than hear all the chiefs in the land crying 'Hail, O King!'"
"You will live to think otherwise, Umslopogaas; and now spies must be set at the kraal Umgugundhlovu to give us warning of the mind of the king, lest he should send an impi suddenly to eat you up. Perhaps his hands may be too full for that ere long, for those white Amaboona will answer his assegais with bullets. And one more word: let nothing be said of this matter of your birth, least of all to Zinita your wife, or to any other woman."
"Fear not, uncle," he answered; "I know how to be silent."
Now after awhile Umslopogaas left me and went to the hut of Zinita, his Inkosikasi, where she lay wrapped in her blankets, and, as it seemed, asleep.
"Greeting, my husband," she said slowly, like one who wakens. "I have dreamed a strange dream of you. I dreamed that you were called a king, and that all the regiments of the Zulus filed past giving you the royal salute, Bayete."
Umslopogaas looked at her wondering, for he did not know if she had learned something or if this was an omen. "Such dreams are dangerous," he said, "and he who dreams them does well to lock them fast till they be forgotten."
"Or fulfilled," said Zinita, and again Umslopogaas looked at her wondering.
Now after this night I began my work, for I established spies at the kraal of Dingaan, and from them I learned all that passed with the king.
At first he gave orders that an impi should be summoned to eat up the People of the Axe, but afterwards came tidings that the Boers, to the number of five hundred mounted men, were marching on the kraal Umgugundhlovu. So Dingaan had no impi to spare to send to the Ghost Mountain, and we who were beneath its shadow dwelt there in peace.
This time for Boers were beaten, for Bogoza, the spy, led them into an ambush; still few were killed, and they did but draw back that they might jump the further, and Dingaan knew this. At this time also the English white men of Natal, the people of George, who attacked Dingaan by the Lower Tugela, were slain by our soldiers, and those with them.
Also, by the help of certain witch-doctors, I filled the land with rumours, prophecies, and dark sayings, and I worked cunningly on the minds of many chiefs that were known to me, sending them messages hardly to be understood, such as should prepare their thoughts for the coming of one who should be declared to them. They listened, but the task was long, for the men dwelt far apart, and some of them were away with the regiments.
So the time went by, till many days had passed since we reached the Ghost Mountain. Umslopogaas had no more words with Zinita, but she always watched him, and he went heavily. For he awaited Nada, and Nada did not come.
But at length Nada came.
One night -- it was a night of full moon -- I sat alone with Umslopogaas in my hut, and we spoke of the matter of our plots; then, when we had finished that talk, we spoke of Nada the Lily.
"Alas! my uncle," said Umslopogaas sadly, "we shall never look more on Nada; she is surely dead or in bonds, otherwise she had been here long ago. I have sought far and wide, and can hear no tidings and find nothing."
"All that is hidden is not lost," I answered, yet I myself believed that there was an end of Nada.
Then we were silent awhile, and presently, in the silence, a dog barked. We rose, and crept out of the hut to see what it might be that stirred, for the night drew on, and it was needful to be wary, since a dog might bark at the stirring of a leaf, or perhaps it might be the distant footfall of an impi that it heard.
We had not far to look, for standing gazing at the huts, like one who is afraid to call, was a tall slim man, holding an assegai in one hand and a little shield in the other. We could not see the face of the man, because the light was behind him, and a ragged blanket hung about his shoulders. Also, he was footsore, for he rested on one leg. Now we were peering round the hut, and its shadow hid us, so that the man saw nothing. For awhile he stood still, then he spoke to himself, and his voice was strangely soft.
"Here are many huts," said the voice, "now how may I know which is the house of my brother? Perhaps if I call I shall bring soldiers to me, and be forced to play the man before them, and I am weary of that. Well, I will lie here under the fence till morning; it is a softer bed than some I have found, and I am word out with travel -- sleep I must," and the figure sighed and turned so that the light of the moon fell full upon its face.
My father, it was the face of Nada, my daughter, whom I had not seen for so many years, yet across the years I knew it at once; yes, though the bud had become a flower I knew it. The face was weary and worn, but ah! it was beautiful, never before nor since have I seen such beauty, for there was this about the loveliness of my daughter, the Lily: it seemed to flow from within -- yes, as light will flow through the thin rind of a gourd, and in that she differed from the other women of our people, who, when they are fair are fair with the flesh alone.
Now my heart went out to Nada as she stood in the moonlight, one forsaken, not having where to lay her head, Nada, who alone was left alive of all my children. I motioned to Umslopogaas to hide himself in the shadow, and stepped forward.
"Ho!" I said roughly, "who are you, wanderer, and what do you here?"
Now Nada started like a frightened bird, but quickly gathered up her thoughts, and turned upon me in a lordly way.
"Who are you that ask me?" she said, feigning a man's voice.
"One who can use a stick upon thieves and night-prowlers, boy. Come, show your business or be moving. You are not of this people; surely that moocha is of a Swazi make, and here we do not love Swazis."
"Were you not old, I would beat you for your insolence," said Nada, striving to look brave and all the while searching a way to escape. "Also, I have no stick, only a spear, and that is for warriors, not for an old umfagozan like you." Ay, my father, I lived to hear my daughter name me an umfagozan -- a low fellow!
Now making pretence to be angry, I leaped at her with my kerrie up, and, forgetting her courage, she dropped her spear, and uttered a little scream. But she still held the shield before her face. I seized her by the arm, and struck a blow upon the shield with my kerrie -- it would scarcely have crushed a fly, but this brave warrior trembled sorely.
"Where now is your valour, you who name my umfagozan?" I said: "you who cry like a maid and whose arm is soft as a maid's."
She made no answer, but hugged her tattered blanket round her, and shifting my grip from her arm, I seized it and rent it, showing her breast and shoulder; then I let her go, laughing, and said: --
"Lo! here is the warrior that would beat an old umfagozan for his insolence, a warrior well shaped for war! Now, my pretty maid who wander at night in the garment of a man, what tale have you to tell? Swift with it, lest I drag you to the chief as his prize! The old man seeks a new wife, they tell me?"
Now when Nada saw that I had discovered her she threw down the shield after the spear, as a thing that was of no more use, and hung her head sullenly. But when I spoke of dragging her to the chief then she flung herself upon the ground, and clasped my knees, for since I called him old, she thought that this chief could not be Umslopogaas.
"Oh, my father," said the Lily, "oh, my father, have pity on me! Yes, yes! I am a girl, a maid -- no wife -- and you who are old, you, perchance have daughters such as I, and in their name I ask for pity. My father, I have journeyed far, I have endured many things, to find my way to a kraal where my brother rules, and now it seems I have come to the wrong kraal. Forgive me that I spoke to you so, my father; it was but a woman's feint, and I was hard pressed to hide my sex, for my father, you know it is ill to be a lonely girl among strange men."
Now I said nothing in answer, for this reason only: that when I heard Nada call me father, not knowing me, and saw her clasp my knees and pray to me in my daughter's name, I, who was childless save for her, went nigh to weeping. But she thought that I did not answer her because I was angry, and about to drag her to this unknown chief, and implored me the more even with tears.
"My father," she said, "do not this wicked thing by me. Let me go and show me the path that I shall ask: you who are old, you know that I am too fair to be dragged before this chief of yours. Hearken! All I knew are dead, I am alone except for this brother I seek. Oh! if you betray me may such a fate fall upon your own daughter also! May she also know the day of slavery, and the love that she wills not!" and she ceased, sobbing.
Now I turned my head and spoke towards the hut, "Chief," I said, "your Ehlosé is kind to you to-night, for he has given you a maid fair as the Lily of the Halakazi" -- here Nada glanced up wildly. "Come, then, and take the girl."
Now Nada turned to snatch up the assegai from the ground, but whether to kill me, or the chief she feared so much, or herself, I do not know, and as she turned, in her woe she called upon the name of Umslopogaas. She found the assegai, and straightened herself again. And lo! there before her stood a tall chief leaning on an axe; but the old man who threatened her was gone -- not very far, in truth, but round the corner of the hut.
Now Nada the Lily looked, then rubbed her eyes, and looked again.
"Surely I dream?" she said at last. "But now I spoke to an old man, and in his place there stands before me the shape of one whom I desire to see."
"I thought, Maiden, that the voice of a certain Nada called upon one Umslopogaas," said he who leaned upon the axe.
"Ay, I called: but where is the old man who treated me so scurvily? Nay, what does it matter? -- where he is, there let him stop. At least, you are Umslopogaas, my brother, or should be by your greatness and the axe. To the man I cannot altogether swear in this light; but to the axe I can swear, for once it passed so very near my eyes."
Thus she spoke on, gaining time, and all the while she watched Umslopogaas till she was sure that it was he and no other. Then she ceased talking, and, flinging herself on him, she kissed him.
"Now I trust that Zinita sleeps sound," murmured Umslopogaas, for suddenly he remembered that Nada was no sister of his, as she thought.
Nevertheless, he took her by the hand and said, "Enter, sister. Of all maidens in the world you are the most welcome here, for know I believed you dead."
But I, Mopo, ran into the hut before her, and when she entered she found me sitting by the fire.
"Now, here, my brother," said Nada, pointing at me with her finger, "here is that old umfagozan, that low fellow, who, unless I dream, but a very little while ago brought shame upon me -- ay, my brother, he struck me, a maid, with his kerrie, and that only because I said that I would stab him for his insolence, and he did worse: he swore that he would drag me to some old chief of his to be a gift to him, and this he was about to do, had you not come. Will you suffer these things to go unpunished, my brother?"
Now Umslopogaas smiled grimly, and I answered: --
"What was it that you called me just now, Nada, when you prayed me to protect you? Father, was it not?" and I turned my face towards the blaze of the fire, so that the full light fell upon it.
"Yes, I called you father, old man. It is not strange, for a homeless wanderer must find fathers where she can -- and yet! no, it cannot be -- so changed -- and that white hand? And yet, oh! who are you? Once there was a man named Mopo, and he had a little daughter, and she was called Nada -- Oh! my father, my father, I know you now!"
"Ay, Nada, and I knew you from the first; through all your man's wrappings I knew you after these many years."
So the Lily fell upon my neck and sobbed there, and I remember that I also wept.
Now when she had sobbed her fill of joy, Umslopogaas brought Nada the Lily maas to eat and mealie porridge. She ate the curdled milk, but the porridge she would not eat, saying that she was too weary.
Then she told us all the tale of her wanderings since she had fled away from the side of Umslopogaas at the stronghold of the Halakazi, and it was long, so long that I will not repeat it, for it is a story by itself. This I will say only: that Nada was captured by robbers, and for awhile passed herself off among them as a youth. But, in the end, they found her out and would have given her as a wife to their chief, only she persuaded them to kill the chief and make her their ruler. They did this because of that medicine of the eyes which Nada had only among women, for as she ruled the Halakazi so she ruled the robbers. But, at the last, they all loved her, and she gave it out that she would wed the strongest. Then some of them fell to fighting, and while they killed each other -- for it came about that Nada brought death upon the robbers as on all others -- she escaped, for she said that she did not wish to look upon their struggle but would await the upshot in a place apart.
After that she had many further adventures, but at length she met an old woman who guided her on her way to the Ghost Mountain. And who this old woman was none could discover, but Galazi swore afterwards that she was the Stone Witch of the mountain, who put on the shape of an aged woman to guide Nada to Umslopogaas, to be the sorrow and the joy of the People of the Axe. I do not know, my father, yet it seems to me that the old witch would scarcely have put off her stone for so small a matter.
Now, when Nada had made an end of her tale, Umslopogaas told his, of how things had gone with Dingaan. When he told her how he had given the body of the girl to the king, saying that it was the Lily's stalk, she said it had been well done; and when he spoke of the slaying of the traitor she clapped her hands, though Nada, whose heart was gentle, did not love to hear of deeds of death. At last he finished, and she was somewhat sad, and said it seemed that her fate followed her, and that now the People of the Axe were in danger at the hands of Dingaan because of her.
"Ah! my brother," she cried, taking Umslopogaas by the hand, "it were better I should die than that I should bring evil upon you also."
"That would not mend matters, Nada," he answered. "For whether you be dead or alive, the hate of Dingaan. Also, Nada, know this: I am not your brother."
When the Lily heard these words she uttered a little cry, and, letting fall the hand of Umslopogaas, clasped mine, shrinking up against me.
"What is this tale, father?" she asked. "He who was my twin, he with whom I have been bred up, says that he has deceived me these many years, that he is not my brother; who, then, is he, father?"
"He is your cousin, Nada."
"Ah," she answered, "I am glad. It would have grieved me had he whom I loved been shown to be but a stranger in whom I have no part," and she smiled a little in the eyes and at the corners of her mouth. "But tell me this tale also."
So I told her the tale of the birth of Umslopogaas, for I trusted her.
"Ah," she said, when I had finished, "ah! you come of a bad stock, Umslopogaas, though it is a kingly one. I shall love you little henceforth, child of the hyena man."
"Then that is bad news," said Umslopogaas, "for know, Nada, I desire now that you should love me more than ever -- that you should be my wife and love me as your husband!"
Now the Lily's face grew sad and sweet, and all the hidden mockery went out of her talk -- for Nada loved to mock.
"Did you not speak to me on that night in the Halakazi caves, Umslopogaas, of one Zinita, who is your wife, and Inkosikaas of the People of the Axe?"
Then the brow of Umslopogaas darkened: "What of Zinita?" he said. "It is true she is my chieftainess; is it not allowed a man to take more than one wife?"
"So I trust," answered Nada, smiling, "else men would go unwed for long, for few maids would marry them who then must labour alone all their days. But, Umslopogaas, if there are twenty wives, yet one must be first. Now this has come about hitherto: that wherever I have been it has been thrust upon me to be first, and perhaps it might be thus once more -- what then, Umslopogaas?"
"Let the fruit ripen before you pluck it, Nada," he answered. "If you love me and will wed me, it is enough."
"I pray that it may not be more than enough," she said, stretching out her hand to him. "Listen, Umslopogaas: ask my father here what were the words I spoke to him many years ago, before I was a woman, when, with my mother, Macropha, I left him to go among the Swazi people. It was after you had been borne away by the lion, Umslopogaas, I told my father that I would marry no man all my life, because I loved only you, who were dead. My father reproached me, saying that I must not speak thus of my brother, but it was my heart which spoke, and it spoke truly; for see, Umslopogaas, you are no brother to me! I have kept that vow. How many men have sort me in wedlock since I became a woman, Umslopogaas? I tell you that they are as the leaves upon a tree. Yet I have given myself to none, and this has been my fortune: that none have sought to constrain me to marriage. Now I have my reward, for he whom I lost is found again, and to him alone I give my love. Yet, Umslopogaas, beware! Little luck has come to those who have loved me in the past; no, not even to those who have but sought to look on me."
"I will bear the risk, Nada," the Slaughterer answered, and gathering her to his great breast he kissed her.
Presently she slipped from his arms and bade him begone, for she was weary and would rest.
So he went.
Now on the morrow at daybreak, leaving his wolves, Galazi came down from the Ghost Mountain and passed through the gates of the kraal.
In front of my hut he saw Nada the Lily and saluted her, for each remembered the other. Then he walked on to the place of assembly and spoke to me.
"So the Star of Death has risen on the People of the Axe, Mopo," he said. "Was it because of her coming that my grey people howled so strangely last night? I cannot tell, but I know this, the Star shone first on me this morning, and that is my doom. Well, she is fair enough to be the doom of many, Mopo," and he laughed and passed on, swinging the Watcher. But his words troubled me, though they were foolish; for I could not but remember that wherever the beauty of Nada had pleased the sight of men, there men had been given to death.
Then I went to lead Nada to the place of assembly and found her awaiting me. She was dressed now in some woman's garments that I had brought her; her curling hair fell upon her shoulders; on her wrist and neck and knee were bracelets of ivory, and in her hand she bore a lily bloom which she had gathered as she went to bathe in the river. Perhaps she did this, my father, because she wished here, as elsewhere, to be known as the Lily, and it is the Zulu fashion to name people from some such trifle. But who can know a woman's reason, or whether a thing is by chance alone, my father? Also she had begged me of a cape I had; it was cunningly made by Basutus, of the whitest feathers of the ostrich; this she put about her shoulders, and it hung down to her middle. It had been a custom with Nada from childhood not to go about as do other girls, naked except for their girdles, for she would always find some rag or skin to lie upon her breast. Perhaps it was because her skin was fairer than that of other women, or perhaps because she knew that she who hides her beauty often seems the loveliest, or because there was truth in the tale of her white blood and the fashion came to her with the blood. I do not know, my father; at the least she did so.
Now I took Nada by the hand and led her through the morning air to the place of assembly, and ah! she was sweeter than the air and fairer than the dawn.
There were many people in the place of assembly, for it was the day of the monthly meeting of the council of the headmen, and there also were all the women of the kraal, and at their head stood Zinita. Now it had got about that the girl whom the Slaughterer went to seek in the caves of the Halakazi had come to the kraal of the People of the Axe, and all eyes watched for her.
"Wow!" said the men as she passed smiling, looking neither to the right nor to the left, yet seeing all -- "Wow! but this flower is fair! Little wonder that the Halakazi died for her!"
The women looked also, but they said nothing of the beauty of Nada; they scarcely seemed to see it.
"That is she for whose sake so many of our people lie unburied," said one.
"Where, then, does she find her fine clothes?" quoth another, "she who came here last night a footsore wanderer?"
"Feathers are not enough for her: look! she must bear flowers also. Surely they are fitter to her hands than the handle of a hoe," said a third.
"Now I think that the chief of the People of the Axe will find one to worship above the axe, and that some will be left mourning," put in a fourth, glancing at Zinita and the other women of the household of the Slaughterer.
Thus they spoke, throwing words like assegais, and Nada heard them all, and knew their meaning, but she never ceased from smiling. Only Zinita said nothing, but stood looking at Nada from beneath her bent brows, while by one hand she held the little daughter of Umslopogaas, her child, and with the other played with the beads about her neck. Presently, we passed her, and Nada, knowing well who this must be, turned her eyes full upon the angry eyes of Zinita, and held them there awhile. Now what there was in the glance of Nada I cannot say, but I know that Zinita, who was afraid of few things, found something to fear in it. At the least, it was she who turned her head away, and the Lily passed on smiling, and greeted Umslopogaas with a little nod.
"Hail, Nada!" said the Slaughterer. Then he turned to his headmen and spoke: "This is she whom we went to the caves of the Halakazi to seek for Dingaan. Ou! the story is known now; one told it up at the kraal Umgugundhlovu who shall tell it no more. She prayed me to save her from Dingaan, and so I did, and all would have gone well had it not been for a certain traitor who is done with, for I took another to Dingaan. Look on her now, my friends, and say if I did not well to win her -- the Lily flower, such as there is no other in the world, to be the joy of the People of the Axe and a wife to me."
With one accord the headmen answered: "Indeed you did well, Slaughterer," for the glamour of Nada was upon them and they would cherish her as others had cherished her. Only Galazi the Wolf shook his head. But he said nothing, for words do not avail against fate. Now as I found afterwards, since Zinita, the head wife of Umslopogaas, had learned of what stock he was, she had known that Nada was no sister to him. Yet when she heard him declare that he was about to take the Lily to wife she turned upon him, saying: --
"How can this be, Lord?"
"Why do you ask, Zinita?" he answered. "Is it not allowed to a man to take another wife if he will?"
"Surely, Lord," she said; "but men do not wed their sisters, and I have heard that it was because this Nada was your sister that you saved her from Dingaan, and brought the wrath of Dingaan upon the People of the Axe, the wrath that shall destroy them."
"So I thought then, Zinita," he answered; "now I know otherwise. Nada is daughter to Mopo yonder indeed, but he is no father to me, though he has been named so, nor was the mother of Nada my mother. That is so, Councillors."
Then Zinita looked at me and muttered, "O fool of a Mouth, not for nothing did I fear evil at your hands."
I heard the words and took no note, and she poke again to Umslopogaas, saying: "Here is a mystery, O Lord Bulalio. Will it then please you to declare to us who is your father?"
"I have no father," he answered, waxing wroth; "the heavens above are my father. I am born of Blood and Fire, and she, the Lily, is born of Beauty to be my mate. Now, woman, be silent." He thought awhile, and added, "Nay, if you will know, my father was Indabazimbi the Witch- finder, the smeller-out of the king, the son of Arpi." This Umslopogaas said at a hazard, since, having denied me, he must declare a father, and dared not name the Black One who was gone. But in after years the saying was taken up in the land, and it was told that Umslopogaas was the son of Indabazimbi the Witch-finder, who had long ago fled the land; nor did he deny it. For when all this game had been played out he would not have it known that he was the son of Chaka, he who no longer sought to be a king, lest he should bring down the wrath of Panda upon him.
When the people heard this they thought that Umslopogaas mocked Zinita, and yet in his anger he spoke truth when he said first that he was born of the "heavens above," for so we Zulus name the king, and so the witch-doctor Indabazimbi named Chaka on the day of the great smelling out. But they did not take it in this sense. They held that he spoke truly when he gave it out that he was born of Indabazimbi the Witch-doctor, who had fled the land, whither I do not know.
Then Nada turned to Zinita and spoke to her in a sweet and gentle voice: "If I am not sister to Bulalio, yet I shall soon be sister to you who are the Chief's Inkosikaas, Zinita. Shall that not satisfy you, and will you not greet me kindly and with a kiss of peace, who have come from far to be your sister, Zinita?" and Nada held out her hands towards her, though whether she did this from the heart or because she would put herself in the right before the people I do not know. But Zinita scowled, and jerked at her necklace of beads, breaking the string on which they were threaded, so that the beads rolled upon the black earthen floor this way and that.
"Keep your kisses for our lord, girl," Zinita said roughly. "As my beads are scattered so shall you scatter this People of the Axe."
Now Nada turned away with a little sigh, and the people murmured, for they thought that Zinita had treated her badly. Then she stretched out her hand again, and gave the lily in it to Umslopogaas, saying: --
"Here is a token of our betrothal, Lord, for never a head of cattle have my father and I to send -- we who are outcasts; and, indeed, the bridegroom must pay the cattle. May I bring you peace and love, my Lord!"
Umslopogaas took the flower, and looked somewhat foolish with it -- he who was wont to carry the axe, and not a flower; and so that talk was ended.
Now as it chanced, this was that day of the year when, according to ancient custom, the Holder of the Axe must challenge all and sundry to come up against him to fight in single combat for Groan-Maker and the chieftainship of the people. Therefore, when the talk was done, Umslopogaas rose and went through the challenge, not thinking that any would answer him, since for some years none had dared to stand before his might. Yet three men stepped forward, and of these two were captains, and men whom the Slaughterer loved. With all the people, he looked at them astonished.
"How is this?" he said in a low voice to that captain who was nearest and who would do battle with him.
For answer the man pointed to the Lily, who stood by. Then Umslopogaas understood that because of the medicine of Nada's beauty all men desired to win her, and, since he who could win the axe would take her also, he must look to fight with many. Well, fight he must or be shamed.
Of the fray there is little to tell. Umslopogaas killed first one man and then the other, and swiftly, for, growing fearful, the third did not come up against him.
"Ah!" said Galazi, who watched, "what did I tell you, Mopo? The curse begins to work. Death walks ever with that daughter of yours, old man."
"I fear so," I answered, "and yet the maiden is fair and good and sweet."
"That will not mend matters," said Galazi.
Now on that day Umslopogaas took Nada the Lily to wife, and for awhile there was peace and quiet. But this evil thing came upon Umslopogaas, that, from the day when he wedded Nada, he hated even to look upon Zinita, and not at her alone, but on all his other wives also. Galazi said it was because Nada had bewitched him, but I know well that the only witcheries she used were the medicine of her eyes, her beauty, and her love. Still, it came to pass that henceforward, and until she had long been dead, the Slaughterer loved her, and her alone, and that is a strange sickness to come upon a man.
As may be guessed, my father, Zinita and the other women took this ill. They waited awhile, indeed, thinking that it would wear away, then they began to murmur, both to their husband and in the ears of other people, till at length there were two parties in the town, the party of Zinita and the party of Nada.
The party of Zinita was made up of women and of certain men who loved and feared their wives, but that of Nada was the greatest, and it was all of men, with Umslopogaas at the head of them, and from this division came much bitterness abroad, and quarrelling in the huts. Yet neither the Lily nor Umslopogaas heeded it greatly, nor indeed, anything, so lost and well content were they in each other's love.
Now on a certain morning, after they had been married three full moons, Nada came from her husband's hut when the sun was already high, and went down through the rock gully to the river to bathe. On the right of the path to the river lay the mealie-fields of the chief, and in them laboured Zinita and the other women of Umslopogaas, weeding the mealie-plants. They looked up and saw Nada pass, then worked on sullenly. After awhile they saw her come again fresh from the bath, very fair to see, and having flowers twined among her hair, and as she walked she sang a song of love. Now Zinita cast down her hoe.
"Is this to be borne, my sisters?" she said.
"No," answered another, "it is not to be borne. What shall we do -- shall we fall upon her and kill her now?"
"It would be more just to kill Bulalio, our lord," answered Zinita. "Nada is but a woman, and, after the fashion of us women, takes all that she can gather. But he is a man and a chief, and should know wisdom and justice."
"She has bewitched him with her beauty. Let us kill her," said the other women.
"Nay," answered Zinita, "I will speak with her," and she went and stood in the path along which the Lily walked singing, her arms folded across her breast.
Now Nada saw her and, ceasing her song, stretched out her hand to welcome her, saying, "Greeting, sister." But Zinita did not take it. "It is not fitting, sister," she said, "that my hand, stained with toil, should defile yours, fresh with the scent of flowers. But I am charged with a message, on my own behalf and the behalf of the other wives of our Lord Bulalio; the weeds grow thick in yonder corn, and we women are few; now that your love days are over, will not you come and help us? If you brought no hoe from your Swazi home, surely we will buy you one."
Now Nada saw what was meant, and the blood poured to her head. Yet she answered calmly: --
"I would willingly do this, my sister, though I have never laboured in the fields, for wherever I have dwelt the men have kept me back from all work, save such as the weaving of flowers or the stringing of beads. But there is this against it -- Umslopogaas, my husband, charged me that I should not toil with my hands, and I may not disobey my husband."
"Our husband charged you so, Nada? Nay, then it is strange. See, now, I am his head wife, his Inkosikaas -- it was I who taught him how to win the axe. Yet he has laid no command on me that I should not labour in the fields after the fashion of women, I who have borne him children; nor, indeed, has he laid such a command upon any of our sisters, his other wives. Can it then be that Bulalio loves you better than us, Nada?"
Now the Lily was in a trap, and she knew it. So she grew bold.
"One must be most loved, Zinita," she said, "as one must be most fair. You have had your hour, leave me mine; perhaps it will be short. Moreover this: Umslopogaas and I loved each other much long years before you or any of his wives saw him, and we love each other to the end. There is no more to say."
"Nay, Nada, there is still something to say; there is this to say: Choose one of two things. Go and leave us to be happy with our lord, or stay and bring death on all."
Now Nada thought awhile, and answered: "Did I believe that my love would bring death on him I love, it might well chance that I would go and leave him, though to do so would be to die. But, Zinita, I do not believe it. Death chiefly loves the weak, and if he falls it will be on the Flower, not on the Slayer of Men," and she slipped past Zinita and went on, singing no more.
Zinita watched her till she was over the ridge, and her face grew evil as she watched. Then she returned to the women.
"The Lily flouts us all, my sisters," she said. "Now listen: my counsel is that we declare a feast of women to be held at the new moon in a secret place far away. All the women and the children shall come to it except Nada, who will not leave her lover, and if there be any man whom a woman loves, perhaps, my sisters, that man would do well to go on a journey about the time of the new moon, for evil things may happen at the town of the People of the Axe while we are away celebrating our feast."
"What, then, shall befall, my sister?" asked one.
"Nay, how can I tell?" she answered. "I only know that we are minded to be rid of Nada, and thus to be avenged on a man who has scorned our love -- ay, and on those men who follow after the beauty of Nada. Is it not so, my sisters?"
"It is so," they answered.
"Then be silent on the matter, and let us give out our feast."
Now Nada told Umslopogaas of those words which she had bandied with Zinita, and the Slaughterer was troubled. Yet, because of his foolishness and of the medicine of Nada's eyes, he would not turn from his way, and was ever at her side, thinking of little else except of her. Thus, when Zinita came to him, and asked leave to declare a feast of women that should be held far away, he consented, and gladly, for, above all things, he desired to be free from Zinita and her angry looks for awhile; nor did he suspect a plot. Only he told her that Nada should not go to the feast; and in a breath both Zinita and Nada answered that is word was their will, as indeed it was, in this matter.
Now I, Mopo, saw the glamour that had fallen upon my fosterling, and spoke of it with Galazi, saying that a means must be found to wake him. Then I took Galazi fully into my mind, and told him all that he did not know of Umslopogaas, and that was little. Also, I told him of my plans to bring the Slaughterer to the throne, and of what I had done to that end, and of what I proposed to do, and this was to go in person on a journey to certain of the great chiefs and win them over.
Galazi listened, and said that it was well or ill, as the chance might be. For his part, he believed that the daughter would pull down faster than I, the father, could build up, and he pointed to Nada, who walked past us, following Umslopogaas.
Yet I determined to go, and that was on the day before Zinita won leave to celebrate the feast of women. So I sought Umslopogaas and told him, and he listened indifferently, for he would be going after Nada, and wearied of my talk of policy. I bade him farewell and left him; to Nada also I bade farewell. She kissed me, yet the name of her husband was mingled with her good-bye.
"Now madness has come upon these two," I said to myself. "Well, it will wear off, they will be changed before I come again."
I guessed little, my father, how changed they would be.
Dingaan the king sat upon a day in the kraal Umgugundhlovu, waiting till his impis should return from the Income that is now named the Blood River. He had sent them thither to destroy the laager of the Boers, and thence, as he thought, they would presently return with victory. Idly he sat in the kraal, watching the vultures wheel above the Hill of Slaughter, and round him stood a regiment.
"My birds are hungry," he said to a councillor.
"Doubtless there shall soon be meat to feed them, O King!" the councillor answered.
As he spoke one came near, saying that a woman sought leave to speak to the king upon some great matter.
"Let her come," he answered; "I am sick for tidings, perhaps she can tell of the impi."
Presently the woman was led in. She was tall and fair, and she held two children by the hand.
"What is thine errand?" asked Dingaan.
"Justice, O King," she answered.
"Ask for blood, it shall be easier to find."
"I ask blood, O King."
"The blood of whom?"
"The blood of Bulalio the Slaughterer, Chief of the People of the Axe, the blood of Nada the Lily, and of all those who cling to her."
Now Dingaan sprang up and swore an oath by the head of the Black One who was gone.
"What?" he cried, "does the Lily, then, live as the soldier thought?"
"She lives, O King. She is wife to the Slaughterer, and because of her witchcraft he has put me, his first wife, away against all law and honour. Therefore I ask vengeance on the witch and vengeance also on him who was my husband."
"Thou art a good wife," said the king. "May my watching spirit save me from such a one. Hearken! I would gladly grant thy desire, for I, too, hate this Slaughterer, and I, too, would crush this Lily. Yet, woman, thou comest in a bad hour. Here I have but one regiment, and I think that the Slaughterer may take some killing. Wait till my impis return from wiping out the white Amaboona, and it shall be as thou dost desire. Whose are those children?"
"They are my children and the children of Bulalio, who was my husband."
"The children of him whom thou wouldst cause to be slain."
"Surely, woman, thou art as good a mother as wife!" said Dingaan. "Now I have spoken -- begone!"
But the heart of Zinita was hungry for vengeance, vengeance swift and terrible, on the Lily, who lay in her place, and on her husband, who had thrust her aside for the Lily's sake. She did not desire to wait -- no, not even for an hour.
"Hearken, O King!" she cried, "the tale is not yet all told. This man, Bulalio, plots against thy throne with Mopo, son of Makedama, who was thy councillor."
"He plots against my throne, woman? The lizard plots against the cliff on which it suns itself? Then let him plot; and as for Mopo, I will catch him yet!"
"Yes, O King! but that is not all the tale. This man has another name -- he is named Umslopogaas, son of Mopo. But he is no son of Mopo: he is son to the Black One who is dead, the mighty king who was thy brother, by Baleka, sister to Mopo. Yes, I know it from the lips of Mopo. I know all the tale. He is heir to thy throne by blood, O King, and thou sittest in his place."
For a little while Dingaan sat astounded. Then he commanded Zinita to draw near and tell him that tale.
Now behind the stool on which he sat stood two councillors, nobles whom Dingaan loved, and these alone had heard the last words of Zinita. He bade these nobles stand in front of him, out of earshot and away from every other man. Then Zinita drew near, and told Dingaan the tale of the birth of Umslopogaas and all that followed, and, by many a token and many a deed of Chaka's which he remembered, Dingaan the king knew that it was a true story.
When at length she had done, he summoned the captain of the regiment that stood around: he was a great man named Faku, and he also summoned certain men who do the king's bidding. To the captain of the impi he spoke sharply, saying: --
"Take three companies and guides, and come by night to the town of the People of the Axe, that is by Ghost Mountain, and burn it, and slay all the wizards who sleep therein. Most of all, slay the Chief of the People, who is named Bulalio the Slaughterer or Umslopogaas. Kill him by torture if you may, but kill him and bring his head to me. Take that wife of his, who is known as Nada the Lily, alive if ye can, and bring her to me, for I would cause her to be slain here. Bring the cattle also. Now go, and go swiftly, this hour. If ye return having failed in one jot of my command, ye die, every one of you -- ye die, and slowly. Begone!"
The captain saluted, and, running to his regiment, issued a command. Three full companies leapt forward at his word, and ran after him through the gates of the kraal Umgugundhlovu, heading for the Ghost Mountain.
Then Dingaan called to those who do the king's bidding, and, pointing to the two nobles, his councillors, who had heard the words of Zinita, commanded that they should be killed.
The nobles heard, and, having saluted the king, covered their faces, knowing that they must die because they had learned too much. So they were killed. Now it was one of these councillors who had said that doubtless meat would soon be found to feed the king's birds.
Then the king commanded those who do his bidding that they should take the children of Zinita and make away with them.
But when Zinita heard this she cried aloud, for she loved her children. Then Dingaan mocked her.
"What?" he said, "art thou a fool as well as wicked? Thou sayest that thy husband, whom thou hast given to death, is born of one who is dead, and is heir to my throne. Thou sayest also that these children are born of him; therefore, when he is dead, they will be heirs to my throne. Am I then mad that I should suffer them to live? Woman, thou hast fallen into thine own trap. Take them away!"
Now Zinita tasted of the cup which she had brewed for other lips, and grew distraught in her misery, and wrung her hands, crying that she repented her of the evil and would warn Umslopogaas and the Lily of that which awaited them. And she turned to run towards the gates. But the king laughed and nodded, and they brought her back, and presently she was dead also.
Thus, then, my father, prospered the wickedness of Zinita, the head wife of Umslopogaas, my fosterling.
Now these were the last slayings that were wrought at the kraal Umgugundhlovu, for just as Dingaan had made an end of them and once more grew weary, he lifted his eyes and saw the hillsides black with men, who by their dress were of his own impi -- men whom he had sent out against the Boers.
And yet where was the proud array, where the plumes and shields, where the song of victory? Here, indeed, were soldiers, but they walked in groups like women and hung their heads like chidden children.
Then he learned the truth. The impi had been defeated by the banks of the Income; thousands had perished at the laager, mowed down by the guns of the Boers, thousands more had been drowned in the Income, till the waters were red and the bodies of the slain pushed each other under, and those who still lived walked upon them.
Dingaan heard, and was seized with fear, for it was said that the Amaboona followed fast on the track of the conquered.
That day he fled to the bush on the Black Umfolozi river, and that night the sky was crimson with the burning of the kraal Umgugundhlovu, where the Elephant should trumpet no more, and the vultures were scared from the Hill of Slaughter by the roaring of the flames.
Galazi sat on the lap of the stone Witch, gazing towards the wide plains below, that were yet white with the moon, though the night grew towards the morning. Greysnout whined at his side, and Deathgrip thrust his muzzle into his hand; but Galazi took no heed, for he was brooding on the fall of Umslopogaas from the man that he had been to the level of a woman's slave, and on the breaking up of the People of the Axe, because of the coming of Nada. For all the women and the children were gone to this Feast of Women, and would not return for long, and it seemed to Galazi that many of the men had slipped away also, as though they smelt some danger from afar.
Galazi sat on the lap of the stone Witch...
Greysnout whined at his side
"Ah, Deathgrip," said Galazi aloud to the wild brute at his side, "changed is the Wolf King my brother, all changed because of a woman's kiss. Now he hunts no more, no more shall Groan-Maker be aloft; it is a woman's kiss he craves, not the touch of your rough tongue, it is a woman's hand he holds, not the smooth haft of horn, he, who of all men, was the fiercest and the first; for this last shame has overtaken him. Surely Chaka was a great king though an evil, and he showed his greatness when he forbade marriage to the warriors, marriage that makes the heart soft and turns blood to water."
Now Galazi ceased, and gazed idly towards the kraal of the People of the Axe, and as he looked his eyes caught a gleam of light that seemed to travel in and out of the edge of the shadow of Ghost Mountain as a woman's needle travels through a skin, now seen and now lost in the skin.
He started and watched. Ah! there the light came out from the shadow. Now, by Chaka's head, it was the light of spears!
One moment more Galazi watched. It was a little impi, perhaps they numbered two hundred men, running silently, but not to battle, for they wore no plumes. Yet they went out to kill, for they ran in companies, and each man carried assegais and a shield.
Now Galazi had heard tell of such impis that hunt by night, and he knew well that these were the king's dogs, and their game was men, a big kraal of sleeping men, otherwise there had been fewer dogs. Is a whole pack sent out to catch an antelope on its form? Galazi wondered whom they sought. Ah! now they turned to the ford, and he knew. It was his brother Umslopogaas and Nada the Lily and the People of the Axe. These were the king's dogs, and Zinita had let them slip. For this reason she had called a feast of women, and taken the children with her; for this reason so many had been summoned from the kraal by one means or another: it was that they might escape the slaughter.
Galazi bounded to his feet. For one moment he thought. Might not these hunters be hunted? Could he not destroy them by the jaws of the wolves as once before they had destroyed a certain impi of the king's? Ay, if he had seen them but one hour before, then scarcely a man of them should have lived to reach the stream, for he would have waylaid them with his wolves. But now it might not be; the soldiers neared the ford, and Galazi knew well that his grey people would not hunt on the further plain, though for this he had heard one reason only, that which was given him by the lips of the dead in a dream.
What, then, might be done? One thing alone: warn Umslopogaas. Yet how? For him who could swim a rushing river, there was, indeed, a swifter way to the place of the People of the Axe -- a way that was to the path of the impi as is the bow-string to the strung bow. And yet they had travelled well-nigh half the length of the bow. Still, he might do it, he whose feet were the swiftest in the land, except those of Umslopogaas. At the least, he would try. Mayhap, the impi would tarry to drink at the ford.
So Galazi thought in his heart, and his thought was swift as the light. Then with a bound he was away down the mountain side. From boulder to boulder he leapt like a buck, he crashed through the brake like a bull, he skimmed the level like a swallow. The mountain was travelled now; there in front of him lay the yellow river foaming in its flood, so he had swum it before when he went to see the dead. Ah! a good leap far out into the torrent; it was strong, but he breasted it. He was through, he stood upon the bank shaking the water from him like a dog, and now he was away up the narrow gorge of stones to the long slope, running low as his wolves ran.
Before him lay the town -- one side shone silver with the sinking moon, one was grey with the breaking dawn. Ah! they were there, he saw them moving through the grass by the eastern gate; he saw the long lines of slayers creep to the left and the right.
How could he pass them before the circle of death was drawn? Six spear-throws to run, and they had but such a little way! The mealie- plants were tall, and at a spot they almost touched the fence. Up the path! Could Umslopogaas, his brother, move more fast, he wondered, than the Wolf who sped to save him? He was there, hidden by the mealie stalks, and there, along the fence to the right and to the left, the slayers crept!
"Wow! What was that?" said one soldier of the king to another man as they joined their guard completing the death circle. "Wow! something great and black crashed through the fence before me."
"I heard it, brother," answered the other man. "I heard it, but I saw nothing. It must have been a dog: no man could leap so high."
"More like a wolf," said the first; "at the least, let us pray that it was not an Esedowan(17) who will put us into the hole in its back. Is your fire ready, brother? Wow! these wizards shall wake warm; the signal should be soon."
Then arose the sound of a great voice crying, "Awake, ye sleepers, the foe is at your gates!"
Galazi rushed through the town crying aloud, and behind him rose a stir of men. All slept and no sentinels were set, for Umslopogaas was so lost in his love for Lily that he forgot his wisdom, and thought no more of war or death or of the hate of Dingaan. Presently the Wolf came to the large new hut which Umslopogaas had caused to be built for Nada the Lily, and entered it, for there he knew that he should find his brother Bulalio. On the far side of the hut the two lay sleeping, and the head of Umslopogaas rested on the Lily's breast, and by his side gleamed the great axe Groan-Maker.
"Awake!" cried the Wolf.
Now Umslopogaas sprang to his feet grasping at his axe, but Nada threw her arms wide, murmuring; "Let me sleep on, sweet is sleep."
"Sound shall ye sleep, anon!" gasped Galazi. "Swift, brother, bind on the wolf's hide, take shield! Swift, I say -- for the Slayers of the king are at your gates!"
Now Nada sprang up also, and they did his bidding like people in a dream; and, while they found their garments and a shield, Galazi took beer and drank it, and got his breath again. They stood without the hut. Now the heaven was grey, and east and west and north and south tongues of flame shot up against the sky, for the town had been fired by the Slayers.
Umslopogaas looked and his sense came back to him: he understood. "Which way, brother?" he said.
"Through the fire and the impi to our Grey People on the mountain," said Galazi. "There, if we can win it, we shall find succour."
"What of my people in the kraal," asked Umslopogaas.
"They are not many, brother; the women and the children are gone. I have roused the men -- most will escape. Hence, ere we burn!"
Now they ran towards the fence, and as they went men joined them to the number of ten, half awakened, fear-stricken, armed -- some with spears, some with clubs -- and for the most part naked. They sped on together towards the fence of the town that was now but a ring of fire, Umslopogaas and Galazi in front, each holding the Lily by a hand. They neared the fence -- from without came the shouts of the Slayers -- lo! it was afire. Nada shrank back in fear, but Umslopogaas and Galazi dragged her on. They rushed at the blazing fence, smiting with axe and club. It broke before them, they were through but little harmed. Without were a knot of the Slayers, standing back a small space because of the heat of the flames. The Slayers saw them, and crying, "This is Bulalio, kill the wizard!" sprang towards them with uplifted spears. Now the People of the Axe made a ring round Nada, and in the front of it were Umslopogaas and Galazi. Then they rushed on and met those of the Slayers who stood before them, and the men of Dingaan were swept away and scattered by Groan-Maker and the Watcher, as dust is swept of a wind, as grass is swept by a sickle.
They were through with only one man slain, but the cry went up that the chief of the wizards and the Lily, his wife, had fled. Then, as it was these whom he was chiefly charged to kill, the captain called off the impi from watching for the dwellers in the town, and started in pursuit of Umslopogaas. Now, at this time nearly a hundred men of the People of the Axe had been killed and of the Slayers some fifty men, for, having been awakened by the crying of Galazi, the soldiers of the axe fought bravely, though none saw where his brother stood, and none knew whither their chief had fled except those ten who went with the brethren.
Meanwhile, the Wolf-Brethren and those with them were well away, and it had been easy for them to escape, who were the swiftest-footed of any in the land. But the pace of a regiment is the pace of its slowest-footed soldier, and Nada could not run with the Wolf-Brethren. Yet they made good speed, and were halfway down the gorge that led to the river before the companies of Dingaan poured into it. Now they came to the end of it, and the foe was near -- this end of the gorge is narrow, my father, like the neck of a gourd -- then Galazi stopped and spoke: --
"Halt! ye People of the Axe," he said, "and let us talk awhile with these who follow till we get our breath again. But you, my brother, pass the river with the Lily in your hand. We will join you in the forest; but if perchance we cannot find you, you know what must be done: set the Lily in the cave, then return and call up the grey impi. Wow! my brother, I must find you if I may, for if these men of Dingaan have a mind for sport there shall be such a hunting on the Ghost Mountain as the old Witch has not seen. Go now, my brother!"
"It is not my way to turn and run while others stand and fight," growled Umslopogaas; "yet, because of Nada, it seems that I must."
"Oh! heed me not, my love," said Nada, "I have brought thee sorrow -- I am weary, let me die; kill me and save yourselves!"
For answer, Umslopogaas took her by the hand and fled towards the river; but before he reached it he heard the sounds of the fray, the war-cry of the Slayers as they poured upon the People of the Axe, the howl of his brother, the Wolf, when the battle joined -- ay, and the crash of the Watcher as the blow went home.
"Well bitten, Wolf!" he said, stopping; "that one shall need no more; oh! that I might" -- but again he looked at Nada, and sped on.
Now they had leaped into the foaming river, and here it was well that the Lily could swim, else both had been lost. But they won through and passed forward to the mountain's flank. Here they walked on among the trees till the forest was almost passed, and at length Umslopogaas heard the howling of a wolf.
Then he must set Nada on his shoulders and carry her as once Galazi had carried another, for it was death for any except the Wolf-Brethren to walk on the Ghost Mountain when the wolves were awake.
Presently the wolves flocked around him, and leaped upon him in joy, glaring with fierce eyes at her who sat upon his shoulders. Nada saw them, and almost fell from her seat, fainting with fear, for they were many and dreadful, and when they howled her blood turned to ice.
But Umslopogaas cheered her, telling her that these were his dogs with whom he went out hunting, and with whom he should hunt presently. At length they came to the knees of the Old Witch and the entrance to the cave. It was empty except for a wolf or two, for Galazi abode here seldom now; but when he was on the mountain would sleep in the forest, which was nearer the kraal of his brother the Slaughterer.
"Here you must stay, sweet," said Umslopogaas when he had driven out the wolves. "Here you must rest till this little matter of the Slayers is finished. Would that we had brought food, but we had little time to seek it! See, now I will show you the secret of the stone; thus far I will push it, no farther. Now a touch only is needed to send it over the socket and home; but then they must be two strong men who can pull it back again. Therefore push it no farther except in the utmost need, lest it remain where it fall, whether you will it or not. Have no fear, you are safe here; none know of this place except Galazi, myself and the wolves, and none shall find it. Now I must be going to find Galazi, if he still lives; if not, to make what play I can against the Slayers, alone with the wolves."
Now Nada wept, saying that she feared to be left, and that she should never see him more, and her grief rung his heart. Nevertheless, Umslopogaas kissed her and went, closing the stone after him in that fashion of which he had spoken. When the stone was shut the cave was almost dark, except for a ray of light that entered by a hole little larger than a man's hand, that, looked at from within, was on the right of the stone. Nada sat herself so that this ray struck full on her, for she loved light, and without it she would pine as flowers do. There she sat and thought in the darksome cave, and was filled with fear and sorrow. And while she brooded thus, suddenly the ray went out, and she heard a noise as of some beast that smells at prey. She looked, and in the gloom she saw the sharp nose and grinning fangs of a wolf that were thrust towards her through the little hole.
Nada cried aloud in fear, and the fangs were snatched back, but presently she heard a scratching without the cave, and saw the stone shake. Then she thought in her foolishness that the wolf knew how to open the stone, and that he would do this, and devour her, for she had heard the tale that all these wolves were the ghosts of evil men, having the understanding of men. So, in her fear and folly, she seized the rock and dragged on it as Umslopogaas had shown her how to do. It shook, it slipped over the socket ledge, and rolled home like a pebble down the mouth of a gourd.
"Now I am safe from the wolves," said Nada. "See, I cannot so much as stir the stone from within." And she laughed a little, then ceased from laughing and spoke again. "Yet it would be ill if Umslopogaas came back no more to roll away that rock, for then I should be like one in a grave -- as one who is placed in a grave being yet strong and quick." She shuddered as she thought of it, but presently started up and set her ear to the hole to listen, for from far down the mountain there rose a mighty howling and a din of men.
When Umslopogaas had shut the cave, he moved swiftly down the mountain, and with him went certain of the wolves; not all, for he had not summoned them. His heart was heavy, for he feared that Galazi was no more. Also he was mad with rage, and plotted in himself to destroy the Slayers of the king, every man of them; but first he must learn what they would do. Presently, as he wended, he heard a long, low howl far away in the forest; then he rejoiced, for he knew the call -- it was the call of Galazi, who had escaped the spears of the Slayers.
Swiftly he ran, calling in answer. He won the place. There, seated on a stone, resting himself, was Galazi, and round him surged the numbers of the Grey People. Umslopogaas came to him and looked at him, for he seemed somewhat weary. There were flesh wounds on his great breast and arms, the little shield was well-nigh hewn to strips, and the Watcher showed signs of war.
"How went it, brother?" asked Umslopogaas.
"Not so ill, but all those who stood with me in the way are dead, and with them a few of the foe. I alone am fled like a coward. They came on us thrice, but we held them back till the Lily was safe; then, all our men being down, I ran, Umslopogaas, and swam the torrent, for I was minded to die here in my own place."
Now, though he said little of it, I must tell you, my father, that Galazi had made a great slaughter there in the neck of the donga. Afterwards I counted the slain, and they were many; the nine men of the People of the Axe were hidden in them.
"Perhaps it shall be the Slayers who die, brother."
"Perhaps, at least, there shall be death for some. Still it is in my mind, Slaughterer, that our brotherhood draws to an end, for the fate of him who bears the Watcher, and which my father foretold, is upon me. If so, farewell. While it lasted our friendship has been good, and its ending shall be good. Moreover, it would have endured for many a year to come had you not sought, Slaughterer, to make good better, and to complete our joy of fellowship and war with the love of women. From that source flow these ills, as a river from a spring; but so it was fated. If I fall in this fray may you yet live on to fight in many another, and at the last to die gloriously with axe aloft; and may you find a brisker man and a better Watcher to serve you in your need. Should you fall and I live on, I promise this: I will avenge you to the last and guard the Lily whom you love, offering her comfort, but no more. Now the foe draws on, they have travelled round about by the ford, for they dared not face the torrent, and they cried to me that they are sworn to slay us or be slain, as Dingaan, the king, commanded. So the fighting will be of the best, if, indeed, they do not run before the fangs of the Grey People. Now, Chief, speak your word that I may obey it."
Thus Galazi spoke in the circle of the wolves, while Umslopogaas leaned upon his Axe Groan-Maker, and listened to him, ay, and wept as he listened, for after the Lily and me, Mopo, he loved Galazi most dearly of all who lived. Then he answered: --
"Were it not for one in the cave above, who is helpless and tender, I would swear to you, Wolf, that if you fall, on your carcase I will die; and I do swear that, should you fall, while I live Groan-Maker shall be busy from year to year till every man of yonder impi is as you are. Perchance I did ill, Galazi, when first I hearkened to the words of Zinita and suffered women to come between us. May we one day find a land where there are no women, and war only, for in that land we shall grow great. But now, at the least, we will make a good end to this fellowship, and the Grey People shall fight their fill, and the old Witch who sits aloft waiting for the world to die shall smile to see that fight, if she never smiled before. This is my word: that we fall upon the men of Dingaan twice, once in the glade of the forest whither they will come presently, and, if we are beaten back, then we must stand for the last time on the knees of the Witch in front of the cave where Nada is. Say, Wolf, will the Grey Folk fight?"
"To the last, brother, so long as one is left to lead them, after that I do not know! Still they have only fangs to set against spears. Slaughterer, your plan is good. Come, I am rested."
So they rose and numbered their flock, and all were there, though it was not as it had been years ago when first the Wolf-Brethren hunted on Ghost Mountain; for many of the wolves had died by men's spears when they harried the kraals of men, and no young were born to them. Then, as once before, the pack was halved, and half, the she-wolves, went with Umslopogaas, and half, the dog-wolves, went with Galazi.
Now they passed down the forest paths and hid in the tangle of the thickets at the head of the darksome glen, one on each side of the glen. Here they waited till they heard the footfall of the impi of the king's Slayers, as it came slowly along seeking them. In front of the impi went two soldiers watching for an ambush, and these two men were the same who had talked together that dawn when Galazi sprang between them. Now also they spoke as they peered this way and that; then, seeing nothing, stood awhile in the mouth of the glen waiting the coming of their company; and their words came to the ears of Umslopogaas.
"An awful place this, my brother," said one. "A place full of ghosts and strange sounds, of hands that seem to press us back, and whinings as of invisible wolves. It is named Ghost Mountain, and well named. Would that the king had found other business for us than the slaying of these sorcerers -- for they are sorcerers indeed, and this is the home of their sorceries. Tell me, brother, what was that which leaped between us this morning in the dark! I say it was a wizard. Wow! they are all wizards. Could any who was but a man have done the deeds which he who is named the Wolf wrought down by the river yonder, and then have escaped? Had the Axe but stayed with the Club they would have eaten up our impi."
"The Axe had a woman to watch," laughed the other. "Yes, it is true this is a place of wizards and evil things. Methinks I see the red eyes of the Esedowana glaring at us through the dark of the trees and smell their smell. Yet these wizards must be caught, for know this, my brother: if we return to Umgugundhlovu with the king's command undone, then there are stakes hardening in the fire of which we shall taste the point. If we are all killed in the catching, and some, it seems, are missing already, yet they must be caught. Say, my brother, shall we draw on? The impi is nigh. Would that Faku, our captain yonder, might find two others to take our place, for in this thicket I had rather run last than first. Well, here leads the spoor -- a wondrous mass of wolf-spoor mixed with the footprints of men; perhaps they are sometimes the one and sometimes the other -- who knows, my brother? It is a land of ghosts and wizards. Let us on! Let us on!"
Now all this while the Wolf-Brethren had much ado to keep their people quiet, for their mouths watered and their eyes shone at the sight of the men, and at length it could be done no more, for with a howl a single she-wolf rushed from her laid and leapt at the throat of the man who spoke, nor did she miss her grip. Down went wolf and man, rolling together on the ground, and there they killed each other.
"The Esedowana! the Esedowana are upon us!" cried the other scout, and, turning, fled towards the impi. But he never reached it, for with fearful howlings the ghost-wolves broke their cover and rushed on him from the right and the left, and lo! there was nothing of him left except his spear alone.
Now a low cry of fear rose from the impi, and some turned to fly, but Faku, the captain, a great and brave man, shouted to them, "Stand firm, children of the king, stand firm, these are no Esedowana, these are but the Wolf-Brethren and their pack. What! will ye run from dogs, ye who have laughed at the spears of men? Ring round! Stand fast!"
The soldiers heard the voice of their captain, and they obeyed his voice, forming a double circle, a ring within a ring. They looked to the right, there, Groan-Maker aloft, the wolf fangs on his brow, the worn wolf-hide streaming on the wind, Bulalio rushed upon them like a storm, and with him came his red-eyed company. They looked to the left -- ah, well they know that mighty Watcher! Have they not heard his strokes down by the river, and well they know the giant who wields it like a wand, the Wolf King, with the strength of ten! Wow! They are here! See the people black and grey, hear them howl their war-chant! Look how they leap like water -- leap in a foam of fangs against the hedge of spears! The circle is broken; Groan-Maker has broken it! Ha! Galazi also is through the double ring; now must men stand back to back or perish!
How long did it last? Who can say? Time flies fast when blows fall thick. At length the brethren are beaten back; they break out as they broke in, and are gone, with such of their wolf-folk as were left alive. Yet that impi was somewhat the worse, but one-third of those lived who looked on the sun without the forest; the rest lay smitten, torn, mangled, dead, hidden under the heaps of bodies of wild beasts.
"Now this is a battle of evil spirits that live in the shapes of wolves, and as for the Wolf-Brethren, they are sorcerers of the rarest," said Faku the captain, "and such sorcerers I love, for they fight furiously. Yet I will slay them or be slain. At the least, if there be few of us left, the most of the wolves are dead also, and the arms of the wizards grow weary."
So he moved forward up the mountain with those of the soldiers who remained, and all the way the wolves harried them, pulling down a man here and a man there; but though they heard and saw them cheering on their pack the Wolf-Brethren attacked them no more, for they saved their strength for the last fight of all.
The road was long up the mountain, and the soldiers knew little of the path, and ever the ghost-wolves harried on their flanks. So it was evening before they came to the feet of the stone Witch, and began to climb to the platform of her knees. There, on her knees as it were, they saw the Wolf-Brethren standing side by side, such a pair as were not elsewhere in the world, and they seemed afire, for the sunset beat upon them, and the wolves crept round their feet, red with blood and fire.
"A glorious pair!" quoth great Faku; "would that I fought with them rather than against them! Yet, they must die!" Then he began to climb to the knees of the Witch.
Now Umslopogaas glanced up at the stone face of her who sat aloft, and it was alight with the sunset.
"Said I not that the old Witch should smile at this fray?" he cried. "Lo! she smiles! Up, Galazi, let us spend the remnant of our people on the foe, and fight this fight out, man to man, with no beast to spoil it! Ho! Blood and Greysnout! ho! Deathgrip! ho! wood-dwellers grey and black, at them, my children!"
The wolves heard; they were few and they were sorry to see, with weariness and wounds, but still they were fierce. With a howl, for the last time they leaped down upon the foe, tearing, harrying, and killing till they themselves were dead by the spear, every one of them except Deathgrip, who crept back sorely wounded to die with Galazi.
"Now I am a chief without a people," cried Galazi. "Well, it has been my lot in life. So it was in the Halakazi kraals, so it is on Ghost Mountain at the last, and so also shall it be even for the greatest kings when they come to their ends, seeing that they, too, must die alone. Say, Slaughterer, choose where you will stand, to the left or to the right."
Now, my father, the track below separated, because of a boulder, and there were two little paths which led to the platform of the Witch's knees with, perhaps, ten paces between them. Umslopogaas guarded the left-hand path and Galazi took the right. Then they waited, having spears in their hands. Presently the soldiers came round the rock and rushed up against them, some on one path and some on the other.
Then the brethren hurled their spears at them and killed three men. Now the assegais were done, and the foe was on them. Umslopogaas bends forward, his long arm shoots out, the axe gleams, and a man who came on falls back.
"One!" cries Umslopogaas.
"One, my brother!" answers Galazi, as he draws back the Watcher from his blow.
A soldier rushes forward, singing. To and fro he moves in front of Umslopogaas, his spear poised to strike. Groan-Maker swoops down, but the man leaps back, the blow misses, and the Slaughterer's guard is down.
"A poor stroke, Sorcerer!" cries the man as he rushes in to stab him. Lo! the axe wheels in the air, it circles swiftly low down by the ground; it smites upward. Before the spearsman can strike the horn of Groan-Maker has sped from chin to brain.
"But a good return, fool!" says Umslopogaas.
"Two!" cries Galazi, from the right.
"Two! my brother," answers Umslopogaas.
Again two men come on, one against each, to find no better luck. The cry of "Three!" passes from brother to brother, and after it rises the cry of "Four!"
Now Faku bids the men who are left to hold their shields together and push the two from the mouths of the paths, and this they do, losing four more men at the hands of the brethren before it is done.
"Now we are on the open! Ring them round and down with them!" cries Faku.
But who shall ring round Groan-Maker that shines on all sides at once, Groan-Maker who falls heavily no more, but pecks and pecks and pecks like a wood-bird on a tree, and never pecks in vain? Who shall ring round those feet swifter than the Sassaby of the plains? Wow! He is here! He is there! He is a sorcerer! Death is in his hand, and death looks out of his eyes!
Galazi lives yet, for still there comes the sound of the Watcher as it thunders on the shields, and the Wolf's hoarse cry of the number of the slain. He has a score of wounds, yet he fights on! his leg is almost hewn from him with an axe, yet he fights on! His back is pierced again and again, yet he fights on! But two are left alive before him, one twists round and spears him from behind. He heeds it not, but smites down the foe in front. Then he turns and, whirling the Watcher on high, brings him down for the last time, and so mightily that the man before him is crushed like an egg.
Galazi brushes the blood from his eyes and glares round on the dead. "All! Slaughterer," he cries.
"All save two, my brother," comes the answer, sounding above the clash of steel and the sound of smitten shields.
Now the Wolf would come to him, but cannot, for his life ebbs.
"Fare you well, my brother! Death is good! Thus, indeed, I would die, for I have made me a mat of men to lie on," he cried with a great voice.
I have made me a mat of men to sleep on...VICTORY! VICTORY!
"Fare you well! Sleep softly, Wolf!" came the answer. "All save one!"
Now Galazi fell dying on the dead, but he was not altogether gone, for he still spoke. "All save one! Ha! ha! ill for that one then when Groan-Maker yet is up. It is well to have lived so to die. Victory! Victory!"
And Galazi the Wolf struggled to his knees and for the last time shook the Watcher about his head, then fell again and died.
Umslopogaas, the son of Chaka, and Faku, the captain of Dingaan, gazed on each other. They alone were left standing upon the mountain, for the rest were all down. Umslopogaas had many wounds. Faku was unhurt; he was a strong man, also armed with an axe.
Faku laughed aloud. "So it has come to this, Slaughterer," he said, "that you and I must settle whether the king's word be done or no. Well, I will say that however it should fall out, I count it a great fortune to have seen this fight, and the highest of honours to have had to do with two such warriors. Rest you a little, Slaughterer, before we close. That wolf-brother of yours died well, and if it is given me to conquer in this bout, I will tell the tale of his end from kraal to kraal throughout the land, and it shall be a tale forever."
Umslopogaas listened, but he made no answer to the words of Faku the captain, though he liked them well, for he would not waste his breath in talking, and the light grew low.
"I am ready, Man of Dingaan," he said, and lifted his axe.
Now for awhile the two circled round and round, each waiting for a chance to strike. Presently Faku smote at the head of Umslopogaas, but the Slaughterer lifted Groan-Maker to ward the blow. Faku crooked his arm and let the axe curl downwards, so that its keen edge smote Umslopogaas upon the head, severing his man's ring and the scalp beneath.
Made mad with the pain, the Slaughterer awoke, as it were. He grasped Groan-maker with both hands and struck thrice. The first blow hewed away the plumes and shield of Faku, and drive him back a spear's length, the second missed its aim, the third and mightiest twisted in his wet hands, so that the axe smote sideways. Nevertheless, it fell full on the breast of the captain Faku, shattering his bones, and sweeping him from the ledge of rock on to the slope beneath, where he lay still.
"It is finished with the daylight," said Umslopogaas, smiling grimly. "Now, Dingaan, send more Slayers to seek your slain," and he turned to find Nada in the cave.
But Faku the captain was not yet dead, though he was hurt to death. He sat up, and with his last strength he hurled the axe in his hand at him whose might had prevailed against him. The axe sped true, and Umslopogaas did not see it fly. It sped true, and its point struck him on the left temple, driving in the bone and making a great hole. Then Faku fell back dying, and Umslopogaas threw up his arms and dropped like an ox drops beneath the blow of the butcher, and lay as one dead, under the shadow of a stone.
All day long Nada crouched in the cave listening to the sounds of war that crept faintly up the mountain side; howling of wolves, shouting of men, and the clamour of iron on iron. All day long she sat, and now evening came apace, and the noise of battle drew near, swelled, and sank, and died away. She heard the voices of the Wolf-Brethren as they called to each other like bucks, naming the number of the slain. She heard Galazi's cry of "Victory!" and her heart leapt to it, though she knew that there was death in the cry. Then for the last time she heard the faint ringing of iron on iron, and the light went out and all grew still.
All grew still as the night. There came no more shouting of men and no more clash of arms, no howlings of wolves, no cries of pain or triumph -- all was quiet as death, for death had taken all.
For awhile Nada the Lily sat in the dark of the cave, saying to herself, "Presently he will come, my husband, he will surely come; the Slayers are slain -- he does not but tarry to bind his wounds; a scratch, perchance, here and there. Yes, he will come, and it is well, for I am weary of my loneliness, and this place is grim and evil."
Thus she spoke to herself in hope, but nothing came except the silence. Then she spoke again, and her voice echoed in the hollow cave. "Now I will be bold, I will fear nothing, I will push aside the stone and go out to find him. I know well he does but linger to tend some who are wounded, perhaps Galazi. Doubtless Galazi is wounded. I must go and nurse him, though he never loved me, and I do not love him overmuch who would stand between me and my husband. This wild wolf-man is a foe to women, and, most of all, a foe to me; yet I will be kind to him. Come, I will go at once," and she rose and pushed at the rock.
Why, what was this? It did not stir. Then she remembered that she had pulled it beyond the socket because of her fear of the wolf, and that the rock had slipped a little way down the neck of the cave. Umslopogaas had told her that she must not do this, and she had forgotten his words in her foolishness. Perhaps she could move the stone; no, not by the breadth of a grain of corn. She was shut in, without food or water, and here she must bide till Umslopogaas came. And if he did not come? Then she must surely die.
Now she shrieked aloud in her fear, calling on the name of Umslopogaas. The walls of the cave answered "Umslopogaas! Umslopogaas!" and that was all.
Afterwards madness fell upon Nada, my daughter, and she lay in the cave for days and nights, nor knew ever how long she lay. And with her madness came visions, for she dreamed that the dead One whom Galazi had told her of sat once more aloft in his niche at the end of the cave and spoke to her, saying: --
"Galazi is dead! The fate of him who bears the Watcher has fallen on him. Dead are the ghost-wolves; I also am of hunger in this cave, and as I died so shall you die, Nada the Lily! Nada, Star of Death! because of whose beauty and foolishness all this death has come about."
This is seemed to Nada, in her madness, that the shadow of him who had sat in the niche spoke to her from hour to hour.
It seemed to Nada, in her madness, that twice the light shone through the hole by the rock, and that was day, and twice it went out, and that was night. A third time the ray shone and died away, and lo! her madness left her, and she awoke to know that she was dying, and that a voice she loved spoke without the hole, saying in hollow accents: --
"Nada? Do you still live, Nada?"
"Yea," she answered hoarsely. "Water! give me water!"
Next she heard a sound as of a great snake dragging itself along painfully. A while passed, then a trembling hand thrust a little gourd of water through the hole. She drank, and now she could speak, though the water seemed to flow through her veins like fire.
"Is it indeed you, Umslopogaas?" she said, "or are you dead, and do I dream of you?"
"It is I, Nada," said the voice. "Hearken! have you drawn the rock home?"
"Alas! yes," she answered. "Perhaps, if the two of us strive at it, it will move."
"Ay, if our strength were what it was -- but now! Still, let us try."
So they strove with a rock, but the two of them together had not the strength of a girl, and it would not stir.
"Give over, Umslopogaas," said Nada; "we do but waste the time that is left to me. Let us talk!"
For awhile there was no answer, for Umslopogaas had fainted, and Nada beat her breast, thinking that he was dead.
Presently he spoke, however, saying, "It may not be; we must perish here, one on each side of the stone, not seeing the other's face, for my might is as water; nor can I stand upon my feet to go and seek for food."
"Are you wounded, Umslopogaas?" asked Nada.
"Ay, Nada, I am pierced to the brain with the point of an axe; no fair stroke, the captain of Dingaan hurled it at me when I thought him dead, and I fell. I do not know how long I have lain yonder under the shadow of the rock, but it must be long, for my limbs are wasted, and those who fell in the fray are picked clean by the vultures, all except Galazi, for the old wolf Deathgrip lies on his breast dying, but not dead, licking my brother's wounds, and scares the fowls away. It was the beak of a vulture, who had smelt me out at last, that woke me from my sleep beneath the stone, Nada, and I crept hither. Would that he had not awakened me, would that I had died as I lay, rather than lived a little while till you perish thus, like a trapped fox, Nada, and presently I follow you."
"It is hard to die so, Umslopogaas," she answered, "I who am yet young and fair, who love you, and hoped to give you children; but so it has come about, and it may not be put away. I am well-nigh sped, husband; horror and fear have conquered me, my strength fails, but I suffer little. Let us talk no more of death, let us rather speak of our childhood, when we wandered hand in hand; let us talk also of our love, and of the happy hours that we have spent since your great axe rang upon the rock in the Halakazi caves, and my fear told you the secret of my womanhood. See, I thrust my hand through the hole; can you not kiss it, Umslopogaas?"
Now Umslopogaas stooped his shattered head, and kissed the Lily's little hand, then he held it in his own, and so they sat till the end -- he without, resting his back against the rock, she within, lying on her side, her arm stretched through the little hole. They spoke of their love, and tried to forget their sorrow in it; he told her also of the fray which had been and how it went.
"Ah!" she said, "that was Zinita's work, Zinita who hated me, and justly. Doubtless she set Dingaan on this path."
"A little while gone," quoth Umslopogaas; "and I hoped that your last breath and mine might pass together, Nada, and that we might go together to seek great Galazi, my brother, where he is. Now I hope that help will find me, and that I may live a little while, because of a certain vengeance which I would wreak."
"Speak not of vengeance, husband," she answered, "I, too, am near to that land where the Slayer and the Slain, the Shedder of Blood and the Avenger of Blood are lost in the same darkness. I would die with love, and love only, in my heart, and your name, and yours only, on my lips, so that if anywhere we live again it shall be ready to spring forth to greet you. Yet, husband, it is in my heart that you will not go with me, but that you shall live on to die the greatest of deaths far away from here, and because of another woman. It seems that, as I lay in the dark of this cave, I saw you, Umslopogaas, a great man, gaunt and grey, stricken to the death, and the axe Groan-maker wavering aloft, and many a man dead upon a white and shimmering way, and about you the fair faces of white women; and you had a hole in your forehead, husband, on the left side."
"That is like to be true, if I live," he answered, "for the bone of my temple is shattered."
Now Nada ceased speaking, and for a long while was silent; Umslopogaas was also silent and torn with pain and sorrow because he must lose the Lily thus, and she must die so wretchedly, for one reason only, that the cast of Faku had robbed him of his strength. Alas! he who had done many deeds might not save her now; he could scarcely hold himself upright against the rock. He thought of it, and the tears flowed down his face and fell on to the hand of the Lily. She felt them fall and spoke.
"Weep not, my husband," she said, "I have been all too ill a wife to you. Do not mourn for me, yet remember that I loved you well." And again she was silent for a long space.
Then she spoke and for the last time of all, and her voice came in a gasping whisper through the hole in the rock: --
"Farewell, Umslopogaas, my husband and my brother, I thank you for your love, Umslopogaas. Ah! I die!"
Umslopogaas could make no answer, only he watched the little hand he held. Twice it opened, twice it closed upon his own, then it opened for the third time, turned grey, quivered, and was still forever!
Then it quivered, and was still for ever
Now it was at the hour of dawn that Nada died.
It chanced that on this day of Nada's death and at that same hour of dawn I, Mopo, came from my mission back to the kraal of the People of the Axe, having succeeded in my end, for that great chief whom I had gone out to visit had hearkened to my words. As the light broke I reached the town, and lo! it was a blackness and a desolation.
"Here is the footmark of Dingaan," I said to myself, and walked to and fro, groaning heavily. Presently I found a knot of men who were of the people that had escaped the slaughter, hiding in the mealie-fields lest the Slayers should return, and from them I drew the story. I listened in silence, for, my father, I was grown old in misfortune; then I asked where were the Slayers of the king? They replied that they did not know; the soldiers had gone up the Ghost Mountain after the Wolf-Brethren and Nada the Lily, and from the forest had come a howling of beasts and sounds of war; then there was silence, and none had been seen to return from the mountain, only all day long the vultures hung over it.
"Let us go up the mountain," I said.
At first they feared, because of the evil name of the place; but in the end they came with me, and we followed on the path of the impi of the Slayers and guessed all that had befallen it. At length we reached the knees of stone, and saw the place of the great fight of the Wolf- Brethren. All those who had taken part in that fight were now but bones, because the vultures had picked them every one, except Galazi, for on the breast of Galazi lay the old wolf Deathgrip, that was yet alive. I drew near the body, and the great wolf struggled to his feet and ran at me with bristling hair and open jaws, from which no sound came. Then, being spent, he rolled over dead.
Now I looked round seeking the axe Groan-Maker among the bones of the slain, and did not find it and the hope came into my heart that Umslopogaas had escaped the slaughter. Then we went on in silence to where I knew the cave must be, and there by its mouth lay the body of a man. I ran to it -- it was Umslopogaas, wasted with hunger, and in his temple was a great wound and on his breast and limbs were many other wounds. Moreover, in his hand he held another hand -- a dead hand, that was thrust through a hole in the rock. I knew its shape well -- it was the little hand of my child, Nada the Lily.
Now I understood, and, bending down, I felt the heart of Umslopogaas, and laid the down of an eagle upon his lips. His heart still stirred and the down was lifted gently.
I bade those with me drag the stone, and they did so with toil. Now the light flowed into the cave, and by it we saw the shape of Nada my daughter. She was somewhat wasted, but still very beautiful in her death. I felt her heart also: it was still, and her breast grew cold.
Then I spoke: "The dead to the dead. Let us tend the living."
So we bore in Umslopogaas, and I caused broth to be made and poured it down his throat; also I cleansed his great wound and bound healing herbs upon it, plying all my skill. Well I knew the arts of healing, my father; I who was the first of the izinyanga of medicine, and, had it not been for my craft, Umslopogaas had never lived, for he was very near his end. Still, there where he had once been nursed by Galazi the Wolf, I brought him back to life. It was three days till he spoke, and, before his sense returned to him, I caused a great hole to be dug in the floor of the cave. And there, in the hole, I buried Nada my daughter, and we heaped lily blooms upon her to keep the earth from her, and then closed in her grave, for I was not minded that Umslopogaas should look upon her dead, lest he also should die from the sight, and because of his desire to follow her. Also I buried Galazi the Wolf in the cave, and set the Watcher in his hand, and there they both sleep who are friends at last, the Lily and the Wolf together. Ah! when shall there be such another man and such another maid?
At length on the third day Umslopogaas spoke, asking for Nada. I pointed to the earth, and he remembered and understood. Thereafter the strength of Umslopogaas gathered on him slowly, and the hole in his skull skinned over. But now his hair was grizzled, and he scarcely smiled again, but grew even more grim and stern than he had been before.
Soon we learned all the truth about Zinita, for the women and children came back to the town of the People of the Axe, only Zinita and the children of Umslopogaas did not come back. Also a spy reached me from the Mahlabatine and told me of the end of Zinita and of the flight of Dingaan before the Boers.
Now when Umslopogaas had recovered, I asked him what he would do, and whether or not I should pursue my plots to make him king of the land.
But Umslopogaas shook his head, saying that he had no heart that way. He would destroy a king indeed, but now he no longer desired to be a king. He sought revenge alone. I said that it was well, I also sought vengeance, and seeking together we would find it.
Now, my father, there is much more to tell, but shall I tell it? The snow has melted, your cattle have been found where I told you they should be, and you wish to be gone. And I also, I would be gone upon a longer journey.
Listen, my father, I will be short. This came into my mind: to play off Panda against Dingaan; it was for such an hour of need that I had saved Panda alive. After the battle of the Blood River, Dingaan summoned Panda to a hunt. Then it was that I journeyed to the kraal of Panda on the Lower Tugela, and with me Umslopogaas. I warned Panda that he should not go to this hunt, for he was the game himself, but that he should rather fly into Natal with all his people. He did so, and then I opened talk with the Boers, and more especially with that Boer who was named Ungalunkulu, or Great Arm. I showed the Boer that Dingaan was wicked and not to be believed, but Panda was faithful and good. The end of it was that the Boers and Panda made war together on Dingaan. Yes, I made that war that we might be revenged on Dingaan. Thus, my father, do little things lead to great.
Were we at the big fight, the battle of Magongo? Yes, my father; we were there. When Dingaan's people drove us back, and all seemed lost, it was I who put into the mind of Nongalaza, the general, to pretend to direct the Boers where to attack, for the Amaboona stood out of that fight, leaving it to us black people. It was Umslopogaas who cut his way with Groan-Maker through a wing of one of Dingaan's regiments till he came to the Boer captain Ungalunkulu, and shouted to him to turn the flank of Dingaan. That finished it, my father, for they feared to stand against us both, the white and the black together. They fled, and we followed and slew, and Dingaan ceased to be a king.
He ceased to be a king, but he still lived, and while he lived our vengeance was hungry. So we went to the Boer captain and to Panda, and spoke to them nicely, saying, "We have served you well, we have fought for you, and so ordered things that victory is yours. Now grant us this request, that we may follow Dingaan, who has fled into hiding, and kill him wherever we find him, for he has worked us wrong, and we would avenge it."
Then the white captain and Panda smiled and said, "Go children, and prosper in your search. No one thing shall please us more than to know that Dingaan is dead." And they gave us men to go with us.
Then we hunted that king week by week as men hunt a wounded buffalo. We hunted him to the jungles of the Umfalozi and through them. But he fled ever, for he knew that the avengers of blood were on his spoor. After that for awhile we lost him. Then we heard that he had crossed the Pongolo with some of the people who still clung to him. We followed him to the place Kwa Myawo, and there we lay hid in the bush watching. At last our chance came. Dingaan walked in the bush and with him two men only. We stabbed the men and seized him.
Dingaan looked at us and knew us, and his knees trembled with fear. Then I spoke: --
"What was that message which I sent thee, O Dingaan, who art no more a king -- that thou didst evil to drive me away, was it not? because I set thee on thy throne and I alone could hold thee there?"
He made no answer, and I went on: --
"I, Mopo, son of Makedama, set thee on thy throne, O Dingaan, who wast a king, and I, Mopo, have pulled thee down from thy throne. But my message did not end there. It said that, ill as thou hadst done to drive me away, yet worse shouldst thou do to look upon my face again, for that day should be thy day of doom."
Still he made no answer. Then Umslopogaas spoke: --
"I am that Slaughterer, O Dingaan, no more a king, whom thou didst send Slayers many and fierce to eat up at the kraal of the People of the Axe. Where are thy Slayers now, O Dingaan? Before all is done thou shalt look upon them."
"Kill me and make an end; it is your hour," said Dingaan.
"Not yet awhile, O son of Senzangacona," answered Umslopogaas, "and not here. There lived a certain woman and she was named Nada the Lily. I was her husband, O Dingaan, and Mopo here, he was her father. But, alas! she died, and sadly -- she lingered three days and nights before she died. Thou shalt see the spot and hear the tale, O Dingaan. It will wring thy heart, which was ever tender. There lived certain children, born of another woman named Zinita, little children, sweet and loving. I was their father, O Elephant in a pit, and one Dingaan slew them. Of them thou shalt hear also. Now away, for the path is far!"
Two days went by, my father, and Dingaan sat bound and alone in the cave on Ghost Mountain. We had dragged him slowly up the mountain, for he was heavy as an ox. Three men pushing at him and three others pulling on a cord about his middle, we dragged him up, staying now and again to show him the bones of those whom he had sent out to kill us, and telling him the tale of that fight.
Now at length we were in the cave, and I sent away those who were with us, for we wished to be alone with Dingaan at the last. He sat down on the floor of the cave, and I told him that beneath the earth on which he sat lay the bones of that Nada whom he had murdered and the bones of Galazi the Wolf.
On the third day before the dawn we came again and looked upon him.
"Slay me," he said, "for the Ghosts torment me!"
"No longer art thou great, O shadow of a king," I said, "who now dost tremble before two Ghosts out of all the thousands that thou hast made. Say, then, how shall it fare with thee presently when thou art of their number?"
Now Dingaan prayed for mercy.
"Mercy, thou hyena!" I answered, "thou prayest for mercy who showed none to any! Give me back my daughter. Give this man back his wife and children; then we will talk of mercy. Come forth, coward, and die the death of cowards."
So, my father, we dragged him out, groaning, to the cleft that is above in the breast of the old Stone Witch, that same cleft where Galazi had found the bones. There we stood, waiting for the moment of the dawn, that hour when Nada had died. Then we cried her name into his ears and the names of the children of Umslopogaas, and cast him into the cleft.
This was the end of Dingaan, my father -- Dingaan, who had the fierce heart of Chaka without its greatness.
That is the tale of Nada the Lily, my father, and of how we avenged her. A sad tale -- yes, a sad tale; but all was sad in those days. It was otherwise afterwards, when Panda reigned, for Panda was a man of peace.
There is little more to tell. I left the land where I could stay no longer who had brought about the deaths of two kings, and came here to Natal to live near where the kraal Duguza once had stood.
The bones of Dingaan as they lay in the cleft were the last things my eyes beheld, for after that I became blind, and saw the sun no more, nor any light -- why I do not know, perhaps from too much weeping, my father. So I changed my name, lest a spear might reach the heart that had planned the death of two kings and a prince -- Chaka, Dingaan, and Umhlangana of the blood royal. Silently and by night Umslopogaas, my fosterling, led me across the border, and brought me here to Stanger; and here as an old witch-doctor I have lived for many, many years. I am rich. Umslopogaas craved back from Panda the cattle of which Dingaan had robbed me, and drove them hither. But none were here who had lived in the kraal Duguza, none knew, in Zweete the blind old witch-doctor, that Mopo who stabbed Chaka, the Lion of the Zulu. None know it now. You have heard the tale, and you alone, my father. Do not tell it again till I am dead.
Umslopogaas? Yes, he went back to the People of the Axe and ruled them, but they were never so strong again as they had been before they smote the Halakazi in their caves, and Dingaan ate them up. Panda let him be and liked him well, for Panda did not know that the Slaughterer was son to Chaka his brother, and Umslopogaas let that dog lie, for when Nada died he lost his desire to be great. Yet he became captain of the Nkomabakosi regiment, and fought in many battles, doing mighty deeds, and stood by Umbulazi, son of Panda, in the great fray on the Tugela, when Cetywayo slew his brother Umbulazi.
After that also he plotted against Cetywayo, whom he hated, and had it not been for a certain white man, a hunter named Macumazahn, Umslopogaas would have been killed. But the white man saved him by his wit. Yes, and at times he came to visit me, for he still loved me as of old; but now he has fled north, and I shall hear his voice no more. Nay, I do not know all the tale; there was a woman in it. Women were ever the bane of Umslopogaas, my fostering. I forget the story of that woman, for I remember only these things that happened long ago, before I grew very old.
Look on this right hand of mine, my father! I cannot see it now; and yet I, Mopo, son of Makedama, seem to see it as once I saw, red with the blood of two kings. Look on --
Suddenly the old man ceased, his head fell forward upon his withered breast. When the White Man to whom he told this story lifted it and looked at him, he was dead!
(17) A fabulous animal, reported by the Zulus to carry off human beings in a hole in its back.
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