Nada the Lily
H. Rider Haggard
Part 4 out of 6
Then, standing far beneath, he lifted up his voice, and it reached the
thousands of those who clustered upon the slopes. It seemed still and
small, yet it came to them faintly like the voice of one speaking from
a mountain-top in a time of snow:--
"Mourn, children of Makedama!"
And all the thousands of the people--men, women, and children--echoed
his words in a thunder of sound, crying:--
"Mourn, children of Makedama!"
Again he cried:--
"Mourn, people of the Langeni, mourn with the whole world!"
And the thousands answered:--
"Mourn, people of the Langeni, mourn with the whole world!"
A third time came his voice:--
"Mourn, children of Makedama, mourn, people of the Langeni, mourn with
the whole world!
"Howl, ye warriors; weep, ye women; beat your breasts, ye maidens;
sob, ye little children!
"Drink of the water of tears, cover yourselves with the dust of
"Mourn, O tribe of the Langeni, because the Mother of the Heavens is
"Mourn, children of Makedama, because the Spirit of Fruitfulness is no
"Mourn, O ye people, because the Lion of the Zulu is left so desolate.
"Let your tears fall as the rain falls, let your cries be as the cries
of women who bring forth.
"For sorrow is fallen like the rain, the world has conceived and
brought forth death.
"Great darkness is upon us, darkness and the shadow of death.
"The Lion of the Zulu wanders and wanders in desolation, because the
Mother of the Heavens is no more.
"Who shall bring him comfort? There is comfort in the crying of his
"Mourn, people of the Langeni; let the voice of your mourning beat
against the skies and rend them.
"Ou-ai! Ou-ai! Ou-ai!"
Thus sang the old man, my father Makedama, far down in the deeps of
the cleft. He sang it in a still, small voice, but, line after line,
his song was caught up by the thousands who stood on the slopes above,
and thundered to the heavens till the mountains shook with its sound.
Moreover, the noise of their crying opened the bosom of a heavy rain-
cloud that had gathered as they mourned, and the rain fell in great
slow drops, as though the sky also wept, and with the rain came
lightning and the roll of thunder.
Chaka listened, and large tears coursed down his cheeks, whose heart
was easily stirred by the sound of song. Now the rain hissed fiercely,
making as it were a curtain about the thousands of the people; but
still their cry went up through the rain, and the roll of the thunder
was lost in it. Presently there came a hush, and I looked to the
right. There, above the heads of the people, coming over the brow of
the hill, were the plumes of warriors, and in their hands gleamed a
hedge of spears. I looked to the left; there also I saw the plumes of
warriors dimly through the falling rain, and in their hands a hedge of
spears. I looked before me, towards the end of the cleft; there also
loomed the plumes of warriors, and in their hands was a hedge of
Then, from all the people there arose another cry, a cry of terror and
"Ah! now they mourn indeed, Mopo," said Chaka in my ear; "now thy
people mourn from the heart and not with the lips alone."
As he spoke the multitude of the people on either side of the rift
surged forward like a wave, surged back again, once more surged
forward, then, with a dreadful crying, driven on by the merciless
spears of the soldiers, they began to fall in a torrent of men, women,
and children, far into the black depths below.
* * * * *
My father, forgive me the tears that fall from these blind eyes of
mine; I am very aged, I am but as a little child, and as a little
child I weep. I cannot tell it. At last it was done, and all grew
* * * * *
Thus was Makedama buried beneath the bodies of his people; thus was
ended the tribe of the Langeni; as my mother had dreamed, so it came
about; and thus did Chaka take vengeance for that cup of milk which
was refused to him many a year before.
"Thou hast not won thy bet, Mopo," said the king presently. "See there
is a little space where one more may find room to sleep. Full to the
brim is this corn-chamber with the ears of death, in which no living
grain is left. Yet there is one little space, and is there not one to
fill it? Are all the tribe of the Langeni dead indeed?"
"There is one, O King!" I answered. "I am of the tribe of the Langeni,
let my carcase fill the place."
"Nay, Mopo, nay! Who then should take the bet? Moreover, I slay thee
not, for it is against my oath. Also, do we not mourn together, thou
"There is no other left living of the tribe of the Langeni, O King!
The bet is lost; it shall be paid."
"I think that there is another," said Chaka. "There is a sister to
thee and me, Mopo. Ah, see, she comes!"
I looked up, my father, and I saw this: I saw Baleka, my sister,
walking towards us, and on her shoulders was a kaross of wild-cat
skins, and behind her were two soldiers. She walked proudly, holding
her head high, and her step was like the step of a queen. Now she saw
the sight of death, for the dead lay before her like black water in a
sunless pool. A moment she stood shivering, having guessed all, then
walked on and stood before Chaka.
"What is thy will with me, O King?" she said.
"Thou art come in a good hour, sister," said Chaka, turning his eyes
from hers. "It is thus: Mopo, my servant and thy brother, made a bet
with me, a bet of cattle. It was a little matter that we wagered on--
as to whether the people of the Langeni tribe--thine own tribe,
Baleka, my sister--would fill yonder place, U'Donga-lu-ka-Tatiyana.
When they heard of the bet, my sister, the people of the Langeni
hurled themselves into the rift by thousands, being eager to put the
matter to the proof. And now it seems that thy brother has lost the
bet, for there is yet place for one yonder ere the donga is full.
Then, my sister, thy brother Mopo brought it to my mind that there was
still one of the Langeni tribe left upon the earth, who, should she
sleep in that place, would turn the bet in his favour, and prayed me
to send for her. So, my sister, as I would not take that which I have
not won, I have done so, and now do thou go apart and talk with Mopo,
thy brother, alone upon this matter, as once before thou didst talk
when a child was born to thee, my sister!"
Now Baleka took no heed of the words of Chaka which he spoke of me,
for she knew his meaning well. Only she looked him in the eyes and
"Ill shalt thou sleep from this night forth, Chaka, till thou comest
to a land where no sleep is. I have spoken."
Chaka saw and heard, and of a sudden he quailed, growing afraid in his
heart, and turned his head away.
"Mopo, my brother," said Baleka, "let us speak together for the last
time; it is the king's word."
So I drew apart with Baleka, my sister, and a spear was in my hand. We
stood together alone by the people of the dead and Baleka threw the
corner of the kaross about her brows and spoke to me swiftly from
beneath its shadow.
"What did I say to you a while ago, Mopo? It has come to pass. Swear
to me that you will live on and that this same hand of yours shall
taken vengeance for me."
"I swear it, my sister."
"Swear to me that when the vengeance is done you will seek out my son
Umslopogaas if he still lives, and bless him in my name."
"I swear it, my sister."
"Fare you well, Mopo! We have always loved each other much, and now
all fades, and it seems to me that once more we are little children
playing about the kraals of the Langeni. So may we play again in
another land! Now, Mopo"--and she looked at me steadily, and with
great eyes--"I am weary. I would join the spirits of my people. I hear
them calling in my ears. It is finished."
* * * * *
For the rest, I will not tell it to you, my father.
MASILO COMES TO THE KRAAL DUGUZA
That night the curse of Baleka fell upon Chaka, and he slept ill. So
ill did he sleep that he summoned me to him, bidding me walk abroad
with him. I went, and we walked alone and in silence, Chaka leading
the way and I following after him. Now I saw that his feet led him
towards the U'Donga-lu-ka-Tatiyana, that place where all my people lay
dead, and with them Baleka, my sister. We climbed the slope of the
hill slowly, and came to the mouth of the cleft, to that same spot
where Chaka had stood when the people fell over the lips of the rock
like water. Then there had been noise and crying, now there was
silence, for the night was very still. The moon was full also, and
lighted up the dead who lay near to us, so that I could see them all;
yes, I could see even the face of Baleka, my sister--they had thrown
her into the midst of the dead. Never had it looked so beautiful as in
this hour, and yet as I gazed I grew afraid. Only the far end of the
donga was hid in shadow.
"Thou wouldst not have won thy bet now, Mopo, my servant," said Chaka.
"See, they have sunk together! The donga is not full by the length of
I did not answer, but at the sound of the king's voice jackals stirred
and slunk away.
Presently he spoke again, laughing loudly as he spoke: "Thou shouldst
sleep well this night, my mother, for I have sent many to hush thee to
rest. Ah, people of the Langeni tribe, you forgot, but I remembered!
You forgot how a woman and a boy came to you seeking food and shelter,
and you would give them none--no, not a gourd of milk. What did I
promise you on that day, people of the Langeni tribe? Did I not
promise you that for every drop the gourd I craved would hold I would
take the life of a man? And have I not kept my promise? Do not men lie
here more in number than the drops of water in a gourd, and with them
woman and children countless as the leaves? O people of the Langeni
tribe, who refused me milk when I was little, having grown great, I am
avenged upon you! Having grown great! Ah! who is there so great as I?
The earth shakes beneath my feet; when I speak the people tremble,
when I frown they die--they die in thousands. I have grown great, and
great I shall remain! The land is mine, far as the feet of man can
travel the land is mine, and mine are those who dwell in it. And I
shall grow greater yet--greater, ever greater. Is it thy face, Baleka,
that stares upon me from among the faces of the thousands whom I have
slain? Thou didst promise me that I should sleep ill henceforth.
Baleka, I fear thee not--at the least, thou sleepest sound. Tell me,
Baleka--rise from thy sleep and tell me whom there is that I should
fear!"--and suddenly he ceased the ravings of his pride.
Now, my father, while Chaka the king spoke thus, it came into my mind
to make an end of things and kill him, for my heart was made with rage
and the thirst of vengeance. Already I stood behind him, already the
stick in my hand was lifted to strike out his brains, when I stopped
also, for I saw something. There, in the midst of the dead, I saw an
arm stir. It stirred, it lifted itself, it beckoned towards the shadow
which hid the head of the cleft and the piled-up corpses that lay
there, and it seemed to me that the arm was the arm of Baleka.
Perchance it was not her arm, perchance it was but the arm of one who
yet lived among the thousands of the dead, say you, my father! At the
least, the arm rose at her side, and was ringed with such bracelets as
Baleka wore, and it beckoned from her side, though her cold face
changed not at all. Thrice the arm rose, thrice it stood awhile in
air, thrice it beckoned with crooked finger, as though it summoned
something from the depths of the shadow, and from the multitudes of
the dead. Then it fell down, and in the utter silence I heard its fall
and a clank of brazen bracelets. And as it fell there rose from the
shadow a sound of singing, of singing wild and sweet, such as I had
never heard. The words of that song came to me then, my father; but
afterwards they passed from me, and I remember them no more. Only I
know this, that the song was of the making of Things, and of the
beginning and the end of Peoples. It told of how the black folk grew,
and of how the white folk should eat them up, and wherefore they were
and wherefore they should cease to be. It told of Evil and of Good, of
Woman and of Man, and of how these war against each other, and why it
is that they war, and what are the ends of the struggle. It told also
of the people of the Zulu, and it spoke of a place of a Little Hand
where they should conquer, and of a place where a White Hand should
prevail against them, and how they shall melt away beneath the shadow
of the White Hand and be forgotten, passing to a land where things do
not die, but live on forever, the Good with the Good, the Evil with
the Evil. It told of Life and of Death, of Joy and of Sorrow, of Time
and of that sea in which Time is but a floating leaf, and of why all
these things are. Many names also came into the song, and I knew but a
few of them, yet my own was there, and the name of Baleka and the name
of Umslopogaas, and the name of Chaka the Lion. But a little while did
the voice sing, yet all this was in the song--ay, and much more; but
the meaning of the song is gone from me, though I knew it once, and
shall know it again when all is done. The voice in the shadow sang on
till the whole place was full of the sound of its singing, and even
the dead seemed to listen. Chaka heard it and shook with fear, but his
ears were deaf to its burden, though mine were open.
The voice came nearer, and now in the shadow there was a faint glow of
light, like the glow that gathers on the six-days' dead. Slowly it
drew nearer, through the shadow, and as it came I saw that the shape
of the light was the shape of a woman. Now I could see it well, and I
knew the face of glory. My father, it was the face of the Inkosazana-
y-Zulu, the Queen of Heaven! She came towards us very slowly, gliding
down the gulf that was full of dead, and the path she trod was paved
with the dead; and as she came it seemed to me that shadows rose from
the dead, following her, the Queen of the Dead--thousands upon
thousands of them. And, ah! her glory, my father--the glory of her
hair of molten gold--of her eyes, that were as the noonday sky--the
flash of her arms and breast, that were like the driven snow, when it
glows in the sunset. Her beauty was awful to look on, but I am glad to
have lived to see it as it shone and changed in the shifting robe of
light which was her garment.
Now she drew near to us, and Chaka sank upon the earth, huddled up in
fear, hiding his face in his hands; but I was not afraid, my father--
only the wicked need fear to look on the Queen of Heaven. Nay, I was
not afraid: I stood upright and gazed upon her glory face to face. In
her hand she held a little spear hafted with the royal wood: it was
the shadow of the spear that Chaka held in his hand, the same with
which he had slain his mother and wherewith he should himself be
slain. Now she ceased her singing, and stood before the crouching king
and before me, who was behind the king, so that the light of her glory
shone upon us. She lifted the little spear, and with it touched Chaka,
son of Senzangacona, on the brow, giving him to doom. Then she spoke;
but, though Chaka felt the touch, he did not hear the words, that were
for my ears alone.
"Mopo, son of Makedama," said the low voice, "stay thy hand, the cup
of Chaka is not full. When, for the third time, thou seest me riding
down the storm, then SMITE, Mopo, my child."
Thus she spoke, and a cloud swept over the face of the moon. When it
passed she was gone, and once more I was alone with Chaka, with the
night and the dead.
Chaka looked up, and his face was grey with the sweat of fear.
"Who was this, Mopo?" he said in a hollow voice.
"This was the Inkosazana of the Heavens, she who watches ever over the
people of our race, O King, and who from time to time is seen of men
ere great things shall befall."
"I have heard speak of this queen," said Chaka. "Wherefore came she
now, what was the song she sang, and why did she touch me with a
"She came, O King, because the dead hand of Baleka summoned her, as
thou sawest. The song she sang was of things too high for me; and why
she touched thee on the forehead with the spear I do not know, O King!
Perchance it was to crown thee chief of a yet greater realm."
"Yea, perchance to crown me chief of a realm of death."
"That thou art already, Black One," I answered, glancing at the silent
multitude before us and the cold shape of Baleka.
Again Chaka shuddered. "Come, let us be going, Mopo," he said; "now I
have learnt what it is to be afraid."
"Early or late, Fear is a guest that all must feast, even kings, O
Earth-Shaker!" I answered; and we turned and went homewards in
Now after this night Chaka gave it out that the kraal of Gibamaxegu
was bewitched, and bewitched was the land of the Zulus, because he
might sleep no more in peace, but woke ever crying out with fear, and
muttering the name of Baleka. Therefore, in the end he moved his kraal
far away, and built the great town of Duguza here in Natal.
Look now, my father! There on the plain far away is a place of the
white men--it is called Stanger. There, where is the white man's town,
stood the great kraal Duguza. I cannot see, for my eyes are dark; but
you can see. Where the gate of the kraal was built there is a house;
it is the place where the white man gives out justice; that is the
place of the gate of the kraal, through which Justice never walked.
Behind is another house, where the white men who have sinned against
Him pray to the King of Heaven for forgiveness; there on that spot
have I seen many a one who had done no wrong pray to a king of men for
mercy, but I have never seen but one who found it. Ou! the words of
Chaka have come true: I will tell them to you presently, my father.
The white man holds the land, he goes to and fro about his business of
peace where impis ran forth to kill; his children laugh and gather
flowers where men died in blood by hundreds; they bathe in the waters
of the Imbozamo, where once the crocodiles were fed daily with human
flesh; his young men woo the maidens where other maids have kissed the
assegai. It is changed, nothing is the same, and of Chaka are left
only a grave yonder and a name of fear.
Now, after Chaka had come to the Duguza kraal, for a while he sat
quiet, then the old thirst of blood came on him, and he sent his impis
against the people of the Pondos, and they destroyed that people, and
brought back their cattle. But the warriors might not rest; again they
were doctored for war, and sent out by tens of thousands to conquer
Sotyangana, chief of the people who live north of the Limpopo. They
went singing, after the king had looked upon them and bidden them
return victorious or not at all. Their number was so great that from
the hour of dawn till the sun was high in the heavens they passed the
gates of the kraal like countless herds of cattle--they the
unconquered. Little did they know that victory smiled on them no more;
that they must die by thousands of hunger and fever in the marshes of
the Limpopo, and that those of them who returned should come with
their shields in their bellies, having devoured their shields because
of their ravenous hunger! But what of them? They were nothing. "Dust"
was the name of one of the great regiments that went out against
Sotyangana, and dust they were--dust to be driven to death by the
breath of Chaka, Lion of the Zulu.
Now few men remained in the kraal Duguza, for nearly all had gone with
the impi, and only women and aged people were left. Dingaan and
Umhlangana, brothers of the king, were there, for Chaka would not
suffer them to depart, fearing lest they should plot against him, and
he looked on them always with an angry eye, so that they trembled for
their lives, though they dared not show their fear lest fate should
follow fear. But I guessed it, and like a snake I wound myself into
their secrets, and we talked together darkly and in hints. But of that
presently, my father, for I must tell of the coming of Masilo, he who
would have wed Zinita, and whom Umslopogaas the Slaughterer had driven
out from the kraals of the People of the Axe.
It was on the day after the impi had left that Masilo came to the
kraal Duguza, craving leave to speak with the king. Chaka sat before
his hut, and with him were Dingaan and Umhlangana, his royal brothers.
I was there also, and certain of the indunas, councillors of the king.
Chaka was weary that morning, for he had slept badly, as now he always
did. Therefore, when one told him that a certain wanderer named Masilo
would speak with him, he did not command that the man should be
killed, but bade them bring him before him. Presently there was a
sound of praising, and I saw a fat man, much worn with travel, who
crawled through the dust towards us giving the sibonga, that is,
naming the king by his royal names. Chaka bade him cease from praising
and tell his business. Then the man sat up and told all that tale
which you have heard, my father, of how a young man, great and strong,
came to the place of the People of the Axe and conquered Jikiza, the
holder of the axe, and become chief of that people, and of how he had
taken the cattle of Masilo and driven him away. Now Chaka knew nothing
of this People of the Axe, for the land was great in those days, my
father, and there were many little tribes in it, living far away, of
whom the king had not even heard; so he questioned Masilo about them,
and of the number of their fighting-men, of their wealth in cattle, of
the name of the young man who ruled them, and especially as to the
tribute which they paid to the king.
Masilo answered, saying that the number of their fighting-men was
perhaps the half of a full regiment, that their cattle were many, for
they were rich, that they paid no tribute, and that the name of the
young man was Bulalio the Slaughterer--at the least, he was known by
that name, and he had heard no other.
Then the king grew wroth. "Arise, Masilo," he said, "and run to this
people, and speak in the ear of the people, and of him who is named
the Slaughterer, saying: 'There is another Slaughterer, who sits in a
kraal that is named Duguza, and this is his word to you, O People of
the Axe, and to thee, thou who holdest the axe. Rise up with all the
people, and with all the cattle of your people, and come before him
who sits in the kraal Duguza, and lay in his hands the great axe
Groan-Maker. Rise up swiftly and do this bidding, lest ye sit down
shortly and for the last time of all.'"
 The Zulu are buried sitting.
Masilo heard, and said that it should be so, though the way was far,
and he feared greatly to appear before him who was called the
Slaughterer, and who sat twenty days' journey to the north, beneath
the shadow of the Witch Mountain.
"Begone," said the king, "and stand before me on the thirtieth day
from now with the answer of this boy with an axe! If thou standest not
before me, then some shall come to seek thee and the boy with an axe
So Masilo turned and fled swiftly to do the bidding of the king, and
Chaka spoke no more of that matter. But I wondered in my heart who
this young man with an axe might be; for I thought that he had dealt
with Jikiza and with the sons of Jikiza as Umslopogaas would have
dealt with them had he come to the years of his manhood. But I also
said nothing of the matter.
Now on this day also there came to me news that my wife Macropha and
my daughter Nada were dead among their people in Swaziland. It was
said that the men of the chief of the Halakazi tribe had fallen on
their kraal and put all in it to the assegai, and among them Macropha
and Nada. I heard the news, but I wept no tear, for, my father, I was
so lost in sorrows that nothing could move me any more.
MOPO BARGAINS WITH THE PRINCES
Eight-and-twenty days went by, my father, and on the nine-and-
twentieth it befell that Chaka, having dreamed a dream in his troubled
sleep, summoned before him certain women of the kraal, to the number
of a hundred or more. Some of these were his women, whom he named his
"sisters," and some were maidens not yet given in marriage; but all
were young and fair. Now what this dream of Chaka may have been I do
not know, or have forgotten, for in those days he dreamed many dreams,
and all his dreams led to one end, the death of men. He sat in front
of his hut scowling, and I was with him. To the left of him were
gathered the girls and women, and their knees were weak with fear. One
by one they were led before him, and stood before him with bowed
heads. Then he would bid them be of good cheer, and speak softly to
them, and in the end would ask them this question: "Hast thou, my
sister, a cat in thy hut?"
Now, some would say that they had a cat, and some would say that they
had none, and some would stand still and make no answer, being dumb
with fear. But, whatever they said, the end was the same, for the king
would sigh gently and say: "Fare thee well, my sister; it is
unfortunate for thee that there is a cat in thy hut," or "that there
is no cat in thy hut," or "that thou canst not tell me whether there
be a cat in thy hut or no."
Then the woman would be taken by the slayers, dragged without the
kraal, and their end was swift. So it went on for the most part of
that day, till sixty-and-two women and girls had been slaughtered. But
at last a maiden was brought before the king, and to this one her
snake had given a ready wit; for when Chaka asked her whether or no
there was a cat in her hut, she answered, saying that she did not
know, "but that there was a half a cat upon her," and she pointed to a
cat's-skin which was bound about her loins.
Then the king laughed, and clapped his hands, saying that at length
his dream was answered; and he killed no more that day nor ever again
--save once only.
That evening my heart was heavy within me, and I cried in my heart,
"How long?"--nor might I rest. So I wandered out from the kraal that
was named Duguza to the great cleft in the mountains yonder, and sat
down upon a rock high up in the cleft, so that I could see the wide
lands rolling to the north and the south, to my right and to my left.
Now, the day was drawing towards the night, and the air was very
still, for the heat was great and a tempest was gathering, as I, who
am a Heaven-Herd, knew well. The sun sank redly, flooding the land
with blood; it was as though all the blood that Chaka had shed flowed
about the land which Chaka ruled. Then from the womb of the night
great shapes of cloud rose up and stood before the sun, and he crowned
them with his glory, and in their hearts the lightning quivered like a
blood of fire. The shadow of their wings fell upon the mountain and
the plains, and beneath their wings was silence. Slowly the sun sank,
and the shapes of cloud gathered together like a host at the word of
its captain, and the flicker of the lightning was as the flash of the
spears of a host. I looked, and my heart grew afraid. The lightning
died away, the silence deepened and deepened till I could hear it, no
leaf moved, no bird called, the world seemed dead--I alone lived in
the dead world.
Now, of a sudden, my father, a bright star fell from the height of
heaven and lit upon the crest of the storm, and as it lit the storm
burst. The grey air shivered, a moan ran about the rocks and died
away, then an icy breath burst from the lips of the tempest and rushed
across the earth. It caught the falling star and drove it on towards
me, a rushing globe of fire, and as it came the star grew and took
shape, and the shape it took was the shape of a woman. I knew her now,
my father; while she was yet far off I knew her--the Inkosazana who
came as she had promised, riding down the storm. On she swept, borne
forward by the blast, and oh! she was terrible to see, for her garment
was the lightning, lightnings shone from her wide eyes and lightnings
were in her streaming hair, while in her hand was a spear of fire, and
she shook it as she came. Now she was at the mouth of the pass; before
her was stillness, behind her beat the wings of the storm, the thunder
roared, the rain hissed like snakes; she rushed on past me, and as she
passed she turned her awful eyes upon me, withering me. She was there!
she was gone! but she spoke no word, only shook her flaming spear. Yet
it seemed to me that the storm spoke, that the rocks cried aloud, that
the rain hissed out a word in my ear, and the word was:--
I heard it in my heart, or with my ears, what does it matter? Then I
turned to look; through the rush of the tempest and the reek of the
rain, still I could see her sweeping forward high in air. Now the
kraal Duguza was beneath her feet, and the flaming spear fell from her
hand upon the kraal and fire leaped up in answer.
Then she passed on over the edge of the world, seeking her own place.
Thus, my father, for the third and last time did my eyes see the
Inkosazana-y-Zulu, or mayhap my heart dreamed that I saw her. Soon I
shall see her again, but it will not be here.
For a while I sat there in the cleft, then I rose and fought my way
through the fury of the storm back to the kraal Duguza. As I drew near
the kraal I heard cries of fear coming through the roaring of the wind
and the hiss of the rain. I entered and asked one of the matter, and
it was told me that fire from above had fallen on the hut of the king
as he lay sleeping, and all the roof of the hut was burned away, but
that the rain had put out the fire.
Then I went on till I came to the front of the great hut, and I saw by
the light of the moon, which now shone out in the heavens, that there
before it stood Chaka, shaking with fear, and the water of the rain
was running down him, while he stared at the great hut, of which all
the thatch was burned.
I saluted the king, asking him what evil thing had happened. Seeing
me, he seized me by the arm, and clung to me as, when the slayers are
at hand, a child clings to his father, drawing me after him into a
small hut that was near.
"What evil thing has befallen, O King?" I said again, when light had
"Little have I known of fear, Mopo," said Chaka, "yet I am afraid now;
ay, as much afraid as when once on a bygone night the dead hand of
Baleka summoned something that walked upon the faces of the dead."
"And what fearest thou, O King, who art the lord of all the earth?"
Now Chaka leaned forward and whispered to me: "Hearken, Mopo, I have
dreamed a dream. When the judgment of those witches was done with, I
went and laid me down to sleep while it was yet light, for I can
scarcely sleep at all when darkness has swallowed up the world. My
sleep has gone from me--that sister of thine, Baleka, took my sleep
with her to the place of death. I laid me down and I slept, but a
dream arose and sat by me with a hooded face, and showed me a picture.
It seemed to me that the wall of my hut fell down, and I saw an open
place, and in the centre of the place I lay dead, covered with many
wounds, while round my corpse my brothers Dingaan and Umhlangana
stalked in pride like lions. On the shoulders of Umhlangana was my
royal kaross, and there was blood on the kaross; and in the hand of
Dingaan was my royal spear, and there was blood upon the spear. Then,
in the vision of my dream, Mopo, thou didst draw near, and, lifting
thy hand, didst give the royal salute of Bayete to these brothers of
mine, and with thy foot didst spurn the carcase of me, thy king. Then
the hooded Dream pointed upwards and was gone, and I awoke, and lo!
fire burned in the roof of my hut. Thus I dreamed, Mopo, and now, my
servant, say thou, wherefore should I not slay thee, thou who wouldst
serve other kings than I, thou who wouldst give my royal salute to the
princes, my brothers?" and he glared upon me fiercely.
"As thou wilt, O King!" I answered gently. "Doubtless thy dream was
evil, and yet more evil was the omen of the fire that fell upon thy
hut. And yet--" and I ceased.
"And yet--Mopo, thou faithless servant?"
"And yet, O King, it seems to me in my folly that it were well to
strike the head of the snake and not its tail, for without the tail
the head may live, but not the tail without the head."
"Thou wouldst say, Mopo, that if these princes die never canst thou or
any other man give them the royal names. Do I hear aright, Mopo?"
"Who am I that I should lift up my voice asking for the blood of
princes?" I answered. "Judge thou, O King!"
Now, Chaka brooded awhile, then he spoke: "Say, Mopo, can it be done
"There are but few men in the kraal, O King. All are gone out to war;
and of those few many are the servants of the princes, and perhaps
they might give blow for blow."
"How then, Mopo?"
"Nay, I know not, O King; yet at the great kraal beyond the river sits
that regiment which is named the Slayers. By midday to-morrow they
might be here, and then--"
"Thou speakest wisely, my child Mopo; it shall be for to-morrow. Go
summon the regiment of the Slayers, and, Mopo, see that thou fail me
"If I fail thee, O King, then I fail myself, for it seems that my life
hangs on this matter."
"If all the words that ever passed thy lips are lies, yet is that word
true, Mopo," said Chaka: "moreover, know this, my servant: if aught
miscarries thou shalt die no common death. Begone!"
"I hear the king," I answered, and went out.
Now, my father, I knew well that Chaka had doomed me to die, though
first he would use me to destroy the princes. But I feared nothing,
for I knew this also, that the hour of Chaka was come at last.
For a while I sat in my hut pondering, then when all men slept I arose
and crept like a snake by many paths to the hut of Dingaan the prince,
who awaited me on that night. Following the shadow of the hut, I came
to the door and scratched upon it after a certain fashion. Presently
it was opened, and I crawled in, and the door was shut again. Now
there was a little light in the hut, and by its flame I saw the two
princes sitting side by side, wrapped about with blankets which hung
before their brows.
"Who is this that comes?" said the Prince Dingaan.
Then I lifted the blanket from my head so that they might see my face,
and they also drew the blankets from their brows. I spoke, saying:
"Hail to you, Princes, who to-morrow shall be dust! Hail to you, sons
of Senzangacona, who to-morrow shall be spirits!" and I pointed
towards them with my withered hand.
Now the princes were troubled, and shook with fear.
"What meanest thou, thou dog, that thou dost speak to us words of such
ill-omen?" said the Prince Dingaan in a low voice.
"Where dost thou point at us with that white and withered hand of
thine, Wizard?" hissed the Prince Umhlangana.
"Have I not told you, O ye Princes!" I whispered, "that ye must strike
or die, and has not your heart failed you? Now hearken! Chaka has
dreamed another dream; now it is Chaka who strikes, and ye are already
dead, ye children of Senzangacona."
"If the slayers of the king be without the gates, at least thou shalt
die first, thou who hast betrayed us!" quoth the Prince Dingaan, and
drew an assegai from under his kaross.
"First hear the king's dream, O Prince," I said; "then, if thou wilt,
kill me, and die. Chaka the king slept and dreamed that he lay dead,
and that one of you, the princes, wore his royal kaross."
"Who wore the royal kaross?" asked Dingaan, eagerly; and both looked
up, waiting on my words.
"The Prince Umhlangana wore it--in the dream of Chaka--O Dingaan,
shoot of a royal stock!" I answered slowly, taking snuff as I spoke,
and watching the two of them over the edge of my snuff-spoon.
Now Dingaan scowled heavily at Umhlangana; but the face of Umhlangana
was as the morning sky.
"Chaka dreamed this also," I went on: "that one of you, the princes,
held his royal spear."
"Who held the royal spear?" asked Umhlangana.
"The Prince Dingaan held it--in the dream of Chaka--O Umhlangana,
sprung from the root of kings!--and it dripped blood."
Now the face of Umhlangana grew dark as night, but that of Dingaan
brightened like the dawn.
"Chaka dreamed this also: that I, Mopo, your dog, who am not worthy
to be mentioned with such names, came up and gave the royal salute,
even the Bayete."
"To whom didst thou give the Bayete, O Mopo, son of Makedama?" asked
both of the princes as with one breath, waiting on my words.
"I gave it to both of you, O twin stars of the morning, princes of the
Zulu--in the dream of Chaka I gave it to both of you."
Now the princes looked this way and that, and were silent, not knowing
what to say, for these princes hated each other, though adversity and
fear had brought them to one bed.
"But what avails it to talk thus, ye lords of the land," I went on,
"seeing that, both of you, ye are already as dead men, and that
vultures which are hungry to-night to-morrow shall be filled with meat
of the best? Chaka the king is now a Doctor of Dreams, and to clear
away such a dream as this he has a purging medicine."
Now the brows of these brothers grew black indeed, for they saw that
their fate was on them.
"These are the words of Chaka the king, O ye bulls who lead the herd!
All are doomed, ye twain and I, and many another man who loves us. In
the great kraal beyond the river there sits a regiment: it is summoned
--and then--good-night! Have ye any words to say to those yet left
upon the earth? Perhaps it will be given to me to live a little while
after ye are gone, and I may bring them to their ears."
"Can we not rise up now and fall upon Chaka?" asked Dingaan.
"It is not possible," I said; "the king is guarded."
"Hast thou no plan, Mopo?" groaned Umhlangana. "Methinks thou hast a
plan to save us."
"And if I have a plan, ye Princes, what shall be my reward? It must be
great, for I am weary of life, and I will not use my wisdom for a
Now both the princes offered me good things, each of them promising
more than the other, as two young men who are rivals promise to the
father of a girl whom both would wed. I listened, saying always that
it was not enough, till in the end both of them swore by their heads,
and by the bones of Senzangacona, their father, and by many other
things, that I should be the first man in the land, after them, its
kings, and should command the impis of the land, if I would but show
them a way to kill Chaka and become kings. Then, when they had done
swearing, I spoke, weighing my words:--
"In the great kraal beyond the river, O ye Princes, there sit, not one
regiment but two. One is named the Slayers and loves Chaka the king,
who has done well by them, giving them cattle and wives. The other is
named the Bees, and that regiment is hungry and longs for cattle and
girls; moreover, of that regiment the Prince Umhlangana is the
general, and it loves him. Now this is my plan--to summon the Bees in
the name of Umhlangana, not the Slayers in the name of Chaka. Bend
forward, O Princes, that I may whisper in your ears."
So they bent forward, and I whispered awhile of the death of a king,
and the sons of Senzangacona nodded their heads as one man in answer.
Then I rose up, and crept from the hut as I had entered it, and
rousing certain trusty messengers, I dispatched them, running swiftly
through the night.
THE DEATH OF CHAKA
Now, on the morrow, two hours before midday, Chaka came from the hut
where he had sat through the night, and moved to a little kraal
surrounded by a fence that was some fifty paces distant from the hut.
For it was my duty, day by day, to choose that place where the king
should sit to hear the counsel of his indunas, and give judgment on
those whom he would kill, and to-day I had chosen this place. Chaka
went alone from his hut to the kraal, and, for my own reasons, I
accompanied him, walking after him. As we went the king glanced back
at me over his shoulder, and said in a low voice:--
"Is all prepared, Mopo?"
"All is prepared, Black One," I answered. "The regiment of the Slayers
will be here by noon."
"Where are the princes, Mopo?" asked the king again.
"The princes sit with their wives in the houses of their women, O
King," I answered; "they drink beer and sleep in the laps of their
Chaka smiled grimly, "For the last time, Mopo!"
"For the last time, O King."
We came to the kraal, and Chaka sat down in the shade of the reed
fence, upon an ox-hide that was brayed soft. Near to him stood a girl
holding a gourd of beer; there were also present the old chief
Inguazonca, brother of Unandi, Mother of the Heavens, and the chief
Umxamama, whom Chaka loved. When we had sat a little while in the
kraal, certain men came in bearing cranes' feathers, which the king
had sent them to gather a month's journey from the kraal Duguza, and
they were admitted before the king. These men had been away long upon
their errand, and Chaka was angry with them. Now the leader of the men
was an old captain of Chaka's, who had fought under him in many
battles, but whose service was done, because his right hand had been
shorn away by the blow of an axe. He was a great man and very brave.
Chaka asked the man why he had been so long in finding the feathers,
and he answered that the birds had flown from that part of the country
whither he was sent, and he must wait there till they returned, that
he might snare them.
"Thou shouldst have followed the cranes, yes, if they flew through the
sunset, thou disobedient dog!" said the king. "Let him be taken away,
and all those who were with him."
Now some of the men prayed a little for mercy, but the captain did but
salute the king, calling him "Father," and craving a boon before he
"What wouldst thou?" asked Chaka.
"My father," said the man, "I would ask thee two things. I have fought
many times at thy side in battle while we both were young; nor did I
ever turn my back upon the foe. The blow that shore the hand from off
this arm was aimed at thy head, O King; I stayed it with my naked arm.
It is nothing; at thy will I live, and at thy will I die. Who am I
that I should question the word of the king? Yet I would ask this,
that thou wilt withdraw the kaross from about thee, O King, that for
the last time my eyes may feast themselves upon the body of him whom,
above all men, I love."
"Thou art long-winded," said the king, "what more?"
"This, my father, that I may bid farewell to my son; he is a little
child, so high, O King," and he held his hand above his knee.
"Thy first boon is granted," said the king, slipping the kaross from
his shoulders and showing the great breast beneath. "For the second it
shall be granted also, for I will not willingly divide the father and
the son. Bring the boy here; thou shalt bid him farewell, then thou
shalt slay him with thine own hand ere thou thyself art slain; it will
be good sport to see."
Now the man turned grey beneath the blackness of his skin, and
trembled a little as he murmured, "The king's will is the will of his
servant; let the child be brought."
But I looked at Chaka and saw that the tears were running down his
face, and that he only spoke thus to try the captain who loved him to
"Let the man go," said the king, "him and those with him."
So they went glad at heart, and praising the king.
I have told you this, my father, though it has not to do with my
story, because then, and then only, did I ever see Chaka show mercy to
one whom he had doomed to die.
As the captain and his people left the gate of the kraal, it was
spoken in the ear of the king that a man sought audience with him. He
was admitted crawling on his knees. I looked and saw that this was
that Masilo whom Chaka had charged with a message to him who was named
Bulalio, or the Slaughterer, and who ruled over the People of the Axe.
It was Masilo indeed, but he was no longer fat, for much travel had
made him thin; moreover, on his back were the marks of rods, as yet
scarcely healed over.
"Who art thou?" said Chaka.
"I am Masilo, of the People of the Axe, to whom command was given to
run with a message to Bulalio the Slaughterer, their chief, and to
return on the thirtieth day. Behold, O King, I have returned, though
in a sorry plight!"
"It seems so!" said the king, laughing aloud. "I remember now: speak
on, Masilo the Thin, who wast Masilo the Fat; what of this
Slaughterer? Does he come with his people to lay the axe Groan-Maker
in my hands?"
"Nay, O King, he comes not. He met me with scorn, and with scorn he
drove me from his kraal. Moreover, as I went I was seized by the
servants of Zinita, she whom I wooed, but who is now the wife of the
Slaughterer, and laid on my face upon the ground and beaten cruelly
while Zinita numbered the strokes."
"Hah!" said the king. "And what were the words of this puppy?"
"These were his words, O King: 'Bulalio the Slaughterer, who sits
beneath the shadow of the Witch Mountain, to Bulalio the Slaughterer
who sits in the kraal Duguza--To thee I pay no tribute; if thou
wouldst have the axe Groan-Maker, come to the Ghost Mountain and take
it. This I promise thee: thou shalt look on a face thou knowest, for
there is one there who would be avenged for the blood of a certain
Now, while Masilo told this tale I had seen two things--first, that a
little piece of stick was thrust through the straw of the fence, and,
secondly, that the regiment of the Bees was swarming on the slope
opposite to the kraal in obedience to the summons I had sent them in
the name of Umhlangana. The stick told me that the princes were hidden
behind the fence waiting the signal, and the coming of the regiment
that it was time to do the deed.
When Masilo had spoken Chaka sprang up in fury. His eyes rolled, his
face worked, foam flew from his lips, for such words as these had
never offended his ears since he was king, and Masilo knew him little,
else he had not dared to utter them.
For a while he gasped, shaking his small spear, for at first he could
not speak. At length he found words:--
"The dog," he hissed, "the dog who dares thus to spit in my face!
Hearken all! As with my last breath I command that this Slaughterer be
torn limb from limb, he and all his tribe! And thou, thou darest to
bring me this talk from a skunk of the mountains. And thou, too, Mopo,
thy name is named in it. Well, of thee presently. Ho! Umxamama, my
servant, slay me this slave of a messenger, beat out his brains with
thy stick. Swift! swift!"
Now, the old chief Umxamama sprang up to do the king's bidding, but he
was feeble with age, and the end of it was that Masilo, being mad with
fear, killed Umxamama, not Umxamama Masilo. Then Inguazonca, brother
of Unandi, Mother of the Heavens, fell upon Masilo and ended him, but
was hurt himself in so doing. Now I looked at Chaka, who stood shaking
the little red spear, and thought swiftly, for the hour had come.
"Help!" I cried, "one is slaying the King!"
As I spoke the reed fence burst asunder, and through it plunged the
princes Umhlangana and Dingaan, as bulls plunge through a brake.
Then I pointed to Chaka with my withered hand, saying, "Behold your
Now, from beneath the shelter of his kaross, each Prince drew out a
short stabbing spear, and plunged it into the body of Chaka the king.
Umhlangana smote him on the left shoulder, Dingaan struck him in the
right side. Chaka dropped the little spear handled with the red wood
and looked round, and so royally that the princes, his brothers, grew
afraid and shrank away from him.
Twice he looked on each; then he spoke, saying: "What! do you slay me,
my brothers--dogs of mine own house, whom I have fed? Do you slay me,
thinking to possess the land and to rule it? I tell you it shall not
be for long. I hear a sound of running feet--the feet of a great white
people. They shall stamp you flat, children of my father! They shall
rule the land that I have won, and you and your people shall be their
Thus Chaka spoke while the blood ran down him to the ground, and again
he looked on them royally, like a buck at gaze.
"Make an end, O ye who would be kings!" I cried; but their hearts had
turned to water and they could not. Then I, Mopo, sprang forward and
picked from the ground that little assegai handled with the royal wood
--the same assegai with which Chaka had murdered Unandi, his mother,
and Moosa, my son, and lifted it on high, and while I lifted it, my
father, once more, as when I was young, a red veil seemed to wave
before my eyes.
"Wherefore wouldst thou kill me, Mopo?" said the king.
"For the sake of Baleka, my sister, to whom I swore the deed, and of
all my kin," I cried, and plunged the spear through him. He sank down
upon the tanned ox-hide, and lay there dying. Once more he spoke, and
once only, saying: "Would now that I had hearkened to the voice of
Nobela, who warned me against thee, thou dog!"
Then he was silent for ever. But I knelt over him and called in his
ear the names of all those of my blood who had died at his hands--the
names of Makedama, my father, of my mother, of Anadi my wife, of Moosa
my son, and all my other wives and children, and of Baleka my sister.
His eyes and ears were open, and I think, my father, that he saw and
understood; I think also that the hate upon my face as I shook my
withered hand before him was more fearful to him that the pain of
death. At the least, he turned his head aside, shut his eyes, and
groaned. Presently they opened again, and he was dead.
Thus then, my father, did Chaka the King, the greatest man who has
ever lived in Zululand, and the most evil, pass by my hand to those
kraals of the Inkosazana where no sleep is. In blood he died as he had
lived in blood, for the climber at last falls with the tree, and in
the end the swimmer is borne away by the stream. Now he trod that path
which had been beaten flat for him by the feet of people whom he had
slaughtered, many as the blades of grass upon a mountain-side; but it
is a lie to say, as some do, that he died a coward, praying for mercy.
Chaka died, as he had lived, a brave man. Ou! my father, I know it,
for these eyes saw it and this hand let out his life.
Now he was dead and the regiment of the Bees drew near, nor could I
know how they would take this matter, for, though the Prince
Umhlangana was their general, yet all the soldiers loved the king,
because he had no equal in battle, and when he gave he gave with an
open hand. I looked round; the princes stood like men amazed; the girl
had fled; the chief Umxamama was dead at the hands of dead Masilo; and
the old chief Inguazonca, who had killed Masilo, stood by, hurt and
wondering; there were no others in the kraal.
"Awake, ye kings," I cried to the brothers, "the impi is at the gates!
Swift, now stab that man!"--and I pointed to the old chief--"and leave
the matter to my wit."
Then Dingaan roused himself, and springing upon Inguazonca, the
brother of Unandi, smote him a great blow with his spear, so that he
sank down dead without a word. Then again the princes stood silent and
"This one will tell no tales," I cried, pointing at the fallen chief.
Now a rumour of the slaying had got abroad among the women, who had
heard cries and seen the flashing of spears above the fence, and from
the women it had come to the regiment of the Bees, who advanced to the
gates of the kraal singing. Then of a sudden they ceased their singing
and rushed towards the hut in front of which we stood.
Then I ran to meet them, uttering cries of woe, holding in my hand the
little assegai of the king red with the king's blood, and spoke with
the captain's in the gate, saying:--
"Lament, ye captains and ye soldiers, weep and lament, for your father
is no more! He who nursed you is no more! The king is dead! now earth
and heaven will come together, for the king is dead!"
"How so, Mopo?" cried the leader of the Bees. "How is our father
"He is dead by the hand of a wicked wanderer named Masilo, who, when
he was doomed to die by the king, snatched this assegai from the
king's hand and stabbed him; and afterwards, before he could be cut
down himself by us three, the princes and myself, he killed the chiefs
Inguazonca and Umxamama also. Draw near and look on him who was the
king; it is the command of Dingaan and Umhlangana, the kings, that you
draw near and look on him who was the king, that his death at the hand
of Masilo may be told through all the land."
"You are better at making of kings, Mopo, than at the saving of one
who was your king from the stroke of a wanderer," said the leader of
the Bees, looking at me doubtfully.
But his words passed unheeded, for some of the captains went forward
to look on the Great One who was dead, and some, together with most of
the soldiers, ran this way and that, crying in their fear that now the
heaven and earth would come together, and the race of man would cease
to be, because Chaka, the king, was dead.
Now, my father, how shall I, whose days are few, tell you of all the
matters that happened after the dead of Chaka? Were I to speak of them
all they would fill many books of the white men, and, perhaps, some of
them are written down there. For this reason it is, that I may be
brief, I have only spoken of a few of those events which befell in the
reign of Chaka; for my tale is not of the reign of Chaka, but of the
lives of a handful of people who lived in those days, and of whom I
and Umslopogaas alone are left alive--if, indeed, Umslopogaas, the son
of Chaka, is still living on the earth. Therefore, in a few words I
will pass over all that came about after the fall of Chaka and till I
was sent down by Dingaan, the king, to summon him to surrender to the
king who was called the Slaughterer and who ruled the People of the
Axe. Ah! would that I had known for certain that this was none other
than Umslopogaas, for then had Dingaan gone the way that Chaka went
and which Umhlangana followed, and Umslopogaas ruled the people of the
Zulus as their king. But, alas! my wisdom failed me. I paid no heed to
the voice of my heart which told me that this was Umslopogaas who sent
the message to Chaka threatening vengeance for one Mopo, and I knew
nothing till too late; surely, I thought, the man spoke of some other
Mopo. For thus, my father, does destiny make fools of us men. We think
that we can shape our fate, but it is fate that shapes us, and nothing
befalls except fate will it. All things are a great pattern, my
father, drawn by the hand of the Umkulunkulu upon the cup whence he
drinks the water of his wisdom; and our lives, and what we do, and
what we do not do, are but a little bit of the pattern, which is so
big that only the eyes of Him who is above, the Umkulunkulu, can see
it all. Even Chaka, the slayer of men, and all those he slew, are but
as a tiny grain of dust in the greatness of that pattern. How, then,
can we be wise, my father, who are but the tools of wisdom? how can be
build who are but pebbles in a wall? how can we give life who are
babes in the womb of fate? or how can we slay who are but spears in
the hands of the slayer?
This came about, my father. Matters were made straight in the land
after the death of Chaka. At first people said that Masilo, the
stranger, had stabbed the king; then it was known that Mopo, the wise
man, the doctor and the body-servant of the king, had slain the king,
and that the two great bulls, his brothers Umhlangana and Dingaan,
children of Senzangacona, had also lifted spears against him. But he
was dead, and earth and heaven had not come together, so what did it
matter? Moreover, the two new kings promised to deal gently with the
people, and to lighten the heavy yoke of Chaka, and men in a bad case
are always ready to home for a better. So it came about that the only
enemies the princes found were each other and Engwade, the son of
Unandi, Chaka's half-brother. But I, Mopo, who was now the first man
in the land after the kings, ceasing to be a doctor and becoming a
general, went up against Engwade with the regiment of the Bees and the
regiment of the Slayers and smote him in his kraals. It was a hard
fight, but in the end I destroyed him and all his people: Engwade
killed eight men with his own hand before I slew him. Then I came back
to the kraal with the few that were left alive of the two regiments.
After that the two kings quarrelled more and more, and I weighed them
both in my balance, for I would know which was the most favourable to
me. In the end I found that both feared me, but that Umhlangana would
certainly put me to death if he gained the upper hand, whereas this
was not yet in the mind of Dingaan. So I pressed down the balance of
Umhlangana and raised that of Dingaan, sending the fears of Umhlangana
to sleep till I could cause his hut to be surrounded. Then Umhlangana
followed upon the road of Chaka his brother, the road of the assegai;
and Dingaan ruled alone for awhile. Such are the things that befall
princes of this earth, my father. See, I am but a little man, and my
lot is humble at the last, yet I have brought about the death of three
of them, and of these two died by my hand.
It was fourteen days after the passing away of the Prince Umhlangana
that the great army came back in a sorry plight from the marshes of
the Limpopo, for half of them were left dead of fever and the might of
the foe, and the rest were starving. It was well for them who yet
lived that Chaka was no more, else they had joined their brethren who
were dead on the way; since never before for many years had a Zulu
impi returned unvictorious and without a single head of cattle. Thus
it came about that they were glad enough to welcome a king who spared
their lives, and thenceforth, till his fate found him, Dingaan reigned
Now, Dingaan wa a prince of the blood of Chaka indeed; for, like
Chaka, he was great in presence and cruel at heart, but he had not the
might and the mind of Chaka. Moreover, he was treacherous and a liar,
and these Chaka was not. Also, he loved women much, and spent with
them the time that he should have given to matters of the State. Yet
he reigned awhile in the land. I must tell this also; that Dingaan
would have killed Panda, his half-brother, so that the house of
Senzangacona, his father, might be swept out clean. Now Panda was a
man of gentle heart, who did not love war, and therefore it was
thought that he was half-witted; and, because I loved Panda, when the
question of his slaying came on, I and the chief Mapita spoke against
it, and pleaded for him, saying that there was nothing to be feared at
his hands who was a fool. So in the end Dingaan gave way, saying,
"Well, you ask me to spare this dog, and I will spare him, but one day
he will bite me."
So Panda was made governor of the king's cattle. Yet in the end the
words of Dingaan came true, for it was the grip of Panda's teeth that
pulled him from the throne; only, if Panda was the dog that bit, I,
Mopo, was the man who set him on the hunt.
MOPO GOES TO SEEK THE SLAUGHTERER
Now Dingaan, deserting the kraal Duguza, moved back to Zululand, and
built a great kraal by the Mahlabatine, which he named "Umgugundhlovu"
--that is, "the rumbling of the elephant." Also, he caused all the
fairest girls in the land to be sought out as his wives, and though
many were found yet he craved for more. And at this time a rumour came
to the ears of the King Dingaan that there lived in Swaziland among
the Halakazi tribe a girl of the most wonderful beauty, who was named
the Lily, and whose skin was whiter than are the skins of our people,
and he desired greatly to have this girl to wife. So Dingaan sent an
embassy to the chief of the Halakazi, demanding that the girl should
be given to him. At the end of a month the embassy returned again, and
told the king that they had found nothing but hard words at the kraal
of the Halakazi, and had been driven thence with scorn and blows.
This was the message of the chief of the Halakazi to Dingaan, king of
the Zulus: That the maid who was named the Lily, was, indeed, the
wonder of the earth, and as yet unwed; for she had found no man upon
whom she looked with favour, and she was held in such love by this
people that it was not their wish to force any husband on her.
Moreover, the chief said that he and his people defied Dingaan and the
Zulus, as their fathers had defied Chaka before him, and spat upon his
name, and that no maid of theirs should go to be the wife of a Zulu
Then the chief of the Halakazi caused the maid who was named the Lily
to be led before the messengers of Dingaan, and they found her
wonderfully fair, for so they said: she was tall as a reed, and her
grace was the grace of a reed that is shaken in the wind. Moreover,
her hair curled, and hung upon her shoulders, her eyes were large and
brown, and soft as a buck's, her colour was the colour of rich cream,
her smile was like a ripple on the waters, and when she spoke her
voice was low and sweeter than the sound of an instrument of music.
They said also that the girl wished to speak with them, but the chief
forbade it, and caused her to be led thence with all honour.
Now, when Dingaan heard this message he grew mad as a lion in a net,
for he desired this maid above everything, and yet he who had all
things could not win the maid. This was his command, that a great impi
should be gathered and sent to Swaziland against the Halakazi tribe,
to destroy them and seize the maid. But when the matter came on to be
discussed with the indunas in the presence of the king, at the
Amapakati or council, I, as chief of the indunas, spoke against it,
saying that the tribe of the Halakazi were great and strong, and that
war with them would mean war with the Swazis also; moreover, they had
their dwelling in caves which were had to win. Also, I said, that this
was no time to send impis to seek a single girl, for few years had
gone by since the Black One fell; and foes were many, and the soldiers
of the land had waxed few with slaughter, half of them having perished
in the marshes of the Limpopo. Now, time must be given them to grow up
again, for to-day they were as a little child, or like a man wasted
with hunger. Maids were many, let the king take them and satisfy his
heart, but let him make no war for this one.
Thus I spoke boldly in the face of the king, as none had dared to
speak before Chaka; and courage passed from me to the hearts of the
other indunas and generals, and they echoed my words, for they knew
that, of all follies, to begin a new war with the Swazi people would
be the greatest.
Dingaan listened, and his brow grew dark, yet he was not so firmly
seated on the throne that he dared put away our words, for still there
were many in the land who loved the memory of Chaka, and remembered
that Dingaan had murdered him and Umhlangana also. For now that Chaka
was dead, people forgot how evilly he had dealt with them, and
remembered only that he was a great man, who had made the Zulu people
out of nothing, as a smith fashions a bright spear from a lump of
iron. Also, though they had changed masters, yet their burden was not
lessened, for, as Chaka slew, so Dingaan slew also, and as Chaka
oppressed, so did Dingaan oppress. Therefore Dingaan yielded to the
voice of his indunas and no impi was sent against the Halakazi to seek
the maid that was named the Lily. But still he hankered for her in his
heart, and from that hour he hated me because I had crossed his will
and robbed him of his desire.
Now, my father, there is this to be told: though I did not know it
then, the maid who was named the Lily was no other than my daughter
Nada. The thought, indeed, came into my mind, that none but Nada could
be so fair. Yet I knew for certain that Nada and her mother Macropha
were dead, for he who brought me the news of their death had seen
their bodies locked in each other's arms, killed, as it were, by the
same spear. Yet, as it chanced, he was wrong; for though Macropha
indeed was killed, it was another maid who lay in blood beside her;
for the people whither I had sent Macropha and Nada were tributary to
the Halakazi tribe, and that chief of the Halakazi who sat in the
place of Galazi the Wolf had quarrelled with them, and fallen on them
by night and eaten them up.
As I learned afterwards, the cause of their destruction, as in later
days it was the cause of the slaying of the Halakazi, was the beauty
of Nada and nothing else, for the fame of her loveliness had gone
about the land, and the old chief of the Halakazi had commanded that
the girl should be sent to his kraal to live there, that her beauty
might shine upon his place like the sun, and that, if so she willed,
she should choose a husband from the great men of the Halakazi. But
the headmen of the kraal refused, for none who had looked on her would
suffer their eyes to lose sight of Nada the Lily, though there was
this fate about the maid that none strove to wed her against her will.
Many, indeed, asked her in marriage, both there and among the Halakazi
people, but ever she shook her head and said, "Nay, I would wed no
man," and it was enough.
For it was the saying among men, that it was better that she should
remain unmarried, and all should look on her, than that she should
pass from their sight into the house of a husband; since they held
that her beauty was given to be a joy to all, like the beauty of the
dawn and of the evening. Yet this beauty of Nada's was a dreadful
thing, and the mother of much death, as shall be told; and because of
her beauty and the great love she bore, she, the Lily herself, must
wither, and the cup of my sorrows must be filled to overflowing, and
the heart of Umslopogaas the Slaughterer, son of Chaka the king, must
become desolate as the black plain when fire has swept it. So it was
ordained, my father, and so it befell, seeing that thus all men, white
and black, seek that which is beautiful, and when at last they find
it, then it passes swiftly away, or, perchance, it is their death. For
great joy and great beauty are winged, nor will they sojourn long upon
the earth. They come down like eagles out of the sky, and into the sky
they return again swiftly.
Thus then it came about, my father, that I, Mopo, believing my
daughter Nada to be dead, little guessed that it was she who was named
the Lily in the kraals of the Halakazi, and whom Dingaan the king
desired for a wife.
Now after I had thwarted him in this matter of the sending of an impi
to pluck the Lily from the gardens of the Halakazi, Dingaan learned to
hate me. Also I was in his secrets, and with me he had killed his
brother Chaka and his brother Umhlangana, and it was I who held him
back from the slaying of his brother Panda also; and, therefore, he
hated me, as is the fashion of small-hearted men with those who have
lifted them up. Yet he did not dare to do away with me, for my voice
was loud in the land, and when I spoke the people listened. Therefore,
in the end, he cast about for some way to be rid of me for a while,
till he should grow strong enough to kill me.
"Mopo," said the king to me one day as I sat before him in council
with others of the indunas and generals, "mindest thou of the last
words of the Great Elephant, who is dead?" This he said meaning Chaka
his brother, only he did not name him, for now the name of Chaka was
blonipa in the land, as is the custom with the names of dead kings--
that is, my father, it was not lawful that it should pass the lips.
"I remember the words, O King," I answered. "They were ominous words,
for this was their burden: that you and your house should not sit long
in the throne of kings, but that the white men should take away your
royalty and divide your territories. Such was the prophecy of the Lion
of the Zulu, why speak of it? Once before I heard him prophecy, and
his words were fulfilled. May the omen be an egg without meat; may it
never become fledged; may that bird never perch upon your roof, O
Now Dingaan trembled with fear, for the words of Chaka were in his
mind by night and by day; then he grew angry and bit his lip,
"Thou fool, Mopo! canst thou not hear a raven croak at the gates of a
kraal but thou must needs go tell those who dwell within that he waits
to pick their eyes? Such criers of ill to come may well find ill at
hand, Mopo." He ceased, looked on me threateningly awhile, and went
on: "I did not speak of those words rolling by chance from a tongue
half loosed by death, but of others that told of a certain Bulalio, of
a Slaughterer who rules the People of the Axe and dwells beneath the
shadow of the Ghost Mountain far away to the north yonder. Surely I
heard them all as I sat beneath the shade of the reed-fence before
ever I came to save him who was my brother from the spear of Masilo,
the murderer, whose spear stole away the life of a king?"
"I remember those words also, O King!" I said. "Is it the will of the
king that an impi should be gathered to eat up this upstart? Such was
the command of the one who is gone, given, as it were, with his last
"Nay, Mopo, that is not my will. If no impi can be found by thee to
wipe away the Halakazi and bring one whom I desire to delight my eyes,
then surely none can be found to eat up this Slaughterer and his
people. Moreover, Bulalio, chief of the People of the Axe, has not
offended against me, but against an elephant whose trumpetings are
done. Now this is my will, Mopo, my servant: that thou shouldst take
with thee a few men only and go gently to this Bulalio, and say to
him: 'A greater Elephant stalks through the land than he who has gone
to sleep, and it has come to his ears--that thou, Chief of the People
of the Axe, dost pay no tribute, and hast said that, because of the
death of a certain Mopo, thou wilt have nothing to do with him whose
shadow lies upon the land. Now one Mopo is sent to thee, Slaughterer,
to know if this tale is true, for, if it be true, then shalt thou
learn the weight of the hoof of that Elephant who trumpets in the
kraal of Umgugundhlovu. Think, then, and weigh thy words before thou
dost answer, Slaughterer.'"
Now I, Mopo, heard the commands of the king and pondered them in my
mind, for I knew well that it was the design of Dingaan to be rid of
me for a space that he might find time to plot my overthrow, and that
he cared little for this matter of a petty chief, who, living far
away, had dared to defy Chaka. Yet I wished to go, for there had
arisen in me a great desire to see this Bulalio, who spoke of
vengeance to be taken for one Mopo, and whose deeds were such as the
deeds of Umslopogaas would have been, had Umslopogaas lived to look
upon the light. Therefore I answered:--
"I hear the king. The king's word shall be done, though, O King, thou
sendest a big man upon a little errand."
"Not so, Mopo," answered Dingaan. "My heart tells me that this chicken
of a Slaughterer will grow to a great cock if his comb is not cut
presently; and thou, Mopo, art versed in cutting combs, even of the
"I hear the king," I answered again.
So, my father, it came about that on the morrow, taking with me but
ten chosen men, I, Mopo, started on my journey towards the Ghost
Mountain, and as I journeyed I thought much of how I had trod that
path in bygone days. Then, Macropha, my wife, and Nada, my daughter,
and Umslopogaas, the son of Chaka, who was thought to be my son,
walked at my side. Now, as I imagined, all were dead and I walked
alone; doubtless I also should soon be dead. Well, people lived few
days and evil in those times, and what did it matter? At the least I
had wreaked vengeance on Chaka and satisfied my heart.
At length I came one night to that lonely spot where we had camped in
the evil hour when Umslopogaas was borne away by the lioness, and once
more I looked upon the cave whence he had dragged the cub, and upon
the awful face of the stone Witch who sits aloft upon the Ghost
Mountain forever and forever. I could sleep little that night, because
of the sorrow at my heart, but sat awake looking, in the brightness of
the moon, upon the grey face of the stone Witch, and on the depths of
the forest that grew about her knees, wondering the while if the bones
of Umslopogaas lay broken in that forest. Now as I journeyed, many
tales had been told to me of this Ghost Mountain, which all swore was
haunted, so said some, by men in the shape of wolves; and so said
some, by the Esemkofu--that is, by men who have died and who have been
brought back again by magic. They have no tongues, the Esemkofu, for
had they tongues they would cry aloud to mortals the awful secrets of
the dead, therefore, they can but utter a wailing like that of a babe.
Surely one may hear them in the forests at night as they wail "Ai!--
ah! Ai--ah!" among the silent trees!
You laugh, my father, but I did not laugh as I thought of these tales;
for, if men have spirits, where do the spirits go when the body is
dead? They must go somewhere, and would it be strange that they should
return to look upon the lands where they were born? Yet I never
thought much of such matters, though I am a doctor, and know something
of the ways of the Amatongo, the people of the ghosts. To speak truth,
my father, I have had so much to do with the loosing of the spirits of
men that I never troubled myself overmuch with them after they were
loosed; there will be time to do this when I myself am of their
So I sat and gazed on the mountain and the forest that grew over it
like hair on the head of a woman, and as I gazed I heard a sound that
came from far away, out of the heart of the forest as it seemed. At
first it was faint and far off, a distant thing like the cry of
children in a kraal across a valley; then it grew louder, but still I
could not say what it might be; now it swelled and swelled, and I knew
it--it was the sound of wild beats at chase. Nearer came the music,
the rocks rang with it, and its voice set the blood beating but to
hearken to it. That pack was great which ran a-hunting through the
silent night; and now it was night, on the other side of the slope
only, and the sound swelled so loud that those who were with me awoke
also and looked forth. Now of a sudden a great koodoo bull appeared
for an instant standing out against the sky on the crest of the ridge,
then vanished in the shadow. He was running towards us; presently we
saw him again speeding on his path with great bounds. We saw this also
--forms grey and gaunt and galloping, in number countless, that leaped
along his path, appearing on the crest of the rise, disappearing into
the shadow, seen again on the slope, lost in the valley; and with them
two other shapes, the shapes of men.
Now the big buck bounded past us not half a spear's throw away, and
behind him streamed the countless wolves, and from the throats of the
wolves went up that awful music. And who were these two that came with
the wolves, shapes of men great and strong? They ran silently and
swift, wolves' teeth gleamed upon their heads, wolves' hides hung
about their shoulders. In the hands of one was an axe--the moonlight
shone upon it--in the hand of the other a heavy club. Neck and neck
they ran; never before had we seen men travel so fast. See! they sped
down the slope towards us; the wolves were left behind, all except
four of them; we heard the beating of their feet; they came, they
passed, they were gone, and with them their unnumbered company. The
music grew faint, it died, it was dead; the hunt was far away, and the
night was still again!
"Now, my brethren," I asked of those who were with me, "what is this
that we have seen?"
Then one answered, "We have seen the Ghosts who live in the lap of the
old Witch, and those men are the Wolf-Brethren, the wizards who are
kings of the Ghosts."
MOPO REVEALS HIMSELF TO THE SLAUGHTERER
All that night we watched, but we neither saw nor heard any more of
the wolves, nor of the men who hunted with them. On the morrow, at
dawn, I sent a runner to Bulalio, chief of the People of the Axe,
saying that a messenger came to him from Dingaan, the king, who
desired to speak with him in peace within the gates of his kraal. I
charged the messenger, however, that he should not tell my name, but
should say only that it was "Mouth of Dingaan." Then I and those with
me followed slowly on the path of the man whom I sent forward, for the
way was still far, and I had bidden him return and meet me bearing the
words of the Slaughterer, Holder of the Axe.
All that day till the sun grew low we talked round the base of the
great Ghost Mountain, following the line of the river. We met no one,
but once we came to the ruins of a kraal, and in it lay the broken
bones of many men, and with the bones rusty assegais and the remains
of ox-hide shields, black and white in colour. Now I examined the
shields, and knew from their colour that they had been carried in the
hands of those soldiers who, years ago, were sent out by Chaka to seek
for Umslopogaas, but who had returned no more.
"Now," I said, "it has fared ill with those soldiers of the Black One
who is gone, for I think that these are the shields they bore, and
that their eyes once looked upon the world through the holes in yonder
"These are the shields they bore, and those are the skulls they wore,"
answered one. "See, Mopo, son of Makedama, this is no man's work that
has brought them to their death. Men do not break the bones of their
foes in pieces as these bones are broken. Wow! men do not break them,
but wolves do, and last night we saw wolves a-hunting; nor did they
hunt alone, Mopo. Wow! this is a haunted land!"
Then we went on in silence, and all the way the stone face of the
Witch who sits aloft forever stared down on us from the mountain top.
At length, an hour before sundown, we came to the open lands, and
there, on the crest of a rise beyond the river, we saw the kraal of
the People of the Axe. It was a great kraal and well built, and their
cattle were spread about the plains like to herds of game for number.
We went to the river and passed it by the ford, then sat down and
waited, till presently I saw the man whom I had sent forward returning
towards us. He came and saluted me, and I asked him for news.
"This is my news, Mopo," he said: "I have seen him who is named
Bulalio, and he is a great man--long and lean, with a fierce face, and
carrying a mighty axe, such an axe as he bore last night who hunted
with the wolves. When I had been led before the chief I saluted him
and spoke to him--the words you laid upon my tongue I told to him. He
listened, then laughed aloud, and said: 'Tell him who sent you that
the mouth of Dingaan shall be welcome, and shall speak the words of
Dingaan in peace; yet I would that it were the head of Dingaan that
came and not his mouth only, for then Axe Groan-Maker would join in
our talk--ay, because of one Mopo, whom his brother Chaka murdered, it
would also speak with Dingaan. Still, the mouth is not the head, so
the mouth may come in peace.'"
Now I started when for the second time I heard talk of one Mopo, whose
name had been on the lips of Bulalio the Slaughterer. Who was there
that would thus have loved Mopo except one who was long dead? And yet,
perhaps the chief spoke of some other Mopo, for the name was not my
own only--in truth, Chaka had killed a chief of that name at the great
mourning, because he said that two Mopos in the land were one too
many, and that though this Mopo wept sorely when the tears of others
were dry. So I said only that this Bulalio had a high stomach, and we
went on to the gates of the kraal.
There were none to meet us at the gates, and none stood by the doors
of the huts within them, but beyond, from the cattle kraal that was in
the centre of the huts, rose a dust and a din as of men gathering for
war. Now some of those were with me were afraid, and would have turned
back, fearing treachery, and they were yet more afraid when, on coming
to the inner entrance of the cattle kraal, we saw some five hundred
soldiers being mustered there company by company, by two great men,
who ran up and down the ranks shouting.
But I cried, "Nay! nay! Turn not back! Bold looks melt the hearts of
foes. Moreover, if this Bulalio would have murdered us, there was no
need for him to call up so many of his warriors. He is a proud chief,
and would show his might, not knowing that the king we serve can
muster a company for every man he has. Let us go on boldly."
So we walked forward towards the impi that was gathered on the further
side of the kraal. Now the two great men who were marshalling the
soldiers saw us, and came to meet us, one following the other. He who
came first bore the axe upon his shoulder, and he who followed swung a
huge club. I looked upon the foremost of them, and ah! my father, my
heart grew faint with joy, for I knew him across the years. It was
Umslopogaas! my fosterling, Umslopogaas! and none other, now grown
into manhood--ay, into such a man as was not to be found beside him in
Zululand. He was great and fierce, somewhat spare in frame, but wide
shouldered and shallow flanked. His arms were long and not over big,
but the muscles stood out on them like knots in a rope; his legs were
long also, and very thick beneath the knee. His eye was like an
eagle's, his nose somewhat hooked, and he held his head a little
forward, as a man who searches continually for a hidden foe. He seemed
to walk slowly, and yet he came swiftly, but with a gliding movement
like that of a wolf or a lion, and always his fingers played round the
horn handle of the axe Groan-Maker. As for him who followed, he was
great also, shorter than Umslopogaas by the half of a head, but of a
sturdier build. His eyes were small, and twinkled unceasingly like
little stars, and his look was very wild, for now and again he
grinned, showing his white teeth.
When I saw Umslopogaas, my father, my bowels melted within me, and I
longed to run to him and throw myself upon his neck. Yet I took
council with myself and did not--nay, I dropped the corner of the
kaross I wrote over my eyes, hiding my face lest he should know me.
Presently he stood before me, searching me out with his keen eyes, for
I drew forward to greet him.
"Greeting, Mouth of Dingaan!" he said in a loud voice. "You are a
little man to be the mouth of so big a chief."
"The mouth is a little member, even of the body of a great king, O
Chief Bulalio, ruler of the People of the Axe, wizard of the wolves
that are upon the Ghost Mountain, who aforetime was named Umslopogaas,
son of Mopo, son of Makedama."
Now when Umslopogaas heard these words he started like a child at a
rustling in the dark and stared hard at me.
"You are well instructed," he said.
"The ears of the king are large, if his mouth be small, O Chief
Bulalio," I answered, "and I, who am but the mouth, speak what the
ears have heard."
"How know you that I have dwelt with the wolves upon the Ghost
Mountain, O Mouth?" he asked.
"The eyes of the king see far, O Chief Bulalio. Thus last night they
saw a great chase and a merry. It seems that they saw a koodoo bull
running at speed, and after him countless wolves making their music,
and with the wolves two men clad in wolves' skins, such men as you,
Bulalio, and he with the club who follows you."
Now Umslopogaas lifted the axe Groan-Maker as though he would cut me
down, then let it fall again, while Galazi the Wolf glared at me with
"How know you that once I was named Umslopogaas, who have lost that
name these many days? Speak, O Mouth, lest I kill you."
"Slay if you will, Umslopogaas," I answered, "but know that when the
brains are scattered the mouth is dumb. He who scatters brains loses
"Answer!" he said.
"I answer not. Who are you that I should answer you? I know; it is
enough. To my business."
Now Umslopogaas ground his teeth in anger. "I am not wont to be
thwarted here in my own kraal," he said; "but do your business. Speak
it, little Mouth."
"This is my business, little Chief. When the Black One who is gone yet
lived, you sent him a message by one Masilo--such a message as his
ears had never heard, and that had been your death, O fool puffed up
with pride, but death came first upon the Black One, and his hand was
stayed. Now Dingaan, whose shadow lies upon the land, the king whom I
serve, and who sits in the place of the Black One who is gone, speaks
to you by me, his mouth. He would know this: if it is true that you
refuse to own his sovereignty, to pay tribute to him in men and maids
and cattle, and to serve him in his wars? Answer, you little headman!
--answer in few words and short!"
Now Umslopogaas gasped for breath in his rage, and again he fingered
the great axe. "It is well for you, O Mouth," he said, "that I swore
safe conduct to you, else you had not gone hence--else you had been
served as I served certain soldiers who in bygone years were sent to
search out one Umslopogaas. Yet I answer you in few words and short.
Look on those spears--they are but a fourth part of the number I can
muster: that is my answer. Look now on yonder mountain, the mountain
of ghosts and wolves--unknown, impassable, save to me and one other:
that is my answer. Spears and mountains shall come together--the
mountain shall be alive with spears and with the fangs of beasts. Let
Dingaan seek his tribute there! I have spoken!"
Now I laughed shrilly, desiring to try the heart of Umslopogaas, my
fosterling, yet further.
"Fool!" I said. "Boy with the brain of a monkey, for every spear you
have Dingaan, whom I serve, can send a hundred, and your mountain
shall be stamped flat; and for your ghosts and wolves, see, with the
mouth of Dingaan I spit upon them!" and I spat upon the ground.
Now Umslopogaas shook in his rage, and the great axe glimmered as he
shook. He turned to the captain who was behind him, and said: "Say,
Galazi the Wolf, shall we kill this man and those with him?"
"Nay," answered the Wolf, grinning, "do not kill them; you have given
them safe conduct. Moreover, let them go back to their dog of a king,
that he may send out his puppies to do battle with our wolves. It will
be a pretty fight."
"Get you gone, O Mouth," said Umslopogaas; "get you gone swiftly, lest
mischief befall you! Without my gates you shall find food to satisfy
your hunger. Eat of it and begone, for if to-morrow at the noon you
are found within a spear's throw of this kraal, you and those with you
shall bide there forever, O Mouth of Dingaan the king!"
Now I made as though I would depart, then, turning suddenly, I spoke
once more, saying:--
"There were words in your message to the Black One who is dead of a
certain man--nay, how was he named?--of a certain Mopo."
Now Umslopogaas started as one starts who is wounded by a spear, and
stared at me.
"Mopo! What of Mopo, O Mouth, whose eyes are veiled? Mopo is dead,
whose son I was!"
"Ah!" I said, "yes, Mopo is dead--that is, the Black One who is gone
killed a certain Mopo. How came it, O Bulalio, that you were his son?"
"Mopo is dead," quoth Umslopogaas again; "he is dead with all his
house, his kraal is stamped flat, and that is why I hated the Black
One, and therefore I hate Dingaan, his brother, and will be as are
Mopo and the house of Mopo before I pay him tribute of a single ox."
All this while I had spoken to Umslopogaas in a feigned voice, my
father, but now I spoke again and in my own voice, saying:--
"So! Now you speak from your heart, young man, and by digging I have
reached the root of the matter. It is because of this dead dog of a
Mopo that you defy the king."
Umslopogaas heard the voice, and trembled no more with anger, but
rather with fear and wonder. He looked at me hard, answering nothing.
"Have you a hut near by, O Chief Bulalio, foe of Dingaan the king,
where I, the mouth of the king, may speak with you a while apart, for
I would learn your message word by word that I may deliver it without
fault. Fear not, Slaughterer, to sit alone with me in an empty hut! I
am unarmed and old, and there is that in your hand which I should
fear," and I pointed to the axe.
Now Umslopogaas, still shaking in his limbs, answered "Follow me, O
Mouth, and you, Galazi, stay with these men."
So I followed Umslopogaas, and presently we came to a large hut. He
pointed to the doorway, and I crept through it and he followed after
me. Now for a while it seemed dark in the hut, for the sun was sinking
without and the place was full of shadow; so I waited while a man
might count fifty, till our eyes could search the darkness. Then of a
sudden I threw the blanket from my face and looked into the yes of
"Look on me now, O Chief Bulalio, O Slaughterer, who once was named
Umslopogaas--look on me and say who am I?" Then he looked at me and
his jaw fell.
"Either you are Mopo my father grown old--Mopo, who is dead, or the
Ghost of Mopo," he answered in a low voice.
"I am Mopo, your father, Umslopogaas," I said. "You have been long in
knowing me, who knew you from the first."
Then Umslopogaas cried aloud, but yet softly, and letting fall the axe
Groan-Maker, he flung himself upon my breast and wept there. And I
"Oh! my father," he said, "I thought that you were dead with the
others, and now you have come back to me, and I, I would have lifted
the axe against you in my folly. Oh, it is well that I have lived, and
not died, since once more I look upon your face--the face that I
thought dead, but which yet lives, though it be sorely changed, as
though by grief and years."
"Peace, Umslopogaas, my son," I said. "I also deemed you dead in the
lion's mouth, though in truth it seemed strange to me that any other
man than Umslopogaas could have wrought the deeds which I have heard
of as done by Bulalio, Chief of the People of the Axe--ay, and thrown
defiance in the teeth of Chaka. But you are not dead, and I, I am not
dead. It was another Mopo whom Chaka killed; I slew Chaka, Chaka did
not slay me."
"And of Nada, what of Nada, my sister?" he said.
"Macropha, your mother, and Nada, your sister, are dead, Umslopogaas.
They are dead at the hands of the people of the Halakazi, who dwell in
"I have heard of that people," he answered presently, "and so has
Galazi the Wolf, yonder. He has a hate to satisfy against them--they
murdered his father; now I have two, for they have murdered my mother
and my sister. Ah, Nada, my sister! Nada, my sister!" and the great
man covered his face with his hands, and rocked himself to and fro in
Now, my father, it came into my thoughts to make the truth plain to
Umslopogaas, and tell him that Nada was no sister of his, and that he
was no son of mine, but rather of that Chaka whom my hand had
finished. And yet I did not, though now I would that I had done so.
For I saw well how great was the pride and how high was the heart of
Umslopogaas, and I saw also that if once he should learn that the
throne of Zululand was his by right, nothing could hold him back, for
he would swiftly break into open rebellion against Dingaan the king,
and in my judgment the time was not ripe for that. Had I known,
indeed, but one short year before that Umslopogaas still lived, he had
sat where Dingaan sat this day; but I did not know it, and the chance
had gone by for a while. Now Dingaan was king and mustered many
regiments about him, for I had held him back from war, as in the case
of the raid that he wished to make upon the Swazis. The chance had
gone by, but it would come again, and till it came I must say nothing.
I would do this rather, I would bring Dingaan and Umslopogaas
together, that Umslopogaas might become known in the land as a great
chief and the first of warriors. Then I would cause him to be advanced
to be an induna, and a general ready to lead the impis of the king,
for he who leads the impis is already half a king.
So I held my peace upon this matter, but till the dawn was grey
Umslopogaas and I sat together and talked, each telling the tale of
those years that had gone since he was borne from me in the lion's
mouth. I told him how all my wives and children had been killed, how I
had been put to the torment, and showed him my white and withered
hand. I told him also of the death of Baleka, my sister, and of all my
people of the Langeni, and of how I had revenged my wrongs upon Chaka,
and made Dingaan to be king in his place, and was now the first man in
the land under the king, though the king feared me much and loved me
little. But I did not tell him that Baleka, my sister, was his own
When I had done my tale, Umslopogaas told me his: how Galazi had
rescued him from the lioness; how he became one of the Wolf-Brethren;
how he had conquered Jikiza and the sons of Jikiza, and become chief
of the People of the Axe, and taken Zinita to wife, and grown great in
I asked him how it came about that he still hunted with the wolves as
he had done last night. He answered that now he was great and there
was nothing more to win, and at times a weariness of life came upon
him, and then he must up, and together with Galazi hunt and harry with
the wolves, for thus only could he find rest.
I said that I would show him better game to hunt before all was done,
and asked him further if he loved his wife, Zinita. Umslopogaas
answered that he would love her better if she loved him not so much,
for she was jealous and quick to anger, and that was a sorrow to him.
Then, when he had slept awhile, he led me from the hut, and I and
my people were feasted with the best, and I spoke with Zinita and with
Galazi the Wolf. For the last, I liked him well. This was a good man
to have at one's back in battle; but my heart spoke to me against
Zinita. She was handsome and tall, but with fierce eyes which always
watched Umslopogaas, my fosterling; and I noted that he who was
fearless of all other things yet seemed to fear Zinita. Neither did
she love me, for when she saw how the Slaughterer clung to me, as it
wee, instantly she grew jealous--as already she was jealous of Galazi
--and would have been rid of me if she might. Thus it came about that
my heart spoke against Zinita; nor did it tell me worse things of her
than those which she was to do.
THE SLAYING OF THE BOERS
On the morrow I led Umslopogaas apart, and spoke to him thus:--
"My son, yesterday, when you did not know me except as the Mouth of
Dingaan, you charged me with a certain message for Dingaan the king,
that, had it been delivered into the ears of the king, had surely
brought death upon you and all your people. The tree that stands by
itself on a plain, Umslopogaas, thinks itself tall and that there is
no shade to equal its shade. Yet are there other and bigger trees. You
are such a solitary tree, Umslopogaas, but the topmost branches of him
whom I serve are thicker than your trunk, and beneath his shadow live
many woodcutters, who go out to lop those that would grow too high.
You are no match for Dingaan, though, dwelling here alone in an empty
land, you have grown great in your own eyes and in the eyes of those
about you. Moreover, Umslopogaas, know this: Dingaan already hates you
because of the words which in bygone years you sent by Masilo the fool
to the Black One who is dead, for he heard those words, and it is his
will to eat you up. He has sent me hither for one reason only, to be
rid of me awhile, and, whatever the words I bring back to him, the end
will be the same--that night shall come when you will find an impi at
"Then what need to talk more of the matter, my father?" asked
Umslopogaas. "That will come which must come. Let me wait here for the
impi of Dingaan, and fight till I do."
"Not so, Umslopogaas, my son; there are more ways of killing a man
than by the assegai, and a crooked stick can still be bent straight in
the stream. It is my desire, Umslopogaas, that instead of hate Dingaan
should give you love; instead of death, advancement; and that you
shall grow great in his shadow. Listen! Dingaan is not what Chaka was,
though, like Chaka, he is cruel. This Dingaan is a fool, and it may
well come about that a man can be found who, growing up in his shadow,
in the end shall overshadow him. I might do it--I myself; but I am
old, and, being worn with sorrow, have no longing to rule. But you are
young, Umslopogaas, and there is no man like you in the land.
Moreover, there are other matters of which it is not well to speak,
that shall serve you as a raft whereon to swim to power."
Now Umslopogaas glanced up sharply, for in those days he was
ambitious, and desired to be first among the people. Indeed, having
the blood of Chaka in his veins, how could it be otherwise?
"What is your plan, my father?" he asked. "Say how can this be brought
"This and thus, Umslopogaas. Among the tribe of the Halakazi in
Swaziland there dwells a maid who is named the Lily. She is a girl of
the most wonderful beauty, and Dingaan is afire with longing to have
her to wife. Now, awhile since Dingaan dispatched an embassy to the
chief of the Halakazi asking the Lily in marriage, and the chief of
the Halakazi sent back insolent words, saying that the Beauty of the
Earth should be given to no Zulu dog as a wife. Then Dingaan was
angry, and he would have gathered his impis and sent them against the
Halakazi to destroy them, and bring him the maid, but I held him back
from it, saying that now was no time to begin a new war; and it is for
this cause that Dingaan hates me, he is so set upon the plucking of
the Swazi Lily. Do you understand now, Umslopogaas?"
"Something," he answered. "But speak clearly."
"Wow, Umslopogaas! Half words are better than whole ones in this land
of ours. Listen, then! This is my plan: that you should fall upon the
Halakazi tribe, destroy it, and bring back the maid as a peace-
offering to Dingaan."
"That is a good plan, my father," he answered. "At the least, maid or
no maid, there will be fighting in it, and cattle to divide when the
fighting is done."
"First conquer, then reckon up the spoils, Umslopogaas."
Now he thought awhile, then said, "Suffer that I summon Galazi the
Wolf, my captain. Do not fear, he is trusty and a man of few words."
Presently Galazi came and sat down before us. Then I put the matter to
him thus: that Umslopogaas would fall upon the Halakazi and bring to
Dingaan the maid he longed for as a peace-offering, but that I wished
to hold him back from the venture because the Halakazi people were
great and strong. I spoke in this sense so that I might have a door to
creep out should Galazi betray the plot; and Umslopogaas read my
purpose, though my craft was needless, for Galazi was a true man.
Galazi the Wolf listened in silence till I had finished, then he
answered quietly, but it seemed to me that a fire shone in his eyes as
"I am chief by right of the Halakazi, O Mouth of Dingaan, and know
them well. They are a strong people, and can put two full regiments
under arms, whereas Bulalio here can muster but one regiment, and that
a small one. Moreover, they have watchmen out by night and day, and
spies scattered through the land, so that it will be hard to take them
unawares; also their stronghold is a vast cave open to the sky in the
middle, and none have won that stronghold yet, nor could it be found
except by those who know its secret. They are few, yet I am one of
them, for my father showed it to me when I was a lad. Therefore, Mouth
of Dingaan, you will know that this is no easy task which Bulalio
would set himself and us--to conquer the Halakazi. That is the face of
the matter so far as it concerns Bulalio, but for me, O Mouth, it has
another face. Know that, long years ago, I swore to my father as he
lay dying by the poison of a witch of this people that I would not
rest till I had avenged him--ay, till I had stamped out the Halakazi,
and slain their men, and brought their women to the houses of
strangers, and their children to bonds! Year by year and month by
month, and night by night, as I have lain alone upon the Ghost
Mountain yonder, I have wondered how I might bring my oath to pass,
and found no way. Now it seems that there is a way, and I am glad. Yet
this is a great adventure, and perhaps before it is done with the
People of the Axe will be no more." And he ceased and took snuff,
watching our faces over the spoon.
"Galazi the Wolf," said Umslopogaas, "for me also the matter has
another face. You have lost your father at the hands of these Halakazi
dogs, and, though till last night I did not know it, I have lost my
mother by their spears, and with her one whom I loved above all in the
world, my sister Nada, who loved me also. Both are dead and the
Halakazi have killed them. This man, the mouth of Dingaan," and he
pointed to me, Mopo, "this man says that if I can stamp out the
Halakazi and make captive of the Lily maid, I shall win the heart of
Dingaan. Little do I care for Dingaan, I who would go my way alone,
and live while I may live, and die when I must, by the hands of
Dingaan as by those of another--what does it matter? Yet, for this
reason, because of the death of Macropha, my mother, and Nada, the
sister who was dear to me, I will make war upon these Halakazi and
conquer them, or be conquered by them. Perhaps, O Mouth of Dingaan,
you will see me soon at the king's kraal on the Mahlabatine, and with
me the Lily maid and the cattle of the Halakazi; or perhaps you shall
not see me, and then you will know that I am dead, and the Warriors of
the Axe are no more."
So Umslopogaas spoke to me before Galazi the Wolf, but afterwards he
embraced me and bade me farewell, for he had no great hope that we
should meet again. And I also doubted it; for, as Galazi said, the
adventure was great; yet, as I had seen many times, it is the bold
thrower who oftenest wins. So we parted--I to return to Dingaan and
tell him that Bulalio, Chief of the People of the Axe, had gone up
against the Halakazi to win the Lily maid and bring her to him in
atonement; while Umslopogaas remained to make ready his impi for war.
I went swiftly from the Ghost Mountain back to the kraal
Umgugundhlovu, and presented myself before Dingaan, who at first
looked on me coldly. But when I told him my message, and how that the
Chief Bulalio the Slaughterer had taken the war-path to win him the
Lily, his manner changed. He took me by the hand and said that I had
done well, and he had been foolish to doubt me when I lifted up my
voice to persuade him from sending an impi against the Halakazi. Now
he saw that it was my purpose to rake this Halakazi fire with another
hand than his, and to save his hand from the burning, and he thanked
Moreover, he said, that if this Chief of the People of the Axe brought
him the maid his heart desired, not only would he forgive him the
words he had spoken by the mouth of Masilo to the Black One who was
dead, but also all the cattle of the Halakazi should be his, and he
would make him great in the land. I answered that all this was as the
king willed. I had but done my duty by the king and worked so that,
whatever befell, a proud chief should be weakened and a foe should be
attacked at no cost to the king, in such fashion also that perhaps it
might come about that the king would shortly have the Lily at his
Then I sat down to wait what might befall.
Now it is, my father, that the white men come into my story, whom we
named the Amaboona, but you call the Boers. Ou! I think ill of those
Amaboona, though it was I who gave them the victory over Dingaan--I
Before this time, indeed, a few white men had come to and fro to the
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