Child of Storm

Chapter XI.

The Sin of Umbelazi

Rider Haggard

ABOUT eighteen months had gone by, and once again, in the autumn of the year 1856, I found myself at old Umbezi’s kraal, where there seemed to be an extraordinary market for any kind of gas-pipe that could be called a gun. Well, as a trader who could not afford to neglect profitable markets, which are hard things to find, there I was.

Now, in eighteen months many things become a little obscured in one’s memory, especially if they have to do with savages, in whom, after all, one takes only a philosophical and a business interest. Therefore I may perhaps be excused if I had more or less forgotten a good many of the details of what I may call the Mameena affair. These, however, came back to me very vividly when the first person that I met—at some distance from the kraal, where I suppose she had been taking a country walk—was the beautiful Mameena herself. There she was, looking quite unchanged and as lovely as ever, sitting under the shade of a wild fig-tree and fanning herself with a handful of its leaves.

Of course I jumped off my wagon-box and greeted her.

Siyakubona [that is, good morrow], Macumazahn,” she said. “My heart is glad to see you.”

Siyakubona, Mameena,” I answered, leaving out all reference to my heart. Then I added, looking at her: “Is it true that you have a new husband?”

“Yes, Macumazahn, an old lover of mine has become a new husband. You know whom I mean—Saduko. After the death of that evil-doer, Masapo, he grew very urgent, and the King, also the Inkosazana Nandie, pressed it on me, and so I yielded. Also, to be honest, Saduko was a good match, or seemed to be so.”

By now we were walking side by side, for the train of wagons had gone ahead to the old outspan. So I stopped and looked her in the face.

“‘Seemed to be,’” I repeated. “What do you mean by ‘seemed to be’? Are you not happy this time?”

“Not altogether, Macumazahn,” she answered, with a shrug of her shoulders. “Saduko is very fond of me—fonder than I like indeed, since it causes him to neglect Nandie, who, by the way, has another son, and, although she says little, that makes Nandie cross. In short,” she added, with a burst of truth, “I am the plaything, Nandie is the great lady, and that place suits me ill.”

“If you love Saduko, you should not mind, Mameena.”

“Love,” she said bitterly. “Piff! What is love? But I have asked you that question once before.”

“Why are you here, Mameena?” I inquired, leaving it unanswered.

“Because Saduko is here, and, of course, Nandie, for she never leaves him, and he will not leave me; because the Prince Umbelazi is coming; because there are plots afoot and the great war draws near—that war in which so many must die.”

“Between Cetewayo and Umbelazi, Mameena?”

“Aye, between Cetewayo and Umbelazi. Why do you suppose those wagons of yours are loaded with guns for which so many cattle must be paid? Not to shoot game with, I think. Well, this little kraal of my father’s is just now the headquarters of the Umbelazi faction, the Isigqosa, as the princedom of Gikazi is that of Cetewayo. My poor father!” she added, with her characteristic shrug, “he thinks himself very great to-day, as he did after he had shot the elephant—before I nursed you, Macumazahn—but often I wonder what will be the end of it—for him and for all of us, Macumazahn, including yourself.”

“I!” I answered. “What have I to do with your Zulu quarrels?”

“That you will know when you have done with them, Macumazahn. But here is the kraal, and before we enter it I wish to thank you for trying to protect that unlucky husband of mine, Masapo.”

“I only did so, Mameena, because I thought him innocent.”

“I know, Macumazahn; and so did I, although, as I always told you, I hated him, the man with whom my father forced me to marry. But I am afraid, from what I have learned since, that he was not altogether innocent. You see, Saduko had struck him, which he could not forget. Also, he was jealous of Saduko, who had been my suitor, and wished to injure him. But what I do not understand,” she added, with a burst of confidence, “is why he did not kill Saduko instead of his child.”

“Well, Mameena, you may remember it was said he tried to do so.”

“Yes, Macumazahn; I had forgotten that. I suppose that he did try, and failed. Oh, now I see things with both eyes. Look, yonder is my father. I will go away. But come and talk to me sometimes, Macumazahn, for otherwise Nandie will be careful that I should hear nothing—I who am the plaything, the beautiful woman of the House, who must sit and smile, but must not think.”

So she departed, and I went on to meet old Umbezi, who came gambolling towards me like an obese goat, reflecting that, whatever might be the truth or otherwise of her story, her advancement in the world did not seem to have brought Mameena greater happiness and contentment.

Umbezi, who greeted me warmly, was in high spirits and full of importance. He informed me that the marriage of Mameena to Saduko, after the death of the wizard, her husband, whose tribe and cattle had been given to Saduko in compensation for the loss of his son, was a most fortunate thing for him.

I asked why.

“Because as Saduko grows great so I, his father-in-law, grow great with him, Macumazahn, especially as he has been liberal to me in the matter of cattle, passing on to me a share of the herds of Masapo, so that I, who have been poor so long, am getting rich at last. Moreover, my kraal is to be honoured with a visit from Umbelazi and some of his brothers to-morrow, and Saduko has promised to lift me up high when the Prince is declared heir to the throne.”

“Which prince?” I asked.

“Umbelazi, Macumazahn. Who else? Umbelazi, who without doubt will conquer Cetewayo.”

“Why without doubt, Umbezi? Cetewayo has a great following, and if he should conquer I think that you will only be lifted up in the crops of the vultures.”

At this rough suggestion Umbezi’s fat face fell.

“O Macumazana,” he said, “if I thought that, I would go over to Cetewayo, although Saduko is my son-in-law. But it is not possible, since the King loves Umbelazi’s mother most of all his wives, and, as I chance to know, has sworn to her that he favours Umbelazi’s cause, since he is the dearest to him of all his sons, and will do everything that he can to help him, even to the sending of his own regiment to his assistance, if there should be need. Also, it is said that Zikali, Opener-of-Roads, who has all wisdom, has prophesied that Umbelazi will win more than he ever hoped for.”

“The King!” I said, “a straw blown hither and thither between two great winds, waiting to be wafted to rest by that which is strongest! The prophecy of Zikali! It seems to me that it can be read two ways, if, indeed, he ever made one. Well, Umbezi, I hope that you are right, for, although it is no affair of mine, who am but a white trader in your country, I like Umbelazi better than Cetewayo, and think that he has a kinder heart. Also, as you have chosen his side, I advise you to stick to it, since traitors to a cause seldom come to any good, whether it wins or loses. And now, will you take count of the guns and powder which I have brought with me?”

Ah! better would it have been for Umbezi if he had listened to my advice and remained faithful to the leader he had chosen, for then, even if he had lost his life, at least he would have kept his good name. But of him presently, as they say in pedigrees.

Next day I went to pay my respects to Nandie, whom I found engaged in nursing her new baby and as quiet and stately in her demeanour as ever. Still, I think that she was very glad to see me, because I had tried to save the life of her first child, whom she could not forget, if for no other reason. Whilst I was talking to her of that sad matter, also of the political state of the country, as to which I think she wished to say something to me, Mameena entered the hut, without waiting to be asked, and sat down, whereon Nandie became suddenly silent.

This, however, did not trouble Mameena, who talked away about anything and everything, completely ignoring the head-wife. For a while Nandie bore it with patience, but at length she took advantage of a pause in the conversation to say in her firm, low voice:

“This is my hut, daughter of Umbezi, a thing which you remember well enough when it is a question whether Saduko, our husband, shall visit you or me. Can you not remember it now when I would speak with the white chief, Watcher-by-Night, who has been so good as to take the trouble to come to see me?”

On hearing these words Mameena leapt up in a rage, and I must say I never saw her look more lovely.

“You insult me, daughter of Panda, as you always try to do, because you are jealous of me.”

“Your pardon, sister,” replied Nandie. “Why should I, who am Saduko’s Inkosikazi, and, as you say, daughter of Panda, the King, be jealous of the widow of the wizard, Masapo, and the daughter of the headman, Umbezi, whom it has pleased our husband to take into his house to be the companion of his leisure?”

“Why? Because you know that Saduko loves my little finger more than he does your whole body, although you are of the King’s blood and have borne him brats,” she answered, looking at the infant with no kindly eye.

“It may be so, daughter of Umbezi, for men have their fancies, and without doubt you are fair. Yet I would ask you one thing—if Saduko loves you so much, how comes it he trusts you so little that you must learn any matter of weight by listening at my door, as I found you doing the other day?”

“Because you teach him not to do so, O Nandie. Because you are ever telling him not to consult with me, since she who has betrayed one husband may betray another. Because you make him believe my place is that of his toy, not that of his companion, and this although I am cleverer than you and all your House tied into one bundle, as you may find out some day.”

“Yes,” answered Nandie, quite undisturbed, “I do teach him these things, and I am glad that in this matter Saduko has a thinking head and listens to me. Also I agree that it is likely I shall learn many more ill things through and of you one day, daughter of Umbezi. And now, as it is not good that we should wrangle before this white lord, again I say to you that this is my hut, in which I wish to speak alone with my guest.”

“I go, I go!” gasped Mameena; “but I tell you that Saduko shall hear of this.”

“Certainly he will hear of it, for I shall tell him when he comes to-night.”

Another instant and Mameena was gone, having shot out of the hut like a rabbit from its burrow.

“I ask your pardon, Macumazahn, for what has happened,” said Nandie, “but it had become necessary that I should teach my sister, Mameena, upon which stool she ought to sit. I do not trust her, Macumazahn. I think that she knows more of the death of my child than she chooses to say, she who wished to be rid of Masapo for a reason you can guess. I think also she will bring shame and trouble upon Saduko, whom she has bewitched with her beauty, as she bewitches all men—perhaps even yourself a little, Macumazahn. And now let us talk of other matters.”

To this proposition I agreed cordially, since, to tell the truth, if I could have managed to do so with any decent grace, I should have been out of that hut long before Mameena. So we fell to conversing on the condition of Zululand and the dangers that lay ahead for all who were connected with the royal House—a state of affairs which troubled Nandie much, for she was a clear-headed woman, and one who feared the future.

“Ah! Macumazahn,” she said to me as we parted, “I would that I were the wife of some man who did not desire to grow great, and that no royal blood ran in my veins.”

On the next day the Prince Umbelazi arrived, and with him Saduko and a few other notable men. They came quite quietly and without any ostensible escort, although Scowl, my servant, told me he heard that the bush at a little distance was swarming with soldiers of the Isigqosa party. If I remember rightly, the excuse for the visit was that Umbezi had some of a certain rare breed of white cattle whereof the prince wished to secure young bulls and heifers to improve his herd.

Once inside the kraal, however, Umbelazi, who was a very open-natured man, threw off all pretence, and, after greeting me heartily enough, told me with plainness that he was there because this was a convenient spot on which to arrange the consolidation of his party.

Almost every hour during the next two weeks messengers—many of whom were chiefs disguised—came and went. I should have liked to follow their example—that is, so far as their departure was concerned—for I felt that I was being drawn into a very dangerous vortex. But, as a matter of fact, I could not escape, since I was obliged to wait to receive payment for my stuff, which, as usual, was made in cattle.

Umbelazi talked with me a good deal at that time, impressing upon me how friendly he was towards the English white men of Natal, as distinguished from the Boers, and what good treatment he was prepared to promise to them, should he ever attain to authority in Zululand. It was during one of the earliest of these conversations, which, of course, I saw had an ultimate object, that he met Mameena, I think, for the first time.

We were walking together in a little natural glade of the bush that bordered one side of the kraal, when, at the end of it, looking like some wood nymph of classic fable in the light of the setting sun, appeared the lovely Mameena, clothed only in her girdle of fur, her necklace of blue beads and some copper ornaments, and carrying upon her head a gourd.

Umbelazi noted her at once, and, ceasing his political talk, of which he was obviously tired, asked me who that beautiful intombi (that is, girl) might be.

“She is not an intombi, Prince,” I answered. “She is a widow who is again a wife, the second wife of your friend and councillor, Saduko, and the daughter of your host, Umbezi.”

“Is it so, Macumazahn? Oh, then I have heard of her, though, as it chances, I have never met her before. No wonder that my sister Nandie is jealous, for she is beautiful indeed.”

“Yes,” I answered, “she looks pretty against the red sky, does she not?”

By now we were drawing near to Mameena, and I greeted her, asking if she wanted anything.

“Nothing, Macumazahn,” she answered in her delicate, modest way, for never did I know anyone who could seem quite so modest as Mameena, and with a swift glance of her shy eyes at the tall and splendid Umbelazi, “nothing. Only,” she added, “I was passing with the milk of one of the few cows my father gave me, and saw you, and I thought that perhaps, as the day has been so hot, you might like a drink of it.”

Then, lifting the gourd from her head, she held it out to me.

I thanked her, drank some—who could do less?—and returned it to her, whereon she made as though she would hasten to depart.

“May I not drink also, daughter of Umbezi?” asked Umbelazi, who could scarcely take his eyes off her.

“Certainly, sir, if you are a friend of Macumazahn,” she replied, handing him the gourd.

“I am that, Lady, and more than that, since I am a friend of your husband, Saduko, also, as you will know when I tell you that my name is Umbelazi.”

“I thought it must be so,” she replied, “because of your—of your stature. Let the Prince accept the offering of his servant, who one day hopes to be his subject,” and, dropping upon her knee, she held out the gourd to him. Over it I saw their eyes meet. He drank, and as he handed back the vessel she said:

“O Prince, may I be granted a word with you? I have that to tell which you would perhaps do well to hear, since news sometimes reaches the ears of humble women that escapes those of the men, our masters.”

He bowed his head in assent, whereon, taking a hint which Mameena gave me with her eyes, I muttered something about business and made myself scarce. I may add that Mameena must have had a great deal to tell Umbelazi. Fully an hour and a half had gone by before, by the light of the moon, from a point of vantage on my wagon-box, whence, according to my custom, I was keeping a lookout on things in general, I saw her slip back to the kraal silently as a snake, followed at a little distance by the towering form of Umbelazi.

Apparently Mameena continued to be the recipient of information which she found it necessary to communicate in private to the prince. At any rate, on sundry subsequent evenings the dullness of my vigil on the wagon-box was relieved by the sight of her graceful figure gliding home from the kloof that Umbelazi seemed to find a very suitable spot for reflection after sunset. On one of the last of these occasions I remember that Nandie chanced to be with me, having come to my wagon for some medicine for her baby.

“What does it mean, Macumazahn?” she asked, when the pair had gone by, as they thought unobserved, since we were standing where they could not see us.

“I don’t know, and I don’t want to know,” I answered sharply.

“Neither do I, Macumazahn; but without doubt we shall learn in time. If the crocodile is patient and silent the buck always drops into its jaws at last.”

On the day after Nandie made this wise remark Saduko started on a mission, as I understood, to win over several doubtful chiefs to the cause of Indhlovu-ene-Sihlonti (the Elephant-with-the-tuft-of-hair), as the Prince Umbelazi was called among the Zulus, though not to his face. This mission lasted ten days, and before it was concluded an important event happened at Umbezi’s kraal.

One evening Mameena came to me in a great rage, and said that she could bear her present life no longer. Presuming on her rank and position as head-wife, Nandie treated her like a servant—nay, like a little dog, to be beaten with a stick. She wished that Nandie would die.

“It will be very unlucky for you if she does,” I answered, “for then, perhaps, Zikali will be summoned to look into the matter, as he was before.”

What was she to do, she went on, ignoring my remark.

“Eat the porridge that you have made in your own pot, or break the pot” (i.e. go away), I suggested. “There was no need for you to marry Saduko, any more than there was for you to marry Masapo.”

“How can you talk to me like that, Macumazahn,” she answered, stamping her foot, “when you know well it is your fault if I married anyone? Piff! I hate them all, and, since my father would only beat me if I took my troubles to him, I will run off, and live in the wilderness alone and become a witch-doctoress.”

“I am afraid you will find it very dull, Mameena,” I began in a bantering tone, for, to tell the truth, I did not think it wise to show her too much sympathy while she was so excited.

Mameena never waited for the end of the sentence, but, sobbing out that I was false and cruel, she turned and departed swiftly. Oh! little did I foresee how and where we should meet again.

Next morning I was awakened shortly after sunrise by Scowl, whom I had sent out with another man the night before to look for a lost ox.

“Well, have you found the ox?” I asked.

“Yes, Baas; but I did not waken you to tell you that. I have a message for you, Baas, from Mameena, wife of Saduko, whom I met about four hours ago upon the plain yonder.”

I bade him set it out.

“These were the words of Mameena, Baas: ‘Say to Macumazahn, your master, that Indhlovu-ene-Sihlonti, taking pity on my wrongs and loving me with his heart, has offered to take me into his House and that I have accepted his offer, since I think it better to become the Inkosazana of the Zulus, as I shall one day, than to remain a servant in the house of Nandie. Say to Macumazahn that when Saduko returns he is to tell him that this is all his fault, since if he had kept Nandie in her place I would have died rather than leave him. Let him say to Saduko also that, although from henceforth we can be no more than friends, my heart is still tender towards him, and that by day and by night I will strive to water his greatness, so that it may grow into a tree that shall shade the land. Let Macumazahn bid him not to be angry with me, since what I do I do for his good, as he would have found no happiness while Nandie and I dwelt in one house. Above all, also let him not be angry with the Prince, who loves him more than any man, and does but travel whither the wind that I breathe blows him. Bid Macumazahn think of me kindly, as I shall of him while my eyes are open.’”

I listened to this amazing message in silence, then asked if Mameena was alone.

“No, Baas; Umbelazi and some soldiers were with her, but they did not hear her words, for she stepped aside to speak with me. Then she returned to them, and they walked away swiftly, and were swallowed up in the night.”

“Very good, Sikauli,” I said. “Make me some coffee, and make it strong.”

I dressed and drank several cups of the coffee, all the while “thinking with my head,” as the Zulus say. Then I walked up to the kraal to see Umbezi, whom I found just coming out of his hut, yawning.

“Why do you look so black upon this beautiful morning, Macumazahn?” asked the genial old scamp. “Have you lost your best cow, or what?”

“No, my friend,” I answered; “but you and another have lost your best cow.” And word for word I repeated to him Mameena’s message. When I had finished really I thought that Umbezi was about to faint.

“Curses be on the head of this Mameena!” he exclaimed. “Surely some evil spirit must have been her father, not I, and well was she called Child of Storm.1 What shall I do now, Macumazahn? Thanks be to my Spirit,” he added, with an air of relief, “she is too far gone for me to try to catch her; also, if I did, Umbelazi and his soldiers would kill me.”

“And what will Saduko do if you don’t?” I asked.

“Oh, of course he will be angry, for no doubt he is fond of her. But, after all, I am used to that. You remember how he went mad when she married Masapo. At least, he cannot say that I made her run away with Umbelazi. After all, it is a matter which they must settle between them.”

“I think it may mean great trouble,” I said, “at a time when trouble is not needed.”

“Oh, why so, Macumazahn? My daughter did not get on with the Princess Nandie—we could all see that—for they would scarcely speak to each other. And if Saduko is fond of her—well, after all, there are other beautiful women in Zululand. I know one or two of them myself whom I will mention to Saduko—or rather to Nandie. Really, as things were, I am not sure but that he is well rid of her.”

“But what do you think of the matter as her father?” I asked, for I wanted to see to what length his accommodating morality would stretch.

“As her father—well, of course, Macumazahn, as her father I am sorry, because it will mean talk, will it not, as the Masapo business did? Still, there is this to be said for Mameena,” he added, with a brightening face, “she always runs away up the tree, not down. When she got rid of Masapo—I mean when Masapo was killed for his witchcraft—she married Saduko, who was a bigger man—Saduko, whom she would not marry when Masapo was the bigger man. And now, when she has got rid of Saduko, she enters the hut of Umbelazi, who will one day be King of the Zulus, the biggest man in all the world, which means that she will be the biggest woman, for remember, Macumazahn, she will walk round and round that great Umbelazi till whatever way he looks he will see her and no one else. Oh, she will grow great, and carry up her poor old father in the blanket on her back. Oh, the sun still shines behind the cloud, Macumazahn, so let us make the best of the cloud, since we know that it will break out presently.”

“Yes, Umbezi; but other things besides the sun break out from clouds sometimes—lightning, for instance; lightning which kills.”

“You speak ill-omened words, Macumazahn; words that take away my appetite, which is generally excellent at this hour. Well, if Mameena is bad it is not my fault, for I brought her up to be good. After all,” he added with an outburst of petulance, “why do you scold me when it is your fault? If you had run away with the girl when you might have done so, there would have been none of this trouble.”

“Perhaps not,” I answered; “only then I am sure I should have been dead to-day, as I think that all who have to do with her will be ere long. And now, Umbezi, I wish you a good breakfast.”

On the following morning, Saduko returned and was told the news by Nandie, whom I had carefully avoided. On this occasion, however, I was forced to be present, as the person to whom the sinful Mameena had sent her farewell message. It was a very painful experience, of which I do not remember all the details. For a while after he learned the truth Saduko sat still as a stone, staring in front of him, with a face that seemed to have become suddenly old. Then he turned upon Umbezi, and in a few terrible words accused him of having arranged the matter in order to advance his own fortunes at the price of his daughter’s dishonour. Next, without listening to his ex-father-in-law’s voluble explanations, he rose and said that he was going away to kill Umbelazi, the evil-doer who had robbed him of the wife he loved, with the connivance of all three of us, and by a sweep of his hand he indicated Umbezi, the Princess Nandie and myself.

This was more than I could stand, so I, too, rose and asked him what he meant, adding in the irritation of the moment that if I had wished to rob him of his beautiful Mameena, I thought I could have done so long ago—a remark that staggered him a little.

Then Nandie rose also, and spoke in her quiet voice.

“Saduko, my husband,” she said, “I, a Princess of the Zulu House, married you who are not of royal blood because I loved you, and although Panda the King and Umbelazi the Prince wished it, for no other reason whatsoever. Well, I have been faithful to you through some trials, even when you set the widow of a wizard—if, indeed, as I have reason to suspect, she was not herself the wizard—before me, and although that wizard had killed our son, lived in her hut rather than in mine. Now this woman of whom you thought so much has deserted you for your friend and my brother, the Prince Umbelazi—Umbelazi who is called the Handsome, and who, if the fortune of war goes with him, as it may or may not, will succeed to Panda, my father. This she has done because she alleges that I, your Inkosikazi and the King’s daughter, treated her as a servant, which is a lie. I kept her in her place, no more, who, if she could have had her will, would have ousted me from mine, perhaps by death, for the wives of wizards learn their arts. On this pretext she has left you; but that is not her real reason. She has left you because the Prince, my brother, whom she has befooled with her tricks and beauty, as she has befooled others, or tried to”—and she glanced at me—“is a bigger man than you are. You, Saduko, may become great, as my heart prays that you will, but my brother may become a king. She does not love him any more than she loved you, but she does love the place that may be his, and therefore hers—she who would be the first doe of the herd. My husband, I think that you are well rid of Mameena, for I think also that if she had stayed with us there would have been more deaths in our House; perhaps mine, which would not matter, and perhaps yours, which would matter much. All this I say to you, not from jealousy of one who is fairer than I, but because it is the truth. Therefore my counsel to you is to let this business pass over and keep silent. Above all, seek not to avenge yourself upon Umbelazi, since I am sure that he has taken vengeance to dwell with him in his own hut. I have spoken.”

That this moderate and reasoned speech of Nandie’s produced a great effect upon Saduko I could see, but at the time the only answer he made to it was:

“Let the name of Mameena be spoken no more within hearing of my ears. Mameena is dead.”

So her name was heard no more in the Houses of Saduko and of Umbezi, and when it was necessary for any reason to refer to her, she was given a new name, a composite Zulu word, O-we-Zulu, I think it was, which is “Storm-child” shortly translated, for “Zulu” means a storm as well as the sky.

I do not think that Saduko spoke of her to me again until towards the climax of this history, and certainly I did not mention her to him. But from that day forward I noted that he was a changed man. His pride and open pleasure in his great success, which had caused the Zulus to name him the “Self-eater,” were no longer marked. He became cold and silent, like a man who is thinking deeply, but who shutters his thoughts lest some should read them through the windows of his eyes. Moreover, he paid a visit to Zikali the Little and Wise, as I found out by accident; but what advice that cunning old dwarf gave to him I did not find out—then.

The only other event which happened in connection with this elopement was that a message came from Umbelazi to Saduko, brought by one of the princes, a brother of Umbelazi, who was of his party. As I know, for I heard it delivered, it was a very humble message when the relative positions of the two men are considered—that of one who knew that he had done wrong, and, if not repentant, was heartily ashamed of himself.

“Saduko,” it said, “I have stolen a cow of yours, and I hope you will forgive me, since that cow did not love the pasture in your kraal, but in mine she grows fat and is content. Moreover, in return I will give you many other cows. Everything that I have to give, I will give to you who are my friend and trusted councillor. Send me word, O Saduko, that this wall which I have built between us is broken down, since ere long you and I must stand together in war.”

To this message Saduko’s answer was:

“O Prince, you are troubled about a very little thing. That cow which you have taken was of no worth to me, for who wishes to keep a beast that is ever tearing and lowing at the gates of the kraal, disturbing those who would sleep inside with her noise? Had you asked her of me, I would have given her to you freely. I thank you for your offer, but I need no more cows, especially if, like this one, they have no calves. As for a wall between us, there is none, for how can two men who, if the battle is to be won, must stand shoulder to shoulder, fight if divided by a wall? O Son of the King, I am dreaming by day and night of the battle and the victory, and I have forgotten all about the barren cow that ran away after you, the great bull of the herd. Only do not be surprised if one day you find that this cow has a sharp horn.”

1.    That, if I have not said so already, was the meaning which the Zulus gave to the word Mameena, although as I know the language I cannot get any such interpretation out of the name, I believe that it was given to her, however, because she was born just before a terrible tempest, when the wind wailing round the hut made a sound like the word Ma-mee-na.—A. Q.    [back]

Child of Storm - Contents    |     Chapter XII. Panda’s Prayer

Back    |    Words Home    |    Rider Haggard Home    |    Site Info.    |    Feedback