Part 3 out of 5
driven by a few herdsmen.
In due course we arrived at the gate of the kraal, where we found the
heralds and the praisers prancing and shouting.
"Have you seen Umbezi?" asked Saduko of them.
"No," they answered; "he was asleep when we got here, but his people say
that he is coming out presently."
"Then tell his people that he had better be quick about it, or I shall
turn him out," replied the proud Saduko.
Just at this moment the kraal gate opened and through it appeared
Umbezi, looking extremely fat and foolish; also, it struck me,
frightened, although this he tried to conceal.
"Who visits me here," he said, "with so much--um--ceremony?" and with
the carved dancing-stick he carried he pointed doubtfully at the lines
of armed men. "Oh, it is you, is it, Saduko?" and he looked him up and
down, adding: "How grand you are to be sure. Have you been robbing
anybody? And you, too, Macumazahn. Well, _you_ do not look grand. You
look like an old cow that has been suckling two calves on the winter
veld. But tell me, what are all these warriors for? I ask because I
have not food for so many, especially as we have just had a feast here."
"Fear nothing, Umbezi," answered Saduko in his grandest manner. "I have
brought food for my own men. As for my business, it is simple. You
asked a hundred head of cattle as the lobola [that is, the marriage
gift] of your daughter, Mameena. They are there. Go send your servants
to the kraal and count them."
"Oh, with pleasure," Umbezi replied nervously, and he gave some orders
to certain men behind him. "I am glad to see that you have become rich
in this sudden fashion, Saduko, though how you have done so I cannot
"Never mind how I have become rich," answered Saduko. "I _am_ rich;
that is enough for the present. Be pleased to send for Mameena, for I
would talk with her."
"Yes, yes, Saduko, I understand that you would talk with Mameena;
but"--and he looked round him desperately--"I fear that she is still
asleep. As you know, Mameena was always a late riser, and, what is
more, she hates to be disturbed. Don't you think that you could come
back, say, to-morrow morning? She will be sure to be up by then; or,
better still, the day after?"
"In which hut is Mameena?" asked Saduko sternly, while I, smelling a
rat, began to chuckle to myself.
"I really do not know, Saduko," replied Umbezi. "Sometimes she sleeps
in one, sometimes in another, and sometimes she goes several hours'
journey away to her aunt's kraal for a change. I should not be in the
least surprised if she had done so last night. I have no control over
Before Saduko could answer, a shrill, rasping voice broke upon our ears,
which after some search I saw proceeded from an ugly and ancient female
seated in the shadow, in whom I recognised the lady who was known by the
pleasing name of "Worn-out-Old-Cow."
"He lies!" screeched the voice. "He lies. Thanks be to the spirit of
my ancestors that wild cat Mameena has left this kraal for good. She
slept last night, not with her aunt, but with her husband, Masapo, to
whom Umbezi gave her in marriage two days ago, receiving in payment a
hundred and twenty head of cattle, which was twenty more than _you_ bid,
Now when Saduko heard these words I thought that he would really go mad
with rage. He turned quite grey under his dark skin and for a while
trembled like a leaf, looking as though he were about to fall to the
ground. Then he leapt as a lion leaps, and seizing Umbezi by the
throat, hurled him backwards, standing over him with raised spear.
"You dog!" he cried in a terrible voice. "Tell me the truth or I will
rip you up. What have you done with Mameena?"
"Oh! Saduko," answered Umbezi in choking tones, "Mameena has chosen to
get married. It was no fault of mine; she would have her way."
He got no farther, and had I not intervened by throwing my arms about
Saduko and dragging him back, that moment would have been Umbezi's last,
for Saduko was about to pin him to the earth with his spear. As it
proved, I was just in time, and Saduko, being weak with emotion, for I
felt his heart going like a sledge-hammer, could not break from my grasp
before his reason returned to him.
At length he recovered himself a little and threw down his spear as
though to put himself out of temptation. Then he spoke, always in the
same terrible voice, asking:
"Have you more to say about this business, Umbezi? I would hear all
before I answer you."
"Only this, Saduko," replied Umbezi, who had risen to his feet and was
shaking like a reed. "I did no more than any other father would have
done. Masapo is a very powerful chief, one who will be a good stick for
me to lean on in my old age. Mameena declared that she wished to marry
"He lies!" screeched the "Old Cow." "What Mameena said was that she had
no will towards marriage with any Zulu in the land, so I suppose she is
looking after a white man," and she leered in my direction. "She said,
however, that if her father wished to marry her to Masapo, she must be a
dutiful daughter and obey him, but that if blood and trouble came of
that marriage, let it be on his head and not on hers."
"Would you also stick your claws into me, cat?" shouted Umbezi, catching
the old woman a savage cut across the back with the light dancing-stick
which he still held in his hand, whereon she fled away screeching and
"Oh, Saduko," he went on, "let not your ears be poisoned by these
falsehoods. Mameena never said anything of the sort, or if she did it
was not to me. Well, the moment that my daughter had consented to take
Masapo as her husband his people drove a hundred and twenty of the most
beautiful cattle over the hill, and would you have had me refuse them,
Saduko? I am sure that when you have seen them you will say that I was
quite right to accept such a splendid lobola in return for one
sharp-tongued girl. Remember, Saduko, that although you had promised a
hundred head, that is less by twenty, at the time you did not own one,
and where you were to get them from I could not guess. Moreover," he
added with a last, desperate, imaginative effort, for I think he saw
that his arguments were making no impression, "some strangers who called
here told me that both you and Macumazahn had been killed by certain
evil-doers in the mountains. There, I have spoken, and, Saduko, if you
now have cattle, why, on my part, I have another daughter, not quite so
good-looking perhaps, but a much better worker in the field. Come and
drink a sup of beer, and I will send for her."
"Stop talking about your other daughter and your beer and listen to me,"
replied Saduko, looking at the assegai which he had thrown to the ground
so ominously that I set my foot on it. "I am now a greater chief than
the boar Masapo. Has Masapo such a bodyguard as these
Eaters-up-of-Enemies?" and he jerked his thumb backwards towards the
serried lines of fierce-faced Amangwane who stood listening behind us.
"Has Masapo as many cattle as I have, whereof those which you see are
but a tithe brought as a lobola gift to the father of her who had been
promised to me as wife? Is Masapo Panda's friend? I think that I have
heard otherwise. Has Masapo just conquered a countless tribe by his
courage and his wit? Is Masapo young and of high blood, or is he but an
old, low-born boar of the mountains?
"You do not answer, Umbezi, and perhaps you do well to be silent. Now
listen again. Were it not for Macumazahn here, whom I do not desire to
mix up with my quarrels, I would bid my men take you and beat you to
death with the handles of their spears, and then go on and serve the
Boar in the same fashion in his mountain sty. As it is, these things
must wait a little while, especially as I have other matters to attend
to first. Yet the day is not far off when I will attend to them also.
Therefore my counsel to you, Cheat, is to make haste to die or to find
courage to fall upon a spear, unless you would learn how it feels to be
brayed with sticks like a green hide until none can know that you were
once a man. Send now and tell my words to Masapo the Boar. And to
Mameena say that soon I will come to take her with spears and not with
cattle. Do you understand? Oh! I see that you do, since already you
weep with fear like a woman. Then farewell to you till that day when I
return with the sticks, O Umbezi the cheat and the liar, Umbezi,
'Eater-up-of-Elephants,'" and turning, Saduko stalked away.
I was about to follow in a great hurry, having had enough of this very
unpleasant scene, when poor old Umbezi sprang at me and clasped me by
"O Macumazana," he exclaimed, weeping in his terror, "O Macumazana, if
ever I have been a friend to you, help me out of this deep pit into
which I have fallen through the tricks of that monkey of a daughter of
mine, who I think is a witch born to bring trouble upon men.
Macumazahn, if she had been your daughter and a powerful chief had
appeared with a hundred and twenty head of such beautiful cattle, you
would have given her to him, would you not, although he is of mixed
blood and not very young, especially as she did not mind who only cares
for place and wealth?"
"I think not," I answered; "but then it is not our custom to sell women
in that fashion."
"No, no, I forgot; in this as in other matters you white men are mad
and, Macumazahn, to tell you the truth, I believe it is you she really
cares for; she said as much to me once or twice. Well, why did you not
take her away when I was not looking? We could have settled matters
afterwards, and I should have been free of her witcheries and not up to
my neck in this hole as I am now."
"Because some people don't do that kind of thing, Umbezi."
"No, no, I forgot. Oh! why can I not remember that you are _quite_ mad
and therefore that it must not be expected of you to act as though you
were sane. Well, at least you are that tiger Saduko's friend, which
again shows that you must be very mad, for most people would sooner try
to milk a cow buffalo than walk hand in hand with him. Don't you see,
Macumazahn, that he means to kill me, Macumazahn, to bray me like a
green hide? Ugh! to beat me to death with sticks. Ugh! And what is
more, that unless you prevent him, he will certainly do it, perhaps
to-morrow or the next day. Ugh! Ugh! Ugh!"
"Yes, I see, Umbezi, and I think that he _will_ do it. But what I do
not see is how I am to prevent him. Remember that you let Mameena grow
into his heart and behaved badly to him, Umbezi."
"I never promised her to him, Macumazahn. I only said that if he
brought a hundred cattle, then I might promise."
"Well, he has wiped out the Amakoba, the enemies of his House, and there
are the hundred cattle whereof he has many more, and now it is too late
for you to keep your share of the bargain. So I think you must make
yourself as comfortable as you can in the hole that your hands dug,
Umbezi, which I would not share for all the cattle in Zululand."
"Truly you are not one from whom to seek comfort in the hour of
distress," groaned poor Umbezi, then added, brightening up: "But perhaps
Panda will kill him because he has wiped out Bangu in a time of peace.
Oh Macumazahn, can you not persuade Panda to kill him? If so, I now
have more cattle than I really want--"
"Impossible," I answered. "Panda is his friend, and between ourselves I
may tell you that he ate up the Amakoba by his especial wish. When the
King hears of it he will call to Saduko to sit in his shadow and make
him great, one of his councillors, probably with power of life and death
over little people like you and Masapo."
"Then it is finished," said Umbezi faintly, "and I will try to die like
a man. But to be brayed like a hide! And with thin sticks! Oh!" he
added, grinding his teeth, "if only I can get hold of Mameena I will not
leave much of that pretty hair of hers upon her head. I will tie her
hands and shut her up with the 'Old Cow,' who loves her as a meer-cat
loves a mouse. No; I will kill her. There--do you hear, Macumazahn,
unless you do something to help me, I will kill Mameena, and you won't
like that, for I am sure she is dear to you, although you were not man
enough to run away with her as she wished."
"If you touch Mameena," I said, "be certain, my friend, that Saduko's
sticks and your skin will not be far apart, for I will report you to
Panda myself as an unnatural evil-doer. Now hearken to me, you old
fool. Saduko is so fond of your daughter, on this point being mad, as
you say I am, that if only he could get her I think he might overlook
the fact of her having been married before. What you have to do is to
try to buy her back from Masapo. Mind you, I say buy her back--not get
her by bloodshed--which you might do by persuading Masapo to put her
away. Then, if he knew that you were trying to do this, I think that
Saduko might leave his sticks uncut for a while."
"I will try. I will indeed, Macumazahn. I will try very hard. It is
true Masapo is an obstinate pig; still, if he knows that his own life is
at stake, he might give way. Moreover, when she learns that Saduko has
grown rich and great, Mameena might help me. Oh, I thank you,
Macumazahn; you are indeed the prop of my hut, and it and all in it are
yours. Farewell, farewell, Macumazahn, if you must go. But why--why
did you not run away with Mameena, and save me all this fear and
So I and that old humbug, Umbezi, "Eater-up-of-Elephants," parted for a
while, and never did I know him in a more chastened frame of mind,
except once, as I shall tell.
THE KING'S DAUGHTER
When I got back to my wagons after this semi-tragical interview with
that bombastic and self-seeking old windbag, Umbezi, it was to find that
Saduko and his warriors had already marched for the King's kraal,
Nodwengu. A message awaited me, however, to the effect that it was
hoped that I would follow, in order to make report of the affair of the
destruction of the Amakoba. This, after reflection, I determined to do,
really, I think, because of the intense human interest of the whole
business. I wanted to see how it would work out.
Also, in a way, I read Saduko's mind and understood that at the moment
he did not wish to discuss the matter of his hideous disappointment.
Whatever else may have been false in this man's nature, one thing rang
true, namely, his love or his infatuation for the girl Mameena.
Throughout his life she was his guiding star--about as evil a star as
could have arisen upon any man's horizon; the fatal star that was to
light him down to doom. Let me thank Providence, as I do, that I was so
fortunate as to escape its baneful influences, although I admit that
they attracted me not a little.
So, seduced thither by my curiosity, which has so often led me into
trouble, I trekked to Nodwengu, full of many doubts not unmingled with
amusement, for I could not rid my mind of recollections of the utter
terror of the "Eater-up-of-Elephants" when he was brought face to face
with the dreadful and concentrated rage of the robbed Saduko and the
promise of his vengeance. Ultimately I arrived at the Great Place
without experiencing any adventure that is worthy of record, and camped
in a spot that was appointed to me by some _induna_ whose name I forget,
but who evidently knew of my approach, for I found him awaiting me at
some distance from the town. Here I sat for quite a long while, two or
three days, if I remember right, amusing myself with killing or missing
turtle-doves with a shotgun, and similar pastimes, until something
should happen, or I grew tired and started for Natal.
In the end, just as I was about to trek seawards, an old friend, Maputa,
turned up at my wagons--that same man who had brought me the message
from Panda before we started to attack Bangu.
"Greeting, Macumazahn," he said. "What of the Amakoba? I see they did
not kill you."
"No," I answered, handing him some snuff, "they did not quite kill me,
for here I am. What is your pleasure with me?"
"O Macumazana, only that the King wishes to know whether you have any of
those little balls left in the box which I brought back to you, since,
if so, he thinks he would like to swallow one of them in this hot
I proffered him the whole box, but he would not take it, saying that the
King would like me to give it to him myself. Now I understood that this
was a summons to an audience, and asked when it would please Panda to
receive me and "the-little-black-stones-that-work-wonders." He
So we started, and within an hour I stood, or rather sat, before Panda.
Like all his family, the King was an enormous man, but, unlike Chaka and
those of his brothers whom I had known, one of a kindly countenance. I
saluted him by lifting my cap, and took my place upon a wooden stool
that had been provided for me outside the great hut, in the shadow of
which he sat within his isi-gohlo, or private enclosure.
"Greeting, O Macumazana," he said. "I am glad to see you safe and well,
for I understand that you have been engaged upon a perilous adventure
since last we met."
"Yes, King," I answered; "but to which adventure do you refer--that of
the buffalo, when Saduko helped me, or that of the Amakoba, when I
"The latter, Macumazahn, of which I desire to hear all the story."
So I told it to him, he and I being alone, for he commanded his
councillors and servants to retire out of hearing.
"Wow!" he said, when I had finished, "you are clever as a baboon,
Macumazahn. That was a fine trick to set a trap for Bangu and his
Amakoba dogs and bait it with his own cattle. But they tell me that you
refused your share of those cattle. Now, why was that, Macumazahn?"
By way of answer I repeated to Panda my reasons, which I have set out
"Ah!" he exclaimed, when I had finished. "Every one seeks greatness in
his own way, and perhaps yours is better than ours. Well, the White man
walks one road--or some of them do--and the Black man another. They
both end at the same place, and none will know which is the right road
till the journey is done. Meanwhile, what you lose Saduko and his
people gain. He is a wise man, Saduko, who knows how to choose his
friends, and his wisdom has brought him victory and gifts. But to you,
Macumazahn, it has brought nothing but honour, on which, if a man feeds
only, he will grow thin."
"I like to be thin, O Panda," I answered slowly.
"Yes, yes, I understand," replied the King, who, in common with most
natives, was quick enough to seize a point, "and I, too, like people who
keep thin on such food as yours, people, also, whose hands are always
clean. We Zulus trust you, Macumazahn, as we trust few white men, for
we have known for years that your lips say what your heart thinks, and
that your heart always thinks the thing which is good. You may be named
Watcher-by-Night, but you love light, not darkness."
Now, at these somewhat unusual compliments I bowed, and felt myself
colouring a little as I did so, even through my sunburn, but I made no
answer to them, since to do so would have involved a discussion of the
past and its tragical events, into which I had no wish to enter. Panda,
too, remained silent for a while. Then he called to a messenger to
summon the princes, Cetewayo and Umbelazi, and to bid Saduko, the son of
Matiwane, to wait without, in case he should wish to speak with him.
A few minutes later the two princes arrived. I watched their coming
with interest, for they were the most important men in Zululand, and
already the nation debated fiercely which of them would succeed to the
throne. I will try to describe them a little.
They were both of much the same age--it is always difficult to arrive at
a Zulu's exact years--and both fine young men. Cetewayo, however, had
the stronger countenance. It was said that he resembled that fierce and
able monster, Chaka the Wild Beast, his uncle, and certainly I perceived
in him a likeness to his other uncle, Dingaan, Umpanda's predecessor,
whom I had known but too well when I was a lad. He had the same surly
eyes and haughty bearing; also, when he was angry his mouth shut itself
in the same iron fashion.
Of Umbelazi it is difficult for me to speak without enthusiasm. As
Mameena was the most beautiful woman I ever saw in Zululand--although it
is true that old war-dog, Umslopogaas, a friend of mine who does not
come into this story, used to tell me that Nada the Lily, whom I have
mentioned, was even lovelier--so Umbelazi was by far the most splendid
man. Indeed, the Zulus named him "Umbelazi the Handsome," and no
wonder. To begin with, he stood at least three inches above the tallest
of them; from a quarter of a mile away I have recognised him by his
great height, even through the dust of a desperate battle, and his
breadth was proportionate to his stature. Then he was perfectly made,
his great, shapely limbs ending, like Saduko's, in small hands and feet.
His face, too, was well-cut and open, his colour lighter than
Cetewayo's, and his eyes, which always seemed to smile, were large and
Even before they passed the small gate of the inner fence it was easy
for me to see that this royal pair were not upon the best of terms, for
each of them tried to get through it first, to show his right of
precedence. The result was somewhat ludicrous, for they jammed in the
gateway. Here, however, Umbelazi's greater weight told, for, putting
out his strength, he squeezed his brother into the reeds of the fence,
and won through a foot or so in front of him.
"You grow too fat, my brother," I heard Cetewayo say, and saw him scowl
as he spoke. "If I had held an assegai in my hand you would have been
"I know it, my brother," answered Umbelazi, with a good-humoured laugh,
"but I knew also that none may appear before the King armed. Had it
been otherwise, I would rather have followed after you."
Now, at this hint of Umbelazi's, that he would not trust his brother
behind his back with a spear, although it seemed to be conveyed in jest,
I saw Panda shift uneasily on his seat, while Cetewayo scowled even more
ominously than before. However, no further words passed between them,
and, walking up to the King side by side, they saluted him with raised
hands, calling out "Baba!"--that is, Father.
"Greeting, my children," said Panda, adding hastily, for he foresaw a
quarrel as to which of them should take the seat of honour on his right:
"Sit there in front of me, both of you, and, Macumazahn, do you come
hither," and he pointed to the coveted place. "I am a little deaf in my
left ear this morning."
So these brothers sat themselves down in front of the King; nor were
they, I think, grieved to find this way out of their rivalry; but first
they shook hands with me, for I knew them both, though not well, and
even in this small matter the old trouble arose, since there was some
difficulty as to which of them should first offer me his hand.
Ultimately, I remember, Cetewayo won this trick.
When these preliminaries were finished, Panda addressed the princes,
"My sons, I have sent for you to ask your counsel upon a certain
matter--not a large matter, but one that may grow." And he paused to
take snuff, whereon both of them ejaculated:
"We hear you, Father."
"Well, my sons, the matter is that of Saduko, the son of Matiwane, chief
of the Amangwane, whom Bangu, chief of the Amakoba, ate up years ago by
leave of Him who went before me. Now, this Bangu, as you know, has for
some time been a thorn in my foot--a thorn that caused it to fester--and
yet I did not wish to make war on him. So I spoke a word in the ear of
Saduko, saying, 'He is yours, if you can kill him; and his cattle are
yours.' Well, Saduko is not dull. With the help of this white man,
Macumazahn, our friend from of old, he has killed Bangu and taken his
cattle, and already my foot is beginning to heal."
"We have heard it," said Cetewayo.
"It was a great deed," added Umbelazi, a more generous critic.
"Yes," continued Panda, "I, too, think it was a great deed, seeing that
Saduko had but a small regiment of wanderers to back him--"
"Nay," interrupted Cetewayo, "it was not those eaters of rats who won
him the day, it was the wisdom of this Macumazahn."
"Macumazahn's wisdom would have been of little use without the courage
of Saduko and his rats," commented Umbelazi, and from this moment I saw
that the two brothers were taking sides for and against Saduko, as they
did upon every other matter, not because they cared for the right of
whatever was in question, but because they wished to oppose each other.
"Quite so," went on the King; "I agree with both of you, my sons. But
the point is this: I think Saduko a man of promise, and one who should
be advanced that he may learn to love us all, especially as his House
has suffered wrong from our House, since He-who-is-gone listened to the
evil counsel of Bangu, and allowed him to kill out Matiwane's tribe
without just cause. Therefore, in order to wipe away this stain and
bind Saduko to us, I think it well to re-establish Saduko in the
chieftainship of the Amangwane, with the lands that his father held, and
to give him also the chieftainship of the Amakoba, of whom it seems that
the women and children, with some of the men, remain, although he
already holds their cattle which he has captured in war."
"As the King pleases," said Umbelazi, with a yawn, for he was growing
weary of listening to the case of Saduko.
But Cetewayo said nothing, for he appeared to be thinking of something
"I think also," went on Panda in a rather uncertain voice, "in order to
bind him so close that the bonds may never be broken, it would be wise
to give him a woman of our family in marriage."
"Why should this little Amangwane be allowed to marry into the royal
House?" asked Cetewayo, looking up. "If he is dangerous, why not kill
him, and have done?"
"For this reason, my son. There is trouble ahead in Zululand, and I do
not wish to kill those who may help us in that hour, nor do I wish them
to become our enemies. I wish that they may be our friends; and
therefore it seems to me wise, when we find a seed of greatness, to
water it, and not to dig it up or plant it in a neighbour's garden.
From his deeds I believe that this Saduko is such a seed."
"Our father has spoken," said Umbelazi; "and I like Saduko, who is a man
of mettle and good blood. Which of our sisters does our father propose
to give to him?"
"She who is named after the mother of our race, O Umbelazi; she whom
your own mother bore--your sister Nandie" (in English, "The Sweet").
"A great gift, O my Father, since Nandie is both fair and wise. Also,
what does she think of this matter?"
"She thinks well of it, Umbelazi, for she has seen Saduko and taken a
liking to him. She told me herself that she wishes no other husband."
"Is it so?" replied Umbelazi indifferently. "Then if the King commands,
and the King's daughter desires, what more is there to be said?"
"Much, I think," broke in Cetewayo. "I hold that it is out of place
that this little man, who has but conquered a little tribe by borrowing
the wit of Macumazahn here, should be rewarded not only with a
chieftainship, but with the hand of the wisest and most beautiful of the
King's daughters, even though Umbelazi," he added, with a sneer, "should
be willing to throw him his own sister like a bone to a passing dog."
"Who threw the bone, Cetewayo?" asked Umbelazi, awaking out of his
indifference. "Was it the King, or was it I, who never heard of the
matter till this moment? And who are we that we should question the
King's decrees? Is it our business to judge or to obey?"
"Has Saduko perchance made you a present of some of those cattle which
he stole from the Amakoba, Umbelazi?" asked Cetewayo. "As our father
asks no lobola, perhaps you have taken the gift instead."
"The only gift that I have taken from Saduko," said Umbelazi, who, I
could see, was hard pressed to keep his temper, "is that of his service.
He is my friend, which is why you hate him, as you hate all my
"Must I then love every stray cur that licks your hand, Umbelazi? Oh,
no need to tell me he is your friend, for I know it was you who put it
into our father's heart to allow him to kill Bangu and steal his cattle,
which I hold to be an ill deed, for now the Great House is thatched with
his reeds and Bangu's blood is on its doorposts. Moreover, he who
wrought the wrong is to come and dwell therein, and for aught I know to
be called a prince, like you and me. Why should he not, since the
Princess Nandie is to be given to him in marriage? Certainly, Umbelazi,
you would do well to take the cattle which this white trader has
refused, for all men know that you have earned them."
Now Umbelazi sprang up, straightening himself to the full of his great
height, and spoke in a voice that was thick with passion.
"I pray your leave to withdraw, O King," he said, "since if I stay here
longer I shall grow sorry that I have no spear in my hand. Yet before I
go I will tell the truth. Cetewayo hates Saduko, because, knowing him
to be a chief of wit and courage, who will grow great, he sought him for
his man, saying, 'Sit you in my shadow,' after he had promised to sit in
mine. Therefore it is that he heaps these taunts upon me. Let him deny
it if he can."
"That I shall not trouble to do, Umbelazi," answered Cetewayo, with a
scowl. "Who are you that spy upon my doings, and with a mouth full of
lies call me to account before the King? I will hear no more of it. Do
you bide here and pay Saduko his price with the person of our sister.
For, as the King has promised her, his word cannot be changed. Only let
your dog know that I keep a stick for him, if he should snarl at me.
Farewell, my Father. I go upon a journey to my own lordship, the land
of Gikazi, and there you will find me when you want me, which I pray may
not be till after this marriage is finished, for on that I will not
trust my eyes to look."
Then, with a salute, he turned and departed, bidding no good-bye to his
My hand, however, he shook in farewell, for Cetewayo was always friendly
to me, perhaps because he thought I might be useful to him. Also, as I
learned afterwards, he was very pleased with me for the reason that I
had refused my share of the Amakoba cattle, and that he knew I had no
part in this proposed marriage between Saduko and Nandie, of which,
indeed, I now heard for the first time.
"My Father," said Umbelazi, when Cetewayo had gone, "is this to be
borne? Am I to blame in the matter? You have heard and seen--answer
me, my Father."
"No, you are not to blame this time, Umbelazi," replied the King, with a
heavy sigh. "But oh! my sons, my sons, where will your quarrelling end?
I think that only a river of blood can quench so fierce a fire, and
then which of you will live to reach its bank?"
For a while he looked at Umbelazi, and I saw love and fear in his eye,
for towards him Panda always had more affection than for any of his
"Cetewayo has behaved ill," he said at length; "and before a white man,
who will report the matter, which makes it worse. He has no right to
dictate to me to whom I shall or shall not give my daughters in
marriage. Moreover, I have spoken; nor do I change my word because he
threatens me. It is known throughout the land that I never change my
word; and the white men know it also, do they not, O Macumazana?"
I answered yes, they did. Also, this was true, for, like most weak men,
Panda was very obstinate, and honest, too, in his own fashion.
He waved his hand, to show that the subject was ended, then bade
Umbelazi go to the gate and send a messenger to bring in "the son of
Presently Saduko arrived, looking very stately and composed as he lifted
his right hand and gave Panda the "Bayete"--the royal salute.
"Be seated," said the King. "I have words for your ear."
Thereon, with the most perfect grace, without hurrying and without undue
delay, Saduko crouched himself down upon his knees, with one of his
elbows resting on the ground, as only a native knows how to do without
looking absurd, and waited.
"Son of Matiwane," said the King, "I have heard all the story of how,
with a small company, you destroyed Bangu and most of the men of the
Amakoba, and ate up their cattle every one."
"Your pardon, Black One," interrupted Saduko. "I am but a boy, I did
nothing. It was Macumazahn, Watcher-by-Night, who sits yonder. His
wisdom taught me how to snare the Amakoba, after they were decoyed from
their mountain, and it was Tshoza, my uncle, who loosed the cattle from
the kraals. I say that I did nothing, except to strike a blow or two
with a spear when I must, just as a baboon throws stones at those who
would steal its young."
"I am glad to see that you are no boaster, Saduko," said Panda. "Would
that more of the Zulus were like you in that matter, for then I must not
listen to so many loud songs about little things. At least, Bangu was
killed and his proud tribe humbled, and, for reasons of state, I am glad
that this happened without my moving a regiment or being mixed up with
the business, for I tell you that there are some of my family who loved
Bangu. But I--I loved your father, Matiwane, whom Bangu butchered, for
we were brought up together as boys--yes, and served together in the
same regiment, the Amawombe, when the Wild One, my brother, ruled" (he
meant Chaka, for among the Zulus the names of dead kings are
hlonipa--that is, they must not be spoken if it can be avoided).
"Therefore," went on Panda, "for this reason, and for others, I am glad
that Bangu has been punished, and that, although vengeance has crawled
after him like a footsore bull, at length he has been tossed with its
horns and crushed with its knees."
"Yebo, Ngonyama!" (Yes, O Lion!) said Saduko.
"Now, Saduko," went on Panda, "because you are your father's son, and
because you have shown yourself a man, although you are still little in
the land, I am minded to advance you. Therefore I give to you the
chieftainship over those who remain of the Amakoba and over all of the
Amangwane blood whom you can gather."
"Bayete! As the King pleases," said Saduko.
"And I give you leave to become a kehla--a wearer of the
head-ring--although, as you have said, you are still but a boy, and with
it a place upon my Council."
"Bayete! As the King pleases," said Saduko, still apparently unmoved by
the honours that were being heaped upon him.
"And, Son of Matiwane," went on Panda, "you are still unmarried, are you
Now, for the first time, Saduko's face changed. "Yes, Black One," he
said hurriedly, "but--"
Here he caught my eye, and, reading some warning in it, was silent.
"But," repeated Panda after him, "doubtless you would like to be? Well,
it is natural in a young man who wishes to found a House, and therefore
I give you leave to marry."
"Yebo, Silo!" (Yes, O Wild Beast!) I thank the King, but--"
Here I sneezed loudly, and he ceased.
"But," repeated Panda, "of course, you do not know where to find a wife
between the time the hawk stoops and the rat squeaks in its claws. How
should you who have never thought of the matter? Also," he continued,
with a smile, "it is well that you have not thought of it, since she
whom I shall give to you could not live in the second hut in your kraal
and call another "Inkosikazi" [that is, head lady or chieftainess].
Umbelazi, my son, go fetch her of whom we have thought as a bride for
Now Umbelazi rose, and went with a broad smile upon his face, while
Panda, somewhat fatigued with all his speech-making--for he was very fat
and the day was very hot--leaned his head back against the hut and
closed his eyes.
"O Black One! O thou who consumeth with rage! [Dhlangamandhla]" broke
out Saduko, who, I could see, was much disturbed. "I have something to
say to you."
"No doubt, no doubt," answered Panda drowsily, "but save up your thanks
till you have seen, or you will have none left afterwards," and he
Now I, perceiving that Saduko was about to ruin himself, thought it well
to interfere, though what business of mine it was to do so I cannot say.
At any rate, if only I had held my tongue at this moment, and allowed
Saduko to make a fool of himself, as he wished to do--for where Mameena
was concerned he never could be wise--I verily believe that all the
history of Zululand would have run a different course, and that many
thousands of men, white and black, who are now dead would be alive
to-day. But Fate ordered it otherwise. Yes, it was not I who spoke,
but Fate. The Angel of Doom used my throat as his trumpet.
Seeing that Panda dozed, I slipped behind Saduko and gripped him by the
"Are you mad?" I whispered into his ear. "Will you throw away your
fortune, and your life also?"
"But Mameena," he whispered back. "I would marry none save Mameena."
"Fool! " I answered. "Mameena has betrayed and spat upon you. Take
what the Heavens send you and give thanks. Would you wear Masapo's
"Macumazahn," he said in a hollow voice, "I will follow your head, and
not my own heart. Yet you sow a strange seed, Macumazahn, or so you may
think when you see its fruit." And he gave me a wild look--a look that
There was something in this look which caused me to reflect that I might
do well to go away and leave Saduko, Mameena, Nandie, and the rest of
them to "dree their weirds," as the Scotch say, for, after all, what was
my finger doing in that very hot stew? Getting burnt, I thought, and
not collecting any stew.
Yet, looking back on these events, how could I foresee what would be the
end of the madness of Saduko, of the fearful machinations of Mameena,
and of the weakness of Umbelazi when she snared him in the net of her
beauty, thus bringing about his ruin, through the hate of Saduko and the
ambition of Cetewayo? How could I know that, at the back of all these
events, stood the old dwarf, Zikali the Wise, working night and day to
slake the enmity and fulfil the vengeance which long ago he had
conceived and planned against the royal House of Senzangakona and the
Zulu people over whom it ruled?
Yes, he stood there like a man behind a great stone upon the brow of a
mountain, slowly, remorselessly, with infinite skill, labour, and
patience, pushing that stone to the edge of the cliff, whence at length,
in the appointed hour, it would thunder down upon those who dwelt
beneath, to leave them crushed and no more a people. How could I guess
that we, the actors in this play, were all the while helping him to push
that stone, and that he cared nothing how many of us were carried with
it into the abyss, if only we brought about the triumph of his secret,
unutterable rage and hate?
Now I see and understand all these things, as it is easy to do, but then
I was blind; nor did the Voices reach my dull ears to warn me, as, how
or why I cannot tell, they did, I believe, reach those of Zikali.
Oh, what was the sum of it? Just this, I think, and nothing more--that,
as Saduko and the others were Mameena's tools, and as all of them and
their passions were Zikali's tools, so he himself was the tool of some
unseen Power that used him and us to accomplish its design. Which, I
suppose, is fatalism, or, in other words, all these things happened
because they must happen. A poor conclusion to reach after so much
thought and striving, and not complimentary to man and his boasted
powers of free will; still, one to which many of us are often driven,
especially if we have lived among savages, where such dramas work
themselves out openly and swiftly, unhidden from our eyes by the veils
and subterfuges of civilisation. At least, there is this comfort about
it--that, if we are but feathers blown by the wind, how can the
individual feather be blamed because it did not travel against, turn or
keep back the wind?
Well, let me return from these speculations to the history of the facts
that caused them.
Just as--a little too late--I had made up my mind that I would go after
my own business, and leave Saduko to manage his, through the fence
gateway appeared the great, tall Umbelazi leading by the hand a woman.
As I saw in a moment, it did not need certain bangles of copper,
ornaments of ivory and of very rare pink beads, called infibinga, which
only those of the royal House were permitted to wear, to proclaim her a
person of rank, for dignity and high blood were apparent in her face,
her carriage, her gestures, and all that had to do with her.
Nandie the Sweet was not a great beauty, as was Mameena, although her
figure was fine, and her stature like that of all the race of
Senzangakona--considerably above the average. To begin with, she was
darker in hue, and her lips were rather thick, as was her nose; nor were
her eyes large and liquid like those of an antelope. Further, she
lacked the informing mystery of Mameena's face, that at times was broken
and ]it up by flashes of alluring light and quick, sympathetic
perception, as a heavy evening sky, that seems to join the dim earth to
the dimmer heavens, is illuminated by pulsings of fire, soft and
many-hued, suggesting, but not revealing, the strength and splendour
that it veils. Nandie had none of these attractions, which, after all,
anywhere upon the earth belong only to a few women in each generation.
She was a simple, honest-natured, kindly, affectionate young woman of
high birth, no more; that is, as these qualities are understood and
expressed among her people.
Umbelazi led her forward into the presence of the King, to whom she
bowed gracefully enough. Then, after casting a swift, sidelong glance
at Saduko, which I found it difficult to interpret, and another of
inquiry at me, she folded her hands upon her breast and stood silent,
with bent head, waiting to be addressed.
The address was brief enough, for Panda was still sleepy.
"My daughter," he said, with a yawn, "there stands your husband," and he
jerked his thumb towards Saduko. "He is a young man and a brave, and
unmarried; also one who should grow great in the shadow of our House,
especially as he is a friend of your brother, Umbelazi. I understand
also that you have seen him and like him. Unless you have anything to
say against it, for as, not being a common father, the King receives no
cattle--at least in this case--I am not prejudiced, but will listen to
your words," and he chuckled in a drowsy fashion. "I propose that the
marriage should take place to-morrow. Now, my daughter, have you
anything to say? For if so, please say it at once, as I am tired. The
eternal wranglings between your brethren, Cetewayo and Umbelazi, have
worn me out."
Now Nandie looked about her in her open, honest fashion, her gaze
resting first on Saduko, then on Umbelazi, and lastly upon me.
"My Father," she said at length, in her soft, steady voice, "tell me, I
beseech you, who proposes this marriage? Is it the Chief Saduko, is it
the Prince Umbelazi, or is it the white lord whose true name I do not
know, but who is called Macumazahn, Watcher-by-Night?"
"I can't remember which of them proposed it," yawned Panda. "Who can
keep on talking about things from night till morning? At any rate, I
propose it, and I will make your husband a big man among our people.
Have you anything to say against it?"
"I have nothing to say, my Father. I have met Saduko, and like him
well--for the rest, you are the judge. But," she added slowly, "does
Saduko like me? When he speaks my name, does he feel it here?" and she
pointed to her throat.
"I am sure I do not know what he feels in his throat," Panda replied
testily, "but I feel that mine is dry. Well, as no one says anything,
the matter is settled. To-morrow Saduko shall give the umqoliso [the Ox
of the Girl], that makes marriage--if he has not got one here I will
lend it to him, and you can take the new, big hut that I have built in
the outer kraal to dwell in for the present. There will be a dance, if
you wish it; if not, I do not care, for I have no wish for ceremony just
now, who am too troubled with great matters. Now I am going to sleep."
Then sinking from his stool on to his knees, Panda crawled through the
doorway of his great hut, which was close to him, and vanished.
Umbelazi and I departed also through the gateway of the fence, leaving
Saduko and the Princess Nandie alone together, for there were no
attendants present. What happened between them I am sure I do not know,
but I gather that, in one way or another, Saduko made himself
sufficiently agreeable to the princess to persuade her to take him to
husband. Perhaps, being already enamoured of him, she was not difficult
to persuade. At any rate, on the morrow, without any great feasting or
fuss, except the customary dance, the umqoliso, the "Ox of the Girl,"
was slaughtered, and Saduko became the husband of a royal maiden of the
House of Senzangakona.
Certainly, as I remember reflecting, it was a remarkable rise in life
for one who, but a few months before, had been without possessions or a
I may add that, after our brief talk in the King's kraal, while Panda
was dozing, I had no further words with Saduko on this matter of his
marriage, for between its proposal and the event he avoided me, nor did
I seek him out. On the day of the marriage also, I trekked for Natal,
and for a whole year heard no more of Saduko, Nandie, and Mameena;
although, to be frank, I must admit I thought of the last of these
persons more often, perhaps, than I should have done.
The truth is that Mameena was one of those women who sticks in a man's
mind even more closely than a "Wait-a-bit" thorn does in his coat.
ALLAN RETURNS TO ZULULAND
A whole year had gone by, in which I did, or tried to do, various things
that have no connection with this story, when once more I found myself
in Zululand--at Umbezi's kraal indeed. Hither I had trekked in
fulfilment of a certain bargain, already alluded to, that was concerned
with ivory and guns, which I had made with the old fellow, or, rather,
with Masapo, his son-in-law, whom he represented in this matter. Into
the exact circumstances of that bargain I do not enter, since at the
moment I cannot recall whether I ever obtained the necessary permit to
import those guns into Zululand, although now that I am older I
earnestly hope that I did so, since it is wrong to sell weapons to
natives that may be put to all sorts of unforeseen uses.
At any rate, there I was, sitting alone with the Headman in his hut
discussing a dram of "squareface" that I had given to him, for the
"trade" was finished to our mutual satisfaction, and Scowl, my body
servant, with the hunters, had just carried off the ivory--a fine lot of
tusks--to my wagons.
"Well, Umbezi," I said, "and how has it fared with you since we parted a
year ago? Have you seen anything of Saduko, who, you may remember, left
you in some wrath?"
"Thanks be to my Spirit, I have seen nothing of that wild man,
Macumazahn," answered Umbezi, shaking his fat old head in a fashion
which showed great anxiety. "Yet I have heard of him, for he sent me a
message the other day to tell me that he had not forgotten what he owed
"Did he mean the sticks with which he promised to bray you like a green
hide?" I inquired innocently.
"I think so, Macumazahn--I think so, for certainly he owes me nothing
else. And the worst of it is that, there at Panda's kraal, he has grown
like a pumpkin on a dung heap--great, great!"
"And therefore is now one who can pay any debt that he owes, Umbezi," I
said, taking a pull at the "squareface" and looking at him over the top
of the pannikin.
"Doubtless he can, Macumazahn, and, between you and me, that is the real
reason why I--or rather Masapo--was so anxious to get those guns. They
were not for hunting, as he told you by the messenger, or for war, but
to protect us against Saduko, in case he should attack. Well, now I
hope we shall be able to hold our own."
"You and Masapo must teach your people to use them first, Umbezi. But I
expect Saduko has forgotten all about both of you now that he is the
husband of a princess of the royal blood. Tell me, how goes it with
"Oh, well, well, Macumazahn. For is she not the head lady of the
Amasomi? There is nothing wrong with her--nothing at all, except that
as yet she has no child; also that--," and he paused.
"That what?" I asked.
"That she hates the very sight of her husband, Masapo, and says that she
would rather be married to a baboon--yes, to a baboon--than to him,
which gives him offence, after he has paid so many cattle for her. But
what of this, Macumazahn? There is always a grain missing upon the
finest head of corn. Nothing is _quite_ perfect in the world,
Macumazahn, and if Mameena does not chance to love her husband--" and he
shrugged his shoulders and drank some "squareface."
"Of course it does not matter in the least, Umbezi, except to Mameena
and her husband, who no doubt will settle down in time, now that Saduko
is married to a princess of the Zulu House."
"I hope so, Macumazahn, but, to tell the truth, I wish you had brought
more guns, for I live amongst a terrible lot of people. Masapo, who is
furious with Mameena because she will have none of him, and therefore
with me, as though I could control Mameena; Mameena, who is mad with
Masapo, and therefore with me, because I gave her in marriage to him;
Saduko, who foams at the mouth at the name of Masapo, because he has
married Mameena, whom, it is said, he still loves, and therefore at me,
because I am her father and did my best to settle her in the world. Oh,
give me some more of that fire-water, Macumazahn, for it makes me forget
all these things, and especially that my guardian spirit made me the
father of Mameena, with whom you would not run away when you might have
done so. Oh, Macumazahn, why did you not run away with Mameena, and
turn her into a quiet white woman who ties herself up in sacks, sings
songs to the 'Great-Great' in the sky--[that is, hymns to the Power
above us]--and never thinks of any man who is not her husband?"
"Because if I had done so, Umbezi, I should have ceased to be a quiet
white man. Yes, yes, my friend, I should have been in some such place
as yours to-day, and that is the last thing that I wish. And now,
Umbezi, you have had quite enough 'squareface,' so I will take the
bottle away with me. Good-night."
On the following morning I trekked very early from Umbezi's
kraal--before he was up indeed, for the "squareface" made him sleep
sound. My destination was Nodwengu, Panda's Great Place, where I hoped
to do some trading, but, as I was in no particular hurry, my plan was to
go round by Masapo's, and see for myself how it fared between him and
Mameena. Indeed, I reached the borders of the Amasomi territory,
whereof Masapo was chief, by evening, and camped there. But with the
night came reflection, and reflection told me that I should do well to
keep clear of Mameena and her domestic complications, if she had any.
So I changed my mind, and next morning trekked on to Nodwengu by the
only route that my guides reported to be practicable, one which took me
a long way round.
That day, owing to the roughness of the road--if road it could be
called--and an accident to one of the wagons, we only covered about
fifteen miles, and as night fell were obliged to outspan at the first
spot where we could find water. When the oxen had been unyoked I looked
about me, and saw that we were in a place that, although I had
approached it from a somewhat different direction, I recognised at once
as the mouth of the Black Kloof, in which, over a year before, I had
interviewed Zikali the Little and Wise. There was no mistaking the
spot; that blasted valley, with the piled-up columns of boulders and the
overhanging cliff at the end of it, have, so far as I am aware, no exact
counterparts in Africa.
I sat upon the box of the first wagon, eating my food, which consisted
of some biltong and biscuit, for I had not bothered to shoot any game
that day, which was very hot, and wondering whether Zikali were still
alive, also whether I should take the trouble to walk up the kloof and
find out. On the whole I thought that I would not, as the place
repelled me, and I did not particularly wish to hear any more of his
prophecies and fierce, ill-omened talk. So I just sat there studying
the wonderful effect of the red evening light pouring up between those
walls of fantastic rocks.
Presently I perceived, far away, a single human figure--whether it were
man or woman I could not tell--walking towards me along the path which
ran at the bottom of the cleft. In those gigantic surroundings it
looked extraordinarily small and lonely, although perhaps because of the
intense red light in which it was bathed, or perhaps just because it was
human, a living thing in the midst of all that still, inanimate
grandeur, it caught and focused my attention. I grew greatly interested
in it; I wondered if it were that of man or woman, and what it was doing
here in this haunted valley.
The figure drew nearer, and now I saw it was slender and tall, like that
of a lad or of a well-grown woman, but to which sex it belonged I could
not see, because it was draped in a cloak of beautiful grey fur. Just
then Scowl came to the other side of the wagon to speak to me about
something, which took off my attention for the next two minutes. When I
looked round again it was to see the figure standing within three yards
of me, its face hidden by a kind of hood which was attached to the fur
"Who are you, and what is your business?" I asked, whereon a gentle
"Do you not know me, O Macumazana?"
"How can I know one who is tied up like a gourd in a mat? Yet is it
not--is it not--"
"Yes, it is Mameena, and I am very pleased that you should remember my
voice, Macumazahn, after we have been separated for such a long, long
time," and, with a sudden movement, she threw back the kaross, hood and
all, revealing herself in all her strange beauty.
I jumped down off the wagon-box and took her hand.
"O Macumazana," she said, while I still held it--or, to be accurate,
while she still held mine--"indeed my heart is glad to see a friend
again," and she looked at me with her appealing eyes, which, in the red
light, I could see appeared to float in tears.
"A friend, Mameena! " I exclaimed. "Why, now you are so rich, and the
wife of a big chief, you must have plenty of friends."
"Alas! Macumazahn, I am rich in nothing except trouble, for my husband
saves, like the ants for winter. Why, he even grudged me this poor
kaross; and as for friends, he is so jealous that he will not allow me
"He cannot be jealous of women, Mameena!"
"Oh, women! Piff! I do not care for women; they are very unkind to me,
because--because--well, perhaps you can guess why, Macumazahn," she
answered, glancing at her own reflection in a little travelling
looking-glass that hung from the woodwork of the wagon, for I had been
using it to brush my hair, and smiled very sweetly.
"At least you have your husband, Mameena, and I thought that perhaps by
She held up her hand.
"My husband! Oh, I would that I had him not, for I hate him,
Macumazahn; and as for the rest--never! The truth is that I never cared
for any man except one whose name _you_ may chance to remember,
"I suppose you mean Saduko--" I began.
"Tell me, Macumazahn," she inquired innocently, "are white people very
stupid? I ask because you do not seem as clever as you used to be. Or
have you perhaps a bad memory?"
Now I felt myself turning red as the sky behind me, and broke in
"If you did not like your husband, Mameena, you should not have married
him. You know you need not unless you wished."
"When one has only two thorn bushes to sit on, Macumazahn, one chooses
that which seems to have the fewest prickles, to discover sometimes that
they are still there in hundreds, although one did not see them. You
know that at length everyone gets tired of standing."
"Is that why you have taken to walking, Mameena? I mean, what are you
doing here alone?"
"I? Oh, I heard that you were passing this way, and came to have a talk
with you. No, from you I cannot hide even the least bit of the truth.
I came to talk with you, but also I came to see Zikali and ask him what
a wife should do who hates her husband."
"Indeed! And what did he answer you?"
"He answered that he thought she had better run away with another man,
if there were one whom she did not hate--out of Zululand, of course,"
she replied, looking first at me and then at my wagon and the two horses
that were tied to it.
"Is that all he said, Mameena?"
"No. Have I not told you that I cannot hide one grain of the truth from
you? He added that the only other thing to be done was to sit still and
drink my sour milk, pretending that it is sweet, until my Spirit gives
me a new cow. He seemed to think that my Spirit would be bountiful in
the matter of new cows--one day."
"Anything more?" I inquired.
"One little thing. Have I not told you that you shall have all--all the
truth? Zikali seemed to think also that at last every one of my herd of
cows, old and new, would come to a bad end. He did not tell me to what
She turned her head aside, and when she looked up again I saw that she
was weeping, really weeping this time, not just making her eyes swim, as
she did before.
"Of course they will come to a bad end, Macumazahn," she went on in a
soft, thick voice, "for I and all with whom I have to do were 'torn out
of the reeds' [i.e. created] that way. And that's why I won't tempt you
to run away with me any more, as I meant to do when I saw you, because
it is true, Macumazahn you are the only man I ever liked or ever shall
like; and you know I could make you run away with me if I chose,
although I am black and you are white--oh, yes, before to-morrow
morning. But I won't do it; for why should I catch you in my unlucky
web and bring you into all sorts of trouble among my people and your
own? Go you your road, Macumazahn, and I will go mine as the wind blows
me. And now give me a cup of water and let me be away--a cup of water,
no more. Oh, do not be afraid for me, or melt too much, lest I should
melt also. I have an escort waiting over yonder hill. There, thank you
for your water, Macumazahn, and good night. Doubtless we shall meet
again ere long, and-- I forgot; the Little Wise One said he would like
to have a talk with you. Good night, Macumazahn, good night. I trust
that you did a profitable trade with Umbezi my father and Masapo my
husband. I wonder why such men as these should have been chosen to be
my father and my husband. Think it over, Macumazahn, and tell me when
next we meet. Give me that pretty mirror, Macumazahn; when I look in it
I shall see you as well as myself, and that will please me--you don't
know how much. I thank you. Good night."
In another minute I was watching her solitary little figure, now wrapped
again in the hooded kaross, as it vanished over the brow of the rise
behind us, and really, as she went, I felt a lump rising in my throat.
Notwithstanding all her wickedness--and I suppose she was wicked--there
was something horribly attractive about Mameena.
When she had gone, taking my only looking-glass with her, and the lump
in my throat had gone also, I began to wonder how much fact there was in
her story. She had protested so earnestly that she told me all the
truth that I felt sure there must be something left behind. Also I
remembered she had said Zikali wanted to see me. Well, the end of it
was I took a moonlight walk up that dreadful gorge, into which not even
Scowl would accompany me, because he declared that the place was well
known to be haunted by imikovu, or spectres who have been raised from
the dead by wizards.
It was a long and disagreeable walk, and somehow I felt very depressed
and insignificant as I trudged on between those gigantic cliffs, passing
now through patches of bright moonlight and now through deep pools of
shadow, threading my way among clumps of bush or round the bases of tall
pillars of piled-up stones, till at length I came to the overhanging
cliffs at the end, which frowned down on me like the brows of some
Well, I got to the end at last, and at the gate of the kraal fence was
met by one of those fierce and huge men who served the dwarf as guards.
Suddenly he emerged from behind a stone, and having scanned me for a
moment in silence, beckoned to me to follow him, as though I were
expected. A minute later I found myself face to face with Zikali, who
was seated in the clear moonlight just outside the shadow of his hut,
and engaged, apparently, in his favourite occupation of carving wood
with a rough native knife of curious shape.
For a while he took no notice of me; then suddenly looked up, shaking
back his braided grey locks, and broke into one of his great laughs.
"So it is you, Macumazahn," he said. "Well, I knew you were passing my
way and that Mameena would send you here. But why do you come to see
the 'Thing-that-should-not-have-been-born'? To tell me how you fared
with the buffalo with the split horn, eh?"
"No, Zikali, for why should I tell you what you know already? Mameena
said you wished to talk with me, that was all."
"Then Mameena lied," he answered, "as is her nature, in whose throat
live four false words for every one of truth. Still, sit down,
Macumazahn. There is beer made ready for you by that stool; and give me
the knife and a pinch of the white man's snuff that you have brought for
me as a present."
I produced these articles, though how be knew that I had them with me I
cannot tell, nor did I think it worth while to inquire. The snuff, I
remember, pleased him very much, but of the knife he said that it was a
pretty toy, but he would not know how to use it. Then we fell to
"What was Mameena doing here?" I asked boldly.
"What was she doing at your wagons?" he asked. "Oh, do not stop to tell
me; I know, I know. That is a very good Snake of yours, Macumazahn,
which always just lets you slip through her fingers, when, if she chose
to close her hand-- Well, well, I do not betray the secrets of my
clients; but I say this to you--go on to the kraal of the son of
Senzangakona, and you will see things happen that will make you laugh,
for Mameena will be there, and the mongrel Masapo, her husband. Truly
she hates him well, and, after all, I would rather be loved than hated
by Mameena, though both are dangerous. Poor Mongrel! Soon the jackals
will be chewing his bones."
"Why do you say that?" I asked.
"Only because Mameena tells me that he is a great wizard, and the
jackals eat many wizards in Zululand. Also he is an enemy of Panda's
House, is he not?"
"You have been giving her some bad counsel, Zikali," I said, blurting
out the thought in my mind.
"Perhaps, perhaps, Macumazahn; only I may call it good counsel. I have
my own road to walk, and if I can find some to clear away the thorns
that would prick my feet, what of it? Also she will get her pay, who
finds life dull up there among the Amasomi, with one she hates for a
hut-fellow. Go you and watch, and afterwards, when you have an hour to
spare, come and tell me what happens--that is, if I do not chance to be
there to see for myself."
"Is Saduko well?" I asked to change the subject, for I did not wish to
become privy to the plots that filled the air.
"I am told that his tree grows great, that it overshadows all the royal
kraal. I think that Mameena wishes to sleep in the shade of it. And
now you are weary, and so am I. Go back to your wagons, Macumazahn, for
I have nothing more to say to you to-night. But be sure to return and
tell me what chances at Panda's kraal. Or, as I have said, perhaps I
shall meet you there. Who knows, who knows?"
Now, it will be observed that there was nothing very remarkable in this
conversation between Zikali and myself. He did not tell me any deep
secrets or make any great prophecy. It may be wondered, indeed, when
there is so much to record, why I set it down at all.
My answer is, because of the extraordinary impression that it produced
upon me. Although so little was said, I felt all the while that those
few words were a veil hiding terrible events to be. I was sure that
some dreadful scheme had been hatched between the old dwarf and Mameena
whereof the issue would soon become apparent, and that he had sent me
away in a hurry after he learned that she had told me nothing, because
he feared lest I should stumble on its cue and perhaps cause it to fail.
At any rate, as I walked back to my wagons by moonlight down that
dreadful gorge, the hot, thick air seemed to me to have a physical taste
and smell of blood, and the dank foliage of the tropical trees that grew
there, when now and again a puff of wind stirred them, moaned like the
fabled imikovu, or as men might do in their last faint agony. The
effect upon my nerves was quite strange, for when at last I reached my
wagons I was shaking like a reed, and a cold perspiration, unnatural
enough upon that hot night, poured from my face and body.
Well, I took a couple of stiff tots of "squareface" to pull myself
together, and at length went to sleep, to awake before dawn with a
headache. Looking out of the wagon, to my surprise I saw Scowl and the
hunters, who should have been snoring, standing in a group and talking
to each other in frightened whispers. I called Scowl to me and asked
what was the matter.
"Nothing, Baas," he said with a shamefaced air; "only there are so many
spooks about this place. They have been passing in and out of it all
"Spooks, you idiot!" I answered. "Probably they were people going to
visit the Nyanga, Zikali."
"Perhaps, Baas; only then we do not know why they should all look like
dead people--princes, some of them, by their dress--and walk upon the
air a man's height from the ground."
"Pooh!" I replied. "Do you not know the difference between owls in the
mist and dead kings? Make ready, for we trek at once; the air here is
full of fever."
"Certainly, Baas," he said, springing off to obey; and I do not think I
ever remember two wagons being got under way quicker than they were that
I merely mention this nonsense to show that the Black Kloof could affect
other people's nerves as well as my own.
In due course I reached Nodwengu without accident, having sent forward
one of my hunters to report my approach to Panda. When my wagons
arrived outside the Great Place they were met by none other than my old
friend, Maputa, he who had brought me back the pills before our attack
"Greeting, Macumazahn," he said. "I am sent by the King to say that you
are welcome and to point you out a good place to outspan; also to give
you permission to trade as much as you will in this town, since he knows
that your dealings are always fair."
I returned my thanks in the usual fashion, adding that I had brought a
little present for the King which I would deliver when it pleased him to
receive me. Then I invited Maputa, to whom I also offered some trifle
which delighted him very much, to ride with me on the wagon-box till we
came to the selected outspan.
This, by the way, proved, to be a very good place indeed, a little
valley full of grass for the cattle--for by the King's order it had not
been grazed--with a stream of beautiful water running down it. Moreover
it overlooked a great open space immediately in front of the main gate
of the town, so that I could see everything that went on and all who
arrived or departed.
"You will be comfortable here, Macumazahn," said Maputa, "during your
stay, which we hope will be long, since, although there will soon be a
mighty crowd at Nodwengu, the King has given orders that none except
your own servants are to enter this valley."
"I thank the King; but why will there be a crowd, Maputa?"
"Oh!" he answered with a shrug of the shoulders, "because of a new
thing. All the tribes of the Zulus are to come up to be reviewed. Some
say that Cetewayo has brought this about, and some say that it is
Umbelazi. But I am sure that it is the work of neither of these, but of
Saduko, your old friend, though what his object is I cannot tell you. I
only trust," he added uneasily, "that it will not end in bloodshed
between the Great Brothers."
"So Saduko has grown tall, Maputa?"
"Tall as a tree, Macumazahn. His whisper in the King's ear is louder
than the shouts of others. Moreover, he has become a 'self-eater' [that
is a Zulu term which means one who is very haughty]. You will have to
wait on him, Macumazahn; he will not wait on you."
"Is it so? " I answered. "Well, tall trees are blown down sometimes."
He nodded his wise old head. "Yes, Macumazahn; I have seen plenty grow
and fall in my time, for at last the swimmer goes with the stream.
Anyhow, you will be able to do a good trade among so many, and, whatever
happens, none will harm you whom all love. And now farewell; I bear
your messages to the King, who sends an ox for you to kill lest you
should grow hungry in his house."
That same evening I saw Saduko and the others, as I shall tell. I had
been up to visit the King and give him my present, a case of English
table-knives with bone handles, which pleased him greatly, although he
did not in the least know how to use them. Indeed, without their
accompanying forks these are somewhat futile articles. I found the old
fellow very tired and anxious, but as he was surrounded by indunas, I
had no private talk with him. Seeing that he was busy, I took my leave
as soon as I could, and when I walked away whom should I meet but
I saw him while he was a good way off, advancing towards the inner gate
with a train of attendants like a royal personage, and knew very well
that he saw me. Making up my mind what to do at once, I walked straight
on to him, forcing him to give me the path, which he did not wish to do
before so many people, and brushed past him as though he were a
stranger. As I expected, this treatment had the desired effect, for
after we had passed each other he turned and said:
"Do you not know me, Macumazahn?"
"Who calls?" I asked. "Why, friend, your face is familiar to me. How
are you named?"
"Have you forgotten Saduko?" he said in a pained voice.
"No, no, of course not," I answered. "I know you now, although you seem
somewhat changed since we went out hunting and fighting together--I
suppose because you are fatter. I trust that you are well, Saduko?
Good-bye. I must be going back to my wagons. If you wish to see me you
will find me there."
These remarks, I may add, seemed to take Saduko very much aback. At any
rate, he found no reply to them, even when old Maputa, with whom I was
walking, and some others sniggered aloud. There is nothing that Zulus
enjoy so much as seeing one whom they consider an upstart set in his
Well, a couple of hours afterwards, just as the sun was sinking, who
should walk up to my wagons but Saduko himself, accompanied by a woman
whom I recognised at once as his wife, the Princess Nandie, who carried
a fine baby boy in her arms. Rising, I saluted Nandie and offered her
my camp-stool, which she looked at suspiciously and declined, preferring
to seat herself on the ground after the native fashion. So I took it
back again, and after I had sat down on it, not before, stretched out my
hand to Saduko, who by this time was quite humble and polite.
Well, we talked away, and by degrees, without seeming too much
interested in them, I was furnished with a list of all the advancements
which it had pleased Panda to heap upon Saduko during the past year. In
their way they were remarkable enough, for it was much as though some
penniless country gentleman in England had been promoted in that short
space of time to be one of the premier peers of the kingdom and endowed
with great offices and estates. When he had finished the count of them
he paused, evidently waiting for me to congratulate him. But all I said
"By the Heavens above I am sorry for you, Saduko! How many enemies you
must have made! What a long way there will be for you to fall one
night!"--a remark at which the quiet Nandie broke into a low laugh that
I think pleased her husband even less than my sarcasm. "Well," I went
on, "I see that you have got a baby, which is much better than all these
titles. May I look at it, Inkosazana?"
Of course she was delighted, and we proceeded to inspect the baby, which
evidently she loved more than anything on earth. Whilst we were
examining the child and chatting about it, Saduko sitting by meanwhile
in the sulks, who on earth should appear but Mameena and her fat and
sullen-looking husband, the chief Masapo.
"Oh, Macumazahn," she said, appearing to notice no one else, "how
pleased I am to see you after a whole long year!"
I stared at her and my jaw dropped. Then I recovered myself, thinking
she must have made a mistake and meant to say "week."
"Twelve moons," she went on, "and, Macumazahn, not one of them has gone
by but I have thought of you several times and wondered if we should
ever meet again. Where have you been all this while?"
"In many places," I answered; "amongst others at the Black Kloof, where
I called upon the dwarf, Zikali, and lost my looking-glass."
"The Nyanga, Zikali! Oh, how often have I wished to see him. But, of
course, I cannot, for I am told he will not receive any women."
"I don't know, I am sure," I replied, "but you might try; perhaps he
would make an exception in your favour."
"I think I will, Macumazahn," she murmured, whereon I collapsed into
silence, feeling that things were getting beyond me.
When I recovered myself a little it was to hear Mameena greeting Saduko
with much effusion, and complimenting him on his rise in life, which she
said she had always foreseen. This remark seemed to bowl out Saduko
also, for he made no answer to it, although I noticed that he could not
take his eyes off Mameena's beautiful face. Presently, however, he
seemed to become aware of Masapo, and instantly his whole demeanour
changed, for it grew proud and even terrible. Masapo tendered him some
greeting; whereon Saduko turned upon him and said:
"What, chief of the Amasomi, do you give the good-day to an umfokazana
and a mangy hyena? Why do you do this? Is it because the low
umfokazana has become a noble and the mangy hyena has put on a tiger's
coat?" And he glared at him like a veritable tiger.
Masapo made no answer that I could catch. Muttering some inaudible
words, he turned to depart, and in doing so--quite innocently, I
think--struck Nandie, knocking her over on to her back and causing the
child to fall out of her arms in such fashion that its tender head
struck against a pebble with sufficient force to cause it to bleed.
Saduko leapt at him, smiting him across the shoulders with the little
stick that he carried. For a moment Masapo paused, and I thought that
he was going to show fight. If he had any such intention, however, he
changed his mind, for without a word, or showing any resentment at the
insult which he had received, he broke into a heavy run and vanished
among the evening shadows. Mameena, who had observed all, broke into
something else, namely, a laugh.
"Piff! My husband is big yet not brave," she said, "but I do not think
he meant to hurt you, woman."
"Do you speak to me, wife of Masapo?" asked Nandie with gentle dignity,
as she gained her feet and picked up the stunned child. "If so, my name
and titles are the Inkosazana Nandie, daughter of the Black One and wife
of the lord Saduko."
"Your pardon," replied Mameena humbly, for she was cowed at once. "I
did not know who you were, Inkosazana."
"It is granted, wife of Masapo. Macumazahn, give me water, I pray you,
that I may bathe the head of my child."
The water was brought, and presently, when the little one seemed all
right again, for it had only received a scratch, Nandie thanked me and
departed to her own huts, saying with a smile to her husband as she
passed that there was no need for him to accompany her, as she had
servants waiting at the kraal gate. So Saduko stayed behind, and
Mameena stayed also. He talked with me for quite a long while, for he
had much to tell me, although all the time I felt that his heart was not
in his talk. His heart was with Mameena, who sat there and smiled
continually in her mysterious way, only putting in a word now and again,
as though to excuse her presence.
At length she rose and said with a sigh that she must be going back to
where the Amasomi were in camp, as Masapo would need her to see to his
food. By now it was quite dark, although I remember that from time to
time the sky was lit up by sheet lightning, for a storm was brewing. As
I expected, Saduko rose also, saying that he would see me on the morrow,
and went away with Mameena, walking like one who dreams.
A few minutes later I had occasion to leave the wagons in order to
inspect one of the oxen which was tied up by itself at a distance,
because it had shown signs of some sickness that might or might not be
catching. Moving quietly, as I always do from a hunter's habit, I
walked alone to the place where the beast was tethered behind some
mimosa thorns. Just as I reached these thorns the broad lightning shone
out vividly, and showed me Saduko holding the unresisting shape of
Mameena in his arms and kissing her passionately.
Then I turned and went back to the wagons even more quietly than I had
I should add that on the morrow I found out that, after all, there was
nothing serious the matter with my ox.
After these events matters went on quietly for some time. I visited
Saduko's huts--very fine huts--about the doors of which sat quite a
number of his tribesmen, who seemed glad to see me again. Here I
learned from the Lady Nandie that her babe, whom she loved dearly, was
none the worse for its little accident. Also I learned from Saduko
himself, who came in before I left, attended like a prince by several
notable men, that he had made up his quarrel with Masapo, and, indeed,
apologised to him, as he found that he had not really meant to insult
the princess, his wife, having only thrust her over by accident. Saduko
added indeed that now they were good friends, which was well for Masapo,
a man whom the King had no cause to like. I said that I was glad to
hear it, and went on to call upon Masapo, who received me with
enthusiasm, as also did Mameena.
Here I noted with pleasure that this pair seemed to be on much better
terms than I understood had been the case in the past, for Mameena even
addressed her husband on two separate occasions in very affectionate
language, and fetched something that he wanted without waiting to be
asked. Masapo, too, was in excellent spirits, because, as he told me,
the old quarrel between him and Saduko was thoroughly made up, their
reconciliation having been sealed by an interchange of gifts. He added
that he was very glad that this was the case, since Saduko was now one
of the most powerful men in the country, who could harm him much if he
chose, especially as some secret enemy had put it about of late that he,
Masapo, was an enemy of the King's House, and an evil-doer who practised
witchcraft. In proof of his new friendship, however, Saduko had
promised that these slanders should be looked into and their originator
punished, if he or she could be found.
Well, I congratulated him and took my departure, "thinking furiously,"
as the Frenchman says. That there was a tragedy pending I was sure;
this weather was too calm to last; the water ran so still because it was
preparing to leap down some hidden precipice.
Yet what could I do? Tell Masapo I had seen his wife being embraced by
another man? Surely that was not my business; it was Masapo's business
to attend to her conduct. Also they would both deny it, and I had no
witness. Tell him that Saduko's reconciliation with him was not
sincere, and that he had better look to himself? How did I know it was
not sincere? It might suit Saduko's book to make friends with Masapo,
and if I interfered I should only make enemies and be called a liar who
was working for some secret end.
Go to Panda and confide my suspicions to him? He was far too anxious
and busy about great matters to listen to me, and if he did, would only
laugh at this tale of a petty flirtation. No, there was nothing to be
done except sit still and wait. Very possibly I was mistaken, after
all, and things would smooth themselves out, as they generally do.
Meanwhile the "reviewing," or whatever it may have been, was in
progress, and I was busy with my own affairs, making hay while the sun
shone. So great were the crowds of people who came up to Nodwengu that
in a week I had sold everything I had to sell in the two wagons, that
were mostly laden with cloth, beads, knives and so forth. Moreover, the
prices I got were splendid, since the buyers bid against each other, and
before I was cleared out I had collected quite a herd of cattle, also a
quantity of ivory. These I sent on to Natal with one of the wagons,
remaining behind myself with the other, partly because Panda asked me to
do so--for now and again he would seek my advice on sundry
questions--and partly from curiosity.
There was plenty to be curious about up at Nodwengu just then, since no
one was sure that civil war would not break out between the princes
Cetewayo and Umbelazi, whose factions were present in force.
It was averted for the time, however, by Umbelazi keeping away from the
great gathering under pretext of being sick, and leaving Saduko and some
others to watch his interests. Also the rival regiments were not
allowed to approach the town at the same time. So that public cloud
passed over, to the enormous relief of everyone, especially of Panda the
King. As to the private cloud whereof this history tells, it was
As the tribes came up to the Great Place they were reviewed and sent
away, since it was impossible to feed so vast a multitude as would have
collected had they all remained. Thus the Amasomi, a small people who
were amongst the first to arrive, soon left. Only, for some reason
which I never quite understood, Masapo, Mameena and a few of Masapo's
children and headmen were detained there; though perhaps, if she had
chosen, Mameena could have given an explanation.
Well, things began to happen. Sundry personages were taken ill, and
some of them died suddenly; and soon it was noted that all these people
either lived near to where Masapo's family was lodged or had at some
time or other been on bad terms with him. Thus Saduko himself was taken
ill, or said he was; at any rate, he vanished from public gaze for three
days, and reappeared looking very sorry for himself, though I could not
observe that he had lost strength or weight. These catastrophes I pass
over, however, in order to come to the greatest of them, which is one of
the turning points of this chronicle.
After recovering from his alleged sickness Saduko gave a kind of
thanksgiving feast, at which several oxen were killed. I was present at
this feast, or rather at the last part of it, for I only put in what may
be called a complimentary appearance, having no taste for such native
gorgings. As it drew near its close Saduko sent for Nandie, who at
first refused to come as there were no women present--I think because he
wished to show his friends that he had a princess of the royal blood for
his wife, who had borne him a son that one day would be great in the
land. For Saduko, as I have said, had become a "self-eater," and this
day his pride was inflamed by the adulation of the company and by the
beer that he had drunk.
At length Nandie did come, carrying her babe, from which she never would
be parted. In her dignified, ladylike fashion (although it seems an odd
term to apply to a savage, I know none that describes her better) she
greeted first me and then sundry of the other guests, saying a few words
to each of them. At length she came opposite to Masapo, who had dined
not wisely but too well, and to him, out of her natural courtesy, spoke
rather longer than to the others, inquiring after his wife, Mameena, and
others. At the moment it occurred to me that she did this in order to
assure him that she bore no malice because of the accident of a while
before, and was a party to her husband's reconciliation with him.
Masapo, in a hazy way, tried to reciprocate these kind intentions.
Rising to his feet, his fat, coarse body swaying to and fro because of
the beer that he had drunk, he expressed satisfaction at the feast that
had been prepared in her house. Then, his eyes falling on the child, he
began to declaim about its size and beauty, until he was stopped by the
murmured protests of others, since among natives it is held to be not
fortunate to praise a young child. Indeed, the person who does so is
apt to be called an "umtakati", or bewitcher, who will bring evil upon
its head, a word that I heard murmured by several near to me. Not
satisfied with this serious breach of etiquette, the intoxicated Masapo
snatched the infant from its mother's arms under pretext of looking for
the hurt that had been caused to its brow when it fell to the ground at
my camp, and finding none, proceeded to kiss it with his thick lips.
Nandie dragged it from him, saying:
"Would you bring death upon my son, O Chief of the Amasomi?"
Then, turning, she walked away from the feasters, upon whom there fell a
Fearing lest something unpleasant should ensue, for I saw Saduko biting
his lips with rage not unmixed with fear, and remembering Masapo's
reputation as a wizard, I took advantage of this pause to bid a general
good night to the company and retire to my camp.
What happened immediately after I left I do not know, but just before
dawn on the following morning I was awakened from sleep in my wagon by
my servant Scowl, who said that a messenger had come from the huts of
Saduko, begging that I would proceed there at once and bring the white
man's medicines, as his child was very ill. Of course I got up and
went, taking with me some ipecacuanha and a few other remedies that I
thought might be suitable for infantile ailments.
Outside the huts, which I reached just as the sun began to rise, I was
met by Saduko himself, who was coming to seek me, as I saw at once, in a
state of terrible grief.
"What is the matter?" I asked.
"O Macumazana," he answered, "that dog Masapo has bewitched my boy, and
unless you can save him he dies."
"Nonsense," I said, "why do you utter wind? If the babe is sick, it is
from some natural cause."
"Wait till you see it," he replied.
Well, I went into the big hut, and there found Nandie and some other
women, also a native doctor or two. Nandie was seated on the floor
looking like a stone image of grief, for she made no sound, only pointed
with her finger to the infant that lay upon a mat in front of her.
A single glance showed me that it was dying of some disease of which I
had no knowledge, for its dusky little body was covered with red
blotches and its tiny face twisted all awry. I told the women to heat
water, thinking that possibly this might be a case of convulsions, which
a hot bath would mitigate; but before it was ready the poor babe uttered
a thin wail and died.
Then, when she saw that her child was gone, Nandie spoke for the first
"The wizard has done his work well," she said, and flung herself face
downwards on the floor of the hut.
As I did not know what to answer, I went out, followed by Saduko.
"What has killed my son, Macumazahn?" he asked in a hollow voice, the
tears running down his handsome face, for he had loved his firstborn.
"I cannot tell," I replied; "but had he been older I should have thought
he had eaten something poisonous, which seems impossible."
"Yes, Macumazahn, and the poison that he has eaten came from the breath
of a wizard whom you may chance to have seen kiss him last night. Well,
his life shall be avenged."
"Saduko," I exclaimed, "do not be unjust. There are many sicknesses
that may have killed your son of which I have no knowledge, who am not a
"I will not be unjust, Macumazahn. The babe has died by witchcraft,
like others in this town of late, but the evil-doer may not be he whom I
suspect. That is for the smellers-out to decide," and without more
words he turned and left me.
Next day Masapo was put upon his trial before a Court of Councillors,
over which the King himself presided, a very unusual thing for him to
do, and one which showed the great interest he took in the case.
At this court I was summoned to give evidence, and, of course, confined
myself to answering such questions as were put to me. Practically these
were but two. What had passed at my wagons when Masapo had knocked over
Nandie and her child, and Saduko had struck him, and what had I seen at
Saduko's feast when Masapo had kissed the infant? I told them in as few
words as I could, and after some slight cross-examination by Masapo,
made with a view to prove that the upsetting of Nandie was an accident
and that he was drunk at Saduko's feast, to both of which suggestions I
assented, I rose to go. Panda, however, stopped me and bade me describe
the aspect of the child when I was called in to give it medicine.
I did so as accurately as possible, and could see that my account made a
deep impression on the mind of the court. Then Panda asked me if I had
ever seen any similar case, to which I was obliged to reply:
"No, I have not."
After this the Councillors consulted privately, and when we were called
back the King gave his judgment, which was very brief. It was evident,
he said, that there had been events which might have caused enmity to
arise in the mind of Masapo against Saduko, by whom Masapo had been
struck with a stick. Therefore, although a reconciliation had taken
place, there seemed to be a possible motive for revenge. But if Masapo
killed the child, there was no evidence to show how he had done so.
Moreover, that infant, his own grandson, had not died of any known
disease. He had, however, died of a similar disease to that which had
carried off certain others with whom Masapo had been mixed up, whereas
more, including Saduko himself, had been sick and recovered, all of
which seemed to make a strong case against Masapo.
Still, he and his Councillors wished not to condemn without full proof.
That being so, they had determined to call in the services of some great
witch-doctor, one who lived at a distance and knew nothing of the
circumstances. Who that doctor should be was not yet settled. When it
was and he had arrived, the case would be re-opened, and meanwhile
Masapo would be kept a close prisoner. Finally, he prayed that the
white man, Macumazahn, would remain at his town until the matter was
So Masapo was led off, looking very dejected, and, having saluted the
King, we all went away.
I should add that, except for the remission of the case to the court of
the witch-doctor, which, of course, was an instance of pure Kafir
superstition, this judgment of the King's seemed to me well reasoned and
just, very different indeed from what would have been given by Dingaan
or Chaka, who were wont, on less evidence, to make a clean sweep not
only of the accused, but of all his family and dependents.
About eight days later, during which time I had heard nothing of the
matter and seen no one connected with it, for the whole thing seemed to
have become Zila--that is, not to be talked about--I received a summons
to attend the "smelling-out," and went, wondering what witch-doctor had
been chosen for that bloody and barbarous ceremony. Indeed, I had not
far to go, since the place selected for the occasion was outside the
fence of the town of Nodwengu, on that great open stretch of ground
which lay at the mouth of the valley where I was camped. Here, as I
approached, I saw a vast multitude of people crowded together, fifty
deep or more, round a little oval space not much larger than the pit of
a theatre. On the inmost edge of this ring were seated many notable
people, male and female, and as I was conducted to the side of it which
was nearest to the gate of the town, I observed among them Saduko,
Masapo, Mameena and others, and mixed up with them a number of soldiers,
who were evidently on duty.
Scarcely had I seated myself on a camp-stool, carried by my servant
Scowl, when through the gate of the kraal issued Panda and certain of
his Council, whose appearance the multitude greeted with the royal
salute of "Bayete", that came from them in a deep and simultaneous roar
of sound. When its echoes died away, in the midst of a deep silence
Panda spoke, saying:
"Bring forth the Nyanga [doctor]. Let the umhlahlo [that is, the
There was a long pause, and then in the open gateway appeared a solitary
figure that at first sight seemed to be scarcely human, the figure of a
dwarf with a gigantic head, from which hung long, white hair, plaited
into locks. It was Zikali, no other!
Quite unattended, and naked save for his moocha, for he had on him none
of the ordinary paraphernalia of the witch-doctor, he waddled forward
with a curious toad-like gait till he had passed through the Councillors
and stood in the open space of the ring. Halting there, he looked about
him slowly with his deep-set eyes, turning as he looked, till at length
his glance fell upon the King.
"What would you have of me, Son of Senzangakona?" he asked. "Many years
have passed since last we met. Why do you drag me from my hut, I who
have visited the kraal of the King of the Zulus but twice since the
'Black One' [Chaka] sat upon the throne--once when the Boers were killed
by him who went before you, and once when I was brought forth to see all
who were left of my race, shoots of the royal Dwandwe stock, slain
before my eyes. Do you bear me hither that I may follow them into the
darkness, O Child of Senzangakona? If so I am ready; only then I have
words to say that it may not please you to hear."
His deep, rumbling voice echoed into silence, while the great audience
waited for the King's answer. I could see that they were all afraid of
this man, yes, even Panda was afraid, for he shifted uneasily upon his
stool. At length he spoke, saying:
"Not so, O Zikali. Who would wish to do hurt to the wisest and most
ancient man in all the land, to him who touches the far past with one
hand and the present with the other, to him who was old before our
grandfathers began to be? Nay, you are safe, you on whom not even the
'Black One' dared to lay a finger, although you were his enemy and he
hated you. As for the reason why you have been brought here, tell it to
us, O Zikali. Who are we that we should instruct you in the ways of
When the dwarf heard this he broke into one of his great laughs.
"So at last the House of Senzangakona acknowledges that I have wisdom.
Then before all is done they will think me wise indeed."
He laughed again in his ill-omened fashion and went on hurriedly, as
though he feared that he should be called upon to explain his words:
"Where is the fee? Where is the fee? Is the King so poor that he
expects an old Dwandwe doctor to divine for nothing, just as though he
were working for a private friend?"
Panda made a motion with his hand, and ten fine heifers were driven into
the circle from some place where they had been kept in waiting.
"Sorry beasts!" said Zikali contemptuously, "compared to those we used
to breed before the time of Senzangakona"--a remark which caused a loud
"Wow!" of astonishment to be uttered by the multitude that heard it.
"Still, such as they are, let them be taken to my kraal, with a bull,
for I have none."
The cattle were driven away, and the ancient dwarf squatted himself down
and stared at the ground, looking like a great black toad. For a long
while--quite ten minutes, I should think--he stared thus, till I, for
one, watching him intently, began to feel as though I were mesmerised.
At length he looked up, tossing back his grey locks, and said:
"I see many things in the dust. Oh, yes, it is alive, it is alive, and
tells me many things. Show that you are alive, O Dust. Look!"
As he spoke, throwing his hands upwards, there arose at his very feet
one of those tiny and incomprehensible whirlwinds with which all who
know South Africa will be familiar. It drove the dust together; it
lifted it in a tall, spiral column that rose and rose to a height of
fifty feet or more. Then it died away as suddenly as it had come, so
that the dust fell down again over Zikali, over the King, and over three
of his sons who sat behind him. Those three sons, I remember, were
named Tshonkweni, Dabulesinye, and Mantantashiya. As it chanced, by a
strange coincidence all of these were killed at the great battle of the
Tugela of which I have to tell.
Now again an exclamation of fear and wonder rose from the audience, who
set down this lifting of the dust at Zikali's very feet not to natural
causes, but to the power of his magic. Moreover, those on whom it had
fallen, including the King, rose hurriedly and shook and brushed it from
their persons with a zeal that was not, I think, inspired by a mere
desire for cleanliness. But Zikali only laughed again in his terrible
fashion and let it lie on his fresh-oiled body, which it turned to the
dull, dead hue of a grey adder.
He rose and, stepping here and there, examined the new-fallen dust.
Then he put his hand into a pouch he wore and produced from it a dried
human finger, whereof the nail was so pink that I think it must have
been coloured--a sight at which the circle shuddered.
"Be clever," he said, "O Finger of her I loved best; be clever and write
in the dust as yonder Macumazana can write, and as some of the Dwandwe
used to write before we became slaves and bowed ourselves down before
the Great Heavens." (By this he meant the Zulus, whose name means the
Heavens.) "Be clever, dear Finger which caressed me once, me, the
'Thing-that-should-not-have-been-born,' as more will think before I die,
and write those matters that it pleases the House of Senzangakona to
know this day."
Then he bent down, and with the dead finger at three separate spots made
certain markings in the fallen dust, which to me seemed to consist of
circles and dots; and a strange and horrid sight it was to see him do
"I thank you, dear Finger. Now sleep, sleep, your work is done," and
slowly he wrapped the relic up in some soft material and restored it to
Then he studied the first of the markings and asked: "What am I here
for? What am I here for? Does he who sits upon the Throne desire to
know how long he has to reign?"
Now, those of the inner circle of the spectators, who at these
"smellings-out" act as a kind of chorus, looked at the King, and, seeing
that he shook his head vigorously, stretched out their right hands,
holding the thumb downwards, and said simultaneously in a cold, low
"Izwa!" (That is, "We hear you.")
Zikali stamped upon this set of markings.
"It is well," he said. "He who sits upon the Throne does not desire to
know how long he has to reign, and therefore the dust has forgotten and
shows it not to me."
Then he walked to the next markings and studied them.
"Does the Child of Senzangakona desire to know which of his sons shall
live and which shall die; aye, and which of them shall sleep in his hut
when he is gone?"
Now a great roar of "Izwa!" accompanied by the clapping of hands, rose
from all the outer multitude who heard, for there was no information
that the Zulu people desired so earnestly as this at the time of which I
But again Panda, who, I saw, was thoroughly alarmed at the turn things
were taking, shook his head vigorously, whereon the obedient chorus
negatived the question in the same fashion as before.
Zikali stamped upon the second set of markings, saying:
"The people desire to know, but the Great Ones are afraid to learn, and
therefore the dust has forgotten who in the days to come shall sleep in
the hut of the King and who shall sleep in the bellies of the jackals
and the crops of the vultures after they have 'gone beyond' by the
bridge of spears."
Now, at this awful speech (which, both because of all that it implied of
bloodshed and civil war and of the wild, wailing voice in which it was
spoken, that seemed quite different from Zikali's, caused everyone who
heard it, including myself, I am afraid, to gasp and shiver) the King
sprang from his stool as though to put a stop to such doctoring. Then,
after his fashion, he changed his mind and sat down again. But Zikali,
taking no heed, went to the third set of marks and studied them.
"It would seem," he said, "that I am awakened from sleep in my Black
House yonder to tell of a very little matter, that might well have been
dealt with by any common Nyanga born but yesterday. Well, I have taken
my fee, and I will earn it, although I thought that I was brought here
to speak of great matters, such as the death of princes and the fortunes
of peoples. Is it desired that my Spirit should speak of wizardries in
this town of Nodwengu?"
"Izwa!" said the chorus in a loud voice.