Part 5 out of 5
But in later years Mr. Osborn, afterwards the resident magistrate at
Newcastle, in Natal, who, being young and foolish in those days, had
swum his horse over the Tugela and hidden in a little kopje quite near
to us in order to see the battle, told me that it looked as though some
huge breaker--that breaker being the splendid Amawombe--rolling in
towards the shore with the weight of the ocean behind it, had suddenly
struck a ridge of rock and, rearing itself up, submerged and hidden it.
At least, within three minutes that Usutu regiment was no more. We had
killed them every one, and from all along our lines rose a fierce
hissing sound of "S'gee, S'gee" ("Zhi" in the Zulu) uttered as the
spears went home in the bodies of the conquered.
That regiment had gone, taking nearly a third of our number with it, for
in such a battle as this the wounded were as good as dead. Practically
our first line had vanished in a fray that did not last more than a few
minutes. Before it was well over the second Usutu regiment sprang up
and charged. With a yell of victory we rushed down the slope towards
them. Again there was the roar of the meeting shields, but this time
the fight was more prolonged, and, being in the front rank now, I had my
share of it. I remember shooting two Usutu who stabbed at me, after
which my gun was wrenched from my hand. I remember the melee swinging
backwards and forwards, the groans of the wounded, the shouts of victory
and despair, and then Scowl's voice saying:
"We have beat them, Baas, but here come the others."
The third regiment was on our shattered lines. We closed up, we fought
like devils, even the bearer boys rushed into the fray. From all sides
they poured down upon us, for we had made a ring; every minute men died
by hundreds, and, though their numbers grew few, not one of the Amawombe
yielded. I was fighting with a spear now, though how it came into my
hand I cannot remember for certain. I think, however, I wrenched it
from a man who rushed at me and was stabbed before he could strike. I
killed a captain with this spear, for as he fell I recognised his face.
It was that of one of Cetewayo's companions to whom I had sold some
cloth at Nodwengu. The fallen were piled up quite thick around me--we
were using them as a breastwork, friend and foe together. I saw Scowl's
horse rear into the air and fall. He slipped over its tail, and next
instant was fighting at my side, also with a spear, muttering Dutch and
English oaths as he struck.
"Beetje varm! [a little hot] Beetje varm, Baas!" I heard him say. Then
my horse screamed aloud and something hit me hard upon the head--I
suppose it was a thrown kerry--after which I remember nothing for a
while, except a sensation of passing through the air.
I came to myself again, and found that I was still on the horse, which
was ambling forward across the veld at a rate of about eight miles an
hour, and that Scowl was clinging to my stirrup leather and running at
my side. He was covered with blood, so was the horse, and so was I. It
may have been our own blood, for all three were more or less wounded, or
it may have been that of others; I am sure I do not know, but we were a
terrible sight. I pulled upon the reins, and the horse stopped among
some thorns. Scowl felt in the saddlebags and found a large flask of
Hollands gin and water--half gin and half water--which he had placed
there before the battle. He uncorked and gave it to me. I took a long
pull at the stuff, that tasted like veritable nectar, then handed it to
him, who did likewise. New life seemed to flow into my veins. Whatever
teetotallers may say, alcohol is good at such a moment.
"Where are the Amawombe?" I asked.
"All dead by now, I think, Baas, as we should be had not your horse
bolted. Wow! but they made a great fight--one that will be told of!
They have carried those three regiments away upon their spears."
"That's good," I said. "But where are we going?"
"To Natal, I hope, Baas. I have had enough of the Zulus for the
present. The Tugela is not far away, and we will swim it. Come on,
before our hurts grow stiff."
So we went on, till presently we reached the crest of a rise of ground
overlooking the river, and there saw and heard dreadful things, for
beneath us those devilish Usutu were massacring the fugitives and the
camp-followers. These were being driven by the hundred to the edge of
the water, there to perish on the banks or in the stream, which was
black with drowned or drowning forms.
And oh! the sounds! Well, these I will not attempt to describe.
"Keep up stream," I said shortly, and we struggled across a kind of
donga, where only a few wounded men were hidden, into a somewhat denser
patch of bush that had scarcely been entered by the flying Isigqosa,
perhaps because here the banks of the river were very steep and
difficult; also, between them its waters ran swiftly, for this was above
For a while we went on in safety, then suddenly I heard a noise. A
great man plunged past me, breaking through the bush like a buffalo, and
came to a halt upon a rock which overhung the Tugela, for the floods had
eaten away the soil beneath.
"Umbelazi!" said Scowl, and as he spoke we saw another man following as
a wild dog follows a buck.
"Saduko!" said Scowl.
I rode on. I could not help riding on, although I knew it would be
safer to keep away. I reached the edge of that big rock. Saduko and
Umbelazi were fighting there.
In ordinary circumstances, strong and active as he was, Saduko would
have had no chance against the most powerful Zulu living. But the
prince was utterly exhausted; his sides were going like a blacksmith's
bellows, or those of a fat eland bull that has been galloped to a
standstill. Moreover, he seemed to me to be distraught with grief, and,
lastly, he had no shield left, nothing but an assegai.
A stab from Saduko's spear, which he partially parried, wounded him
slightly on the head, and cut loose the fillet of his ostrich plume,
that same plume which I had seen blown off in the morning, so that it
fell to the ground. Another stab pierced his right arm, making it
helpless. He snatched the assegai with his left hand, striving to
continue the fight, and just at that moment we came up.
"What are you doing, Saduko?" I cried. "Does a dog bite his own
He turned and stared at me; both of them stared at me.
"Aye, Macumazahn," he answered in an icy voice, "sometimes when it is
starving and that full-fed master has snatched away its bone. Nay,
stand aside, Macumazahn" (for, although I was quite unarmed, I had
stepped between them), "lest you should share the fate of this
"Not I, Saduko," I cried, for this sight made me mad, "unless you murder
Then Umbelazi spoke in a hollow voice, sobbing out his words:
"I thank you, White Man, yet do as this snake bids you--this snake that
has lived in my kraal and fed out of my cup. Let him have his fill of
vengeance because of the woman who bewitched me--yes, because of the
sorceress who has brought me and thousands to the dust. Have you heard,
Macumazahn, of the great deed of this son of Matiwane? Have you heard
that all the while he was a traitor in the pay of Cetewayo, and that he
went over, with the regiments of his command, to the Usutu just when the
battle hung upon the turn? Come, Traitor, here is my heart--the heart
that loved and trusted you. Strike--strike hard!"
"Out of the way, Macumazahn!" hissed Saduko. But I would not stir.
He sprang at me, and, though I put up the best fight that I could in my
injured state, got his hands about my throat and began to choke me.
Scowl ran to help me, but his wound--for he was hurt--or his utter
exhaustion took effect on him. Or perhaps it was excitement. At any
rate, he fell down in a fit. I thought that all was over, when again I
heard Umbelazi's voice, and felt Saduko's grip loosen at my throat, and
"Dog," said the Prince, "where is your assegai? And as he spoke he
threw it from him into the river beneath, for he had picked it up while
we struggled, but, as I noted, retained his own. "Now, dog, why do I
not kill you, as would have been easy but now? I will tell you.
Because I will not mix the blood of a traitor with my own. See!" He
set the haft of his broad spear upon the rock and bent forward over the
blade. "You and your witch-wife have brought me to nothing, O Saduko.
My blood, and the blood of all who clung to me, is on your head. Your
name shall stink for ever in the nostrils of all true men, and I whom
you have betrayed--I, the Prince Umbelazi--will haunt you while you
live; yes, my spirit shall enter into you, and when you die--ah! then
we'll meet again. Tell this tale to the white men, Macumazahn, my
friend, on whom be honour and blessings."
He paused, and I saw the tears gush from his eyes--tears mingled with
blood from the wound in his head. Then suddenly he uttered the
battle-cry of "Laba! Laba!" and let his weight fall upon the point of
It pierced him through and through. He fell on to his hands and knees.
He looked up at us--oh, the piteousness of that look!--and then rolled
sideways from the edge of the rock.
A heavy splash, and that was the end of Umbelazi the Fallen--Umbelazi,
about whom Mameena had cast her net.
A sad story in truth. Although it happened so many years ago I weep as
I write it--I weep as Umbelazi wept.
UMBEZI AND THE BLOOD ROYAL
After this I think that some of the Usutu came up, for it seemed to me
that I heard Saduko say:
"Touch not Macumazahn or his servant. They are my prisoners. He who
harms them dies, with all his House."
So they put me, fainting, on my horse, and Scowl they carried away upon
When I came to I found myself in a little cave, or rather beneath some
overhanging rocks, at the side of a kopje, and with me Scowl, who had
recovered from his fit, but seemed in a very bewildered condition.
Indeed, neither then nor afterwards did he remember anything of the
death of Umbelazi, nor did I ever tell him that tale. Like many others,
he thought that the Prince had been drowned in trying to swim the
"Are they going to kill us?" I asked of him, since, from the triumphant
shouting without, I knew that we must be in the midst of the victorious
"I don't know, Baas," he answered. "I hope not; after we have gone
through so much it would be a pity. Better to have died at the
beginning of the battle."
I nodded my head in assent, and just at that moment a Zulu, who had very
evidently been fighting, entered the place carrying a dish of toasted
lumps of beef and a gourd of water.
"Cetewayo sends you these, Macumazahn," he said, "and is sorry that
there is no milk or beer. When you have eaten a guard waits without to
escort you to him." And he went.
"Well," I said to Scowl, "if they were going to kill us, they would
scarcely take the trouble to feed us first. So let us keep up our
hearts and eat."
"Who knows?" answered poor Scowl, as he crammed a lump of beef into his
big mouth. "Still, it is better to die on a full than on an empty
So we ate and drank, and, as we were suffering more from exhaustion than
from our hurts, which were not really serious, our strength came back to
us. As we finished the last lump of meat, which, although it had been
only half cooked upon the point of an assegai, tasted very good, the
Zulu put his head into the mouth of the shelter and asked if we were
ready. I nodded, and, supporting each other, Scowl and I limped from
the place. Outside were about fifty soldiers, who greeted us with a
shout that, although it was mixed with laughter at our pitiable
appearance, struck me as not altogether unfriendly. Amongst these men
was my horse, which stood with its head hanging down, looking very
depressed. I was helped on to its back, and, Scowl clinging to the
stirrup leather, we were led a distance of about a quarter of a mile to
We found him seated, in the full blaze of the evening sun, on the
eastern slope of one of the land-waves of the veld, with the open plain
in front of him. It was a strange and savage scene. There sat the
victorious prince, surrounded by his captains and indunas, while before
him rushed the triumphant regiments, shouting his titles in the most
extravagant language. Izimbongi also--that is, professional
praisers--were running up and down before him dressed in all sorts of
finery, telling his deeds, calling him "Eater-up-of-the-Earth," and
yelling out the names of those great ones who had been killed in the
Meanwhile parties of bearers were coming up continually, carrying dead
men of distinction upon shields and laying them out in rows, as game is
laid out at the end of a day's shooting in England. It seems that
Cetewayo had taken a fancy to see them, and, being too tired to walk
over the field of battle, ordered that this should be done. Among
these, by the way, I saw the body of my old friend, Maputa, the general
of the Amawombe, and noted that it was literally riddled with spear
thrusts, every one of them in front; also that his quaint face still
wore a smile.
At the head of these lines of corpses were laid six dead, all men of
large size, in whom I recognised the brothers of Umbelazi, who had
fought on his side, and the half-brothers of Cetewayo. Among them were
those three princes upon whom the dust had fallen when Zikali, the
prophet, smelt out Masapo, the husband of Mameena.
Dismounting from my horse, with the help of Scowl, I limped through and
over the corpses of these fallen royalties, cut in the Zulu fashion to
free their spirits, which otherwise, as they believed, would haunt the
slayers, and stood in front of Cetewayo.
"Siyakubona, Macumazahn," he said, stretching out his hand to me, which
I took, though I could not find it in my heart to wish _him_ "good day."
"I hear that you were leading the Amawombe, whom my father, the King,
sent down to help Umbelazi, and I am very glad that you have escaped
alive. Also my heart is proud of the fight that they made, for you
know, Macumazahn, once, next to the King, I was general of that
regiment, though afterwards we quarrelled. Still, I am pleased that
they did so well, and I have given orders that every one of them who
remains alive is to be spared, that they may be officers of a new
Amawombe which I shall raise. Do you know, Macumazahn, that you have
nearly wiped out three whole regiments of the Usutu, killing many more
people than did all my brother's army, the Isigqosa? Oh, you are a
great man. Had it not been for the loyalty"--this word was spoken with
just a tinge of sarcasm--"of Saduko yonder, you would have won the day
for Umbelazi. Well, now that this quarrel is finished, if you will stay
with me I will make you general of a whole division of the King's army,
since henceforth I shall have a voice in affairs."
"You are mistaken, O Son of Panda," I answered; "the splendour of the
Amawombe's great stand against a multitude is on the name of Maputa, the
King's councillor and the induna of the Black One [Chaka], who is gone.
He lies yonder in his glory," and I pointed to Maputa's pierced body.
"I did but fight as a soldier in his ranks."
"Oh, yes, we know that, we know all that, Macumazahn; and Maputa was a
clever monkey in his way, but we know also that you taught him how to
jump. Well, he is dead, and nearly all the Amawombe are dead, and of my
three regiments but a handful is left; the vultures have the rest of
them. That is all finished and forgotten, Macumazahn, though by good
fortune the spears went wide of you, who doubtless are a magician, since
otherwise you and your servant and your horse would not have escaped
with a few scratches when everyone else was killed. But you did escape,
as you have done before in Zululand; and now you see here lie certain
men who were born of my father. Yet one is missing--he against whom I
fought, aye, and he whom, although we fought, I loved the best of all of
them. Now, it has been whispered in my ear that you alone know what
became of him, and, Macumazahn, I would learn whether he lives or is
dead; also, if he is dead, by whose hand he died, who would reward that
Now, I looked round me, wondering whether I should tell the truth or
hold my tongue, and as I looked my eyes met those of Saduko, who, cold
and unconcerned, was seated among the captains, but at a little distance
from any of them--a man apart; and I remembered that he and I alone knew
the truth of the end of Umbelazi.
Why, I do not know, but it came into my mind that I would keep the
secret. Why should I tell the triumphant Cetewayo that Umbelazi had
been driven to die by his own hand; why should I lay bare Saduko's
victory and shame? All these matters had passed into the court of a
different tribunal. Who was I that I should reveal them or judge the
actors of this terrible drama?
"O Cetewayo," I said, "as it chanced I saw the end of Umbelazi. No
enemy killed him. He died of a broken heart upon a rock above the
river; and for the rest of the story go ask the Tugela into which he
For a moment Cetewayo hid his eyes with his hand.
"Is it so?" he said presently. "Wow! I say again that had it not been
for Saduko, the son of Matiwane, yonder, who had some quarrel with
Indhlovu-ene-Sihlonti about a woman and took his chance of vengeance, it
might have been I who died of a broken heart upon a rock above the
river. Oh, Saduko, I owe you a great debt and will pay you well; but
you shall be no friend of mine, lest we also should chance to quarrel
about a woman, and _I_ should find myself dying of a broken heart on a
rock above a river. O my brother Umbelazi, I mourn for you, my brother,
for, after all, we played together when we were little and loved each
other once, who in the end fought for a toy that is called a throne,
since, as our father said, two bulls cannot live in the same yard, my
brother. Well, you are gone and I remain, yet who knows but that at the
last your lot may be happier than mine. You died of a broken heart,
Umbelazi, but of what shall _I_ die, I wonder?"*
[*--That history of Cetewayo's fall and tragic death and of Zikali's
vengeance I hope to write one day, for in these events also I was
destined to play a part.--A. Q.]
I have given this interview in detail, since it was because of it that
the saying went abroad that Umbelazi died of a broken heart.
So in truth he did, for before his spear pierced it his heart was
Now, seeing that Cetewayo was in one of his soft moods, and that he
seemed to look upon me kindly, though I had fought against him, I
reflected that this would be a good opportunity to ask his leave to
depart. To tell the truth, my nerves were quite shattered with all I
had gone through, and I longed to be away from the sights and sounds of
that terrible battlefield, on and about which so many thousand people
had perished this fateful day, as I had seldom longed for anything
before. But while I was making up my mind as to the best way to
approach him, something happened which caused me to lose my chance.
Hearing a noise behind me, I looked round, to see a stout man arrayed in
a very fine war dress, and waving in one hand a gory spear and in the
other a head-plume of ostrich feathers, who was shouting out:
"Give me audience of the son of the King! I have a song to sing to the
Prince. I have a tale to tell to the conqueror, Cetewayo."
I stared. I rubbed my eyes. It could not be--yes, it was--Umbezi,
"Eater-up-of-Elephants," the father of Mameena. In a few seconds,
without waiting for leave to approach, he had bounded through the line
of dead princes, stopping to kick one of them on the head and address
his poor clay in some words of shameful insult, and was prancing about
before Cetewayo, shouting his praises.
"Who is this umfokazana?" [that is, low fellow] growled the Prince.
"Bid him cease his noise and speak, lest he should be silent for ever."
"O Calf of the Black Cow, I am Umbezi, 'Eater-up-of-Elephants,' chief
captain of Saduko the Cunning, he who won you the battle, father of
Mameena the Beautiful, whom Saduko wed and whom the dead dog, Umbelazi,
stole away from him."
"Ah!" said Cetewayo, screwing up his eyes in a fashion he had when he
meant mischief, which among the Zulus caused him to be named the
"Bull-who-shuts-his-eyes-to-toss, "and what have you to tell me,
'Eater-up-of-Elephants' and father of Mameena, whom the dead dog,
Umbelazi, took away from your master, Saduko the Cunning?"
"This, O Mighty One; this, O Shaker of the Earth, that well am I named
'Eater-up-of-Elephants,' who have eaten up Indhlovu-ene-Sihlonti--the
Now Saduko seemed to awake from his brooding and started from his place;
but Cetewayo sharply bade him be silent, whereon Umbezi, the fool,
noting nothing, continued his tale.
"O Prince, I met Umbelazi in the battle, and when he saw me he fled from
me; yes, his heart grew soft as water at the sight of me, the warrior
whom he had wronged, whose daughter he had stolen."
"I hear you," said Cetewayo. "Umbelazi's heart turned to water at the
sight of you because he had wronged you--you who until this morning,
when you deserted him with Saduko, were one of his jackals. Well, and
what happened then?"
"He fled, O Lion with the Black Mane; he fled like the wind, and I, I
flew after him like--a stronger wind. Far into the bush he fled, till
at length he came to a rock above the river and was obliged to stand.
Then there we fought. He thrust at me, but I leapt over his spear
_thus_," and he gambolled into the air. "He thrust at me again, but I
bent myself _thus_," and he ducked his great head. "Then he grew tired
and my time came. He turned and ran round the rock, and I, I ran after
him, stabbing him through the back, _thus_, and _thus_, and _thus_, till
he fell, crying for mercy, and rolled off the rock into the river; and
as he rolled I snatched away his plume. See, is it not the plume of the
dead dog Umbelazi?"
Cetewayo took the ornament and examined it, showing it to one or two of
the captains near him, who nodded their heads gravely.
"Yes," he said, "this is the war plume of Umbelazi, beloved of the King,
strong and shining pillar of the Great House; we know it well, that war
plume at the sight of which many a knee has loosened. And so you killed
him, 'Eater-up-of-Elephants,' father of Mameena, you who this morning
were one of the meanest of his jackals. Now, what reward shall I give
you for this mighty deed, O Umbezi?"
"A great reward, O Terrible One," began Umbezi, but in an awful voice
Cetewayo bade him be silent.
"Yes," he said, "a great reward. Hearken, Jackal and Traitor. Your own
words bear witness against you. You, _you_ have dared to lift your hand
against the blood-royal, and with your foul tongue to heap lies and
insults upon the name of the mighty dead."
Now, understanding at last, Umbezi began to babble excuses, yes, and to
declare that all his tale was false. His fat cheeks fell in, he sank to
But Cetewayo only spat towards the man, after his fashion when enraged,
and looked round him till his eye fell upon Saduko.
"Saduko," he said, "take away this slayer of the Prince, who boasts that
he is red with my own blood, and when he is dead cast him into the river
from that rock on which he says he stabbed Panda's son."
Saduko looked round him wildly and hesitated.
"Take him away," thundered Cetewayo, "and return ere dark to make report
Then, at a sign from the Prince, soldiers flung themselves upon the
miserable Umbezi and dragged him thence, Saduko going with them; nor was
the poor liar ever seen again. As he passed by me he called to me, for
Mameena's sake, to save him; but I could only shake my head and bethink
me of the warning I had once given to him as to the fate of traitors.
It may be said that this story comes straight from the history of Saul
and David, but I can only answer that it happened. Circumstances that
were not unlike ended in a similar tragedy, that is all. What David's
exact motives were, naturally I cannot tell; but it is easy to guess
those of Cetewayo, who, although he could make war upon his brother to
secure the throne, did not think it wise to let it go abroad that the
royal blood might be lightly spilt. Also, knowing that I was a witness
of the Prince's death, he was well aware that Umbezi was but a boastful
liar who hoped thus to ingratiate himself with an all-powerful
Well, this tragic incident had its sequel. It seems--to his honour, be
it said--that Saduko refused to be the executioner of his father-in-law,
Umbezi; so those with him performed this office and brought him back a
prisoner to Cetewayo.
When the Prince learned that his direct order, spoken in the accustomed
and fearful formula of _"Take him away,"_ had been disobeyed, his rage
was, or seemed to be, great. My own conviction is that he was only
seeking a cause of quarrel against Saduko, who, he thought, was a very
powerful man, who would probably treat him, should opportunity arise, as
he had treated Umbelazi, and perhaps now that the most of Panda's sons
were dead, except himself and the lads M'tonga, Sikota and M'kungo, who
had fled into Natal, might even in future days aspire to the throne as
the husband of the King's daughter. Still, he was afraid or did not
think it politic at once to put out of his path this master of many
legions, who had played so important a part in the battle. Therefore he
ordered him to be kept under guard and taken back to Nodwengu, that the
whole matter might be investigated by Panda the King, who still ruled
the land, though henceforth only in name. Also he refused to allow me
to depart into Natal, saying that I, too, must come to Nodwengu, as
there my testimony might be needed.
So, having no choice, I went, it being fated that I should see the end
of the drama.
MAMEENA CLAIMS THE KISS
When I reached Nodwengu I was taken ill and laid up in my wagon for
about a fortnight. What my exact sickness was I do not know, for I had
no doctor at hand to tell me, as even the missionaries had fled the
country. Fever resulting from fatigue, exposure and excitement, and
complicated with fearful headache--caused, I presume, by the blow which
I received in the battle--were its principal symptoms.
When I began to get better, Scowl and some Zulu friends who came to see
me informed me that the whole land was in a fearful state of disorder,
and that Umbelazi's adherents, the Isigqosa, were still being hunted out
and killed. It seems that it was even suggested by some of the Usutu
that I should share their fate, but on this point Panda was firm.
Indeed, he appears to have said publicly that whoever lifted a spear
against me, his friend and guest, lifted it against him, and would be
the cause of a new war. So the Usutu left me alone, perhaps because
they were satisfied with fighting for a while, and thought it wisest to
be content with what they had won.
Indeed, they had won everything, for Cetewayo was now supreme--by right
of the assegai--and his father but a cipher. Although he remained the
"Head" of the nation, Cetewayo was publicly declared to be its "Feet,"
and strength was in these active "Feet," not in the bowed and sleeping
"Head." In fact, so little power was left to Panda that he could not
protect his own household. Thus one day I heard a great tumult and
shouting proceeding apparently from the Isigodhlo, or royal enclosure,
and on inquiring what it was afterwards, was told that Cetewayo had come
from the Amangwe kraal and denounced Nomantshali, the King's wife, as
"umtakati", or a witch. More, in spite of his father's prayers and
tears, he had caused her to be put to death before his eyes--a dreadful
and a savage deed. At this distance of time I cannot remember whether
Nomantshali was the mother of Umbelazi or of one of the other fallen
[*--On re-reading this history it comes back to me that she was the
mother of M'tonga, who was much younger than Umbelazi. --A. Q.]
A few days later, when I was up and about again, although I had not
ventured into the kraal, Panda sent a messenger to me with a present of
an ox. On his behalf this man congratulated me on my recovery, and told
me that, whatever might have happened to others, I was to have no fear
for my own safety. He added that Cetewayo had sworn to the King that
not a hair of my head should be harmed, in these words:
"Had I wished to kill Watcher-by-Night because he fought against me, I
could have done so down at Endondakusuka; but then I ought to kill you
also, my father, since you sent him thither against his will with your
own regiment. But I like him well, who is brave and who brought me good
tidings that the Prince, my enemy, was dead of a broken heart.
Moreover, I wish to have no quarrel with the White House [the English]
on account of Macumazahn, so tell him that he may sleep in peace."
The messenger said further that Saduko, the husband of the King's
daughter, Nandie, and Umbelazi's chief induna, was to be put upon his
trial on the morrow before the King and his council, together with
Mameena, daughter of Umbezi, and that my presence was desired at this
I asked what was the charge against them. He replied that, so far as
Saduko was concerned, there were two: first, that he had stirred up
civil war in the land, and, secondly, that having pushed on Umbelazi
into a fight in which many thousands perished, he had played the
traitor, deserting him in the midst of the battle, with all his
following--a very heinous offence in the eyes of Zulus, to whatever
party they may belong.
Against Mameena there were three counts of indictment. First, that it
was she who had poisoned Saduko's child and others, not Masapo, her
first husband, who had suffered for that crime. Secondly, that she had
deserted Saduko, her second husband, and gone to live with another man,
namely, the late Prince Umbelazi. Thirdly, that she was a witch, who
had enmeshed Umbelazi in the web of her sorceries and thereby caused him
to aspire to the succession to the throne, to which he had no right, and
made the isililo, or cry of mourning for the dead, to be heard in every
kraal in Zululand.
"With three such pitfalls in her narrow path, Mameena will have to walk
carefully if she would escape them all," I said.
"Yes, Inkoosi, especially as the pitfalls are dug from side to side of
the path and have a pointed stake set at the bottom of each of them.
Oh, Mameena is already as good as dead, as she deserves to be, who
without doubt is the greatest umtakati north of the Tugela."
I sighed, for somehow I was sorry for Mameena, though why she should
escape when so many better people had perished because of her I did not
know; and the messenger went on:
"The Black One [that is, Panda] sent me to tell Saduko that he would be
allowed to see you, Macumazahn, before the trial, if he wished, for he
knew that you had, been a friend of his, and thought that you might be
able to give evidence in his favour."
"And what did Saduko say to that?" I asked.
"He said that he thanked the King, but that it was not needful for him
to talk with Macumazahn, whose heart was white like his skin, and whose
lips, if they spoke at all, would tell neither more nor less than the
truth. The Princess Nandie, who is with him--for she will not leave him
in his trouble, as all others have done--on hearing these words of
Saduko's, said that they were true, and that for this reason, although
you were her friend, she did not hold it necessary to see you either."
Upon this intimation I made no comment, but "my head thought," as the
natives say, that Saduko's real reason for not wishing to see me was
that he felt ashamed to do so, and Nandie's that she feared to learn
more about her husband's perfidies than she knew already.
"With Mameena it is otherwise," went on the messenger, "for as soon as
she was brought here with Zikali the Little and Wise, with whom, it
seems, she has been sheltering, and learned that you, Macumazahn, were
at the kraal, she asked leave to see you--"
"And is it granted?" I broke in hurriedly, for I did not at all wish for
a private interview with Mameena.
"Nay, have no fear, Inkoosi," replied the messenger with a smile; "it is
refused, because the King said that if once she saw you she would
bewitch you and bring trouble on you, as she does on all men. It is for
this reason that she is guarded by women only, no man being allowed to
go near to her, for on women her witcheries will not bite. Still, they
say that she is merry, and laughs and sings a great deal, declaring that
her life has been dull up at old Zikali's, and that now she is going to
a place as gay as the veld in spring, after the first warm rain, where
there will be plenty of men to quarrel for her and make her great and
happy. That is what she says, the witch who knows perhaps what the
Place of Spirits is like."
Then, as I made no remarks or suggestions, the messenger departed,
saying that he would return on the morrow to lead me to the place of
Next morning, after the cows had been milked and the cattle loosed from
their kraals, he came accordingly, with a guard of about thirty men, all
of them soldiers who had survived the great fight of the Amawombe.
These warriors, some of whom had wounds that were scarcely healed,
saluted me with loud cries of "Inkoosi!" and "Baba" as I stepped out of
the wagon, where I had spent a wretched night of unpleasant
anticipation, showing me that there were at least some Zulus with whom I
remained popular. Indeed, their delight at seeing me, whom they looked
upon as a comrade and one of the few survivors of the great adventure,
was quite touching. As we went, which we did slowly, their captain told
me of their fears that I had been killed with the others, and how
rejoiced they were when they learned that I was safe. He told me also
that, after the third regiment had attacked them and broken up their
ring, a small body of them, from eighty to a hundred only, managed to
cut a way through and escape, running, not towards the Tugela, where so
many thousands had perished, but up to Nodwengu, where they reported
themselves to Panda as the only survivors of the Amawombe.
"And are you safe now?" I asked of the captain.
"Oh, yes," he answered. "You see, we were the King's men, not
Umbelazi's, so Cetewayo bears us no grudge. Indeed, he is obliged to
us, because we gave the Usutu their stomachs full of good fighting,
which is more than did those cows of Umbelazi's. It is towards Saduko
that he bears a grudge, for you know, my father, one should never pull a
drowning man out of the stream--which is what Saduko did, for had it not
been for his treachery, Cetewayo would have sunk beneath the water of
Death--especially if it is only to spite a woman who hates him. Still,
perhaps Saduko will escape with his life, because he is Nandie's
husband, and Cetewayo fears Nandie, his sister, if he does not love her.
But here we are, and those who have to watch the sky all day will be
able to tell of the evening weather" (in other words, those who live
As he spoke we passed into the private enclosure of the isi-gohlo,
outside of which a great many people were gathered, shouting, talking
and quarrelling, for in those days all the usual discipline of the Great
Place was relaxed. Within the fence, however, that was strongly guarded
on its exterior side, were only about a score of councillors, the King,
the Prince Cetewayo, who sat upon his right, the Princess Nandie,
Saduko's wife, a few attendants, two great, silent fellows armed with
clubs, whom I guessed to be executioners, and, seated in the shade in a
corner, that ancient dwarf, Zikali, though how he came to be there I did
Obviously the trial was to be quite a private affair, which accounted
for the unusual presence of the two "slayers." Even my Amawombe guard
was left outside the gate, although I was significantly informed that if
I chose to call upon them they would hear me, which was another way of
saying that in such a small gathering I was absolutely safe.
Walking forward boldly towards Panda, who, though he was as fat as ever,
looked very worn and much older than when I had last seen him, I made my
bow, whereon he took my hand and asked after my health. Then I shook
Cetewayo's hand also, as I saw that it was stretched out to me. He
seized the opportunity to remark that he was told that I had suffered a
knock on the head in some scrimmage down by the Tugela, and he hoped
that I felt no ill effects. I answered: No, though I feared that there
were a few others who had not been so fortunate, especially those who
had stumbled against the Amawombe regiment, with whom I chanced to be
travelling upon a peaceful mission of inquiry.
It was a bold speech to make, but I was determined to give him a quid
pro quo, and, as a matter of fact, he took it in very good part,
laughing heartily at the joke.
After this I saluted such of the councillors present as I knew, which
was not many, for most of my old friends were dead, and sat down upon
the stool that was placed for me not very far from the dwarf Zikali, who
stared at me in a stony fashion, as though he had never seen me before.
There followed a pause. Then, at some sign from Panda, a side gate in
the fence was opened, and through it appeared Saduko, who walked proudly
to the space in front of the King, to whom he gave the salute of
"Bayete," and, at a sign, sat himself down upon the ground. Next,
through the same gate, to which she was conducted by some women, came
Mameena, quite unchanged and, I think, more beautiful than she had ever
been. So lovely did she look, indeed, in her cloak of grey fur, her
necklet of blue beads, and the gleaming rings of copper which she wore
upon her wrists and ankles, that every eye was fixed upon her as she
glided gracefully forward to make her obeisance to Panda.
This done, she turned and saw Nandie, to whom she also bowed, as she did
so inquiring after the health of her child. Without waiting for an
answer, which she knew would not be vouchsafed, she advanced to me and
grasped my hand, which she pressed warmly, saying how glad she was to
see me safe after going through so many dangers, though she thought I
looked even thinner than I used to be.
Only of Saduko, who was watching her with his intent and melancholy
eyes, she took no heed whatsoever. Indeed, for a while I thought that
she could not have seen him. Nor did she appear to recognise Cetewayo,
although he stared at her hard enough. But, as her glance fell upon the
two executioners, I thought I saw her shudder like a shaken reed. Then
she sat down in the place appointed to her, and the trial began.
The case of Saduko was taken first. An officer learned in Zulu
law--which I can assure the reader is a very intricate and
well-established law--I suppose that he might be called a kind of
attorney-general, rose and stated the case against the prisoner. He
told how Saduko, from a nobody, had been lifted to a great place by the
King and given his daughter, the Princess Nandie, in marriage. Then he
alleged that, as would be proved in evidence, the said Saduko had urged
on Umbelazi the Prince, to whose party he had attached himself, to make
war upon Cetewayo. This war having begun, at the great battle of
Endondakusuka, he had treacherously deserted Umbelazi, together with
three regiments under his command, and gone over to Cetewayo, thereby
bringing Umbelazi to defeat and death.
This brief statement of the case for the prosecution being finished,
Panda asked Saduko whether he pleaded guilty or not guilty.
"Guilty, O King," he answered, and was silent.
Then Panda asked him if he had anything to say in excuse of his conduct.
"Nothing, O King, except that I was Umbelazi's man, and when you, O
King, had given the word that he and the Prince yonder might fight, I,
like many others, some of whom are dead and some alive, worked for him
with all my ten fingers that he might have the victory."
"Then why did you desert my son the Prince in the battle?" asked Panda.
"Because I saw that the Prince Cetewayo was the stronger bull and wished
to be on the winning side, as all men do--for no other reason," answered
Now, everyone present stared, not excepting Cetewayo. Panda, who, like
the rest of us, had heard a very different tale, looked extremely
puzzled, while Zikali, in his corner, set up one of his great laughs.
After a long pause, at length the King, as supreme judge, began to pass
sentence. At least, I suppose that was his intention, but before three
words had left his lips Nandie rose and said:
"My Father, ere you speak that which cannot be unspoken, hear me. It is
well known that Saduko, my husband, was my brother Umbelazi's general
and councillor, and if he is to be killed for clinging to the Prince,
then I should be killed also, and countless others in Zululand who still
remain alive because they were not in or escaped the battle. It is well
known also, my Father, that during that battle Saduko went over to my
brother Cetewayo, though whether this brought about the defeat of
Umbelazi I cannot say. Why did he go over? He tells you because he
wished to be on the winning side. It is not true. He went over in
order to be revenged upon Umbelazi, who had taken from him yonder
witch"--and she pointed with her finger at Mameena--"yonder witch, whom
he loved and still loves, and whom even now he would shield, even though
to do so he must make his own name shameful. Saduko sinned; I do not
deny it, my Father, but there sits the real traitress, red with the
blood of Umbelazi and with that of thousands of others who have
'_tshonile'd_' [gone down to keep him company among the ghosts].
Therefore, O King, I beseech you, spare the life of Saduko, my husband,
or, if he must die, learn that I, your daughter, will die with him. I
have spoken, O King."
And very proudly and quietly she sat herself down again, waiting for the
But those words were not spoken, since Panda only said: "Let us try the
case of this woman, Mameena."
Thereon the law officer rose again and set out the charges against
Mameena, namely, that it was she who had poisoned Saduko's child, and
not Masapo; that, after marrying Saduko, she had deserted him and gone
to live with the Prince Umbelazi; and that finally she had bewitched the
said Umbelazi and caused him to make civil war in the land.
"The second charge, if proved, namely, that this woman deserted her
husband for another man, is a crime of death," broke in Panda abruptly
as the officer finished speaking; "therefore, what need is there to hear
the first and the third until that is examined. What do you plead to
that charge, woman?"
Now, understanding that the King did not wish to stir up these other
matters of murder and witchcraft for some reason of his own, we all
turned to hear Mameena's answer.
"O King," she said in her low, silvery voice, "I cannot deny that I left
Saduko for Umbelazi the Handsome, any more than Saduko can deny that he
left Umbelazi the beaten for Cetewayo the conqueror."
"Why did you leave Saduko?" asked Panda.
"O King, perhaps because I loved Umbelazi; for was he not called the
Handsome? Also _you_ know that the Prince, your son, was one to be
loved." Here she paused, looking at poor Panda, who winced. "Or,
perhaps, because I wished to be great; for was he not of the Blood
Royal, and, had it not been for Saduko, would he not one day have been a
king? Or, perhaps, because I could no longer bear the treatment that
the Princess Nandie dealt out to me; she who was cruel to me and
threatened to beat me, because Saduko loved my hut better than her own.
Ask Saduko; he knows more of these matters than I do," and she gazed at
him steadily. Then she went on: "How can a woman tell her reasons, O
King, when she never knows them herself?"--a question at which some of
her hearers smiled.
Now Saduko rose and said slowly:
"Hear me, O King, and I will give the reason that Mameena hides. She
left me for Umbelazi because I bade her to do so, for I knew that
Umbelazi desired her, and I wished to tie the cord tighter which bound
me to one who at that time I thought would inherit the Throne. Also, I
was weary of Mameena, who quarrelled night and day with the Princess
Nandie, my Inkosikazi."
Now Nandie gasped in astonishment (and so did I), but Mameena laughed
"Yes, O King, those were the two real reasons that I had forgotten. I
left Saduko because he bade me, as he wished to make a present to the
Prince. Also, he was tired of me; for many days at a time he would
scarcely speak to me, because, however kind she might be, I could not
help quarrelling with the Princess Nandie. Moreover, there was another
reason which I have forgotten: I had no child, and not having any child
I did not think it mattered whether I went or stayed. If Saduko
searches, he will remember that I told him so, and that he agreed with
Again she looked at Saduko, who said hurriedly:
"Yes, yes, I told her so; I told her that I wished for no barren cows in
Now some of the audience laughed outright, but Panda frowned.
"It seems," he said, "that my ears are being stuffed with lies, though
which of these two tells them I cannot say. Well, if the woman left the
man by his own wish, and that his ends might be furthered, as he says,
he had put her away, and therefore the fault, if any, is his, not hers.
So that charge is ended. Now, woman, what have you to tell us of the
witchcraft which it is said you practised upon the Prince who is gone,
thereby causing him to make war in the land?"
"Little that you would wish to hear, O King, or that it would be seemly
for me to speak," she answered, drooping her head modestly. "The only
witchcraft that ever I practised upon Umbelazi lies here"--and she
touched her beautiful eyes--"and here"--and she touched her curving
lips--"and in this poor shape of mine which some have thought so fair.
As for the war, what had I to do with war, who never spoke to Umbelazi,
who was so dear to me"--and she looked up with tears running down her
face--"save of love? O King, is there a man among you all who would
fear the witcheries of such a one as I; and because the Heavens made me
beautiful with the beauty that men must follow, am I also to be killed
as a sorceress?"
Now, to this argument neither Panda nor anyone else seemed to find an
answer, especially as it was well known that Umbelazi had cherished his
ambition to the succession long before he met Mameena. So that charge
was dropped, and the first and greatest of the three proceeded with;
namely, that it was she, Mameena, and not her husband, Masapo, who had
murdered Nandie's child.
When this accusation was made against her, for the first time I saw a
little shade of trouble flit across Mameena's soft eyes.
"Surely, O King," she said, "that matter was settled long ago, when the
Ndwande, Zikali, the great Nyanga, smelt out Masapo the wizard, he who
was my husband, and brought him to his death for this crime. Must I
then be tried for it again?"
"Not so, woman," answered Panda. "All that Zikali smelt out was the
poison that wrought the crime, and as some of that poison was found upon
Masapo, he was killed as a wizard. Yet it may be that it was not he who
used the poison."
"Then surely the King should have thought of that before he died,"
murmured Mameena. "But I forget: It is known that Masapo was always
hostile to the House of Senzangakona."
To this remark Panda made no answer, perhaps because it was
unanswerable, even in a land where it was customary to kill the supposed
wizard first and inquire as to his actual guilt afterwards, or not at
all. Or perhaps he thought it politic to ignore the suggestion that he
had been inspired by personal enmity. Only, he looked at his daughter,
Nandie, who rose and said:
"Have I leave to call a witness on this matter of the poison, my
Panda nodded, whereon Nandie said to one of the councillors:
"Be pleased to summon my woman, Nahana, who waits without."
The man went, and presently returned with an elderly female who, it
appeared, had been Nandie's nurse, and, never having married, owing to
some physical defect, had always remained in her service, a person well
known and much respected in her humble walk of life.
"Nahana," said Nandie, "you are brought here that you may repeat to the
King and his council a tale which you told to me as to the coming of a
certain woman into my hut before the death of my first-born son, and
what she did there. Say first, is this woman present here?"
"Aye, Inkosazana," answered Nahana, "yonder she sits. Who could mistake
her?" and she pointed to Mameena, who was listening to every word
intently, as a dog listens at the mouth of an ant-bear hole when the
beast is stirring beneath.
"Then what of the woman and her deeds?" asked Panda.
"Only this, O King. Two nights before the child that is dead was taken
ill, I saw Mameena creep into the hut of the lady Nandie, I who was
asleep alone in a corner of the big hut out of reach of the light of the
fire. At the time the lady Nandie was away from the hut with her son.
Knowing the woman for Mameena, the wife of Masapo, who was on friendly
terms with the Inkosazana, whom I supposed she had come to visit, I did
not declare myself; nor did I take any particular note when I saw her
sprinkle a little mat upon which the babe, Saduko's son, was wont to be
laid, with some medicine, because I had heard her promise to the
Inkosazana a powder which she said would drive away insects. Only, when
I saw her throw some of this powder into the vessel of warm water that
stood by the fire, to be used for the washing of the child, and place
something, muttering certain words that I could not catch, in the straw
of the doorway, I thought it strange, and was about to question her when
she left the hut. As it happened, O King, but a little while
afterwards, before one could count ten tens indeed, a messenger came to
the hut to tell me that my old mother lay dying at her kraal four days'
journey from Nodwengu, and prayed to see me before she died. Then I
forgot all about Mameena and the powder, and, running out to seek the
Princess Nandie, I craved her leave to go with the messenger to my
mother's kraal, which she granted to me, saying that I need not return
until my mother was buried.
"So I went. But, oh! my mother took long to die. Whole moons passed
before I shut her eyes, and all this while she would not let me go; nor,
indeed, did I wish to leave her whom I loved. At length it was over,
and then came the days of mourning, and after those some more days of
rest, and after them again the days of the division of the cattle, so
that in the end six moons or more had gone by before I returned to the
service of the Princess Nandie, and found that Mameena was now the
second wife of the lord Saduko. Also I found that the child of the lady
Nandie was dead, and that Masapo, the first husband of Mameena, had been
smelt out and killed as the murderer of the child. But as all these
things were over and done with, and as Mameena was very kind to me,
giving me gifts and sparing me tasks, and as I saw that Saduko my lord
loved her much, it never came into my head to say anything of the matter
of the powder that I saw her sprinkle on the mat.
"After she had run away with the Prince who is dead, however, I did tell
the lady Nandie. Moreover, the lady Nandie, in my presence, searched in
the straw of the doorway of the hut and found there, wrapped in soft
hide, certain medicines such as the Nyangas sell, wherewith those who
consult them can bewitch their enemies, or cause those whom they desire
to love them or to hate their wives or husbands. That is all I know of
the story, O King."
"Do my ears hear a true tale, Nandie?" asked Panda. "Or is this woman a
liar like others?"
"I think not, my Father; see, here is the muti [medicine] which Nahana
and I found hid in the doorway of the hut that I have kept unopened till
And she laid on the ground a little leather bag, very neatly sewn with
sinews, and fastened round its neck with a fibre string.
Panda directed one of the councillors to open the bag, which the man did
unwillingly enough, since evidently he feared its evil influence,
pouring out its contents on to the back of a hide shield, which was then
carried round so that we might all look at them. These, so far as I
could see, consisted of some withered roots, a small piece of human
thigh bone, such as might have come from the skeleton of an infant, that
had a little stopper of wood in its orifice, and what I took to be the
fang of a snake.
Panda looked at them and shrank away, saying:
"Come hither, Zikali the Old, you who are skilled in magic, and tell us
what is this medicine."
Then Zikali rose from the corner where he had been sitting so silently,
and waddled heavily across the open space to where the shield lay in
front of the King. As he passed Mameena, she bent down over the dwarf
and began to whisper to him swiftly; but he placed his hands upon his
big head, covering up his ears, as I suppose, that he might not hear her
"What have I to do with this matter, O King?" he asked.
"Much, it seems, O Opener-of-Roads," said Panda sternly, "seeing that
you were the doctor who smelt out Masapo, and that it was in your kraal
that yonder woman hid herself while her lover, the Prince, my son, who
is dead, went down to the battle, and that she was brought thence with
you. Tell us, now, the nature of this muti, and, being wise, as you
are, be careful to tell us truly, lest it should be said, O Zikali, that
you are not a Nyanga only, but an umtakati as well. For then," he added
with meaning, and choosing his words carefully, "perchance, O Zikali, I
might be tempted to make trial of whether or no it is true that you
cannot be killed like other men, especially as I have heard of late that
your heart is evil towards me and my House."
For a moment Zikali hesitated--I think to give his quick brain time to
work, for he saw his great danger. Then he laughed in his dreadful
fashion and said:
"Oho! the King thinks that the otter is in the trap," and he glanced at
the fence of the isi-gohlo and at the fierce executioners, who stood
watching him sternly. "Well, many times before has this otter seemed to
be in a trap, yes, ere your father saw light, O Son of Senzangakona, and
after it also. Yet here he stands living. Make no trial, O King, of
whether or no I be mortal, lest if Death should come to such a one as I,
he should take many others with him also. Have you not heard the saying
that when the Opener-of-Roads comes to the end of his road there will be
no more a King of the Zulus, as when he began his road there was no King
of the Zulus, since the days of his manhood are the days of _all_ the
Thus he spoke, glaring at Panda and at Cetewayo, who shrank before his
"Remember," he went on, "that the Black One who is 'gone down' long ago,
the Wild Beast who fathered the Zulu herd, threatened him whom he named
the 'Thing-that-should-not-have-been-born,' aye, and slew those whom he
loved, and afterwards was slain by others, who also are 'gone down,' and
that you alone, O Panda, did not threaten him, and that you alone, O
Panda, have not been slain. Now, if you would make trial of whether I
die as other men die, bid your dogs fall on, for Zikali is ready," and
he folded his arms and waited.
Indeed, all of us waited breathlessly, for we understood that the
terrible dwarf was matching himself against Panda and Cetewayo and
defying them both. Presently it became obvious that he had won the
game, since Panda only said:
"Why should I slay one whom I have befriended in the past, and why do
you speak such heavy words of death in my ears, O, Zikali the Wise,
which of late have heard so much of death?" He sighed, adding: "Be
pleased now, to tell us of this medicine, or, if you will not, go, and I
will send for other Nyangas."
"Why should I not tell you, when you ask me softly and without threats,
O King? See"--and Zikali took up some of the twisted roots--"these are
the roots of a certain poisonous herb that blooms at night on the tops
of mountains, and woe be to the ox that eats thereof. They have been
boiled in gall and blood, and ill will befall the hut in which they are
hidden by one who can speak the words of power. This is the bone of a
babe that has never lived to cut its teeth--I think of a babe that was
left to die alone in the bush because it was hated, or because none
would father it. Such a bone has strength to work ill against other
babes; moreover, it is filled with a charmed medicine. Look!" and,
pulling out the plug of wood, he scattered some grey powder from the
bone, then stopped it up again. "This," he added, picking up the fang,
"is the tooth of a deadly serpent, that, after it has been doctored, is
used by women to change the heart of a man from another to herself. I
And he turned to go.
"Stay!" said the King. "Who set these foul charms in the doorway of
"How can I tell, O King, unless I make preparation and cast the bones
and smell out the evil-doer? You have heard the story of the woman
Nahana. Accept it or reject it as your heart tells you."
"If that story be true, O Zikali, how comes it that you yourself smelt
out, not Mameena, the wife of Masapo, but Masapo, her husband, himself,
and caused him to be slain because of the poisoning of the child of
"You err, O King. I, Zikali, smelt out the House of Masapo. Then I
smelt out the poison, searching for it first in the hair of Mameena, and
finding it in the kaross of Masapo. I never smelt out that it was
Masapo who gave the poison. That was the judgment of you and of your
Council, O King. Nay, I knew well that there was more in the matter,
and had you paid me another fee and bade me to continue to use my
wisdom, without doubt I should have found this magic stuff hidden in the
hut, and mayhap have learned the name of the hider. But I was weary,
who am very old; and what was it to me if you chose to kill Masapo or
chose to let him go? Masapo, who, being your secret enemy, was a man
who deserved to die--if not for this matter, then for others."
Now, all this while I had been watching Mameena, who sat, in the Zulu
fashion, listening to this deadly evidence, a slight smile upon her
face, and without attempting any interruption or comment. Only I saw
that while Zikali was examining the medicine, her eyes were seeking the
eyes of Saduko, who remained in his place, also silent, and, to all
appearance, the least interested of anyone present. He tried to avoid
her glance, turning his head uneasily; but at length her eyes caught his
and held them. Then his heart began to beat quickly, his breast heaved,
and on his face there grew a look of dreamy content, even of happiness.
From that moment forward, till the end of the scene, Saduko never took
his eyes off this strange woman, though I think that, with the exception
of the dwarf, Zikali, who saw everything, and of myself, who am trained
to observation, none noted this curious by-play of the drama.
The King began to speak. "Mameena," he said, "you have heard. Have you
aught to say? For if not it would seem that you are a witch and a
murderess, and one who must die."
"Yea, a little word, O King," she answered quietly. "Nahana speaks
truth. It is true that I entered the hut of Nandie and set the medicine
there. I say it because by nature I am not one who hides the truth or
would attempt to throw discredit even upon a humble serving-woman," and
she glanced at Nahana.
"Then from between your own teeth it is finished," said Panda.
"Not altogether, O King. I have said that I set the medicine in the
hut. I have not said, and I will not say, how and why I set it there.
That tale I call upon Saduko yonder to tell to you, he who was my
husband, that I left for Umbelazi, and who, being a man, must therefore
hate me. By the words he says I will abide. If he declares that I am
guilty, then I am guilty, and prepared to pay the price of guilt. But
if he declares that I am innocent, then, O King and O Prince Cetewayo,
without fear I trust myself to your justness. Now speak, O Saduko;
speak the whole truth, whatever it may be, if that is the King's will."
"It is my will," said Panda.
"And mine also," added Cetewayo, who, I could see, like everyone else,
was much interested in this matter.
Saduko rose to his feet, the same Saduko that I had always known, and
yet so changed. All the life and fire had gone from him; his pride in
himself was no more; none could have known him for that ambitious,
confident man who, in his day of power, the Zulus named the
"Self-Eater." He was a mere mask of the old Saduko, informed by some
new, some alien, spirit. With dull, lack-lustre eyes fixed always upon
the lovely eyes of Mameena, in slow and hesitating tones he began his
"It is true, O Lion," he said, "that Mameena spread the poison upon my
child's mat. It is true that she set the deadly charms in the doorway
of Nandie's hut. These things she did, not knowing what she did, and it
was I who instructed her to do them. This is the case. From the
beginning I have always loved Mameena as I have loved no other woman and
as no other woman was ever loved. But while I was away with Macumazahn,
who sits yonder, to destroy Bangu, chief of the Amakoba, he who had
killed my father, Umbezi, the father of Mameena, he whom the Prince
Cetewayo gave to the vultures the other day because he had lied as to
the death of Umbelazi, he, I say, forced Mameena, against her will, to
marry Masapo the Boar, who afterwards was executed for wizardry. Now,
here at your feast, when you reviewed the people of the Zulus, O King,
after you had given me the lady Nandie as wife, Mameena and I met again
and loved each other more than we had ever done before. But, being an
upright woman, Mameena thrust me away from her, saying:
"'I have a husband, who, if he is not dear to me, still is my husband,
and while he lives to him I will be true.' Then, O King, I took counsel
with the evil in my heart, and made a plot in myself to be rid of the
Boar, Masapo, so that when he was dead I might marry Mameena. This was
the plot that I made--that my son and Princess Nandie's should be
poisoned, and that Masapo should seem to poison him, so that he might be
killed as a wizard and I marry Mameena."
Now, at this astounding statement, which was something beyond the
experience of the most cunning and cruel savage present there, a gasp of
astonishment went up from the audience; even old Zikali lifted his head
and stared. Nandie, too, shaken out of her usual calm, rose as though
to speak; then, looking first at Saduko and next at Mameena, sat herself
down again and waited. But Saduko went on again in the same cold,
"I gave Mameena a powder which I had bought for two heifers from a great
doctor who lived beyond the Tugela, but who is now dead, which powder I
told her was desired by Nandie, my Inkosikazi, to destroy the little
beetles than ran about the hut, and directed her where she was to spread
it. Also, I gave her the bag of medicine, telling her to thrust it into
the doorway of the hut, that it might bring a blessing upon my House.
These things she did ignorantly to please me, not knowing that the
powder was poison, not knowing that the medicine was bewitched. So my
child died, as I wished it to die, and, indeed, I myself fell sick
because by accident I touched the powder.
"Afterwards Masapo was smelt out as a wizard by old Zikali, I having
caused a bag of the poison to be sewn in his kaross in order to deceive
Zikali, and killed by your order, O King, and Mameena was given to me as
a wife, also by your order, O King, which was what I desired. Later on,
as I have told you, I wearied of her, and wishing to please the Prince
who has wandered away, I commanded her to yield herself to him, which
Mameena did out of her love for me and to advance my fortunes, she who
is blameless in all things."
Saduko finished speaking and sat down again, as an automaton might do
when a wire is pulled, his lack-lustre eyes still fixed upon Mameena's
"You have heard, O King," said Mameena. "Now pass judgment, knowing
that, if it be your will, I am ready to die for Saduko's sake."
But Panda sprang up in a rage.
_"Take him away!"_ he said, pointing to Saduko. "Take away that dog who
is not fit to live, a dog who eats his own child that thereby he may
cause another to be slain unjustly and steal his wife."
The executioners leapt forward, and, having something to say, for I
could bear this business no longer, I began to rise to my feet. Before
I gained them, however, Zikali was speaking.
"O King," he said, "it seems that you have killed one man unjustly on
this matter, namely, Masapo. Would you do the same by another?" and he
pointed to Saduko.
"What do you mean?" asked Panda angrily. "Have you not heard this low
fellow, whom I made great, giving him the rule over tribes and my
daughter in marriage, confess with his own lips that he murdered his
child, the child of my blood, in order that he might eat a fruit which
grew by the roadside for all men to nibble at?" and he glared at
"Aye, Child of Senzangakona," answered Zikali, "I heard Saduko say this
with his own lips, but the voice that spoke from the lips was not the
voice of Saduko, as, were you a skilled Nyanga like me, you would have
known as well as I do, and as well as does the white man,
Watcher-by-Night, who is a reader of hearts.
"Hearken now, O King, and you great ones around the King, and I will
tell you a story. Matiwane, the father of Saduko, was my friend, as he
was yours, O King, and when Bangu slew him and his people, by leave of
the Wild Beast [Chaka], I saved the child, his son, aye, and brought him
up in my own House, having learned to love him. Then, when he became a
man, I, the Opener-of-Roads, showed him two roads, down either of which
he might choose to walk--the Road of Wisdom and the Road of War and
Women: the white road that runs through peace to knowledge, and the red
road that runs through blood to death.
"But already there stood one upon this red road who beckoned him, she
who sits yonder, and he followed after her, as I knew he would. From
the beginning she was false to him, taking a richer man for her husband.
Then, when Saduko grew great, she grew sorry, and came to ask my
counsel as to how she might be rid of Masapo, whom she swore she hated.
I told her that she could leave him for another man, or wait till her
Spirit moved him from her path; but I never put evil into her heart,
seeing that it was there already.
"Then she and no other, having first made Saduko love her more than
ever, murdered the child of Nandie, his Inkosikazi; and so brought about
the death of Masapo and crept into Saduko's arms. Here she slept a
while, till a new shadow fell upon her, that of the
'Elephant-with-the-tuft-of-hair,' who will walk the woods no more. Him
she beguiled that she might grow great the quicker, and left the house
of Saduko, taking his heart with her, she who was destined to be the
doom of men.
"Now, into Saduko's breast, where his heart had been, entered an evil
spirit of jealousy and of revenge, and in the battle of Endondakusuka
that spirit rode him as a white man rides a horse. As he had arranged
to do with the Prince Cetewayo yonder--nay, deny it not, O Prince, for
I know all; did you not make a bargain together, on the third night
before the battle, among the bushes, and start apart when the buck leapt
out between you?" (Here Cetewayo, who had been about to speak, threw the
corner of his kaross over his face.) "As he had arranged to do, I say,
he went over with his regiments from the Isigqosa to the Usutu, and so
brought about the fall of Umbelazi and the death of many thousands.
Yes, and this he did for one reason only--because yonder woman had left
him for the Prince, and he cared more for her than for all the world
could give him, for her who had filled him with madness as a bowl is
filled with milk. And now, O King, you have heard this man tell you a
story, you have heard him shout out that he is viler than any man in all
the land; that he murdered his own child, the child he loved so well, to
win this witch; that afterwards he gave her to his friend and lord to
buy more of his favour, and that lastly he deserted that lord because he
thought that there was another lord from whom he could buy more favour.
Is it not so, O King?"
"It is so," answered Panda, "and therefore must Saduko be thrown out to
"Wait a while, O King. I say that Saduko has spoken not with his own
voice, but with the voice of Mameena. I say that she is the greatest
witch in all the land, and that she has drugged him with the medicine of
her eyes, so that he knows not what he says, even as she drugged the
Prince who is dead."
"Then prove it, or he dies!" exclaimed the King.
Now the dwarf went to Panda and whispered in his ear, whereon Panda
whispered in turn into the ears of two of his councillors. These men,
who were unarmed, rose and made as though to leave the isi-gohlo. But
as they passed Mameena one of them suddenly threw his arms about her,
pinioning her arms, the other tearing off the kaross he wore--for the
weather was cold--flung it over her head and knotted it behind her so
that she was hidden except for her ankles and feet. Then, although she
did not move or struggle, they caught hold of her and stood still.
Now Zikali hobbled to Saduko and bade him rise, which he did. Then he
looked at him for a long while and made certain movements with his hands
before his face, after which Saduko uttered a great sigh and stared
"Saduko," said Zikali, "I pray you tell me, your foster-father, whether
it is true, as men say, that you sold your wife, Mameena, to the Prince
Umbelazi in order that his favour might fall on you like heavy rain?"
"Wow! Zikali," said Saduko, with a start of rage, "If were you as others
are I would kill you, you toad, who dare to spit slander on my name.
She ran away with the Prince, having beguiled him with the magic of her
"Strike me not, Saduko," went on Zikali, "or at least wait to strike
until you have answered one more question. Is it true, as men say, that
in the battle of Endondakusuka you went over to the Usutu with your
regiments because you thought that Indhlovu-ene-Sihlonti would be
beaten, and wished to be on the side of him who won?"
"What, Toad! More slander?" cried Saduko. "I went over for one reason
only--to be revenged upon the Prince because he had taken from me her
who was more to me than life or honour. Aye, and when I went over
Umbelazi was winning; it was because I went that he lost and died, as I
meant that he should die, though now," he added sadly, "I would that I
had not brought him to ruin and the dust, who think that, like myself,
he was but wet clay in a woman's fingers.
"O King," he added, turning to Panda, "kill me, I pray you, who am not
worthy to live, since to him whose hand is red with the blood of his
friend, death alone is left, who, while he breathes, must share his
sleep with ghosts that watch him with their angry eyes."
Then Nandie sprang up and said:
"Nay, Father, listen not to him who is mad, and therefore holy.* What
he has done, he has done, who, as he has said, was but a tool in
another's hand. As for our babe, I know well that he would have died
sooner than harm it, for he loved it much, and when it was taken away,
for three whole days and nights he wept and would touch no food. Give
this poor man to me, my Father--to me, his wife, who loves him--and let
us go hence to some other land, where perchance we may forget."
[*--The Zulus suppose that insane people are inspired.--A. Q.]
"Be silent, daughter," said the King; "and you, O Zikali, the Nyanga, be
They obeyed, and, after thinking awhile, Panda made a motion with his
hand, whereon the two councillors lifted the kaross from off Mameena,
who looked about her calmly and asked if she were taking part in some
"Aye, woman," answered Panda, "you are taking part in a great game, but
not, I think, such as is played by children--a game of life and death.
Now, have you heard the tale of Zikali the Little and Wise, and the
words of Saduko, who was once your husband, or must they be repeated to
"There is no need, O King; my ears are too quick to be muffled by a fur
bag, and I would not waste your time."
"Then what have you to say, woman?"
"Not much," she answered with a shrug of her shoulders, "except that I
have lost in this game. You will not believe me, but if you had left me
alone I should have told you so, who did not wish to see that poor fool,
Saduko, killed for deeds he had never done. Still, the tale he told you
was not told because I had bewitched him; it was told for love of me,
whom he desired to save. It was Zikali yonder; Zikali, the enemy of
your House, who in the end will destroy your House, O Son of
Senzangakona, that bewitched him, as he has bewitched you all, and
forced the truth out of his unwilling heart.
"Now, what more is there to say? Very little, as I think. I did the
things that are laid to my charge, and worse things which have not been
stated. Oh, I played for great stakes, I, who meant to be the
Inkosazana of the Zulus, and, as it chances, by the weight of a hair I
have lost. I thought that I had counted everything, but the hair's
weight which turned the balance against me was the mad jealousy of this
fool, Saduko, upon which I had not reckoned. I see now that when I left
Saduko I should have left him dead. Thrice I had thought of it. Once I
mixed the poison in his drink, and then he came in, weary with his
plottings, and kissed me ere he drank; and my woman's heart grew soft
and I overset the bowl that was at his lips. Do you not remember,
"So, so! For that folly alone I deserve to die, for she who would
reign"--and her beautiful eyes flashed royally--"must have a tiger's
heart, not that of a woman. Well, because I was too kind I must die;
and, after all is said, it is well to die, who go hence awaited by
thousands upon thousands that I have sent before me, and who shall be
greeted presently by your son, Indhlovu-ene-Sihlonti, and his warriors,
greeted as the Inkosazana of Death, with red, lifted spears and with the
"Now, I have spoken. Walk your little road, O King and Prince and
Councillors, till you reach the gulf into which I sink, that yawns for
all of you. O King, when you meet me again at the bottom of that gulf,
what a tale you will have to tell me, you who are but the shadow of a
king, you whose heart henceforth must be eaten out by a worm that is
called _Love-of-the-Lost_. O Prince and Conqueror Cetewayo, what a tale
you will have to tell me when I greet you at the bottom of that gulf,
you who will bring your nation to a wreck and at last die as I must
die--only the servant of others and by the will of others. Nay, ask me
not how. Ask old Zikali, my master, who saw the beginning of your House
and will see its end. Oh, yes, as you say, I am a witch, and I know, I
know! Come, I am spent. You men weary me, as men have always done,
being but fools whom it is so easy to make drunk, and who when drunk are
so unpleasing. Piff! I am tired of you sober and cunning, and I am
tired of you drunken and brutal, you who, after all, are but beasts of
the field to whom Mvelingangi, the Creator, has given heads which can
think, but which always think wrong.
"Now, King, before you unchain your dogs upon me, I ask one moment. I
said that I hated all men, yet, as you know, no woman can tell the
truth--quite. There is a man whom I do not hate, whom I never hated,
whom I think I love because he would not love me. He sits there," and
to my utter dismay, and the intense interest of that company, she
pointed at me, Allan Quatermain!
"Well, once by my 'magic,' of which you have heard so much, I got the
better of this man against his will and judgment, and, because of that
soft heart of mine, I let him go; yes, I let the rare fish go when he
was on my hook. It is well that I should have let him go, since, had I
kept him, a fine story would have been spoiled and I should have become
nothing but a white hunter's servant, to be thrust away behind the door
when the white Inkosikazi came to eat his meat--I, Mameena, who never
loved to stand out of sight behind a door. Well, when he was at my feet
and I spared him, he made me a promise, a very small promise, which yet
I think he will keep now when we part for a little while. Macumazahn,
did you not promise to kiss me once more upon the lips whenever and
wherever I should ask you?"
"I did," I answered in a hollow voice, for in truth her eyes held me as
they had held Saduko.
"Then come now, Macumazahn, and give me that farewell kiss. The King
will permit it, and since I have now no husband, who take Death to
husband, there is none to say you nay."
I rose. It seemed to me that I could not help myself. I went to her,
this woman surrounded by implacable enemies, this woman who had played
for great stakes and lost them, and who knew so well how to lose. I
stood before her, ashamed and yet not ashamed, for something of her
greatness, evil though it might be, drove out my shame, and I knew that
my foolishness was lost in a vast tragedy.
Slowly she lifted her languid arm and threw it about my neck; slowly she
bent her red lips to mine and kissed me, once upon the mouth and once
upon the forehead. But between those two kisses she did a thing so
swiftly that my eyes could scarcely follow what she did. It seemed to
me that she brushed her left hand across her lips, and that I saw her
throat rise as though she swallowed something. Then she thrust me from
"Farewell, O Macumazana, you will never forget this kiss of mine; and
when we meet again we shall have much to talk of, for between now and
then your story will be long. Farewell, Zikali. I pray that all your
plannings may succeed, since those you hate are those I hate, and I bear
you no grudge because you told the truth at last. Farewell, Prince
Cetewayo. You will never be the man your brother would have been, and
your lot is very evil, you who are doomed to pull down a House built by
One who was great. Farewell, Saduko the fool, who threw away your
fortune for a woman's eyes, as though the world were not full of women.
Nandie the Sweet and the Forgiving will nurse you well until your
haunted end. Oh! why does Umbelazi lean over your shoulder, Saduko, and
look at me so strangely? Farewell, Panda the Shadow. Now let loose
your slayers. Oh! let them loose swiftly, lest they should be balked of
Panda lifted his hand and the executioners leapt forward, but ere ever
they reached her, Mameena shivered, threw wide her arms and fell
back--dead. The poisonous drug she had taken worked well and swiftly.
Such was the end of Mameena, Child of Storm.
A deep silence followed, a silence of awe and wonderment, till suddenly
it was broken by a sound of dreadful laughter. It came from the lips of
Zikali the Ancient, Zikali, the
That evening at sunset, just as I was about to trek, for the King had
given me leave to go, and at that time my greatest desire in life seemed
to be to bid good-bye to Zululand and the Zulus--I saw a strange,
beetle-like shape hobbling up the hill towards me, supported by two big
men. It was Zikali.
He passed me without a word, merely making a motion that I was to follow
him, which I did out of curiosity, I suppose, for Heaven knows I had
seen enough of the old wizard to last me for a lifetime. He reached a
flat stone about a hundred yards above my camp, where there was no bush
in which anyone could hide, and sat himself down, pointing to another
stone in front of him, on which I sat myself down. Then the two men
retired out of earshot, and, indeed, of sight, leaving us quite alone.
"So you are going away, O Macumazana?" he said.
"Yes, I am," I answered with energy, "who, if I could have had my will,
would have gone away long ago."
"Yes, yes, I know that; but it would have been a great pity, would it
not? If you had gone, Macumazahn, you would have missed seeing the end
of a strange little story, and you, who love to study the hearts of men
and women, would not have been so wise as you are to-day."
"No, nor as sad, Zikali. Oh! the death of that woman!" And I put my
hand before my eyes.
"Ah! I understand, Macumazahn; you were always fond of her, were you
not, although your white pride would not suffer you to admit that black
fingers were pulling at your heartstrings? She was a wonderful witch,
was Mameena; and there is this comfort for you--that she pulled at other
heartstrings as well. Masapo's, for instance; Saduko's, for instance;
Umbelazi's, for instance, none of whom got any luck from her
pulling--yes, and even at mine."
Now, as I did not think it worth while to contradict his nonsense so far
as I was concerned personally, I went off on this latter point.
"If you show affection as you did towards Mameena to-day, Zikali, I pray
my Spirit that you may cherish none for me," I said.
He shook his great head pityingly as he answered:
"Did you never love a lamb and kill it afterwards when you were hungry,
or when it grew into a ram and butted you, or when it drove away your
other sheep, so that they fell into the hands of thieves? Now, I am
very hungry for the fall of the House of Senzangakona, and the lamb,
Mameena, having grown big, nearly laid me on my back to-day within the
reach of the slayer's spear. Also, she was hunting my sheep, Saduko,
into an evil net whence he could never have escaped. So, somewhat
against my will, I was driven to tell the truth of that lamb and her
"I daresay," I exclaimed; "but, at any rate, she is done with, so what
is the use of talking about her?"
"Ah! Macumazahn, she is done with, or so you think, though that is a
strange saying for a white man who believes in much that we do not know;
but at least her work remains, and it has been a great work. Consider
now. Umbelazi and most of the princes, and thousands upon thousands of
the Zulus, whom I, the Dwande, hate, dead, dead! _Mameena's work_,
Macumazahn! Panda's hand grown strengthless with sorrow and his eyes
blind with tears. _Mameena's work_, Macumazahn! Cetewayo, king in all
but name; Cetewayo, who shall bring the House of Senzangakona to the
dust. _Mameena's work_, Macumazahn! Oh! a mighty work. Surely she has
lived a great and worthy life, and she died a great and worthy death!
And how well she did it! Had you eyes to see her take the poison which
I gave her--a good poison, was it not?--between her kisses, Macumazahn?"
"I believe it was your work, and not hers," I blurted out, ignoring his
mocking questions. "You pulled the strings; you were the wind that
caused the grass to bend till the fire caught it and set the town in
flames--the town of your foes."
"How clever you are, Macumazahn! If your wits grow so sharp, one day
they will cut your throat, as, indeed, they have nearly done several
times already. Yes, yes, I know how to pull strings till the trap
falls, and to blow grass until the flame catches it, and how to puff at
that flame until it burns the House of Kings. And yet this trap would
have fallen without me, only then it might have snared other rats; and
this grass would have caught fire if I had not blown, only then it might
have burnt another House. I did not make these forces, Macumazahn; I
did but guide them towards a great end, for which the White House [that
is, the English] should thank me one day." He brooded a while, then
went on: "But what need is there to talk to you of these matters,
Macumazahn, seeing that in a time to come you will have your share in
them and see them for yourself? After they are finished, then we will
"I do not wish to talk of them," I answered. "I have said so already.
But for what other purpose did you take the trouble to come here?"
"Oh, to bid you farewell for a little while, Macumazahn. Also to tell
you that Panda, or rather Cetewayo, for now Panda is but his Voice,
since the Head must go where the Feet carry it, has spared Saduko at the
prayer of Nandie and banished him from the land, giving him his cattle
and any people who care to go with him to wherever he may choose to live
from henceforth. At least, Cetewayo says it was at Nandie's prayer, and
at mine and yours, but what he means is that, after all that has
happened, he thought it wise that Saduko should die of himself."
"Do you mean that he should kill himself, Zikali?"
"No, no; I mean that his own idhlozi, his Spirit, should be left to kill
him, which it will do in time. You see, Macumazahn, Saduko is now
living with a ghost, which he calls the ghost of Umbelazi, whom he
"Is that your way of saying he is mad, Zikali?"
"Oh, yes, he lives with a ghost, or the ghost lives in him, or he is
mad--call it which you will. The mad have a way of living with ghosts,
and ghosts have a way of sharing their food with the mad. Now you
understand everything, do you not?"
"Of course," I answered; "it is as plain as the sun."
"Oh! did I not say you were clever, Macumazahn, you who know where
madness ends and ghosts begin, and why they are just the same thing?
Well, the sun is no longer plain. Look, it has sunk; and you would be
on your road who wish to be far from Nodwengu before morning. You will
pass the plain of Endondakusuka, will you not, and cross the Tugela by
the drift? Have a look round, Macumazahn, and see if you can recognise
any old friends. Umbezi, the knave and traitor, for instance; or some
of the princes. If so, I should like to send them a message. What!
You cannot wait? Well, then, here is a little present for you, some of
my own work. Open it when it is light again, Macumazahn; it may serve
to remind you of the strange little tale of Mameena with the Heart of
Fire. I wonder where she is now? Sometimes, sometimes--" And he
rolled his great eyes about him and sniffed at the air like a hound.
"Farewell till we meet again. Farewell, Macumazahn. Oh! if you had
only run away with Mameena, how different things might have been
I jumped up and fled from that terrible old dwarf, whom I verily
believe-- No; where is the good of my saying what I believe? I fled
from him, leaving him seated on the stone in the shadows, and as I fled,
out of the darkness behind me there arose the sound of his loud and
Next morning I opened the packet which he had given me, after wondering
once or twice whether I should not thrust it down an ant-bear hole as it
was. But this, somehow, I could not find the heart to do, though now I
wish I had. Inside, cut from the black core of the umzimbiti wood, with
just a little of the white sap left on it to mark the eyes, teeth and
nails, was a likeness of Mameena. Of course, it was rudely executed,
but it was--or rather is, for I have it still--a wonderfully good
portrait of her, for whether Zikali was or was not a wizard, he was
certainly a good artist. There she stands, her body a little bent, her
arms outstretched, her head held forward with the lips parted, just as
though she were about to embrace somebody, and in one of her hands, cut
also from the white sap of the umzimbiti, she grasps a human
heart--Saduko's, I presume, or perhaps Umbelazi's.
Nor was this all, for the figure was wrapped in a woman's hair, which I
knew at once for that of Mameena, this hair being held in place by the
necklet of big blue beads she used to wear about her throat.
* * * * *
Some five years had gone by, during which many things had happened to me
that need not be recorded here, when one day I found myself in a rather
remote part of the Umvoti district of Natal, some miles to the east of a
mountain called the Eland's Kopje, whither I had gone to carry out a big
deal in mealies, over which, by the way, I lost a good bit of money.
That has always been my fate when I plunged into commercial ventures.
One night my wagons, which were overloaded with these confounded
weevilly mealies, got stuck in the drift of a small tributary of the
Tugela that most inopportunely had come down in flood. Just as darkness
fell I managed to get them up the bank in the midst of a pelting rain
that soaked me to the bone. There seemed to be no prospect of lighting
a fire or of obtaining any decent food, so I was about to go to bed
supperless when a flash of lightning showed me a large kraal situated
upon a hillside about half a mile away, and an idea entered my mind.
"Who is the headman of that kraal?" I asked of one of the Kafirs who had
collected round us in our trouble, as such idle fellows always do.
"Tshoza, Inkoosi," answered the man.
"Tshoza! Tshoza!" I said, for the name seemed familiar to me. "Who is
"Ikona [I don't know], Inkoosi. He came from Zululand some years ago
with Saduko the Mad."
Then, of course, I remembered at once, and my mind flew back to the
night when old Tshoza, the brother of Matiwane, Saduko's father, had cut
out the cattle of the Bangu and we had fought the battle in the pass.
"Oh!" I said, "is it so? Then lead me to Tshoza, and I will give you a
'Scotchman.'" (That is, a two-shilling piece, so called because some
enterprising emigrant from Scotland passed off a vast number of them
among the simple natives of Natal as substitutes for half-crowns.)
Tempted by this liberal offer--and it was very liberal, because I was
anxious to get to Tshoza's kraal before its inhabitants went to bed--the
meditative Kafir consented to guide me by a dark and devious path that
ran through bush and dripping fields of corn. At length we arrived--for
if the kraal was only half a mile away, the path to it covered fully two
miles--and glad enough was I when we had waded the last stream and found
ourselves at its gate.
In response to the usual inquiries, conducted amid a chorus of yapping
dogs, I was informed that Tshoza did not live there, but somewhere else;
that he was too old to see anyone; that he had gone to sleep and could
not be disturbed; that he was dead and had been buried last week, and so
"Look here, my friend," I said at last to the fellow who was telling me
all these lies, "you go to Tshoza in his grave and say to him that if he
does not come out alive instantly, Macumazahn will deal with his cattle
as once he dealt with those of Bangu."
Impressed with the strangeness of this message, the man departed, and
presently, in the dim light of the rain-washed moon, I perceived a
little old man running towards me; for Tshoza, who was pretty ancient at
the beginning of this history, had not been made younger by a severe
wound at the battle of the Tugela and many other troubles.
"Macumazahn," he said, "is that really you? Why, I heard that you were
dead long ago; yes, and sacrificed an ox for the welfare of your
"And ate it afterwards, I'll be bound," I answered.
"Oh! it must be you," he went on, "who cannot be deceived, for it is
true we ate that ox, combining the sacrifice to your Spirit with a
feast; for why should anything be wasted when one is poor? Yes, yes, it
must be you, for who else would come creeping about a man's kraal at
night, except the Watcher-by-Night? Enter, Macumazahn, and be welcome."
So I entered and ate a good meal while we talked over old times.
"And now, where is Saduko?" I asked suddenly as I lit my pipe.
"Saduko?" he answered, his face changing as he spoke. "Oh! of course he
is here. You know I came away with him from Zululand. Why? Well, to
tell the truth, because after the part we had played--against my will,
Macumazahn--at the battle of Endondakusuka, I thought it safer to be
away from a country where those who have worn their karosses inside out
find many enemies and few friends."
"Quite so," I said. "But about Saduko?"
"Oh, I told you, did I not? He is in the next hut, and dying!"
"Dying! What of, Tshoza?"
"I don't know," he answered mysteriously; "but I think he must be
bewitched. For a long while, a year or more, he has eaten little and
cannot bear to be alone in the dark; indeed, ever since he left Zululand
he has been very strange and moody."
Now I remembered what old Zikali had said to me years before to the
effect that Saduko was living with a ghost which would kill him.
"Does he think much about Umbelazi, Tshoza?" I asked.
"O Macumazana, he thinks of nothing else; the Spirit of Umbelazi is in
him day and night."
"Indeed," I said. "Can I see him?"
"I don't know, Macumazahn. I will go and ask the lady Nandie at once,
for, if you can, I believe there is no time to lose." And he left the
Ten minutes later he returned with a woman, Nandie the Sweet herself,
the same quiet, dignified Nandie whom I used to know, only now somewhat
worn with trouble and looking older than her years.
"Greeting, Macumazahn," she said. "I am pleased to see you, although it
is strange, very strange, that you should come here just at this time.
Saduko is leaving us--on a long journey, Macumazahn."
I answered that I had heard so with grief, and wondered whether he would
like to see me.
"Yes, very much, Macumazahn; only be prepared to find him different from
the Saduko whom you knew. Be pleased to follow me."
So we went out of Tshoza's hut, across a courtyard to another large hut,
which we entered. It was lit with a good lamp of European make; also a
bright fire burned upon the hearth, so that the place was as light as
day. At the side of the hut a man lay upon some blankets, watched by a
woman. His eyes were covered with his hand, and he was moaning:
"Drive him away! Drive him away! Cannot he suffer me to die in peace?"
"Would you drive away your old friend, Macumazahn, Saduko?" asked Nandie
very gently, "Macumazahn, who has come from far to see you?"
He sat up, and, the blankets falling off him, showed me that he was
nothing but a living skeleton. Oh! how changed from that lithe and
handsome chief whom I used to know. Moreover, his lips quivered and his
eyes were full of terrors.
"Is it really you, Macumazahn?" he said in a weak voice. "Come, then,
and stand quite close to me, so that he may not get between us," and he
stretched out his bony hand.
I took the hand; it was icy cold.
"Yes, yes, it is I, Saduko," I said in a cheerful voice; "and there is
no man to get between us; only the lady Nandie, your wife, and myself
are in the hut; she who watched you has gone."
"Oh, no, Macumazahn, there is another in the hut whom you cannot see.
There he stands," and he pointed towards the hearth. "Look! The spear
is through him and his plume lies on the ground!"
"Through whom, Saduko?"
"Whom? Why, the Prince Umbelazi, whom I betrayed for Mameena's sake."
"Why do you talk wind, Saduko?" I asked. "Years ago I saw
"Die, Macumazahn! We do not die; it is only our flesh that dies. Yes,
yes, I have learned that since we parted. Do you not remember his last
words: 'I will haunt you while you live, and when you cease to live, ah!
then we shall meet again'? Oh! from that hour to this he _has_ haunted
me, Macumazahn--he and the others; and now, now we are about to meet as
Then once more he hid his eyes and groaned.
"He is mad," I whispered to Nandie.
"Perhaps. Who knows?" she answered, shaking her head.
Saduko uncovered his eyes.
"Make 'the-thing-that-burns' brighter," he gasped, "for I do not
perceive him so clearly when it is bright. Oh! Macumazahn, he is
looking at you and whispering. To whom is he whispering? I see! to
Mameena, who also looks at you and smiles. They are talking. Be
silent. I must listen."
Now, I began to wish that I were out of that hut, for really a little of
this uncanny business went a long way. Indeed, I suggested going, but
Nandie would not allow it.
"Stay with me till the end," she muttered. So I had to stay, wondering
what Saduko heard Umbelazi whispering to Mameena, and on which side of
me he saw her standing.
He began to wander in his mind.
"That was a clever pit you dug for Bangu, Macumazahn; but you would not
take your share of the cattle, so the blood of the Amakoba is not on
your head. Ah! what a fight was that which the Amawombe made at
Endondakusuka. You were with them, you remember, Macumazahn; and why
was I not at your side? Oh! then we would have swept away the Usutu as
the wind sweeps ashes. Why was I not at your side to share the glory?
I remember now--because of the Daughter of Storm. She betrayed me for
Umbelazi, and I betrayed Umbelazi for her; and now he haunts me, whose
greatness I brought to the dust; and the Usutu wolf, Cetewayo, curls
himself up in his form and grows fat on his food. And--and, Macumazahn,
it has all been done in vain, for Mameena hates me. Yes, I can read it
in her eyes. She mocks and hates me worse in death than she did in
life, and she says that--that it was not all her fault--because she
loves--because she loves--"
A look of bewilderment came upon his face--his poor, tormented face;
then suddenly Saduko threw his arms wide, and sobbed in an
"All--all done in vain! Oh! _Mameena, Ma--mee--na, Ma--meena!_" and
fell back dead.
"Saduko has gone away," said Nandie, as she drew a blanket over his
face. "But I wonder," she added with a little hysterical smile, "oh!
how I wonder who it was the Spirit of Mameena told him that she
loved--Mameena, who was born without a heart?"
I made no answer, for at that moment I heard a very curious sound, which
seemed to me to proceed from somewhere above the hut. Of what did it
remind me? Ah! I knew. It was like the sound of the dreadful laughter
of Zikali, Opener-of-Roads--Zikali, the
Doubtless, however, it was only the cry of some storm-driven night bird.
Or perhaps it was an hyena that laughed--an hyena that scented death.