Nada the Lily
H. Rider Haggard
Part 3 out of 6
saw me, and spoke to me, saying, 'Young man, you are tall and strong
and swift of foot. Would you earn a famous weapon, a club, that
destroys all who stand before it?'
"I said that I wished to have such a club, and asked what I should do
to win it.
"'You shall do this,' said the old woman: 'to-morrow morning, at the
first light, you shall go up to yonder mountain,' and she pointed to
the mountain where you are now, stranger, on which the stone Witch
sits forever waiting for the world to die. 'Two-thirds of the way up
the mountain you will come to a path that is difficult to climb. You
shall climb the path and enter a gloomy forest. It is very dark in the
forest, but you must push through it till you come to an open place
with a wall of rock behind it. In the wall of rock is a cave, and in
the cave you will find the bones of a man. Bring down the bones in a
bag, and I will give you the club!'
"While she spoke thus people came out of the kraal and listened.
"'Do not heed her, young man,' they said, 'unless you are weary of
life. Do not heed her: she is crazy. The mountain is haunted; it is a
place of ghosts. Look at the stone Witch who sits upon it! Evil
spirits live in that forest, and no man has walked there for many
years. This woman's son was foolish: he went to wander in the forest,
saying that he cared nothing for ghosts, and the Amatongo, the ghost-
folk, killed him. That was many years ago, and none have dared to seek
his bones. Ever she sits here and asks of the passers by that they
should bring him to her, offering the great club for a reward; but
they dare not!'
"'They lie!' said the old woman. 'There are no ghosts there. The
ghosts live only in their cowardly hearts; there are but wolves. I
know that the bones of my son lie in the cave, for I have seen them in
a dream; but, alas! my old limbs are too weak to carry me up the
mountain path, and all these are cowards; there is no man among them
since the Zulus killed my husband, covering him with wounds!'
"Now, I listened, answering nothing; but when all had done, I asked to
see the club which should be given to him who dared to face the
Amatongo, the spirits who lived in the forest upon the Ghost Mountain.
Then the old woman rose, and creeping on her hands went into the hut.
Presently she returned again, dragging the great club after her.
"Look at it, stranger! look at it! Was there ever such a club?" And
Galazi held it up before the eyes of Umslopogaas.
In truth, my father, that was a club, for I, Mopo, saw it in after
days. It was great and knotty, black as iron that had been smoked in
the fire, and shod with metal that was worn smooth with smiting.
"I looked at it," went on Galazi, "and I tell you, stranger, a great
desire came into my heart to possess it.
"'How is this club named?' I asked of the old woman.
"'It is named Watcher of the Fords,' she answered, 'and it has not
watched in vain. Five men have held that club in war and a hundred-
and-seventy-three have given up their lives beneath its strokes. He
who held it last slew twenty before he was slain himself, for this
fortune goes with the club--that he who owns it shall die holding it,
but in a noble fashion. There is but one other weapon to match with it
in Zululand, and that is the great axe of Jikiza, the chief of the
People of the Axe, who dwells in the kraal yonder; the ancient horn-
hafted Imbubuzi, the Groan-Maker, that brings victory. Were axe,
Groan-Maker, and club, Watcher of the Fords, side by side, there are
no thirty men in Zululand who could stand before them. I have said.
Choose!' And the aged woman watched me cunningly through her horny
"'She speaks truly now,' said one of those who stood near. 'Let the
club be, young man: he who owns it smites great blows indeed, but in
the end he dies by the assegai. None dare own the Watcher of the
"'A good death and a swift!' I answered. And pondered a time, while
still the old woman watched me through her horny eyes. At length she
rose, 'La!, la!' she said, 'the Watcher is not for this one. This is
but a child, I must seek me a man, I must seek me a man!'
"'Not so fast, old wife,' I said. 'Will you lend me this club to hold
in my hand while I go to find the bones of your son and to snatch them
from the people of the ghosts?'
"'Lend you the Watcher, boy? Nay, nay! I should see little of you
again or of the good club either.'
"'I am no thief,' I answered. 'If the ghosts kill me, you will see me
no more, or the club either; but if I live I will bring you back the
bones, or, if I do not find them, I will render the Watcher into your
hands again. At the least I say that if you will not lend me the club,
then I will not go into the haunted place.'
"'Boy, your eyes are honest,' she said, still peering at me. 'Take the
Watcher, go seek the bones. If you die, let the club be lost with you;
if you fail, bring it back to me; but if you win the bones, then it is
yours, and it shall bring you glory and you shall die a man's death at
last holding him aloft among the dead.'
"So on the morrow at dawn I took the club Watcher in my hand and a
little dancing shield, and made ready to start. The old woman blessed
me and bade me farewell, but the other people of the kraal mocked,
saying: 'A little man for so big a club! Beware, little man, lest the
ghosts use the club on you!' So they spoke, but one girl in the kraal
--she is a granddaughter of the old woman--led me aside, praying me
not to go, for the forest on the Ghost Mountain had an evil name: none
dared walk there, since it was certainly full of spirits, who howled
like wolves. I thanked the girl, but to the others I said nothing,
only I asked of the path to the Ghost Mountain.
"Now stranger, if you have strength, come to the mouth of the cave and
look out, for the moon is bright."
So Umslopogaas rose and crept through the narrow mouth of the cave.
There, above him, a great grey peak towered high into the air, shaped
like a seated woman, her chin resting upon her breast, the place where
the cave was being, as it were, on the lap of the woman. Below this
place the rock sloped sharply, and was clothed with little bushes.
Lower down yet was a forest, great and dense, that stretched to the
top of a cliff, and at the foot of the cliff, beyond the waters of the
river, lay the wide plains of Zululand.
"Yonder, stranger," said Galazi, pointing with the club Watcher of the
Fords far away to the plain beneath; "yonder is the kraal where the
aged woman dwelt. There is a cliff rising from the plain, up which I
must climb; there is the forest where dwell the Amatongo, the people
of the ghosts; there, on the hither side of the forest, runs the path
to the cave, and here is the cave itself. See this stone lying at the
mouth of the cave, it turns thus, shutting up the entrance hole--it
turns gently; though it is so large, a child may move it, for it rests
upon a sharp point of rock. Only mark this, the stone must be pushed
too far; for, look! if it came to here," and he pointed to a mark in
the mouth of the cave, "then that man need be strong who can draw it
back again, though I have done it myself, who am not a man full grown.
But if it pass beyond this mark, then, see, it will roll down the neck
of the cave like a pebble down the neck of a gourd, and I think that
two men, one striving from within and one dragging from without,
scarcely could avail to push it clear. Look now, I close the stone, as
is my custom of a night, so,"--and he grasped the rock and swung it
round upon its pivot, on which it turned as a door turns. "Thus I
leave it, and though, except those to whom the secret is know, none
would guess that a cave was here, yet it can be rolled back again with
a push of the hand. But enough of the stone. Enter again, wanderer,
and I will go forward with my tale, for it is long and strange.
"I started from the kraal of the old woman, and the people of the
kraal followed me to the brink of the river. It was in flood, and few
had dared to cross it.
"'Ha! ha!' they cried, 'now your journey is done, little man; watch by
the ford you who would win the Watcher of the Ford! Beat the water
with the club, perhaps so it shall grow gentle that your feet may pass
"I answered nothing to their mocking, only I bound the shield upon my
shoulders with a string, and the bag that I had brought I made fast
about my middle, and I held the great club in my teeth by the thong.
Then I plunged into the river and swam. Twice, stranger, the current
bore me under, and those on the bank shouted that I was lost; but I
rose again, and in the end I won the farther shore.
"Now those on the bank mocked no more; they stood still wondering, and
I walked on till I came to the foot of the cliff. That cliff is hard
to climb, stranger; when you are strong upon your feet, I will show
you the path. Yet I found a way up it, and by midday I came to the
forest. Here, on the edge of the forest, I rested awhile, and ate a
little food that I had brought with me in the bag, for now I must
gather up my strength to meet the ghosts, if ghosts there were. Then I
rose and plunged into the forest. The trees were great that grow
there, stranger, and their leaves are so think that in certain places
the light is as that of night when the moon is young. Still, I wended
on, often losing my path. But from time to time between the tops of
the trees I saw the figure of the grey stone woman who sits on the top
of Ghost Mountain, and shaped my course towards her knees. My heart
beat as I travelled through the forest in dark and loneliness like
that of the night, and ever I looked round searching for the eyes of
the Amatongo. But I saw no spirits, though at times great spotted
snakes crept from before my feet, and perhaps these were the Amatongo.
At times, also, I caught glimpses of some grey wolf as he slunk from
tree to tree watching me, and always high above my head the wind
sighed in the great boughs with a sound like the sighing of women.
"Still, I went on, singing to myself as I went, that my heart might
not be faint with fear, and at length, towards the end of the second
hour, the trees grew fewer, the ground sloped upwards, and the light
poured down from the heavens again. But, stranger, you are weary, and
the night wears on; sleep now, and to-morrow I will end the tale. Say,
first, how are you named?"
"I am named Umslopogaas, son of Mopo," he answered, "and my tale shall
be told when yours is done; let us sleep!"
Now when Galazi heard this name he started and was troubled, but said
nothing. So they laid them down to sleep, and Galazi wrapped
Umslopogaas with the skins of bucks.
But Galazi the Wolf was so hardy that he lay on the bare ground and
had no covering. So they slept, and without the door of the cave the
wolves howled, scenting the blood of men.
GALAZI BECOMES KING OF THE WOLVES
On the morrow Umslopogaas awoke, and knew that strength was growing on
him fast. Still, all that day he rested in the cave, while Galazi went
out to hunt. In the evening he returned, bearing a buck upon his
shoulders, and they skinned the buck and ate of it as they sat by the
fire. And when the sun was down Galazi took up his tale.
"Now Umslopogaas, son of Mopo, hear! I had passed the forest, and had
come, as it were, to the legs of the old stone Witch who sits up aloft
there forever waiting for the world to die. Here the sun shone
merrily, here lizards ran and birds flew to and fro, and though it
grew towards the evening--for I had wandered long in the forest--I was
afraid no more. So I climbed up the steep rock, where little bushes
grow like hair on the arms of a man, till at last I came to the knees
of the stone Witch, which are the space before the cave. I lifted by
head over the brink of the rock and looked, and I tell you,
Umslopogaas, my blood ran cold and my heart turned to water, for
there, before the cave, rolled wolves, many and great. Some slept and
growled in their sleep, some gnawed at the skulls of dead game, some
sat up like dogs and their tongues hung from their grinning jaws. I
looked, I saw, and beyond I discovered the mouth of the cave, where
the bones of the boy should be. But I had no wish to come there, being
afraid of the wolves, for now I knew that these were the ghosts who
live upon the mountain. So I bethought me that I would fly, and turned
to go. And, Umslopogaas, even as I turned, the great club Watcher of
the Fords swung round and smote me on the back with such a blow as a
man smites upon a coward. Now whether this was by chance or whether
the Watcher would shame him who bore it, say you, for I do not know.
At the least, shame entered into me. Should I go back to be mocked by
the people of the kraal and by the old woman? And if I wished to go,
should I not be killed by the ghosts at night in the forest? Nay, it
was better to die in the jaws of the wolves, and at once.
"Thus I thought in my heart; then, tarrying not, lest fear should come
upon me again, I swung up the Watcher, and crying aloud the war-cry of
the Halakazi, I sprang over the brink of the rock and rushed upon the
wolves. They, too, sprang up and stood howling, with bristling hides
and fiery eyes, and the smell of them came into my nostrils. Yet when
they saw it was a man that rushed upon them, they were seized with
sudden fear and fled this way and that, leaping by great bounds from
the place of rock, which is the knees of the stone Witch, so that
presently I stood alone in front of the cave. Now, having conquered
the wolf ghosts and no blow struck, my heart swelled within me, and I
walked to the mouth of the cave proudly, as a cock walks upon a roof,
and looked in through the opening. As it chanced, the sinking sun
shone at this hour full into the cave, so that all its darkness was
made red with light. Then, once more, Umslopogaas, I grew afraid
indeed, for I could see the end of the cave.
"Look now! There is a hole in the wall of the cave, where the
firelight falls below the shadow of the roof, twice the height of a
man from the floor. It is a narrow hole and a high, is it not?--as
though one had cut it with iron, and a man might sit in it, his legs
hanging towards the floor of the cave. Ay, Umslopogaas, a man might
sit in it, might he not? And there a man sat, or that which had been a
man. There sat the bones of a man, and the black skin had withered on
his bones, holding them together, and making him awful to see. His
hands were open beside him, he leaned upon them, and in the right hand
was a piece of hide from his moocha. It was half eaten, Umslopogaas;
he had eaten it before he died. His eyes also were bound round with a
band of leather, as though to hide something from their gaze, one foot
was gone, one hung over the edge of the niche towards the floor, and
beneath it on the floor, red with rust, lay the blade of a broken
"Now come hither, Umslopogaas, place your hand upon the wall of the
cave, just here; it is smooth, is it not?--smooth as the stones on
which women grind their corn. 'What made it so smooth?' you ask. I
will tell you.
"When I peered through the door of the cave I saw this: on the floor
of the cave lay a she-wolf panting, as though she had galloped many a
mile; she was great and fierce. Near to her was another wolf--he was a
dog--old and black, bigger than any I have seen, a very father of
wolves, and all his head and flanks were streaked with grey. But this
wolf was on his feet. As I watched he drew back nearly to the mouth of
the cave, then of a sudden he ran forward and bounded high into the
air towards the withered foot of that which hung from the cleft of the
rock. His pads struck upon the rock here where it is smooth, and there
for a second he seemed to cling, while his great jaws closed with a
clash but a spear's breadth beneath the dead man's foot. Then he fell
back with a howl of rage, and drew slowly down the cave. Again he ran
and leaped, again the great jaws closed, again he fell down howling.
Then the she-wolf rose, and they sprang together, striving to pull
down him who sat above. But it was all in vain; they could never come
nearer than within a spear's breadth of the dead man's foot. And now,
Umslopogaas, you know why the rock is smooth and shines. From month to
month and year to year the wolves had ravened there, seeking to devour
the bones of him who sat above. Night upon night they had leaped thus
against the wall of the cave, but never might their clashing jaws
close upon his foot. One foot they had, indeed, but the other they
could not come by.
"Now as I watched, filled with fear and wonder, the she-wolf, her
tongue lolling from her jaws, made so mighty a bound that she almost
reached the hanging foot, and yet not quite. She fell back, and then I
saw that the leap was her last for that time, for she had oversprung
herself, and lay there howling, the black blood flowing from her
mouth. The wolf saw also: he drew near, sniffed at her, then, knowing
that she was hurt, seized her by the throat and worried her. Now all
the place was filled with groans and choking howls, as the wolves
rolled over and over beneath him who sat above, and in the blood-red
light of the dying sun the sight and sounds were so horrid that I
trembled like a child. The she-wolf grew faint, for the fangs of her
mate were buried in her throat. Then I saw that now was the time to
smite him, lest when he had killed her he should kill me also. So I
lifted the Watcher and sprang into the cave, having it in my mind to
slay the wolf before he lifted up his head. But he heard my footsteps,
or perhaps my shadow fell upon him. Loosing his grip, he looked up,
this father of wolves; then, making no sound, he sprang straight at my
"I saw him, and whirling the Watcher aloft, I smote with all my
strength. The blow met him in mid-air; it fell full on his chest and
struck him backwards to the earth. But there he would not say, for,
rising before I could smite again, once more he sprang at me. This
time I leaped aside and struck downwards, and the blow fell upon his
right leg and broke it, so that he could spring no more. Yet he ran at
me on three feet, and, though the club fell on his side, he seized me
with his teeth, biting through that leather bag, which was wound about
my middle, into the flesh behind. Then I yelled with pain and rage,
and lifting the Watcher endways, drove it down with both hands, as a
man drives a stake into the earth, and that with so great a stroke
that the skull of the wolf was shattered like a pot, and he fell dead,
dragging me with him. Presently I sat up on the ground, and, placing
the handle of the Watcher between his jaws, I forced them open,
freeing my flesh from the grip of his teeth. Then I looked at my
wounds; they were not deep, for the leather bag had saved me, yet I
feel them to this hour, for there is poison in the mouth of a wolf.
Presently I glanced up, and saw that the she-wolf had found her feet
again, and stood as though unhurt; for this is the nature of these
ghosts, Umslopogaas, that, though they fight continually, they cannot
destroy each other. They may be killed by man alone, and that hardly.
There she stood, and yet she did not look at me or on her dead mate,
but at him who sat above. I saw, and crept softly behind her, then,
lifting the Watcher, I dashed him down with all my strength. The blow
fell on her neck and broke it, so that she rolled over and at once was
"Now I rested awhile, then went to the mouth of the cave and looked
out. The sun was sinking: all the depth of the forest was black, but
the light still shone on the face of the stone woman who sits forever
on the mountain. Here, then, I must bide this night, for, though the
moon shone white and full in the sky, I dared not wend towards the
plains alone with the wolves and the ghosts. And if I dared not go
alone, how much less should I dare to go bearing with me him who sat
in the cleft of the rock! Nay, here I must bide, so I went out of the
cave to the spring which flows from the rock on the right yonder and
washed my wounds and drank. Then I came back and sat in the mouth of
the cave, and watched the light die away from the face of the world.
While it was dying there was silence, but when it was dead the forest
awoke. A wind sprang up and tossed it till the green of its boughs
waved like troubled water on which the moon shines faintly. From the
heart of it, too, came howlings of ghosts and wolves, that were
answered by howls from the rocks above--hearken, Umslopogaas, such
howlings as we hear to-night!
"It was awful here in the mouth of the cave, for I had not yet learned
the secret of the stone, and if I had known it, should I have dared to
close it, leaving myself alone with the dead wolves and him whom the
wolves had struggled to tear down? I walked out yonder on to the
platform and looked up. The moon shone full upon the face of the stone
Witch who sits aloft forever. She seemed to grin at me, and, oh! I
grew afraid, for now I knew that this was a place of dead men, a place
where spirits perch like vultures in a tree, as they sweep round and
round the world. I went back to the cave, and feeling that I must do
something lest I should go mad, I drew to me the carcase of the great
dog-wolf which I had killed, and, taking my knife of iron, I began to
skin it by the light of the moon. For an hour or more I skinned,
singing to myself as I worked, and striving to forget him who sat in
the cleft above and the howlings which ran about the mountains. But
ever the moonlight shone more clearly into the cave: now by it I could
see his shape of bone and skin, ay, and even the bandage about his
eyes. Why had he tied it there? I wondered--perhaps to hide the faces
of the fierce wolves as they sprang upwards to grip him. And always
the howlings drew nearer; now I could see grey forms creeping to and
fro in the shadows of the rocky place before me. Ah! there before me
glared two red eyes: a sharp snout sniffed at the carcase which I
skinned. With a yell, I lifted the Watcher and smote. There came a
scream of pain, and something galloped away into the shadows.
"Now the skin was off. I cast it behind me, and seizing the carcase
dragged it to the edge of the rock and left it. Presently the sound of
howlings drew near again, and I saw the grey shapes creep up one by
one. Now they gathered round the carcase, now they fell upon it and
rent it, fighting horribly till all was finished. Then, licking their
red chops, they slunk back to the forest.
"Did I sleep or did I wake? Nay, I cannot tell. But I know this, that
of a sudden I seemed to look up and see. I saw a light--perchance,
Umslopogaas, it was the light of the moon, shining upon him that sat
aloft at the end of the cave. It was a red light, and he glowed in it
as glows a thing that is rotten. I looked, or seemed to look, and then
I thought that the hanging jaw moved, and from it came a voice that
was harsh and hollow as of one who speaks from an empty belly, through
a withered throat.
"'Hail, Galazi, child of Siguyana!' said the voice, 'Galazi the Wolf!
Say, what dost thou here in the Ghost Mountain, where the stone Witch
sits forever, waiting for the world to die?'
"Then, Umslopogaas, I answered, or seemed to answer, and my voice,
too, sounded strange and hollow:--
"'Hail, Dead One, who sittest like a vulture on a rock! I do this on
the Ghost Mountain. I come to seek thy bones and bear them to thy
mother for burial.'
"'Many and many a year have I sat aloft, Galazi,' answered the voice,
'watching the ghost-wolves leap and leap to drag me down, till the
rock grew smooth beneath the wearing of their feet. So I sat seven
days and nights, being yet alive, the hungry wolves below, and hunger
gnawing at my heart. So I have sat many and many a year, being dead in
the heart of the old stone Witch, watching the moon and the sun and
the stars, hearkening to the howls of the ghost-wolves as they ravened
beneath me, and learning the wisdom of the old witch who sits above in
everlasting stone. Yet my mother was young and fair when I trod the
haunted forest and climbed the knees of stone. How seems she now,
"'She is white and wrinkled and very aged,' I answered. 'They call her
mad, yet at her bidding I came to seek thee, Dead One, bearing the
Watcher that was thy father's and shall be mine.'
"'It shall be thine, Galazi,' said the voice, 'for thou alone hast
dared the ghosts to me sleep and burial. Hearken, thine also shall be
the wisdom of the old witch who sits aloft forever, frozen into
everlasting stone--thine and one other's. These are not wolves that
thou hast seen, that is no wolf which thou hast slain; nay, they are
ghosts--evil ghosts of men who lived in ages gone, and who must now
live till they be slain by men. And knowest thou how they lived,
Galazi, and what was the food they ate? When the light comes again,
Galazi, climb to the breasts of the stone Witch, and look in the cleft
which is between her breasts. There shalt thou see how these men
lived. And now this doom is on them: they must wander gaunt and hungry
in the shape of wolves, haunting that Ghost Mountain where they once
fed, till they are led forth to die at the hands of men. Because of
their devouring hunger they have leapt from year to year, striving to
reach my bones; and he whom thou hast slain was the king of them, and
she at his side was their queen.
"'Now, Galazi the Wolf, this is the wisdom that I give thee: thou
shalt be king of the ghost-wolves, thou and another, whom a lion shall
bring thee. Gird the black skin upon thy shoulders, and the wolves
shall follow thee; all the three hundred and sixty and three of them
that are left, and let him who shall be brought to thee gird on the
skin of grey. Where ye twain lead them, there shall they raven,
bringing you victory till all are dead. But know this, that there only
may they raven where in life they ravened, seeking for their food.
Yet, that was an ill gift thou tookest from my mother--the gift of the
Watcher, for though without the Watcher thou hadst never slain the
king of the ghost-wolves, yet, bearing the Watcher, thou shalt thyself
be slain. Now, on the morrow carry me back to my mother, so that I may
sleep where the ghost-wolves leap no more. I have spoken, Galazi.'
"Now the Dead One's voice seemed to grow ever fainter and more hollow
as he spoke, till at the last I could scarcely hear his words, yet I
answered him, asking him this:--
"'Who is it, then, that the lion shall bring to me to rule with me
over the ghost-wolves, and how is he named?'
"Then the Dead One spoke once more very faintly, yet in the silence of
the place I heard his words:--
"'He is named Umslopogaas the Slaughterer, son of Chaka, Lion of the
Now Umslopogaas started up from his place by the fire.
"I am named Umslopogaas," he said, "but the Slaughterer I am not
named, and I am the son of Mopo, and not the son of Chaka, Lion of the
Zulu; you have dreamed a dream, Galazi, or, if it was no dream, then
the Dead One lied to you."
"Perchance this was so, Umslopogaas," answered Galazi the Wolf.
"Perhaps I dreamed, of perhaps the Dead One lied; nevertheless, if he
lied in this matter, in other matters he did not lie, as you shall
"After I had heard these words, or had dreamed that I heard them, I
slept indeed, and when I woke the forest beneath was like the clouds
of mist, but the grey light glinted upon the face of her who sits in
stone above. Now I remembered the dream that I had dreamed, and I
would see if it were all a dream. So I rose, and leaving the cave,
found a place where I might climb up to the breasts and head of the
stone Witch. I climbed, and as I went the rays of the sun lit upon her
face, and I rejoiced to see them. But, when I drew near, the likeness
to the face of a woman faded away, and I saw nothing before me but
rugged heaps of piled-up rock. For this, Umslopogaas, is the way of
witches, be they of stone or flesh--when you draw near to them they
change their shape.
"Now I was on the breast of the mountain, and wandered to and for
awhile between the great heaps of stone. At length I found, as it
were, a crack in the stone thrice as wide as a man can jump, and in
length half a spear's throw, and near this crack stood great stones
blackened by fire, and beneath them broken pots and a knife of flint.
I looked down into the crack--it was very deep, and green with moss,
and tall ferns grew about in it, for the damp gathered there. There
was nothing else. I had dreamed a lying dream. I turned to go, then
found another mind, and climbed down into the cleft, pushing aside the
ferns. Beneath the ferns was moss; I scraped it away with the Watcher.
Presently the iron of the club struck on something that was yellow and
round like a stone, and from the yellow thing came a hollow sound. I
lifted it, Umslopogaas; it was the skull of a child.
"I dug deeper and scraped away more moss, till presently I saw.
Beneath the moss was nothing but the bones of men--old bones that had
lain there many years; the little ones had rotted, the larger ones
remained--some were yellow, some black, and others still white. They
were not broken, as are those that hyenas and wolves have worried, yet
on some of them I could see the marks of teeth. Then, Umslopogaas, I
went back to the cave, never looking behind me.
"Now when I was come to the cave I did this: I skinned the she-wolf
also. When I had finished the sun was up, and I knew that it was time
to go. But I could not go alone--he who sat aloft in the cleft of the
cave must go with me. I greatly feared to touch him--this Dead One,
who had spoken to me in a dream; yet I must do it. So I brought stones
and piled them up till I could reach him; then I lifted him down, for
he was very light, being but skin and bones. When he was down, I bound
the hides of the wolves about me, then leaving the leather bag, into
which he could not enter, I took the Dead One and placed him on my
shoulders as a man might carry a child, for his legs were fixed
somewhat apart, and holding him by the foot which was left on him, I
set out for the kraal. Down the slope I went as swiftly as I could,
for now I knew the way, seeing and hearing nothing, except once, when
there came a rush of wings, and a great eagle swept down at that which
sat upon my shoulders. I shouted, and the eagle flew away, then I
entered the dark of the forest. Here I must walk softly, lest the head
of him I carried should strike against the boughs and be smitten from
"For awhile I went on thus, till I drew near to the heart of the
forest. Then I heard a wolf howl on my right, and from the left came
answering howls, and these, again, were answered by others in front of
and behind me. I walked on boldly, for I dared not stay, guiding
myself by the sun, which from time to time shone down on me redly
through the boughs of the great trees. Now I could see forms grey and
black slinking near my path, sniffing at the air as they went, and now
I came to a little open place, and, behold! all the wolves in the
world were gathered together there. My heart melted, my legs trembled
beneath me. On every side were the brutes, great and hungry. And I
stood still, with club aloft, and slowly they crept up, muttering and
growling as they came, till they formed a deep circle round me. Yet
they did not spring on me, only drew nearer and ever nearer. Presently
one sprang, indeed, but not at me; he sprang at that which sat upon my
shoulders. I moved aside, and he missed his aim, and, coming to the
ground again, stood there growling and whining like a beast afraid.
Then I remembered the words of my dream, if dream it were, how that
the Dead One had given me wisdom that I should be king of the ghost-
wolves--I and another whom a lion should bear to me. Was it not so? If
it was not so, how came it that the wolves did not devour me?
"For a moment I stood thinking, then I lifted up my voice and howled
like a wolf, and lo! Umslopogaas, all the wolves howled in answer with
a mighty howling. I stretched out my hand and called to them. They ran
to me, gathering round me as though to devour me. But they did not
harm me; they licked my legs with their red tongues, and fighting to
come near me, pressed themselves against me as does a cat. One,
indeed, snatched at him who sat on my shoulder, but I struck him with
the Watcher and he slunk back like a whipped hound; moreover, the
others bit him so that he yelled. Now I knew that I had no more to
fear, for I was king of the ghost-wolves, so I walked on, and with me
came all the great pack of them. I walked on and on, and they trotted
beside me silently, and the fallen leaves crackled beneath their feet,
and the dust rose up about them, till at length I reached the edge of
"Now I remembered that I must not be seen thus by men, lest they
should think me a wizard and kill me. Therefore, at the edge of the
forest I halted and made signs to the wolves to go back. At this they
howled piteously, as though in grief, but I called to them that I
would come again and be their king, and it seemed as though their
brute hearts understood my words. Then they all went, still howling,
till presently I was alone.
"And now, Umslopogaas, it is time to sleep; to-morrow night I will end
Now, my father, on the morrow night, once again Umslopogaas and Galazi
the wolf sat by the fire in the mouth of their cave, as we sit to-
night, my father, and Galazi took up his tale.
"I passed on till I came to the river; it was still full, but the
water had run down a little, so that my feet found foothold. I waded
into the river, using the Watcher as a staff, and the stream reached
to my elbows, but no higher. Now one on the farther bank of the river
saw that which sat upon my shoulders, and saw also the wolf's skin on
my head, and ran to the kraal crying, 'Here comes one who walks the
waters on the back of a wolf.'
"So it came about that when I drew towards the kraal all the people of
the kraal were gathered together to meet me, except the old woman, who
could not walk so far. But when they saw me coming up the slope of the
hill, and when they knew what it was that sat upon my shoulders, they
were smitten with fear. Yet they did not run, because of their great
wonder, only they walked backward before me, clinging each to each and
saying nothing. I too came on silently, till at length I reached the
kraal, and before its gates sat the old woman basking in the sun of
the afternoon. Presently she looked up and cried:--
"'What ails you, people of my house, that you walk backwards like men
bewitched, and who is that tall and deathly man who comes toward you?'
"But still they drew on backward, saying no word, the little children
clinging to the women, the women clinging to the men, till they had
passed the old wife and ranged themselves behind her like a regiment
of soldiers. Then they halted against the fence of the kraal. But I
came on to the old woman, and lifted him who sat upon my shoulders,
and placed him on the ground before her, saying, 'Woman, here is your
son; I have snatched him with much toil from the jaws of the ghosts--
and they are many up yonder--all save one foot, which I could not
find. Take him now and bury him, for I weary of his fellowship.'
"She looked upon that which sat before her. She put out her withered
hand and drew the bandage from his sunken eyes. Then she screamed
aloud a shrill scream, and, flinging her arms about the neck of the
Dead One, she cried: 'It is my son whom I bore--my very son, whom for
twice ten years and half a ten I have not looked upon. Greeting, my
son, greeting! Now shalt thou find burial, and I with three--ay, I
"And once more she cried aloud, standing upon her feet with arms
outstretched. Then of a sudden foam burst from her lips, and she fell
forward upon the body of her son, and was dead.
"Now silence came upon the place again, for all were fearful. At last
one cried: 'How is this man named who has won the body from the
"'I am named Galazi,' I answered.
"'Nay,' said he. 'The Wolf you are named. Look at the wolf's red hide
upon his head!'
"'I am named Galazi, and the Wolf you have named me,' I said again.
'So be it: I am named Galazi the Wolf.'
"'Methinks he is a wolf,' said he. 'Look, now, at his teeth, how they
grin! This is no man, my brothers, but a wolf.'
"'No wolf and no man,' said another, 'but a wizard. None but a wizard
could have passed the forest and won the lap of her who sits in stone
"'Yes, yes! he is a wolf--he is a wizard!' they screamed. 'Kill him!
Kill the wolf-wizard before he brings the ghosts upon us!' And they
ran towards me with uplifted spears.
"'I am a wolf indeed,' I cried, 'and I am a wizard indeed, and I will
bring wolves and ghosts upon you ere all is done.' And I turned and
fled so swiftly that soon they were left behind me. Now as I ran I met
a girl; a basket of mealies was on her head, and she bore a dead kid
in her hand. I rushed at her howling like a wolf, and I snatched the
mealies from her head and the kid from her hand. Then I fled on, and
coming to the river, I crossed it, and for that night I hid myself in
the rocks beyond, eating the mealies and the flesh of the kid.
"On the morrow at dawn I rose and shook the dew from the wolf-hide.
Then I went on into the forest and howled like a wolf. They knew my
voice, the ghost-wolves, and howled in answer from far and near. Then
I heard the pattering of their feet, and they came round me by tens
and by twenties, and fawned upon me. I counted their number; they
numbered three hundred and sixty and three.
"Afterwards, I went on to the cave, and I have lived there in the
cave, Umslopogaas, for nigh upon twelve moons, and I have become a
wolf-man. For with the wolves I hunt and raven, and they know me, and
what I bid them that they do. Stay, Umslopogaas, now you are strong
again, and, if your courage does not fail you, you shall see this very
night. Come now, have you the heart, Umslopogaas?"
Then Umslopogaas rose and laughed aloud. "I am young in years," he
cried, "and scarcely come to the full strength of men; yet hitherto I
have not turned my back on lion or witch, on wolf or man. Now let us
see this impi of yours--this impi black and grey, that runs on four
legs with fangs for spears!"
"You must first bind on the she-wolf's hide, Umslopogaas," quoth
Galazi, "else, before a man could count his fingers twice there would
be little enough left of you. Bind it about the neck and beneath the
arms, and see that the fastenings do not burst, lest it be the worse
So Umslopogaas took the grey wolf's hide and bound it on with thongs
of leather, and its teeth gleamed upon his head, and he took a spear
in his hand. Galazi also bound on the hide of the king of the wolves,
and they went out on to the space before the cave. Galazi stood there
awhile, and the moonlight fell upon him, and Umslopogaas saw that his
face grew wild and beastlike, that his eyes shone, and his teeth
grinned beneath his curling lips. He lifted up his head and howled out
upon the night. Thrice Galazi lifted his head and thrice he howled
loudly, and yet more loud. But before ever the echoes had died in the
air, from the heights of the rocks above and the depths of the forest
beneath, there came howlings in answer. Nearer they grew and nearer;
now there was a sound of feet, and a wolf, great and grey, bounded
towards them, and after him many another. They came to Galazi, they
sprang upon him, fawning round him, but he beat them down with the
Watcher. Then of a sudden they saw Umslopogaas, and rushed at him
"Stand and do not move!" cried Galazi. "Be not afraid!"
"I have always fondled dogs," answered Umslopogaas, "shall I learn to
fear them now?"
Yet though he spoke boldly, in his heart he was afraid, for this was
the most terrible of all sights. The wolves rushed on him open-
mouthed, from before and from behind, so that in a breath he was well-
nigh hidden by their forms. Yet no fang pierced him, for as they leapt
they smelt the smell of the skin upon him. Then Umslopogaas saw that
the wolves leapt at him no more, but the she-wolves gathered round him
who wore the she-wolf's skin. They were great and gaunt and hungry,
all were full-grown, there were no little ones, and their number was
so many that he could not count them in the moonlight. Umslopogaas,
looking into their red eyes, felt his heart become as the heart of a
wolf, and he, too, lifted up his head and howled, and the she-wolves
howled in answer.
"The pack is gathered; now for the hunt!" cried Galazi. "Make your
feet swift, my brother, for we shall journey far to-night. Ho,
Blackfang! ho, Greysnout! Ho, my people black and grey, away! away!"
He spoke and bounded forward, and with him went Umslopogaas, and after
him streamed the ghost-wolves. They fled down the mountain sides,
leaping from boulder to boulder like bucks. Presently they stood by a
kloof that was thick with trees. Galazi stopped, holding up the
Watcher, and the wolves stopped with him.
"I smell a quarry," he cried; "in, my people, in!"
Then the wolves plunged silently into the great kloof, but Galazi and
Umslopogaas drew to the foot of it and waited. Presently there came a
sound of breaking boughs, and lo! before them stood a buffalo, a bull
who lowed fiercely and sniffed the air.
"This one will give us a good chase, my brother; see, he is gaunt and
thin! Ah! that meat is tender which my people have hunted to the
As Galazi spoke, the first of the wolves drew from the covert and saw
the buffalo; then, giving tongue, they sprang towards it. The bull saw
also, and dashed down the hill, and after him came Galazi and
Umslopogaas, and with them all their company, and the rocks shook with
the music of their hunting. They rushed down the mountain side, and it
came into the heart of Umslopogaas, that he, too, was a wolf. They
rushed madly, yet his feet were swift as the swiftest; no wolf could
outstrip him, and in him was but one desire--the desire of prey. Now
they neared the borders of the forest, and Galazi shouted. He shouted
to Greysnout and to Blackfang, to Blood and to Deathgrip, and these
four leaped forward from the pack, running so swiftly that their
bellies seemed to touch the ground. They passed about the bull,
turning him from the forest and setting his head up the slope of the
mountain. Then the chase wheeled, the bull leaped and bounded up the
mountain side, and on one flank lay Greysnout and Deathgrip and on the
other lay Blood and Blackfang, while behind came the Wolf-Brethren,
and after them the wolves with lolling tongues. Up the hill they sped,
but the feet of Umslopogaas never wearied, his breath did not fail
him. Once more they drew near the lap of the Grey Witch where the cave
was. On rushed the bull, mad with fear. He ran so swiftly that the
wolves were left behind, since here for a space the ground was level
to his feet. Galazi looked on Umslopogaas at his side, and grinned.
"You do not run so ill, my brother, who have been sick of late. See
now if you can outrun me! Who shall touch the quarry first?"
Now the bull was ahead by two spear-throws. Umslopogaas looked and
grinned back at Galazi. "Good!" he cried, "away!"
They sped forward with a bound, and for awhile it seemed to
Umslopogaas as though they stood side by side, only the bull grew
nearer and nearer. Then he put out his strength and the swiftness of
his feet, and lo! when he looked again he was alone, and the bull was
very near. Never were feet so swift as those of Umslopogaas. Now he
reached the bull as he laboured on. Umslopogaas placed his hands upon
the back of the bull and leaped; he was on him, he sat him as you
white men sit a horse. Then he lifted the spear in his hand, and drove
it down between the shoulders to the spine, and of a sudden the great
buffalo staggered, stopped, and fell dead.
Galazi came up. "Who now is the swiftest, Galazi?" cried Umslopogaas,
"I, or you, or your wolf host?"
"You are the swiftest, Umslopogaas," said Galazi, gasping for his
breath. "Never did a man run as you run, nor ever shall again."
Now the wolves streamed up, and would have torn the carcase, but
Galazi beat them back, and they rested awhile. Then Galazi said, "Let
us cut meat from the bull with a spear."
So they cut meat from the bull, and when they had finished Galazi
motioned to the wolves, and they fell upon the carcase, fighting
furiously. In a little while nothing was left except the larger bones,
and yet each wolf had but a little.
Then they went back to the cave and slept.
Afterwards Umslopogaas told Galazi all his tale, and Galazi asked him
if he would abide with him and be his brother, and rule with him over
the wolf-kind, or seek his father Mopo at the kraal of Chaka.
Umslopogaas said that it was rather in his mind to seek his sister
Nada, for he was weary of the kraal of Chaka, but he thought of Nada
day and night.
"Where, then, is Nada, your sister?" asked Galazi.
"She sleeps in the caves of your people, Galazi; she tarries with the
"Stay awhile, Umslopogaas," cried Galazi; "stay till we are men
indeed. Then we will seek this sister of yours and snatch her from the
caves of the Halakazi."
Now the desire of this wolf-life had entered into the heart of
Umslopogaas, and he said that it should be so, and on the morrow they
made them blood-brethren, to be one till death, before all the company
of ghost-wolves, and the wolves howled when they smelt the blood of
men. In all things thenceforth these two were equal, and the ghost-
wolves hearkened to the voice of both of them. And on many a moonlight
night they and the wolves hunted together, winning their food. At
times they crossed the river, hunting in the plains, for game was
scarce on the mountain, and the people of the kraal would come out,
hearing the mighty howling, and watch the pack sweep across the veldt,
and with them a man or men. Then they would say that the ghosts were
abroad and creep into their huts shivering with fear. But as yet the
Wolf-Brethren and their pack killed no men, but game only, or, at
times, elephants and lions.
Now when Umslopogaas had abode some moons in the Watch Mountain, on a
night he dreamed of Nada, and awakening soft at heart, bethought
himself that he would learn tidings concerning me, his father, Mopo,
and what had befallen me and her whom he deemed his mother, and Nada,
his sister, and his other brethren. So he clothed himself, hiding his
nakedness, and, leaving Galazi, descended to that kraal where the old
woman had dwelt, and there gave it out that he was a young man, a
chief's son from a far place, who sought a wife. The people of the
kraal listened to him, though they held that his look was fierce and
wild, and one asked if this were Galazi the Wolf, Galazi the Wizard.
But another answered that this was not Galazi, for their eyes had seen
him. Umslopogaas said that he knew nothing of Galazi, and little of
wolves, and lo! while he spoke there came an impi of fifty men and
entered the kraal. Umslopogaas looked at the leaders of the impi and
knew them for captains of Chaka. At first he would have spoken to
them, but his Ehlose bade him hold his peace. So he sat in a corner of
the big hut and listened. Presently the headman of the kraal, who
trembled with fear, for he believed that the impi had been sent to
destroy him and all that were his, asked the captain what was his
"A little matter, and a vain," said the captain. "We are sent by the
king to search for a certain youth, Umslopogaas, the son of Mopo, the
king's doctor. Mopo gave it out that the youth was killed by a lion
near these mountains, and Chaka would learn if this is true."
"We know nothing of the youth," said the headman. "But what would ye
"Only this," answered the captain, "to kill him."
"That is yet to do," thought Umslopogaas.
"Who is this Mopo?" asked the headman.
"An evildoer, whose house the king has eaten up--man, woman, and
child," answered the captain.
THE DEATH OF THE KING'S SLAYERS
When Umslopogaas heard these words his heart was heavy, and a great
anger burned in his breast, for he thought that I, Mopo, was dead with
the rest of his house, and he loved me. But he said nothing; only,
watching till none were looking, he slipped past the backs of the
captains and won the door of the hut. Soon he was clear of the kraal,
and, running swiftly, crossed the river and came to the Ghost
Mountain. Meanwhile, the captain asked the headman of the kraal if he
knew anything of such a youth as him for whom they sought. The headman
told the captain of Galazi the Wolf, but the captain said that this
could not be the lad, for Galazi had dwelt many moons upon the Ghost
"There is another youth," said the headman; "a stranger, fierce,
strong and tall, with eyes that shine like spears. He is in the hut
now; he sits yonder in the shadow."
The captain rose and looked into the shadow, but Umslopogaas was gone.
"Now this youth is fled," said the headman, "and yet none saw him fly!
Perhaps he also is a wizard! Indeed, I have heard that now there are
two of them upon the Ghost Mountain, and that they hunt there at night
with the ghost-wolves, but I do not know if it is true."
"Now I am minded to kill you," said the captain in wrath, "because you
have suffered this youth to escape me. Without doubt it is
Umslopogaas, son of Mopo."
"It is no fault of mine," said the headmen. "These young men are
wizards, who can pass hither and thither at will. But I say this to
you, captain of the king, if you will go on the Ghost Mountain, you
must go there alone with your soldiers, for none in these parts dare
to tread upon that mountain."
"Yet I shall dare to-morrow," said the captain. "We grow brave at the
kraal of Chaka. There men do not fear spears or ghosts or wild beasts
or magic, but they fear the king's word alone. The sun sets--give us
food. To-morrow we will search the mountain."
Thus, my father, did this captain speak in his folly,--he who should
never see another sun.
Now Umslopogaas reached the mountain, and when he had passed the
forest--of which he had learned every secret way--the darkness
gathered, and the wolves awoke in the darkness and drew near howling.
Umslopogaas howled in answer, and presently that great wolf Deathgrip
came to him. Umslopogaas saw him and called him by his name; but,
behold! the brute did not know him, and flew at him, growling. Then
Umslopogaas remembered that the she-wolf's skin was not bound about
his shoulders, and therefore it was that the wolf Deathgrip knew him
not. For though in the daytime, when the wolves slept, he might pass
to and fro without the skin, at night it was not so. He had not
brought the skin, because he dared not wear it in the sight of the men
of the kraal, lest they should know him for one of the Wolf-Brethren,
and it had not been his plan to seek the mountain again that night,
but rather on the morrow. Now Umslopogaas knew that his danger was
great indeed. He beat back Deathgrip with his kerrie, but others were
behind him, for the wolves gathered fast. Then he bounded away towards
the cave, for he was so swift of foot that the wolves could not catch
him, though they pressed him hard, and once the teeth of one of them
tore his moocha. Never before did he run so fast, and in the end he
reached the cave and rolled the rock to, and as he did so the wolves
dashed themselves against it. Then he clad himself in the hide of the
she-wolf, and, pushing aside the stone, came out. And, lo! the eyes of
the wolves were opened, and they knew him for one of the brethren who
ruled over them, and slunk away at his bidding.
Now Umslopogaas sat himself down at the mouth of the cave waiting for
Galazi, and he thought. Presently Galazi came, and in few words
Umslopogaas told him all his tale.
"You have run a great risk, my brother," said Galazi. "What now?"
"This," said Umslopogaas: "these people of ours are hungry for the
flesh of men; let us feed them full on the soldiers of Chaka, who sit
yonder at the kraal seeking my life. I would take vengeance for Mopo,
my father, and all my brethren who are dead, and for my mothers, the
wives of Mopo. What say you?"
Galazi laughed aloud. "That will be merry, my brother," he said. "I
weary of hunting beasts, let us hunt men to-night."
"Ay, to-night," said Umslopogaas, nodding. "I long to look upon that
captain as a maid longs for her lover's kiss. But first let us rest
and eat, for the night is young; then, Galazi, summon our impi."
So they rested and ate, and afterwards went out armed, and Galazi
howled to the wolves, and they came in tens and twenties till all were
gathered together. Galazi moved among them, shaking the Watcher, as
they sat upon their haunches, and followed him with their fiery eyes.
"We do not hunt game to-night, little people," he cried, "but men, and
you love the flesh of men."
Now all the wolves howled as though they understood. Then the pack
divided itself as was its custom, the she-wolves following
Umslopogaas, the dog-wolves following Galazi, and in silence they
moved swiftly down towards the plain. They came to the river and swam
it, and there, eight spear throws away, on the farther side of the
river stood the kraal. Now the Wolf-Brethren took counsel together,
and Galazi, with the dog-wolves, went to the north gate, and
Umslopogaas with the she-wolves to the south gate. They reached them
safely and in silence, for at the bidding of the brethren the wolves
ceased from their howlings. The gates were stopped with thorns, but
the brethren pulled out the thorns and made a passage. As they did
this it chanced that certain dogs in the kraal heard the sound of the
stirred boughs, and awakening, caught the smell of the wolves that
were with Umslopogaas, for the wind blew from that quarter. These dogs
ran out barking, and presently they came to the south gate of the
kraal, and flew at Umslopogaas, who pulled away the thorns. Now when
the wolves saw the dogs they could be restrained no longer, but sprang
on them and tore them to fragments, and the sound of their worrying
came to the ears of the soldiers of Chaka and of the dwellers in the
kraal, so that they sprang from sleep, snatching their arms. And as
they came out of the huts they saw in the moonlight a man wearing a
wolf's hide rushing across the empty cattle kraal, for the grass was
long and the cattle were out at graze, and with him countless wolves,
black and grey. Then they cried aloud in terror, saying that the
ghosts were on them, and turned to flee to the north gate of the
kraal. But, behold! here also they met a man clad in a wolf's skin
only, and with him countless wolves, black and grey.
Now, some flung themselves to earth screaming in their fear, and some
strove to run away, but the greater part of the soldiers, and with
them many of the men of the kraal, came together in knots, being
minded to die like men at teeth of the ghosts, and that though they
shook with fear. Then Umslopogaas howled aloud, and howled Galazi, and
they flung themselves upon the soldiers and the people of the kraal,
and with them came the wolves. Then a crying and a baying rose up to
heaven as the grey wolves leaped and bit and tore. Little they heeded
the spears and kerries of the soldiers. Some were killed, but the rest
did not stay. Presently the knots of men broke up, and to each man
wolves hung by twos and threes, dragging him to earth. Some few fled,
indeed, but the wolves hunted them by gaze and scent, and pulled them
down before they passed the gates of the kraal.
The Wolf-Brethren also ravened with the rest. Busy was the Watcher,
and many bowed beneath him, and often the spear of Umslopogaas flashed
in the moonlight. It was finished; none were left living in that
kraal, and the wolves growled sullenly as they took their fill, they
who had been hungry for many days. Now the brethren met, and laughed
in their wolf joy, because they had slaughtered those who were sent
out to slaughter. They called to the wolves, bidding them search the
huts, and the wolves entered the huts as dogs enter a thicket, and
killed those who lurked there, or drove them forth to be slain
without. Presently a man, great and tall, sprang from the last of the
huts, where he had hidden himself, and the wolves outside rushed on
him to drag him down. But Umslopogaas beat them back, for he had seen
the face of the man: it was that captain whom Chaka had sent out to
kill him. He beat them back, and stalked up to the captain, saying:
"Greeting to you, captain of the king! Now tell us what is your errand
here, beneath the shadow of her who sits in stone?" And he pointed
with his spear to the Grey Witch on the Ghost Mountain, on which the
moon shone bright.
Now the captain had a great heart, though he had hidden from the
wolves, and answered boldly:--
"What is that to you, wizard? Your ghost wolves had made an end of my
errand. Let them make an end of me also."
"Be not in haste, captain," said Umslopogaas. "Say, did you not seek a
certain youth, the son of Mopo?"
"That is so," answered the captain. "I sought one youth, and I have
found many evil spirits." And he looked at the wolves tearing their
prey, and shuddered.
"Say, captain," quoth Umslopogaas, drawing back his hood of wolf's
hide so that the moonlight fell upon his face, "is this the face of
that youth whom you sought?"
"It is the face," answered the captain, astonished.
"Ay," laughed Umslopogaas, "it is the face. Fool! I knew your errand
and heard your words, and thus have I answered them." And he pointed
to the dead. "Now choose, and swiftly. Will you run for your life
against my wolves? Will you do battle for your life against these
four?" And he pointed to Greysnout and to Blackfang, to Blood and to
Deathgrip, who watched him with slavering lips; "or will you stand
face to face with me, and if I am slain, with him who bears the club,
and with whom I rule this people black and grey?"
"I fear ghosts, but of men I have no fear, though they be wizards,"
answered the captain.
"Good!" cried Umslopogaas, shaking his spear.
Then they rushed together, and that fray was fierce. For presently the
spear of Umslopogaas was broken in the shield of the captain and he
was left weaponless. Now Umslopogaas turned and fled swiftly, bounding
over the dead and the wolves who preyed upon them, and the captain
followed with uplifted spear, and mocked him as he came. Galazi also
wondered that Umslopogaas should fly from a single man. Hither and
thither fled Umslopogaas, and always his eyes were on the earth. Of a
sudden, Galazi, who watched, saw him sweep forward like a bird and
stoop to the ground. Then he wheeled round, and lo! there was an axe
in his hand. The captain rushed at him, and Umslopogaas smote as he
rushed, and the blade of the great spear that was lifted to pierce him
fell to the ground hewn from its haft. Again Umslopogaas smote: the
moon-shaped axe sank through the stout shield deep into the breast
beyond. Then the captain threw up his arms and fell to the earth.
"Ah!" cried Umslopogaas, "you sought a youth to slay him, and have
found an axe to be slain by it! Sleep softly, captain of Chaka."
Then Umslopogaas spoke to Galazi, saying: "My brother, I will fight no
more with the spear, but with the axe alone; it was to seek an axe
that I ran to and fro like a coward. But this is a poor thing! See,
the haft is split because of the greatness of my stroke! Now this is
my desire--to win that great axe of Jikiza, which is called Groan-
Maker, of which we have heard tell, so that axe and club may stand
together in the fray."
"That must be for another night," said Galazi. "We have not done so
ill for once. Now let us search for pots and corn, of which we stand
in need, and then to the mountain before dawn finds us."
Thus, then, did the Wolf-Brethren bring death on the impi of Chaka,
and this was but the first of many deaths that they wrought with the
help of the wolves. For ever they ravened through the land at night,
and, falling on those they hated, they ate them up, till their name
and the name of the ghost-wolves became terrible in the ears of men,
and the land was swept clean. But they found that the wolves would not
go abroad to worry everywhere. Thus, on a certain night, they set out
to fall upon the kraals of the People of the Axe, where dwelt the
chief Jikiza, who was named the Unconquered, and owned the axe Groan-
Maker, but when they neared the kraal the wolves turned back and fled.
Then Galazi remembered the dream that he had dreamed, in which the
Dead One in the cave had seemed to speak, telling him that there only
where the men-eaters had hunted in the past might the wolves hunt to-
day. So they returned home, but Umslopogaas set himself to find a plan
to win the axe.
UMSLOPOGAAS VENTURES OUT TO WIN THE AXE
Now many moons had gone by since Umslopogaas became a king of the
wolves, and he was a man full grown, a man fierce and tall and keen; a
slayer of men, fleet of foot and of valour unequalled, seeing by night
as well as by day. But he was not yet named the Slaughterer, and not
yet did he hold that iron chieftainess, the axe Groan-Maker. Still,
the desire to win the axe was foremost in his mind, for no woman had
entered there, who when she enters drives out all other desire--ay, my
father, even that of good weapons. At times, indeed, Umslopogaas would
lurk in the reeds by the river looking at the kraal of Jikiza the
Unconquered, and would watch the gates of his kraal, and once as he
lurked he saw a man great, broad and hairy, who bore upon his shoulder
a shining axe, hafted with the horn of a rhinoceros. After that his
greed for this axe entered into Umslopogaas more and more, till at
length he scarcely could sleep for thinking of it, and to Galazi he
spoke of little else, wearying him much with his talk, for Galazi
loved silence. But for all his longing he could find no means to win
Now it befell that as Umslopogaas hid one evening in the reeds,
watching the kraal of Jikiza, he saw a maiden straight and fair, whose
skin shone like the copper anklets on her limbs. She walked slowly
towards the reeds where he lay hidden. Nor did she top at the brink of
the reeds; she entered them and sat herself down within a spear's
length of where Umslopogaas was seated, and at once began to weep,
speaking to herself as she wept.
"Would that the ghost-wolves might fall on him and all that is his,"
she sobbed, "ay, and on Masilo also! I would hound them on, even if I
myself must next know their fangs. Better to die by the teeth of the
wolves than to be sold to this fat pig of a Masilo. Oh! if I must wed
him, I will give him a knife for the bride's kiss. Oh! that I were a
lady of the ghost-wolves, there should be a picking of bones in the
kraal of Jikiza before the moon grows young again."
Umslopogaas heard, and of a sudden reared himself up before the maid,
and he was great and wild to look on, and the she-wolf's fangs shone
upon his brow.
"The ghost-wolves are at hand, damsel," he said. "They are ever at
hand for those who need them."
Now the maid saw him and screamed faintly, then grew silent, wondering
at the greatness and the fierce eyes of the man who spoke to her.
"Who are you?" she asked. "I fear you not, whoever you are."
"There you are wrong, damsel, for all men fear me, and they have cause
to fear. I am one of the Wolf-Brethren, whose names have been told of;
I am a wizard of the Ghost Mountain. Take heed, now, lest I kill you.
It will be of little avail to call upon your people, for my feet are
fleeter than theirs."
"I have no wish to call upon my people, Wolf-Man," she answered. "And
for the rest, I am too young to kill."
"That is so, maiden," answered Umslopogaas, looking at her beauty.
"What were the words upon your lips as to Jikiza and a certain Masilo?
Were they not fierce words, such as my heart likes well?"
"It seems that you heard them," answered the girl. "What need to waste
breath in speaking them again?"
"No need, maiden. Now tell me your story; perhaps I may find a way to
"There is little to tell," she answered. "It is a small tale and a
common. My name is Zinita, and Jikiza the Unconquered is my step-
father. He married my mother, who is dead, but none of his blood is in
me. Now he would give me in marriage to a certain Masilo, a fat man
and an old, whom I hate, because Masilo offers many cattle for me."
"Is there, then, another whom you would wed, maiden?" asked
"There is none," answered Zinita, looking him in the eyes.
"And is there no path by which you may escape from Masilo?"
"There is only one path, Wolf-Man--by death. If I die, I shall escape;
if Masilo dies, I shall escape; but to little end, for I shall be
given to another; but if Jikiza dies, then it will be well. What of
that wolf-people of yours, are they not hungry, Wolf-Man?"
"I cannot bring them here," answered Umslopogaas. "Is there no other
"There is another way," said Zinita, "if one can be found to try it."
And again she looked at him strangely, causing the blood to beat
within him. "Hearken! do you not know how our people are governed?
They are governed by him who holds the axe Groan-Maker. He that can
win the axe in war from the hand of him who holds it, shall be our
chief. But if he who holds the axe dies unconquered, then his son
takes his place and with it the axe. It has been thus, indeed, for
four generations, since he who held Groan-Maker has always been
unconquerable. But I have heard that the great-grandfather of Jikiza
won the axe from him who held it in his day; he won it by fraud. For
when the axe had fallen on him but lightly, he fell over, feigning
death. Then the owner of the axe laughed, and turned to walk away. But
the forefather of Jikiza sprang up behind him and pierced him through
with a spear, and thus he became chief of the People of the Axe.
Therefore, it is the custom of Jikiza to hew off the heads of those
whom he kills with the axe."
"Does he, then, slay many?" asked Umslopogaas.
"Of late years, few indeed," she said, "for none dare stand against
him--no, not with all to win. For, holding the axe Groan-Maker, he is
unconquerable, and to fight with him is sure death. Fifty-and-one have
tried in all, and before the hut of Jikiza there are piled fifty-and-
one white skulls. And know this, the axe must be won in fight; if it
is stolen or found, it has no virtue--nay, it brings shame and death
to him who holds it."
"How, then, may a man give battle to Jikiza?" he asked again.
"Thus: Once in every year, on the first day of the new moon of the
summer season, Jikiza holds a meeting of the headmen. Then he must
rise and challenge all or any to come forward and do battle with him
to win the axe and become chief in his place. Now if one comes
forward, they go into the cattle kraal, and there the matter is ended.
Afterwards, when the head is hewn from his foe, Jikiza goes back to
the meeting of the headmen, and they talk as before. All are free to
come to the meeting, and Jikiza must fight with them if they wish it,
whoever they be."
"Perhaps I shall be there," said Umslopogaas.
"After this meeting at the new moon, I am to be given in marriage to
Masilo," said the maid. "But should one conquer Jikiza, then he will
be chief, and can give me in marriage to whom he will."
Now Umslopogaas understood her meaning, and knew that he had found
favour in her sight; and the thought moved him a little, for women
were strange to him as yet.
"If perchance I should be there," he said, "and if perchance I should
win the iron chieftainess, the axe Groan-Maker, and rule over the
People of the Axe, you should not live far from the shadow of the axe
thenceforward, maid Zinita."
"It is well, Wolf-Man, though some might not wish to dwell in that
shadow; but first you must win the axe. Many have tried, and all have
"Yet one must succeed at last," he said, "and so, farewell!" and he
leaped into the torrent of the river, and swam it with great strokes.
Now the maid Zinita watched him till he was gone, and love of him
entered into her heart--a love that was fierce and jealous and strong.
But as he wended to the Ghost Mountain Umslopogaas thought rather of
axe Groan-Maker than of Maid Zinita; for ever, at the bottom,
Umslopogaas loved war more than women, though this has been his fate,
that women have brought sorrow on his head.
Fifteen days must pass before the day of the new moon, and during this
time Umslopogaas thought much and said little. Still, he told Galazi
something of the tale, and that he was determined to do battle with
Jikiza the Unconquered for the axe Groan-Maker. Galazi said that he
would do well to let it be, and that it was better to stay with the
wolves than to go out seeking strange weapons. He said also that even
if he won the axe, the matter might not stay there, for he must take
the girl also, and his heart boded no good of women. It had been a
girl who poisoned his father in the kraals of the Halakazi. To all of
which Umslopogaas answered nothing, for his heart was set both on the
axe and the girl, but more on the first than the last.
So the time wore on, and at length came the day of the new moon. At
the dawn of that day Umslopogaas arose and clad himself in a moocha,
binding the she-wolf's skin round his middle beneath the moocha. In
his hand he took a stout fighting-shield, which he had made of buffalo
hide, and that same light moon-shaped axe with which he had slain the
captain of Chaka.
"A poor weapon with which to kill Jikiza the Unconquerable," said
Galazi, eyeing it askance.
"It shall serve my turn," answered Umslopogaas.
Now Umslopogaas ate, and then they moved together slowly down the
mountain and crossed the river by a ford, for he wished to save his
strength. On the farther side of the river Galazi hid himself in the
reeds, because his face was known, and there Umslopogaas bade him
farewell, not knowing if he should look upon him again. Afterwards he
walked up to the Great Place of Jikiza. Now when he reached the gates
of the kraal, he saw that many people were streaming through them, and
mingled with the people. Presently they came to the open space in
front of the huts of Jikiza, and there the headmen were gathered
together. In the centre of them, and before a heap of the skulls of
men which were piled up against his doorposts, sat Jikiza, a huge man,
a hairy and a proud, who glared about him rolling his eyes. Fastened
to his arm by a thong of leather was the great axe Groan-Maker, and
each man as he came up saluted the axe, calling it "Inkosikaas," or
chieftainess, but he did not salute Jikiza. Umslopogaas sat down with
the people in front of the councillors, and few took any notice of
him, except Zinita, who moved sullenly to and fro bearing gourds of
beer to the councillors. Near to Jikiza, on his right hand, sat a fat
man with small and twinkling eyes, who watched the maid Zinita
"Yon man," thought Umslopogaas, "is Masilo. The better for blood-
letting will you be, Masilo."
Presently Jikiza spoke, rolling his eyes: "This is the matter before
you, councillors. I have settled it in my mind to give my step-
daughter Zinita in marriage to Masilo, but the marriage gift is not
yet agreed on. I demand a hundred head of cattle from Masilo, for the
maid is fair and straight, a proper maid, and, moreover, my daughter,
though not of my blood. But Masilo offers fifty head only, therefore I
ask you to settle it."
"We hear you, Lord of the Axe," answered one of the councillors, "but
first, O Unconquered, you must on this day of the year, according to
ancient custom, give public challenge to any man to fight you for the
Groan-Maker and for your place as chief of the People of the Axe."
"This is a wearisome thing," grumbled Jikiza. "Can I never have done
in it? Fifty-and-three have I slain in my youth without a wound, and
now for many years I have challenged, like a cock on a dunghill, and
none crow in answer."
"Ho, now! Is there any man who will come forward and do battle with
me, Jikiza, for the great axe Groan-Maker? To him who can win it, it
shall be, and with it the chieftainship of the People of the Axe."
Thus he spoke very fast, as a man gabbles a prayer to a spirit in whom
he has little faith, then turned once more to talk of the cattle of
Masilo and of the maid Zinita. But suddenly Umslopogaas stood up,
looking at him over the top of his war shield, and crying, "Here is
one, O Jikiza, who will do battle with you for the axe Groan-Maker and
for the chieftainship that is to him who holds the axe."
Now, all the people laughed, and Jikiza glared at him.
"Come forth from behind that big shield of yours," he said. "Come out
and tell me your name and lineage--you who would do battle with the
Unconquered for the ancient axe."
Then Umslopogaas came forward, and he looked so fierce, though he was
but young, that the people laughed no more.
"What is my name and lineage to you, Jikiza?" he said. "Let it be, and
hasten to do me battle, as you must by the custom, for I am eager to
handle the Groan-Maker and to sit in your seat and settle this matter
of the cattle of Masilo the Pig. When I have killed you I will take a
name who now have none."
Now once more the people laughed, but Jikiza grew mad with wrath, and
sprang up gasping.
"What!" he said, "you dare to speak thus to me, you babe unweaned, to
me the Unconquered, the holder of the axe! Never did I think to live
to hear such talk from a long-legged pup. On to the cattle kraal, to
the cattle kraal, People of the Axe, that I may hew this braggart's
head from his shoulders. He would stand in my place, would he?--the
place that I and my fathers have held for four generations by virtue
of the axe. I tell you all, that presently I will stand upon his head,
and then we will settle the matter of Masilo."
"Babble not so fast, man," quoth Umslopogaas, "or if you must babble,
speak those words which you would say ere you bid the sun farewell."
Now, Jikiza choked with rage, and foam came from his lips so that he
could not speak, but the people found this sport--all except Masilo,
who looked askance at the stranger, tall and fierce, and Zinita, who
looked at Masilo, and with no love. So they moved down to the cattle
kraal, and Galazi, seeing it from afar, could keep away no longer, but
drew near and mingled with the crowd.
UMSLOPOGAAS BECOMES CHIEF OF THE PEOPLE OF THE AXE
Now, when Umslopogaas and Jikiza the Unconquered had come to the
cattle kraal, they were set in its centre and there were ten paces
between them. Umslopogaas was armed with the great shield and the
light moon-shaped axe, Jikiza carried the Groan-Maker and a small
dancing shield, and, looking at the weapons of the two, people thought
that the stranger would furnish no sport to the holder of the axe.
"He is ill-armed," said an old man, "it should be otherwise--large
axe, small shield. Jikiza is unconquerable, and the big shield will
not help this long-legged stranger when Groan-Maker rattles on the
buffalo hide." The old man spoke thus in the hearing of Galazi the
Wolf, and Galazi thought that he spoke wisely, and sorrowed for the
fate of his brother.
Now, the word was given, and Jikiza rushed on Umslopogaas, roaring,
for his rage was great. But Umslopogaas did not stir till his foe was
about to strike, then suddenly he leaped aside, and as Jikiza passed
he smote him hard upon the back with the flat of his axe, making a
great sound, for it was not his plan to try and kill Jikiza with this
axe. Now, a shout of laughter went up from the hundreds of the people,
and the laughter went up from the hundreds of the people, and the
heart of Jikiza nearly burst with rage because of the shame of that
blow. Round he came like a bull that is mad, and once more rushed at
Umslopogaas, who lifted his shield to meet him. Then, of a sudden,
just when the great axe leapt on high, Umslopogaas uttered a cry as of
fear, and, turning, fled before the face of Jikiza. Now once more the
shout of laughter went up, while Umslopogaas fled swiftly, and after
him rushed Jikiza, blind with fury. Round and about the kraal sped
Umslopogaas, scarcely a spear's length ahead of Jikiza, and he ran
keeping his back to the sun as much as might be, that he might watch
the shadow of Jikiza. A second time he sped round, while the people
cheered the chase as hunters cheer a dog which pursues a buck. So
cunningly did Umslopogaas run, that, though he seemed to reel with
weakness in such fashion that men thought his breath was gone, yet he
went ever faster and faster, drawing Jikiza after him.
Now, when Umslopogaas knew by the breathing of his foe and by the
staggering of his shadow that his strength was spent, suddenly he made
as though he were about to fall himself, and stumbled out of the path
far to the right, and as he stumbled he let drop his great shield full
in the way of Jikiza's feet. Then it came about that Jikiza, rushing
on blindly, caught his feet in the shield and fell headlong to earth.
Umslopogaas saw, and swooped on him like an eagle to a dove. Before
men could so much as think, he had seized the axe Groan-Maker, and
with a blow of the steel he held had severed the thong of leather
which bound it to the wrist of Jikiza, and sprung back, holding the
great axe aloft, and casting down his own weapon upon the ground. Now,
the watchers saw all the cunning of his fight, and those of them who
hated Jikiza shouted aloud. But others were silent.
Slowly Jikiza gathered himself from the ground, wondering if he were
still alive, and as he rose he grasped the little axe of Umslopogaas,
and, looking at it, he wept. But Umslopogaas held up the great Groan-
Maker, the iron chieftainess, and examined its curved points of blue
steel, the gouge that stands behind it, and the beauty of its haft,
bound about with wire of brass, and ending in a knob like the knob of
a stick, as a lover looks upon the beauty of his bride. Then before
all men he kissed the broad blade and cried aloud:--
"Greeting to thee, my Chieftainess, greeting to thee, Wife of my
youth, whom I have won in war. Never shall we part, thou and I, and
together will we die, thou and I, for I am not minded that others
should handle thee when I am gone."
Thus he cried in the hearing of men, then turned to Jikiza, who stood
weeping, because he had lost all.
"Where now is your pride, O Unconquered?" laughed Umslopogaas. "Fight
on. You are as well armed as I was a while ago, when I did not fear to
stand before you."
Jikiza looked at him for a moment, then with a curse he hurled the
little axe at him, and, turning, fled swiftly towards the gates of the
Umslopogaas stooped, and the little axe sped over him. Then he stood
for a while watching, and the people thought that he meant to let
Jikiza go. But that was not his desire; he waited, indeed, until
Jikiza had covered nearly half the space between him and the gate,
then with a roar he leaped forward, as light leaps from a cloud, and
so fast did his feet fly that the watchers could scarce see them move.
Jikiza fled fast also, yet he seemed but as one who stands still. Now
he reached the gate of the kraal, now there was rush, a light of
downward falling steel, and something swept past him. Then, behold!
Jikiza fell in the gateway of the cattle kraal, and all saw that he
was dead, smitten to death by that mighty axe Groan-Maker, which he
and his fathers had held for many years.
A great shout went up from the crowd of watchers when they knew that
Jikiza the Unconquered was killed at last, and there were many who
hailed Umslopogaas, naming him Chief and Lord of the People of the
Axe. But the sons of Jikiza to the number of ten, great men and brave,
rushed on Umslopogaas to kill him. Umslopogaas ran backwards, lifting
up the Groan-Maker, when certain councillors of the people flung
themselves in between them, crying, "Hold!"
"Is not this your law, ye councillors," said Umslopogaas, "that,
having conquered the chief of the People of the Axe, I myself am
"That is our law indeed, stranger," answered an aged councillor, "but
this also is our law: that now you must do battle, one by one, with
all who come against you. So it was in my father's time, when the
grandfather of him who now lies dead won the axe, and so it must be
"I have nothing to say against the rule," said Umslopogaas. "Now who
is there who will come up against me to do battle for the axe Groan-
Maker and the chieftainship of the People of the Axe?"
Then all the ten sons of Jikiza stepped forward as one man, for their
hearts were made with wrath because of the death of their father and
because the chieftainship had gone from their race, so that in truth
they cared little if they lived or died. But there were none besides
these, for all men feared to stand before Umslopogaas and the Groan-
Umslopogaas counted them. "There are ten, by the head of Chaka!" he
cried. "Now if I must fight all these one by one, no time will be left
to me this day to talk of the matter of Masilo and of the maid Zinita.
Hearken! What say you, sons of Jikiza the Conquered? If I find one
other to stand beside me in the fray, and all of you come on at once
against us twain, ten against two, to slay us or be slain, will that
be to your minds?"
The brethren consulted together, and held that so they should be in
better case than if they went up one by one.
"So be it," they said, and the councillors assented.
Now, as he fled round and round, Umslopogaas had seen the face of
Galazi, his brother, in the throng, and knew that he hungered to share
the fight. So he called aloud that he whom he should choose, and who
would stand back to back with him in the fray, if victory were theirs,
should be the first after him among the People of the Axe, and as he
called, he walked slowly down the line scanning the faces of all, till
he came to where Galazi stood leaning on the Watcher.
"Here is a great fellow who bears a great club," said Umslopogaas.
"How are you named, fellow?"
"I am named Wolf," answered Galazi.
"Say, now, Wolf, are you willing to stand back to back with me in this
fray of two against ten? If victory is ours, you shall be next to me
amongst this people."
"Better I love the wild woods and the mountain's breast than the
kraals of men and the kiss of wives, Axebearer," answered Galazi.
"Yet, because you have shown yourself a warrior of might, and to taste
again of the joy of battle, I will stand back to back with you,
Axebearer, and see this matter ended."
"A bargain, Wolf!" cried Umslopogaas. And they walked side by side--a
mighty pair!--till they came to the centre of the cattle kraal. All
there looked on them wondering, and it came into the thoughts of some
of them that these were none other than the Wolf-Brethren who dwelt
upon the Ghost Mountain.
"Now axe Groan-maker and club Watcher are come together, Galazi," said
Umslopogaas as they walked, "and I think that few can stand before
"Some shall find it so," answered Galazi. "At the least, the fray will
be merry, and what matter how frays end?"
"Ah," said Umslopogaas, "victory is good, but death ends all and is
best of all."
Then they spoke of the fashion in which they would fight, and
Umslopogaas looked curiously at the axe he carried, and at the point
on its hammer, balancing it in his hand. When he had looked long, the
pair took their stand back to back in the centre of the kraal, and
people saw that Umslopogaas held the axe in a new fashion, its curved
blade being inwards towards his breast, and the hollow point turned
towards the foe. The ten brethren gathered themselves together,
shaking their assegais; five of them stood before Umslopogaas and five
before Galazi the Wolf. They were all great men, made fierce with rage
"Now nothing except witchcraft can save these two," said a councillor
to one who stood by him.
"Yet there is virtue in the axe," answered the other, "and for the
club, it seems that I know it: I think it is named Watcher of the
Fords, and woe to those who stand before the Watcher. I myself have
seen him aloft when I was young; moreover, these are no cravens who
hold the axe and the club. They are but lads, indeed, yet they have
drunk wolf's milk."
Meanwhile, an aged man drew near to speak the word of onset; it was
that same man who had set out the law to Umslopogaas. He must give the
signal by throwing up a spear, and when it struck the ground, then the
fight would begin. The old man took the spear and threw it, but his
hand was weak, and he cast so clumsily that it fell among the sons of
Jikiza, who stood before Umslopogaas, causing them to open up to let
it pass between them, and drawing the eyes of all ten of them to it.
but Umslopogaas watched for the touching of the spear only, being
careless where it touched. As the point of it kissed the earth, he
said a word, and lo! Umslopogaas and Galazi, not waiting for the
onslaught of the ten, as men had thought they must, sprang forward,
each at the line of foes who were before him. While the ten still
stood confused, for it had been their plan to attack, the Wolf-
Brethren were upon them. Groan-Maker was up, but as for no great
stroke. He did but peck, as a bird pecks with his bill, and yet a man
dropped dead. The Watcher also was up, but he fell like a falling
tree, and was the death of one. Through the lines of the ten passed
the Wolf-Brethren in the gaps that each had made. Then they turned
swiftly and charged towards each other again; again Groan-Maker
pecked, again the Watcher thundered, and lo! once more Umslopogaas
stood back to back unhurt, but before them lay four men dead.
The onslaught and the return were so swift, that men scarcely
understood what had been done; even those of the sons of Jikiza who
were left stared at each other wondering. Then they knew that they
were but six, for four of them were dead. With a shout of rage they
rushed upon the pair from both sides, but in either case one was the
most eager, and outstepped the other two, and thus it came about that
time was given the Wolf-Brethren to strike at him alone, before his
fellows were at his side. He who came at Umslopogaas drove at him with
his spear, but he was not to be caught this, for he bent his middle
sideways, so that the spear only cut his skin, and as he bent tapped
with the point of the axe at the head of the smiter, dealing death on
"Yonder Woodpecker has a bill of steel, and he can use it well," said
the councillor to him who stood by him.
"This is a Slaughterer indeed," the man answered, and the people heard
the names. Thenceforth they knew Umslopogaas as the Woodpecker, and as
Bulalio, or the Slaughterer, and by no other names. Now, he who came
at Galazi the Wolf rushed on wildly, holding his spear short. But
Galazi was cunning in war. He took one step forward to meet him, then,
swinging the Watcher backward, he let him fall at the full length of
arms and club. The child of Jikiza lifted his shield to catch the
blow, but the shield was to the Watcher what a leaf is to the wind.
Full on its hide the huge club fell, making a loud sound; the war-
shield doubled up like a raw skin, and he who bore it fell crushed to
Now for a moment, the four who were left of the sons of Jikiza hovered
round the pair, feinting at them from afar, but never coming within
reach of axe or club. One threw a spear indeed, and though Umslopogaas
leaped aside, and as it sped towards him smote the haft in two with
the blade of Groan-Maker, yet its head flew on, wounding Galazi in the
flank. Then he who had thrown the spear turned to fly, for his hands
were empty, and the others followed swiftly, for the heart was out of
them, and they dared to do battle with these two no more.
Thus the fight was ended, and from its beginning till the finish was
not longer than the time in which men might count a hundred slowly.
"It seems that none are left for us to kill, Galazi," said
Umslopogaas, laughing aloud. "Ah, that was a cunning fight! Ho! you
sons of the Unconquered, who run so fast, stay your feet. I give you
peace; you shall live to sweep my huts and to plough my fields with
the other women of my kraal. Now, councillors, the fighting is done,
so let us to the chief's hut, where Masilo waits us," and he turned
and went with Galazi, and after him followed all the people, wondering
and in silence.
When he reached the hut Umslopogaas sat himself down in the place
where Jikiza had sat that morning, and the maid Zinita came to him
with a wet cloth and washed the wound that the spear had made. He
thanked her; then she would have washed Galazi's wound also, and this
was deeper, but Galazi bade her to let him be roughly, as he would
have no woman meddling with his wounds. For neither then nor at any
other time did Galazi turn to women, but he hated Zinita most of them
Then Umslopogaas spoke to Masilo the Pig, who sat before him with a
frightened face, saying, "It seems, O Masilo, that you have sought
this maid Zinita in marriage, and against her will, persecuting her.
Now I had intended to kill you as an offering to her anger, but there
has been enough blood-letting to-day. Yet you shall have a marriage
gift to this girl, whom I myself will take in marriage: you shall give
a hundred head of cattle. Then get you gone from among the People of
the Axe, lest a worse thing befall you, Masilo the Pig."
So Masilo rose up and went, and his face was green with fear, but he
paid the hundred head of cattle and fled towards the kraal of Chaka.
Zinita watched him go, and she was glad of it, and because the
Slaughterer had named her for his wife.
"I am well rid of Masilo," she said aloud, in the hearing of Galazi,
"but I had been better pleased to see him dead before me."
"This woman has a fierce heart," thought Galazi, "and she will bring
no good to Umslopogaas, my brother."
Now the councillors and the captains of the People of the Axe konzaed
to him whom they named the Slaughterer, doing homage to him as chief
and holder of the axe, and also they did homage to the axe itself. So
Umslopogaas became chief over this people, and their number was many,
and he grew great and fat in cattle and wives, and none dared to
gainsay him. From time to time, indeed, a man ventured to stand up
before him in fight, but none could conquer him, and in a little while
no one sought to face Groan-Maker when he lifted himself to peck.
Galazi also was great among the people, but dwelt with them little,
for best he loved the wild woods and the mountain's breast, and often,
as of old, he swept at night across the forest and the plains, and the
howling of the ghost-wolves went with him.
But henceforth Umslopogaas the Slaughterer hunted very rarely with the
wolves at night; he slept at the side of Zinita, and she loved him
much and bore him children.
THE CURSE OF BALEKA
Now, my father, my story winds back again as the river bends towards
its source, and I tell of those events which happened at the king's
kraal of Gibamaxegu, which you white people name Gibbeclack, the kraal
that is called "Pick-out-the-old-men," for it was there that Chaka
murdered all the aged who were unfit for war.
After I, Mopo, had stood before the king, and he had given me new
wives and fat cattle and a kraal to dwell in, the bones of Unandi, the
Great Mother Elephant, Mother of the Heavens, were gathered together
from the ashes of my huts, and because all could not be found, some of
the bones of my wives were collected also to make up the number. But
Chaka never knew this. When all were brought together, a great pit was
dug and the bones were set out in order in the pit and buried; but not
alone, for round them were placed twelve maidens of the servants of
Unandi, and these maidens were covered over with the earth, and left
to die in the pit by the bones of Unandi, their mistress. Moreover,
all those who were present at the burial were made into a regiment and
commanded that they should dwell by the grave for the space of a year.
They were many, my father, but I was not one of them. Also Chaka gave
orders that no crops should be sown that year, that the milk of the
cows should be spilled upon the ground, and that no woman should give
birth to a child for a full year, and that if any should dare to bear
children, then that they should be slain and their husbands with them.
And for a space of some months these things were done, my father, and
great sorrow came upon the land.
Then for a little while there was quiet, and Chaka went about heavily,
and he wept often, and we who waited on him wept also as we walked,
till at length it came about by use that we could weep without ceasing
for many hours. No angry woman can weep as we wept in those days; it
was an art, my father, for the teaching of which I received many
cattle, for woe to him who had no tears in those days. Then it was
also that Chaka sent out the captain and fifty soldiers to search for
Umslopogaas, for, though he said nothing more to me of this matter, he
did not believe all the tale that I had told him of the death of
Umslopogaas in the jaws of a lion and the tale of those who were with
me. How that company fared at the hands of Umslopogaas and of Galazi
the Wolf, and at the fangs of the people black and grey, I have told
you, my father. None of them ever came back again. In after days it
was reported to the king that these soldiers were missing, never
having returned, but he only laughed, saying that the lion which ate
Umslopogaas, son of Mopo, was a fierce one, and had eaten them also.
At last came the night of the new moon, that dreadful night to be
followed by a more dreadful morrow. I sat in the kraal of Chaka, and
he put his arm about my neck and groaned and wept for his mother, whom
he had murdered, and I groaned also, but I did not weep, because it
was dark, and on the morrow I must weep much in the sight of king and
men. Therefore, I spared my tears, lest they should fail me in my
All night long the people drew on from every side towards the kraal,
and, as they came in thousands and tens of thousands, they filled the
night with their cries, till it seemed as though the whole world were
mourning, and loudly. None might cease their crying, and none dared to
drink so much as a cup of water. The daylight came, and Chaka rose,
saying, "Come, let us go forth, Mopo, and look on those who mourn with
us." So we went out, and after us came men armed with clubs to do the
bidding of the king.
Outside the kraal the people were gathered, and their number was
countless as the leaves upon the trees. On every side the land was
black with them, as at times the veldt is black with game. When they
saw the king they ceased from their howling and sang the war-song,
then once again they howled, and Chaka walked among them weeping. Now,
my father, the sight became dreadful, for, as the sun rose higher the
day grew hot, and utter weariness came upon the people, who were
packed together like herds of cattle, and, though oxen slain in
sacrifice lay around, they might neither eat nor drink. Some fell to
the ground, and were trampled to death, others took too much snuff to
make them weep, others stained their eyes with saliva, others walked
to and fro, their tongues hanging from their jaws, while groans broke
from their parched throats.
"Now, Mopo, we shall learn who are the wizards that have brought these
ills upon us," said the king, "and who are the true-hearted men."
As we spoke we cam upon a man, a chief of renown. He was named
Zwaumbana, chief of the Amabovus, and with him were his wives and
followers. This man could weep no more; he gasped with thirst and
heat. The king looked at him.
"See, Mopo," he said, "see that brute who has no tears for my mother
who is dead! Oh, the monster without a heart! Shall such as he live to
look upon the sun, while I and thou must weep, Mopo? Never! never!
Take him away, and all those who are with him! Take them away, the
people without hearts, who do not weep because my mother is dead by
And Chaka walked on weeping, and I followed also weeping, but the
chief Zwaumbana and those with him were all slain by those who do the
bidding of the king, and the slayers also must weep as they slew.
Presently we came upon another man, who, seeing the king, took snuff
secretly to bring tears to his eyes. But the glance of Chaka was
quick, and he noted it.
"Look at him, Mopo," he said, "look at the wizard who has no tears,
though my mother is dead by witchcraft. See, he takes snuff to bring
tears to his eyes that are dry with wickedness. Take him away, the
heartless brute! Oh, take him away!"
So this one also was killed, and these were but the first of
thousands, for presently Chaka grew mad with wickedness, with fury,
and with the lust of blood. He walked to and fro, weeping, going now
and again into his hut to drink beer, and I with him, for he said that
we who sorrowed must have food. And ever as he walked he would wave
his arm or his assegai, saying, "Take them away, the heartless brutes,
who do not weep because my mother is dead," and those who chanced to
stand before his arm were killed, till at length the slayers could
slay no more, and themselves were slain, because their strength had
failed them, and they had no more tears. And I also, I must slay, lest
if I slew not I should myself be slain.
And now, at length, the people also went mad with their thirst and the
fury of their fear. They fell upon each other, killing each other;
every man who had a foe sought him out and killed him. None were
spared, the place was but a shambles; there on that day died full
seven thousand men, and still Chaka walked weeping among them, saying,
"Take them away, the heartless brutes, take them away!" Yet, my
father, there was cunning in his cruelty, for though he destroyed many
for sport alone, also he slew on this day all those whom he hated or
whom he feared.
At length the night came down, the sun sank red that day, all the sky
was like blood, and blood was all the earth beneath. Then the killing
ceased, because none had now the strength to kill, and the people lay
panting in heaps upon the ground, the living and the dead together. I
looked at them, and saw that if they were not allowed to eat and
drink, before day dawned again the most of them would be dead, and I
spoke to the king, for I cared little in that hour if I lived or died;
even my hope of vengeance was forgotten in the sickness of my heart.
"A mourning indeed, O King," I said, "a merry mourning for true-
hearted men, but for wizards a mourning such as they do not love. I
think that thy sorrows are avenged, O King, thy sorrows and mine
"Not so, Mopo," answered the king, "this is but the beginning; our
mourning was merry to-day, it shall be merrier to-morrow."
"To-morrow, O King, few will be left to mourn; for the land will be
swept of men."
"Why, Mopo, son of Makedama? But a few have perished of all the
thousands who are gathered together. Number the people and they will
not be missed."
"But a few have died beneath the assegai and the kerrie, O King. Yet
hunger and thirst shall finish the spear's work. The people have
neither eaten nor drunk for a day and a night, and for a day and a
night they have wailed and moaned. Look without, Black One, there they
lie in heaps with the dead. By to-morrow's light they also will be
dead or dying."
Now, Chaka thought awhile, and he saw that the work would go too far,
leaving him but a small people over whom to rule.
"It is hard, Mopo," he said, "that thou and I must mourn alone over
our woes while these dogs feast and make merry. Yet, because of the
gentleness of my heart, I will deal gently with them. Go out, son of
Makedama, and bid my children eat and drink if they have the heart,
for this mourning is ended. Scarcely will Unandi, my mother, sleep
well, seeing that so little blood has been shed on her grave--surely
her spirit will haunt my dreams. Yet, because of the gentleness of my
heart, I declare this mourning ended. Let my children eat and drink,
if, indeed, they have the heart."
"Happy are the people over whom such a king is set," I said in answer.
Then I went out and told the words of Chaka to the chiefs and
captains, and those of them who had the voice left to them praised the
goodness of the king. But the most gave over sucking the dew from
their sticks, and rushed to the water like cattle that have wandered
five days in the desert, and drank their fill. Some of them were
trampled to death in the water.
Afterwards I slept as I might best; it was not well, my father, for I
knew that Chaka was not yet gutted with slaughter.
On the morrow many of the people went back to their homes, having
sought leave from the king, others drew away the dead to the place of
bones, and yet others were sent out in impis to kill such as had not
come to the mourning of the king. When midday was past, Chaka said
that he would walk, and ordered me and other of his indunas and
servants to walk with him. We went on in silence, the king leaning on
my shoulder as on a stick. "What of thy people, Mopo," he said at
length, "what of the Langeni tribe? Were they at my mourning? I did
not see them."
Then I answered that I did not know, they had been summoned, but the
way was long and the time short for so many to march so far.
"Dogs should run swiftly when their master calls, Mopo, my servant,"
said Chaka, and the dreadful light came into his eyes that never shone
in the eyes of any other man. Then I grew sick at heart, my father--
ay, though I loved my people little, and they had driven me away, I
grew sick at heart. Now we had come to a spot where there is a great
rift of black rock, and the name of that rift is U'Donga-lu-ka-
Tatiyana. On either side of this donga the ground slopes steeply down
towards its yawning lips, and from its end a man may see the open
country. Here Chaka sat down at the end of the rift, pondering.
Presently he looked up and saw a vast multitude of men, women, and
children, who wound like a snake across the plain beneath towards the
"I think, Mopo," said the king, "that by the colour of their shields,
yonder should be the Langeni tribe--thine own people, Mopo."
"It is my people, O King," I answered.
Then Chaka sent messengers, running swiftly, and bade them summon the
Langeni people to him where he sat. Other messengers he sent also to
the kraal, whispering in their ears, but what he said I did not know
Now, for a while, Chaka watched the long black snake of men winding
towards him across the plain till the messengers met them and the
snake began to climb the slope of the hill.
"How many are these people of thine, Mopo?" asked the king.
"I know not, O Elephant," I answered, "who have not seen them for many
years. Perhaps they number three full regiments."
"Nay, more," said the king; "what thinkest thou, Mopo, would this
people of thine fill the rift behind us?" and he nodded at the gulf of
Now, my father, I trembled in all my flesh, seeing the purpose of
Chaka; but I could find no words to say, for my tongue clave to the
roof of my mouth.
"The people are many," said Chaka, "yet, Mopo, I bet thee fifty head
of cattle that they will not fill the donga."
"The king is pleased to jest," I said.
"Yea, Mopo, I jest; yet as a jest take thou the bet."
"As the king wills," I murmured--who could not refuse. Now the people
of my tribe drew near: at their head was an old man, with white hair
and beard, and, looking at him, I knew him for my father, Makedama.
When he came within earshot of the king, he gave him the royal salute
of Bayete, and fell upon his hands and knees, crawling towards him,
and konzaed to the king, praising him as he came. All the thousands of
the people also fell on their hands and knees, and praised the king
aloud, and the sound of their praising was like the sound of a great
At length Makedama, my father, writhing on his breast like a snake,
lay before the majesty of the king. Chaka bade him rise, and greeted
him kindly; but all the thousands of the people yet lay upon their
breasts beating the dust with their heads.
"Rise, Makedama, my child, father of the people of the Langeni," said
Chaka, "and tell me why art thou late in coming to my mourning?"
"The way was far, O King," answered Makedama, my father, who did not
know me. "The way was far and the time short. Moreover, the women and
the children grew weary and footsore, and they are weary in this
"Speak not of it, Makedama, my child," said the king. "Surely thy
heart mourned and that of thy people, and soon they shall rest from
their weariness. Say, are they here every one?"
"Every one, O Elephant!--none are wanting. My kraals are desolate, the
cattle wander untended on the hills, birds pick at the unguarded
"It is well, Makedama, thou faithful servant! Yet thou wouldst mourn
with me an hour--is it not so? Now, hearken! Bid thy people pass to
the right and to the left of me, and stand in all their numbers upon
the slopes of the grass that run down to the lips of the rift."
So Makedama, my father, bade the people do the bidding of the king,
for neither he nor the indunas saw his purpose, but I, who knew his
wicked heart, I saw it. Then the people filed past to the right and to
the left by hundreds and by thousands, and presently the grass of the
slopes could be seen no more, because of their number. When all had
passed, Chaka spoke again to Makedama, my father, bidding him climb
down to the bottom of the donga, and thence lift up his voice in
mourning. The old man obeyed the king. Slowly, and with much pain, he
clambered to the bottom of the rift and stood there. It was so deep
and narrow that the light scarcely seemed to reach to where he stood,
for I could only see the white of his hair gleaming far down in the
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