OR THE WAR OF THE LITTLE HAND
by H. Rider Haggard
It may be well to state that the incident of the "Thing that bites"
recorded in this tale is not an effort of the imagination. On the
contrary, it is "plagiarized." Mandara, a well-known chief on the east
coast of Africa, has such an article, _and uses it_. In the same way the
wicked conduct attributed to Wambe is not without a precedent. T'Chaka,
the Zulu Napoleon, never allowed a child of his to live. Indeed he went
further, for on discovering that his mother, Unandi, was bringing up one
of his sons in secret, like Nero he killed her, and with his own hand.
One day--it was about a week after Allan Quatermain told me his story
of the "Three Lions," and of the moving death of Jim-Jim--he and I were
walking home together on the termination of a day's shooting. He owned
about two thousand acres of shooting round the place he had bought in
Yorkshire, over a hundred of which were wood. It was the second year of
his occupation of the estate, and already he had reared a very fair head
of pheasants, for he was an all-round sportsman, and as fond of shooting
with a shot-gun as with an eight-bore rifle. We were three guns that
day, Sir Henry Curtis, Old Quatermain, and myself; but Sir Henry was
obliged to leave in the middle of the afternoon in order to meet
his agent, and inspect an outlying farm where a new shed was wanted.
However, he was coming back to dinner, and going to bring Captain Good
with him, for Brayley Hall was not more than two miles from the Grange.
We had met with very fair sport, considering that we were only
going through outlying cover for cocks. I think that we had killed
twenty-seven, a woodcock and a leash of partridges which we secured
out of a driven covey. On our way home there lay a long narrow spinney,
which was a very favourite "lie" for woodcocks, and generally held a
pheasant or two as well.
"Well, what do you say?" said old Quatermain, "shall we beat through
this for a finish?"
I assented, and he called to the keeper who was following with a little
knot of beaters, and told him to beat the spinney.
"Very well, sir," answered the man, "but it's getting wonderful dark,
and the wind's rising a gale. It will take you all your time to hit a
woodcock if the spinney holds one."
"You show us the woodcocks, Jeffries," answered Quatermain quickly, for
he never liked being crossed in anything to do with sport, "and we will
look after shooting them."
The man turned and went rather sulkily. I heard him say to the
under-keeper, "He's pretty good, the master is, I'm not saying he isn't,
but if he kills a woodcock in this light and wind, I'm a Dutchman."
I think that Quatermain heard him too, though he said nothing. The wind
was rising every minute, and by the time the beat begun it blew big
guns. I stood at the right-hand corner of the spinney, which curved
round somewhat, and Quatermain stood at the left, about forty paces from
me. Presently an old cock pheasant came rocketing over me, looking as
though the feathers were being blown out of his tail. I missed him clean
with the first barrel, and was never more pleased with myself in my life
than when I doubled him up with the second, for the shot was not an
easy one. In the faint light I could see Quatermain nodding his head in
approval, when through the groaning of the trees I heard the shouts of
the beaters, "Cock forward, cock to the right." Then came a whole volley
of shouts, "Woodcock to the right," "Cock to the left," "Cock over."
I looked up, and presently caught sight of one of the woodcocks coming
down the wind upon me like a flash. In that dim light I could not follow
all his movements as he zigzagged through the naked tree-tops; indeed I
could see him when his wings flitted up. Now he was passing me--_bang_,
and a flick of the wing, I had missed him; _bang_ again. Surely he was
down; no, there he went to my left.
"Cock to you," I shouted, stepping forward so as to get Quatermain
between me and the faint angry light of the dying day, for I wanted to
see if he would "wipe my eye." I knew him to be a wonderful shot, but I
thought that cock would puzzle him.
I saw him raise his gun ever so little and bend forward, and at that
moment out flashed two woodcocks into the open, the one I had missed to
his right, and the other to his left.
At the same time a fresh shout arose of, "Woodcock over," and looking
down the spinney I saw a third bird high up in the air, being blown
along like a brown and whirling leaf straight over Quatermain's head.
And then followed the prettiest little bit of shooting that I ever saw.
The bird to the right was flying low, not ten yards from the line of
a hedgerow, and Quatermain took him first because he would become
invisible the soonest of any. Indeed, nobody who had not his hawk's eyes
could have seen to shoot at all. But he saw the bird well enough to kill
it dead as a stone. Then turning sharply, he pulled on the second bird
at about forty-five yards, and over he went. By this time the third
woodcock was nearly over him, and flying very high, straight down the
wind, a hundred feet up or more, I should say. I saw him glance at it as
he opened his gun, threw out the right cartridge and slipped in another,
turning round as he did so. By this time the cock was nearly fifty yards
away from him, and travelling like a flash. Lifting his gun he fired
after it, and, wonderful as the shot was, killed it dead. A tearing gust
of wind caught the dead bird, and blew it away like a leaf torn from an
oak, so that it fell a hundred and thirty yards off or more.
"I say, Quatermain," I said to him when the beaters were up, "do you
often do this sort of thing?"
"Well," he answered, with a dry smile, "the last time I had to load
three shots as quickly as that was at rather larger game. It was at
elephants. I killed them all three as dead as I killed those woodcocks;
but it very nearly went the other way, I can tell you; I mean that they
very nearly killed me."
Just at that moment the keeper came up, "Did you happen to get one of
them there cocks, sir?" he said, with the air of a man who did not in
the least expect an answer in the affirmative.
"Well, yes, Jeffries," answered Quatermain; "you will find one of them
by the hedge, and another about fifty yards out by the plough there to
The keeper had turned to go, looking a little astonished, when
Quatermain called him back.
"Stop a bit, Jeffries," he said. "You see that pollard about one hundred
and forty yards off? Well, there should be another woodcock down in a
line with it, about sixty paces out in the field."
"Well, if that bean't the very smartest bit of shooting," murmured
Jeffries, and departed.
After that we went home, and in due course Sir Henry Curtis and Captain
Good arrived for dinner, the latter arrayed in the tightest and most
ornamental dress-suit I ever saw. I remember that the waistcoat was
adorned with five pink coral buttons.
It was a very pleasant dinner. Old Quatermain was in an excellent
humour; induced, I think, by the recollection of his triumph over the
doubting Jeffries. Good, too, was full of anecdotes. He told us a most
miraculous story of how he once went shooting ibex in Kashmir. These
ibex, according to Good, he stalked early and late for four entire days.
At last on the morning of the fifth day he succeeded in getting within
range of the flock, which consisted of a magnificent old ram with horns
so long that I am afraid to mention their measure, and five or six
females. Good crawled upon his stomach, painfully taking shelter behind
rocks, till he was within two hundred yards; then he drew a fine bead
upon the old ram. At this moment, however, a diversion occurred. Some
wandering native of the hills appeared upon a distant mountain top. The
females turned, and rushing over a rock vanished from Good's ken. But
the old ram took a bolder course. In front of him stretched a mighty
crevasse at least thirty feet in width. He went at it with a bound.
Whilst he was in mid-air Good fired, and killed him dead. The ram turned
a complete somersault in space, and fell in such fashion that his horns
hooked themselves upon a big projection of the opposite cliffs. There he
hung, till Good, after a long and painful détour, gracefully dropped a
lasso over him and fished him up.
This moving tale of wild adventure was received with undeserved
"Well," said Good, "if you fellows won't believe my story when I tell
it--a perfectly true story mind--perhaps one of you will give us a
better; I'm not particular if it is true or not." And he lapsed into a
"Now, Quatermain," I said, "don't let Good beat you, let us hear how you
killed those elephants you were talking about this evening just after
you shot the woodcocks."
"Well," said Quatermain, dryly, and with something like a twinkle in
his brown eyes, "it is very hard fortune for a man to have to follow on
Good's 'spoor.' Indeed if it were not for that running giraffe which, as
you will remember, Curtis, we saw Good bowl over with a Martini rifle
at three hundred yards, I should almost have said that this was an
Here Good looked up with an air of indignant innocence.
"However," he went on, rising and lighting his pipe, "if you fellows
like, I will spin you a yarn. I was telling one of you the other night
about those three lions and how the lioness finished my unfortunate
'voorlooper,' Jim-Jim, the boy whom we buried in the bread-bag.
"Well, after this little experience I thought that I would settle down a
bit, so I entered upon a venture with a man who, being of a speculative
mind, had conceived the idea of running a store at Pretoria upon
strictly cash principles. The arrangement was that I should find
the capital and he the experience. Our partnership was not of a long
duration. The Boers refused to pay cash, and at the end of four months
my partner had the capital and I had the experience. After this I came
to the conclusion that store-keeping was not in my line, and having
four hundred pounds left, I sent my boy Harry to a school in Natal, and
buying an outfit with what remained of the money, started upon a big
"This time I determined to go further afield than I had ever been
before; so I took a passage for a few pounds in a trading brig that
ran between Durban and Delagoa Bay. From Delagoa Bay I marched inland
accompanied by twenty porters, with the idea of striking up north,
towards the Limpopo, and keeping parallel to the coast, but at a
distance of about one hundred and fifty miles from it. For the first
twenty days of our journey we suffered a good deal from fever, that is,
my men did, for I think that I am fever proof. Also I was hard put to
it to keep the camp in meat, for although the country proved to be very
sparsely populated, there was but little game about. Indeed, during all
that time I hardly killed anything larger than a waterbuck, and, as you
know, waterbuck's flesh is not very appetising food. On the twentieth
day, however, we came to the banks of a largish river, the Gonooroo it
was called. This I crossed, and then struck inland towards a great range
of mountains, the blue crests of which we could see lying on the distant
heavens like a shadow, a continuation, as I believe, of the Drakensberg
range that skirts the coast of Natal. From this main range a great spur
shoots out some fifty miles or so towards the coast, ending abruptly in
one tremendous peak. This spur I discovered separated the territories of
two chiefs named Nala and Wambe, Wambe's territory being to the north,
and Nala's to the south. Nala ruled a tribe of bastard Zulus called
the Butiana, and Wambe a much larger tribe, called the Matuku, which
presents marked Bantu characteristics. For instance, they have doors and
verandahs to their huts, work skins perfectly, and wear a waistcloth and
not a moocha. At this time the Butiana were more or less subject to
the Matuku, having been surprised by them some twenty years before
and mercilessly slaughtered down. The tribe was now recovering itself,
however, and as you may imagine, it did not love the Matuku.
"Well, I heard as I went along that elephants were very plentiful in the
dense forests which lie upon the slopes and at the foot of the mountains
that border Wambe's territory. Also I heard a very ill report of that
worthy himself, who lived in a kraal upon the side of the mountain,
which was so strongly fortified as to be practically impregnable. It was
said that he was the most cruel chief in this part of Africa, and that
he had murdered in cold blood an entire party of English gentlemen, who,
some seven years before, had gone into his country to hunt elephants.
They took an old friend of mine with them as guide, John Every by name,
and often had I mourned over his untimely death. All the same, Wambe
or no Wambe, I determined to hunt elephants in his country. I never was
afraid of natives, and I was not going to show the white feather now. I
am a bit of a fatalist, as you fellows know, so I came to the conclusion
that if it was fated that Wambe should send me to join my old friend
John Every, I should have to go, and there was an end of it. Meanwhile,
I meant to hunt elephants with a peaceful heart.
"On the third day from the date of our sighting the great peak, we found
ourselves beneath its shadow. Still following the course of the river
which wound through the forests at the base of the peak, we entered the
territory of the redoubtable Wambe. This, however, was not accomplished
without a certain difference of opinion between my bearers and myself,
for when we reached the spot where Wambe's boundary was supposed to run,
the bearers sat down and emphatically refused to go a step further. I
sat down too, and argued with them, putting my fatalistic views before
them as well as I was able. But I could not persuade them to look at
the matter in the same light. 'At present,' they said, 'their skins were
whole; if they went into Wambe's country without his leave they would
soon be like a water-eaten leaf. It was very well for me to say that
this would be Fate. Fate no doubt might be walking about in Wambe's
country, but while they stopped outside they would not meet him.'
"'Well,' I said to Gobo, my head man, 'and what do you mean to do?'
"'We mean to go back to the coast, Macumazahn,' he answered insolently.
"'Do you?' I replied, for my bile was stirred. 'At any rate, Mr. Gobo,
you and one or two others will never get there; see here, my friend,'
and I took a repeating rifle and sat myself comfortably down, resting my
back against a tree--'I have just breakfasted, and I had as soon spend
the day here as anywhere else. Now if you or any of those men walk one
step back from here, and towards the coast, I shall fire at you; and you
know that I don't miss.'
"The man fingered the spear he was carrying--luckily all my guns were
stacked against the tree--and then turned as though to walk away, the
others keeping their eyes fixed upon him all the while. I rose and
covered him with the rifle, and though he kept up a brave appearance of
unconcern, I saw that he was glancing nervously at me all the time. When
he had gone about twenty yards I spoke very quietly--
"'Now, Gobo,' I said, 'come back, or I shall fire.'
"Of course this was taking a very high hand; I had no real right to kill
Gobo or anybody else because they objected to run the risk of death by
entering the territory of a hostile chief. But I felt that if I wished
to keep up any authority it was absolutely necessary that I should push
matters to the last extremity short of actually shooting him. So I sat
there, looking fierce as a lion, and keeping the sight of my rifle in
a dead line for Gobo's ribs. Then Gobo, feeling that the situation was
getting strained, gave in.
"'Don't shoot, Boss,' he shouted, throwing up his hand, 'I will come
"'I thought you would,' I answered quietly; 'you see Fate walks about
outside Wambe's country as well as in it.'
"After that I had no more trouble, for Gobo was the ringleader, and when
he collapsed the others collapsed also. Harmony being thus restored, we
crossed the line, and on the following morning I began shooting in good
II--A MORNING'S SPORT
"Moving some five or six miles round the base of the great peak of
which I have spoken, we came the same day to one of the fairest bits of
African country that I have seen outside of Kukuanaland. At this spot
the mountain spur that runs out at right angles to the great range,
which stretches its cloud-clad length north and south as far as the eye
can reach, sweeps inwards with a vast and splendid curve. This curve
measures some five-and-thirty miles from point to point, and across
its moon-like segment the river flashed, a silver line of light. On the
further side of the river is a measureless sea of swelling ground, a
natural park covered with great patches of bush--some of them being many
square miles in extent. These are separated one from another by glades
of grass land, broken here and there with clumps of timber trees; and in
some instances by curious isolated koppies, and even by single crags of
granite that start up into the air as though they were monuments carved
by man, and not tombstones set by nature over the grave of ages gone. On
the west this beautiful plain is bordered by the lonely mountain, from
the edge of which it rolls down toward the fever coast; but how far it
runs to the north I cannot say--eight days' journey, according to the
natives, when it is lost in an untravelled morass.
"On the hither side of the river the scenery is different. Along the
edge of its banks, where the land is flat, are green patches of swamp.
Then comes a wide belt of beautiful grass land covered thickly with
game, and sloping up very gently to the borders of the forest, which,
beginning at about a thousand feet above the level of the plain, clothes
the mountain-side almost to its crest. In this forest grow great trees,
most of them of the yellow-wood species. Some of these trees are so
lofty, that a bird in their top branches would be out of range of an
ordinary shot gun. Another peculiar thing about them is, that they are
for the most part covered with a dense growth of the Orchilla moss; and
from this moss the natives manufacture a most excellent deep purple dye,
with which they stain tanned hides and also cloth, when they happen
to get any of the latter. I do not think that I ever saw anything more
remarkable than the appearance of one of these mighty trees festooned
from top to bottom with trailing wreaths of this sad-hued moss, in which
the wind whispers gently as it stirs them. At a distance it looks like
the gray locks of a Titan crowned with bright green leaves, and here and
there starred with the rich bloom of orchids.
"The night of that day on which I had my little difference of opinion
with Gobo, we camped by the edge of this great forest, and on the
following morning at daylight I started out shooting. As we were short
of meat I determined to kill a buffalo, of which there were plenty
about, before looking for traces of elephants. Not more than half a mile
from camp we came across a trail broad as a cart-road, evidently made by
a great herd of buffaloes which had passed up at dawn from their feeding
ground in the marshes, to spend the day in the cool air of the uplands.
This trail I followed boldly; for such wind as there was blew straight
down the mountain-side, that is, from the direction in which the
buffaloes had gone, to me. About a mile further on the forest began to
be dense, and the nature of the trail showed me that I must be close to
my game. Another two hundred yards and the bush was so thick that, had
it not been for the trail, we could scarcely have passed through it.
As it was, Gobo, who carried my eight-bore rifle (for I had the
.570-express in my hand), and the other two men whom I had taken with
me, showed the very strongest dislike to going any further, pointing
out that there was 'no room to run away.' I told them that they need
not come unless they liked, but that I was certainly going on; and then,
growing ashamed, they came.
"Another fifty yards, and the trail opened into a little glade. I knelt
down and peeped and peered, but no buffalo could I see. Evidently the
herd had broken up here--I knew that from the spoor--and penetrated the
opposite bush in little troops. I crossed the glade, and choosing one
line of spoor, followed it for some sixty yards, when it became clear
to me that I was surrounded by buffaloes; and yet so dense was the
cover that I could not see any. A few yards to my left I could hear one
rubbing its horns against a tree, while from my right came an occasional
low and throaty grunt which told me that I was uncomfortably near an
old bull. I crept on towards him with my heart in my mouth, as gently as
though I were walking upon eggs for a bet, lifting every little bit of
wood in my path, and placing it behind me lest it should crack and warn
the game. After me in single file came my three retainers, and I don't
know which of them looked the most frightened. Presently Gobo touched my
leg; I glanced round, and saw him pointing slantwise towards the left.
I lifted my head a little and peeped over a mass of creepers; beyond the
creepers was a dense bush of sharp-pointed aloes, of that kind of which
the leaves project laterally, and on the other side of the aloes, not
fifteen paces from us, I made out the horns, neck, and the ridge of the
back of a tremendous old bull. I took my eight-bore, and getting on
to my knee prepared to shoot him through the neck, taking my chance of
cutting his spine. I had already covered him as well as the aloe leaves
would allow, when he gave a kind of sigh and lay down.
"I looked round in dismay. What was to be done now? I could not see
to shoot him lying down, even if my bullet would have pierced the
intervening aloes--which was doubtful--and if I stood up he would either
run away or charge me. I reflected, and came to the conclusion that the
only thing to do was to lie down also; for I did not fancy wandering
after other buffaloes in that dense bush. If a buffalo lies down, it
is clear that he must get up again some time, so it was only a case of
patience--'fighting the fight of sit down,' as the Zulus say.
"Accordingly I sat down and lighted a pipe, thinking that the smell of
it might reach the buffalo and make him get up. But the wind was the
wrong way, and it did not; so when it was done I lit another. Afterwards
I had cause to regret that pipe.
"Well, we squatted like this for between half and three quarters of an
hour, till at length I began to grow heartily sick of the performance.
It was about as dull a business as the last hour of a comic opera.
I could hear buffaloes snorting and moving all round, and see the
red-beaked tic birds flying up off their backs, making a kind of hiss
as they did so, something like that of the English missel-thrush, but I
could not see a single buffalo. As for my old bull, I think he must have
slept the sleep of the just, for he never even stirred.
"Just as I was making up my mind that something must be done to save the
situation, my attention was attracted by a curious grinding noise.
At first I thought that it must be a buffalo chewing the cud, but was
obliged to abandon the idea because the noise was too loud. I shifted
myself round and stared through the cracks in the bush, in the direction
whence the sound seemed to come, and once I thought that I saw something
gray moving about fifty yards off, but could not make certain. Although
the grinding noise still continued I could see nothing more, so I gave
up thinking about it, and once again turned my attention to the buffalo.
Presently, however, something happened. Suddenly from about forty yards
away there came a tremendous snorting sound, more like that made by
an engine getting a heavy train under weigh than anything else in the
"'By Jove,' I thought, turning round in the direction from which the
grinding sound had come, 'that must be a rhinoceros, and he has got our
wind.' For, as you fellows know, there is no mistaking the sound made by
a rhinoceros when he gets wind of you.
"Another second, and I heard a most tremendous crashing noise. Before I
could think what to do, before I could even get up, the bush behind me
seemed to burst asunder, and there appeared not eight yards from us,
the great horn and wicked twinkling eye of a charging rhinoceros. He
had winded us or my pipe, I do not know which, and, after the fashion
of these brutes, had charged up the scent. I could not rise, I could
not even get the gun up, I had no time. All that I was able to do was
to roll over as far out of the monster's path as the bush would allow.
Another second and he was over me, his great bulk towering above me
like a mountain, and, upon my word, I could not get his smell out of my
nostrils for a week. Circumstances impressed it on my memory, at least I
suppose so. His hot breath blew upon my face, one of his front feet just
missed my head, and his hind one actually trod upon the loose part of
my trousers and pinched a little bit of my skin. I saw him pass over me
lying as I was upon my back, and next second I saw something else. My
men were a little behind me, and therefore straight in the path of the
rhinoceros. One of them flung himself backwards into the bush, and thus
avoided him. The second with a wild yell sprung to his feet, and bounded
like an india-rubber ball right into the aloe bush, landing well among
the spikes. But the third, it was my friend Gobo, could not by any means
get away. He managed to gain his feet, and that was all. The rhinoceros
was charging with his head low; his horn passed between Gobo's legs,
and feeling something on his nose, he jerked it up. Away went Gobo, high
into the air. He turned a complete somersault at the apex of the curve,
and as he did so, I caught sight of his face. It was gray with terror,
and his mouth was wide open. Down he came, right on to the great brute's
back, and that broke his fall. Luckily for him the rhinoceros never
turned, but crashed straight through the aloe bush, only missing the man
who had jumped into it by about a yard.
"Then followed a complication. The sleeping buffalo on the further side
of the bush, hearing the noise, sprang to his feet, and for a second,
not knowing what to do, stood still. At that instant the huge rhinoceros
blundered right on to him, and getting his horn beneath his stomach gave
him such a fearful dig that the buffalo was turned over on to his back,
while his assailant went a most amazing cropper over his carcase. In
another moment, however, the rhinoceros was up, and wheeling round
to the left, crashed through the bush down-hill and towards the open
"Instantly the whole place became alive with alarming sounds. In every
direction troops of snorting buffaloes charged through the forest, wild
with fright, while the injured bull on the further side of the bush
began to bellow like a mad thing. I lay quite still for a moment,
devoutly praying that none of the flying buffaloes would come my way.
Then when the danger lessened I got on to my feet, shook myself, and
looked round. One of my boys, he who had thrown himself backward into
the bush, was already half way up a tree--if heaven had been at the top
of it he could not have climbed quicker. Gobo was lying close to me,
groaning vigorously, but, as I suspected, quite unhurt; while from the
aloe bush into which No. 3 had bounded like a tennis ball, issued a
succession of the most piercing yells.
"I looked, and saw that this unfortunate fellow was in a very tight
place. A great spike of aloe had run through the back of his skin
waist-belt, though without piercing his flesh, in such a fashion that it
was impossible for him to move, while within six feet of him the injured
buffalo bull, thinking, no doubt, that he was the aggressor, bellowed
and ramped to get at him, tearing the thick aloes with his great horns.
That no time was to be lost, if I wished to save the man's life, was
very clear. So seizing my eight-bore, which was fortunately uninjured, I
took a pace to the left, for the rhinoceros had enlarged the hole in the
bush, and aimed at the point of the buffalo's shoulder, since on account
of my position I could not get a fair side shot for the heart. As I did
so I saw that the rhinoceros had given the bull a tremendous wound
in the stomach, and that the shock of the encounter had put his left
hind-leg out of joint at the hip. I fired, and the bullet striking the
shoulder broke it, and knocked the buffalo down. I knew that he could
not get up any more, because he was now injured fore and aft, so
notwithstanding his terrific bellows I scrambled round to where he was.
There he lay glaring furiously and tearing up the soil with his horns.
Stepping up to within two yards of him I aimed at the vertebra of his
neck and fired. The bullet struck true, and with a thud he dropped his
head upon the ground, groaned, and died.
"This little matter having been attended to with the assistance of
Gobo, who had now found his feet, I went on to extricate our unfortunate
companion from the aloe bush. This we found a thorny task, but at last
he was dragged forth uninjured, though in a very pious and prayerful
frame of mind. His 'spirit had certainly looked that way,' he said,
or he would now have been dead. As I never like to interfere with true
piety, I did not venture to suggest that his spirit had deigned to make
use of my eight-bore in his interest.
"Having despatched this boy back to the camp to tell the bearers to come
and cut the buffalo up, I bethought me that I owed that rhinoceros a
grudge which I should love to repay. So without saying a word of what
was in my mind to Gobo, who was now more than ever convinced that Fate
walked about loose in Wambe's country, I just followed on the brute's
spoor. He had crashed through the bush till he reached the little glade.
Then moderating his pace somewhat, he had followed the glade down its
entire length, and once more turned to the right through the forest,
shaping his course for the open land that lies between the edge of the
bush and the river. Having followed him for a mile or so further, I
found myself quite on the open. I took out my glasses and searched
the plain. About a mile ahead was something brown--as I thought, the
rhinoceros. I advanced another quarter of a mile, and looked once
more--it was not the rhinoceros, but a big ant-heap. This was puzzling,
but I did not like to give it up, because I knew from his spoor that he
must be somewhere ahead. But as the wind was blowing straight from me
towards the line that he had followed, and as a rhinoceros can smell you
for about a mile, it would not, I felt, be safe to follow his trail
any further; so I made a détour of a mile and more, till I was nearly
opposite the ant-heap, and then once more searched the plain. It was no
good, I could see nothing of him, and was about to give it up and start
after some oryx I saw on the skyline, when suddenly at a distance of
about three hundred yards from the ant-heap, and on its further side, I
saw my rhino stand up in a patch of grass.
"'Heavens!' I thought to myself, 'he's off again;' but no, after
standing staring for a minute or two he once more lay down.
"Now I found myself in a quandary. As you know, a rhinoceros is a very
short-sighted brute, indeed his sight is as bad as his scent is good.
Of this fact he is perfectly aware, but he always makes the most of his
natural gifts. For instance, when he lies down he invariably does so
with his head down wind. Thus, if any enemy crosses his wind he will
still be able to escape, or attack him; and if, on the other hand, the
danger approaches up wind he will at least have a chance of seeing it.
Otherwise, by walking delicately, one might actually kick him up like a
partridge, if only the advance was made up wind.
"Well, the point was, how on earth should I get within shot of this
rhinoceros? After much deliberation I determined to try a side approach,
thinking that in this way I might get a shoulder shot. Accordingly we
started in a crouching attitude, I first, Gobo holding on to my coat
tails, and the other boy on to Gobo's moocha. I always adopt this plan
when stalking big game, for if you follow any other system the bearers
will get out of line. We arrived within three hundred yards safely
enough, and then the real difficulties began. The grass had been
so closely eaten off by game that there was scarcely any cover.
Consequently it was necessary to go on to our hands and knees, which
in my case involved laying down the eight-bore at every step and then
lifting it up again. However, I wriggled along somehow, and if it had
not been for Gobo and his friend no doubt everything would have gone
well. But as you have, I dare say, observed, a native out stalking is
always of that mind which is supposed to actuate an ostrich--so long as
his head is hidden he seems to think that nothing else can be seen. So
it was in this instance, Gobo and the other boy crept along on their
hands and toes with their heads well down, but, though unfortunately
I did not notice it till too late, bearing the fundamental portions of
their frames high in the air. Now all animals are quite as suspicious of
this end of mankind as they are of his face, and of that fact I soon had
a proof. Just when we had got within about two hundred yards, and I was
congratulating myself that I had not had this long crawl with the sun
beating on the back of my neck like a furnace for nothing, I heard the
hissing note of the rhinoceros birds, and up flew four or five of them
from the brute's back, where they had been comfortably employed in
catching tics. Now this performance on the part of the birds is to a
rhinoceros what the word 'cave' is to a schoolboy--it puts him on the
_qui vive_ at once. Before the birds were well in the air I saw the
"'Down you go,' I whispered to the boys, and as I did so the rhinoceros
got up and glared suspiciously around. But he could see nothing, indeed
if we had been standing up I doubt if he would have seen us at that
distance; so he merely gave two or three sniffs and then lay down, his
head still down wind, the birds once more settling on his back.
"But it was clear to me that he was sleeping with one eye open, being
generally in a suspicious and unchristian frame of mind, and that it
was useless to proceed further on this stalk, so we quietly withdrew
to consider the position and study the ground. The results were not
satisfactory. There was absolutely no cover about except the ant-heap,
which was some three hundred yards from the rhinoceros upon his up-wind
side. I knew that if I tried to stalk him in front I should fail, and so
I should if I attempted to do so from the further side--he or the birds
would see me; so I came to a conclusion: I would go to the ant-heap,
which would give him my wind, and instead of stalking him I would let
him stalk me. It was a bold step, and one which I should never advise a
hunter to take, but somehow I felt as though rhino and I must play the
"I explained my intentions to the men, who both held up their arms in
horror. Their fears for my safety were a little mitigated, however, when
I told them that I did not expect them to come with me.
"Gobo breathed a prayer that I might not meet Fate walking about, and
the other one sincerely trusted that my spirit might look my way when
the rhinoceros charged, and then they both departed to a place of
"Taking my eight-bore, and half-a-dozen spare cartridges in my pocket,
I made a détour, and reaching the ant-heap in safety lay down. For a
moment the wind had dropped, but presently a gentle puff of air passed
over me, and blew on towards the rhinoceros. By the way, I wonder what
it is that smells so strong about a man? Is it his body or his breath?
I have never been able to make out, but I saw it stated the other day,
that in the duck decoys the man who is working the ducks holds a little
piece of burning turf before his mouth, and that if he does this they
cannot smell him, which looks as though it were the breath. Well,
whatever it was about me that attracted his attention, the rhinoceros
soon smelt me, for within half a minute after the puff of wind had
passed me he was on his legs, and turning round to get his head up wind.
There he stood for a few seconds and sniffed, and then he began to move,
first of all at a trot, then, as the scent grew stronger, at a furious
gallop. On he came, snorting like a runaway engine, with his tail stuck
straight up in the air; if he had seen me lie down there he could not
have made a better line. It was rather nervous work, I can tell you,
lying there waiting for his onslaught, for he looked like a mountain of
flesh. I determined, however, not to fire till I could plainly see his
eye, for I think that rule always gives one the right distance for big
game; so I rested my rifle on the ant-heap and waited for him, kneeling.
At last, when he was about forty yards away, I saw that the time had
come, and aiming straight for the middle of the chest I pulled.
"_Thud_ went the heavy bullet, and with a tremendous snort over rolled
the rhinoceros beneath its shock, just like a shot rabbit. But if I had
thought that he was done for I was mistaken, for in another second he
was up again, and coming at me as hard as ever, only with his head held
low. I waited till he was within ten yards, in the hope that he would
expose his chest, but he would do nothing of the sort; so I just had to
fire at his head with the left barrel, and take my chance. Well, as
luck would have it, of course the animal put its horn in the way of the
bullet, which cut clean through it about three inches above the root and
then glanced off into space.
"After that things got rather serious. My gun was empty and the
rhinoceros was rapidly arriving, so rapidly indeed that I came to the
conclusion that I had better make way for him. Accordingly I jumped
to my feet and ran to the right as hard as I could go. As I did so he
arrived full tilt, knocked my friendly ant-heap flat, and for the
third time that day went a most magnificent cropper. This gave me a few
seconds' start, and I ran down wind--my word, I did run! Unfortunately,
however, my modest retreat was observed, and the rhinoceros, as soon as
he had found his legs again, set to work to run after me. Now no man on
earth can run so fast as an irritated rhinoceros can gallop, and I knew
that he must soon catch me up. But having some slight experience of
this sort of thing, luckily for myself, I kept my head, and as I fled
I managed to open my rifle, get the old cartridges out, and put in two
fresh ones. To do this I was obliged to steady my pace a little, and by
the time that I had snapped the rifle to I heard the beast snorting and
thundering away within a few paces of my back. I stopped, and as I did
so rapidly cocked the rifle and slued round upon my heel. By this time
the brute was within six or seven yards of me, but luckily his head was
up. I lifted the rifle and fired at him. It was a snap shot, but the
bullet struck him in the chest within three inches of the first, and
found its way into his lungs. It did not stop him, however, so all I
could do was to bound to one side, which I did with surprising activity,
and as he brushed past me to fire the other barrel into his side. That
did for him. The ball passed in behind the shoulder and right through
his heart. He fell over on to his side, gave one more awful squeal--a
dozen pigs could not have made such a noise--and promptly died, keeping
his wicked eyes wide open all the time.
"As for me, I blew my nose, and going up to the rhinoceros sat on his
head, and reflected that I had done a capital morning's shooting."
III--THE FIRST ROUND
"After this, as it was now midday, and I had killed enough meat, we
marched back triumphantly to camp, where I proceeded to concoct a stew
of buffalo beef and compressed vegetables. When this was ready we ate
the stew, and then I took a nap. About four o'clock, however, Gobo
woke me up, and told me that the head man of one of Wambe's kraals had
arrived to see me. I ordered him to be brought up, and presently he
came, a little, wizened, talkative old man, with a waistcloth round his
middle, and a greasy, frayed kaross made of the skins of rock rabbits
over his shoulders.
"I told him to sit down, and then abused him roundly. 'What did he
mean,' I asked, 'by disturbing me in this rude way? How did he dare to
cause a person of my quality and evident importance to be awakened in
order to interview his entirely contemptible self?'
"I spoke thus because I knew that it would produce an impression on him.
Nobody, except a really great man, he would argue, would dare to speak
to him in that fashion. Most savages are desperate bullies at heart, and
look on insolence as a sign of power.
"The old man instantly collapsed. He was utterly overcome, he said;
his heart was split in two, and well realized the extent of his
misbehaviour. But the occasion was very urgent. He heard that a mighty
hunter was in the neighbourhood, a beautiful white man, how beautiful
he could not have imagined had he not seen (this to me!), and he came to
beg his assistance. The truth was, that three bull elephants such as no
man ever saw had for years been the terror of their kraal, which was
but a small place--a cattle kraal of the great chief Wambe's, where they
lived to keep the cattle. And now of late these elephants had done them
much damage; but last night they had destroyed a whole patch of mealie
land, and he feared that if they came back they would all starve next
season for want of food. Would the mighty white man then be pleased to
come and kill the elephants? It would be easy for him to do--oh, most
easy! It was only necessary that he should hide himself in a tree, for
there was a full moon, and then when the elephants appeared he would
speak to them with the gun, and they would fall down dead, and there
would be an end of their troubling.
"Of course I hummed and hawed, and made a great favour of consenting to
his proposal, though really I was delighted to have such a chance. One
of the conditions that I made was that a messenger should at once be
despatched to Wambe, whose kraal was two days' journey from where I was,
telling him that I proposed to come and pay my respects to him in a few
days, and to ask his formal permission to shoot in his country. Also
I intimated that I was prepared to present him with 'hongo,' that is,
blackmail, and that I hoped to do a little trade with him in ivory, of
which I heard he had a great quantity.
"This message the old gentleman promised to despatch at once, though
there was something about his manner which showed me that he was
doubtful as to how it would be received. After that we struck our camp
and moved on to the kraal, which we reached about an hour before sunset.
This kraal was a collection of huts surrounded by a slight thorn-fence,
perhaps there were ten of them in all. It was situated in a kloof of the
mountain down which a rivulet flowed. The kloof was densely wooded, but
for some distance above the kraal it was free from bush, and here on the
rich deep ground brought down by the rivulet were the cultivated lands,
in extent somewhere about twenty or twenty-five acres. On the kraal side
of these lands stood a single hut, that served for a mealie store, which
at the moment was used as a dwelling-place by an old woman, the first
wife of our friend the head man.
"It appears that this lady, having had some difference of opinion with
her husband about the extent of authority allowed to a younger and more
amiable wife, had refused to dwell in the kraal any more, and, by way
of marking her displeasure, had taken up her abode among the mealies. As
the issue will show, she was, it happened, cutting off her nose to spite
"Close by this hut grew a large baobab tree. A glance at the mealie
grounds showed me that the old head man had not exaggerated the mischief
done by the elephants to his crops, which were now getting ripe. Nearly
half of the entire patch was destroyed. The great brutes had eaten all
they could, and the rest they had trampled down. I went up to their
spoor and started back in amazement--never had I seen such a spoor
before. It was simply enormous, more especially that of one old bull,
that carried, so said the natives, but a single tusk. One might have
used any of the footprints for a hip-bath.
"Having taken stock of the position, my next step was to make
arrangements for the fray. The three bulls, according to the natives,
had been spoored into the dense patch of bush above the kloof. Now it
seemed to me very probable that they would return to-night to feed on
the remainder of the ripening mealies. If so, there was a bright moon,
and it struck me that by the exercise of a little ingenuity I might bag
one or more of them without exposing myself to any risk, which, having
the highest respect for the aggressive powers of bull elephants, was a
great consideration to me.
"This then was my plan. To the right of the huts as you look up the
kloof, and commanding the mealie lands, stands the baobab tree that I
have mentioned. Into that baobab tree I made up my mind to go. Then
if the elephants appeared I should get a shot at them. I announced my
intentions to the head man of the kraal, who was delighted. 'Now,'
he said, 'his people might sleep in peace, for while the mighty white
hunter sat aloft like a spirit watching over the welfare of his kraal
what was there to fear?'
"I told him that he was an ungrateful brute to think of sleeping in
peace while, perched like a wounded vulture on a tree, I watched for his
welfare in wakeful sorrow; and once more he collapsed, and owned that my
words were 'sharp but just.'
"However, as I have said, confidence was completely restored; and that
evening everybody in the kraal, including the superannuated victim of
jealousy in the little hut where the mealie cobs were stored, went to
bed with a sense of sweet security from elephants and all other animals
that prowl by night.
"For my part, I pitched my camp below the kraal; and then, having
procured a beam of wood from the head man--rather a rotten one, by the
way--I set it across two boughs that ran out laterally from the baobab
tree, at a height of about twenty-five feet from the ground, in such
fashion that I and another man could sit upon it with our legs hanging
down, and rest our backs against the bole of the tree. This done I went
back to the camp and ate my supper. About nine o'clock, half-an-hour
before the moon-rise, I summoned Gobo, who, thinking that he had seen
about enough of the delights of big game hunting for that day, did not
altogether relish the job; and, despite his remonstrances, gave him my
eight-bore to carry, I having the .570-express. Then we set out for
the tree. It was very dark, but we found it without difficulty, though
climbing it was a more complicated matter. However, at last we got up
and sat down, like two little boys on a form that is too high for
them, and waited. I did not dare to smoke, because I remembered the
rhinoceros, and feared that the elephants might wind the tobacco if they
should come my way, and this made the business more wearisome, so I fell
to thinking and wondering at the completeness of the silence.
"At last the moon came up, and with it a moaning wind, at the breath of
which the silence began to whisper mysteriously. Lonely enough in the
newborn light looked the wide expanse of mountain, plain, and forest,
more like some vision of a dream, some reflection from a fair world of
peace beyond our ken, than the mere face of garish earth made soft with
sleep. Indeed, had it not been for the fact that I was beginning to find
the log on which I sat very hard, I should have grown quite sentimental
over the beautiful sight; but I will defy anybody to become sentimental
when seated in the damp, on a very rough beam of wood, and half-way up
a tree. So I merely made a mental note that it was a particularly lovely
night, and turned my attention to the prospect of elephants. But no
elephants came, and after waiting for another hour or so, I think that
what between weariness and disgust, I must have dropped into a gentle
doze. Presently I awoke with a start. Gobo, who was perched close to me,
but as far off as the beam would allow--for neither white man nor black
like the aroma which each vows is the peculiar and disagreeable property
of the other--was faintly, very faintly clicking his forefinger against
his thumb. I knew by this signal, a very favourite one among native
hunters and gun-bearers, that he must have seen or heard something. I
looked at his face, and saw that he was staring excitedly towards the
dim edge of the bush beyond the deep green line of mealies. I stared
too, and listened. Presently I heard a soft large sound as though a
giant were gently stretching out his hands and pressing back the ears
of standing corn. Then came a pause, and then, out into the open
majestically stalked the largest elephant I ever saw or ever shall see.
Heavens! what a monster he was; and how the moonlight gleamed upon his
one splendid tusk--for the other was missing--as he stood among the
mealies gently moving his enormous ears to and fro, and testing the
wind with his trunk. While I was still marvelling at his girth, and
speculating upon the weight of that huge tusk, which I swore should be
my tusk before very long, out stepped a second bull and stood beside
him. He was not quite so tall, but he seemed to me to be almost
thicker-set than the first; and even in that light I could see that both
his tusks were perfect. Another pause, and the third emerged. He was
shorter than either of the others, but higher in the shoulder than No.
2; and when I tell you, as I afterwards learnt from actual measurement,
that the smallest of these mighty bulls measured twelve feet one and a
half inches at the shoulder, it will give you some idea of their size.
The three formed into line and stood still for a minute, the one-tusked
bull gently caressing the elephant on the left with his trunk.
"Then they began to feed, walking forward and slightly to the right as
they gathered great bunches of the sweet mealies and thrust them into
their mouths. All this time they were more than a hundred and twenty
yards away from me (this I knew, because I had paced the distances from
the tree to various points), much too far to allow of my attempting
a shot at them in that uncertain light. They fed in a semicircle,
gradually drawing round towards the hut near my tree, in which the corn
was stored and the old woman slept.
"This went on for between an hour and an hour and a half, till, what
between excitement and hope, that maketh the heart sick, I grew so
weary that I was actually contemplating a descent from the tree and a
moonlight stalk. Such an act in ground so open would have been that of a
stark staring lunatic, and that I should even have been contemplating it
will show you the condition of my mind. But everything comes to him who
knows how to wait, and sometimes too to him who doesn't, and so at last
those elephants, or rather one of them, came to me.
"After they had fed their fill, which was a very large one, the noble
three stood once more in line some seventy yards to the left of the hut,
and on the edge of the cultivated lands, or in all about eighty-five
yards from where I was perched. Then at last the one with a single tusk
made a peculiar rattling noise in his trunk, just as though he were
blowing his nose, and without more ado began to walk deliberately toward
the hut where the old woman slept. I made my rifle ready and glanced up
at the moon, only to discover that a new complication was looming in the
immediate future. I have said that a wind rose with the moon. Well, the
wind brought rain-clouds along its track. Several light ones had already
lessened the light for a little while, though without obscuring it, and
now two more were coming up rapidly, both of them very black and dense.
The first cloud was small and long, and the one behind big and broad. I
remember noticing that the pair of them bore a most comical resemblance
to a dray drawn by a very long raw-boned horse. As luck would have it,
just as the elephant arrived within twenty-five yards or so of me, the
head of the horse-cloud floated over the face of the moon, rendering
it impossible for me to fire. In the faint twilight which remained,
however, I could just make out the gray mass of the great brute still
advancing towards the hut. Then the light went altogether and I had to
trust to my ears. I heard him fumbling with his trunk, apparently at the
roof of the hut; next came a sound as of straw being drawn out, and then
for a little while there was complete silence.
"The cloud began to pass; I could see the outline of the elephant; he
was standing with his head quite over the top of the hut. But I could
not see his trunk, and no wonder, for it was _inside the hut_. He had
thrust it through the roof, and, attracted no doubt by the smell of the
mealies, was groping about with it inside. It was growing light now, and
I got my rifle ready, when suddenly there was a most awful yell, and
I saw the trunk reappear, and in its mighty fold the old woman who
had been sleeping in the hut. Out she came through the hole like a
periwinkle on the point of a pin, still wrapped up in her blanket,
and with her skinny arms and legs stretched to the four points of the
compass, and as she did so, gave that most alarming screech. I really
don't know who was the most frightened, she, or I, or the elephant. At
any rate the last was considerably startled; he had been fishing
for mealies--the old woman was a mere accident, and one that greatly
discomposed his nerves. He gave a sort of trumpet, and threw her away
from him right into the crown of a low mimosa tree, where she stuck
shrieking like a metropolitan engine. The old bull lifted his tail, and
flapping his great ears prepared for flight. I put up my eight-bore, and
aiming hastily at the point of his shoulder (for he was broadside on), I
fired. The report rang out like thunder, making a thousand echoes in
the quiet hills. I saw him go down all of a heap as though he were stone
dead. Then, alas! whether it was the kick of the heavy rifle, or the
excited bump of that idiot Gobo, or both together, or merely an unhappy
coincidence, I do not know, but the rotten beam broke and I went down
too, landing flat at the foot of the tree upon a certain humble portion
of the human frame. The shock was so severe that I felt as though all
my teeth were flying through the roof of my mouth, but although I sat
slightly stunned for a few seconds, luckily for me I fell light, and was
not in any way injured.
"Meanwhile the elephant began to scream with fear and fury, and,
attracted by his cries, the other two charged up. I felt for my rifle;
it was not there. Then I remembered that I had rested it on a fork of
the bough in order to fire, and doubtless there it remained. My position
was now very unpleasant. I did not dare to try and climb the tree again,
which, shaken as I was, would have been a task of some difficulty,
because the elephants would certainly see me, and Gobo, who had clung to
a bough, was still aloft with the other rifle. I could not run because
there was no shelter near. Under these circumstances I did the only
thing feasible, clambered round the trunk as softly as possible, and
keeping one eye on the elephants, whispered to Gobo to bring down the
rifle, and awaited the development of the situation. I knew that if
the elephants did not see me--which, luckily, they were too enraged to
do--they would not smell me, for I was up-wind. Gobo, however, either
did not, or, preferring the safety of the tree, would not hear me. He
said the former, but I believed the latter, for I knew that he was not
enough of a sportsman to really enjoy shooting elephants by moonlight in
the open. So there I was behind my tree, dismayed, unarmed, but highly
interested, for I was witnessing a remarkable performance.
"When the two other bulls arrived the wounded elephant on the ground
ceased to scream, but began to make a low moaning noise, and to gently
touch the wound near his shoulder, from which the blood was literally
spouting. The other two seemed to understand; at any rate, they did
this. Kneeling down on either side, they placed their trunks and tusks
underneath him, and, aided by his own efforts, with one great lift got
him on to his feet. Then leaning against him on either side to support
him, they marched off at a walk in the direction of the village.[*] It
was a pitiful sight, and even then it made me feel a brute.
[*] The Editor would have been inclined to think that in
relating this incident Mr. Quatermain was making himself
interesting at the expense of the exact truth, did it not
happen that a similar incident has come within his
"Presently, from a walk, as the wounded elephant gathered himself
together a little, they broke into a trot, and after that I could follow
them no longer with my eyes, for the second black cloud came up over the
moon and put her out, as an extinguisher puts out a dip. I say with my
eyes, but my ears gave me a very fair notion of what was going on. When
the cloud came up the three terrified animals were heading directly for
the kraal, probably because the way was open and the path easy. I fancy
that they grew confused in the darkness, for when they came to the kraal
fence they did not turn aside, but crashed straight through it. Then
there were 'times,' as the Irish servant-girl says in the American book.
Having taken the fence, they thought that they might as well take the
kraal also, so they just ran over it. One hive-shaped hut was turned
quite over on to its top, and when I arrived upon the scene the people
who had been sleeping there were bumbling about inside like bees
disturbed at night, while two more were crushed flat, and a third had
all its side torn out. Oddly enough, however, nobody was hurt, though
several people had a narrow escape of being trodden to death.
"On arrival I found the old head man in a state painfully like that
favoured by Greek art, dancing about in front of his ruined abodes as
vigorously as though he had just been stung by a scorpion.
"I asked him what ailed him, and he burst out into a flood of abuse.
He called me a Wizard, a Sham, a Fraud, a Bringer of bad luck! I had
promised to kill the elephants, and I had so arranged things that the
elephants had nearly killed him, etc.
"This, still smarting, or rather aching, as I was from that most
terrific bump, was too much for my feelings, so I just made a rush at
my friend, and getting him by the ear, I banged his head against the
doorway of his own hut, which was all that was left of it.
"'You wicked old scoundrel,' I said, 'you dare to complain about your
own trifling inconveniences, when you gave me a rotten beam to sit on,
and thereby delivered me to the fury of the elephant' (_bump! bump!
bump!_), 'when your own wife' (_bump!_) 'has just been dragged out
of her hut' (_bump!_) 'like a snail from its shell, and thrown by the
Earth-shaker into a tree' (_bump! bump!_).
"'Mercy, my father, mercy!' gasped the old fellow. 'Truly I have done
amiss--my heart tells me so.'
"'I should hope it did, you old villain' (_bump!_).
"'Mercy, great white man! I thought the log was sound. But what says the
unequalled chief--is the old woman, my wife, indeed dead? Ah, if she is
dead all may yet prove to have been for the very best;' and he clasped
his hands and looked up piously to heaven, in which the moon was once
more shining brightly.
"I let go his ear and burst out laughing, the whole scene and his devout
aspirations for the decease of the partner of his joys, or rather woes,
were so intensely ridiculous.
"'No, you old iniquity,' I answered; 'I left her in the top of a
thorn-tree, screaming like a thousand bluejays. The elephant put her
"'Alas! alas!' he said, 'surely the back of the ox is shaped to the
burden. Doubtless, my father, she will come down when she is tired;' and
without troubling himself further about the matter, he began to blow at
the smouldering embers of the fire.
"And, as a matter of fact, she did appear a few minutes later,
considerably scratched and startled, but none the worse.
"After that I made my way to my little camp, which, fortunately, the
elephants had not walked over, and wrapping myself up in a blanket, was
soon fast asleep.
"And so ended my first round with those three elephants."
IV--THE LAST ROUND
"On the morrow I woke up full of painful recollections, and not without
a certain feeling of gratitude to the Powers above that I was there
to wake up. Yesterday had been a tempestuous day; indeed, what between
buffalo, rhinoceros, and elephant, it had been very tempestuous. Having
realized this fact, I next bethought me of those magnificent tusks, and
instantly, early as it was, broke the tenth commandment. I coveted my
neighbours tusks, if an elephant could be said to be my neighbour _de
jure_, as certainly, so recently as the previous night, he had been _de
facto_--a much closer neighbour than I cared for, indeed. Now when you
covet your neighbour's goods, the best thing, if not the most moral
thing, to do is to enter his house as a strong man armed, and take them.
I was not a strong man, but having recovered my eight-bore I was
armed, and so was the other strong man--the elephant with the tusks.
Consequently I prepared for a struggle to the death. In other words, I
summoned my faithful retainers, and told them that I was now going to
follow those elephants to the edge of the world, if necessary. They
showed a certain bashfulness about the business, but they did not
gainsay me, because they dared not. Ever since I had prepared with all
due solemnity to execute the rebellious Gobo they had conceived a great
respect for me.
"So I went up to bid adieu to the old head man, whom I found alternately
contemplating the ruins of his kraal and, with the able assistance of
his last wife, thrashing the jealous lady who had slept in the mealie
hut, because she was, as he declared, the fount of all his sorrows.
"Leaving them to work a way through their domestic differences, I levied
a supply of vegetable food from the kraal in consideration of services
rendered, and left them with my blessing. I do not know how they settled
matters, because I have not seen them since.
"Then I started on the spoor of the three bulls. For a couple of miles
or so below the kraal--as far, indeed, as the belt of swamp that borders
the river--the ground is at this spot rather stony, and clothed with
scattered bushes. Rain had fallen towards the daybreak, and this fact,
together with the nature of the soil, made spooring a very difficult
business. The wounded bull had indeed bled freely, but the rain had
washed the blood off the leaves and grass, and the ground being so
rough and hard did not take the footmarks so clearly as was convenient.
However, we got along, though slowly, partly by the spoor, and partly
by carefully lifting leaves and blades of grass, and finding blood
underneath them, for the blood gushing from a wounded animal often falls
upon their inner surfaces, and then, of course, unless the rain is very
heavy, it is not washed away. It took us something over an hour and a
half to reach the edge of the marsh, but once there our task became
much easier, for the soft soil showed plentiful evidences of the great
brutes' passage. Threading our way through the swampy land, we came
at last to a ford of the river, and here we could see where the poor
wounded animal had lain down in the mud and water in the hope of easing
himself of his pain, and could see also how his two faithful companions
had assisted him to rise again. We crossed the ford, and took up the
spoor on the further side, and followed it into the marsh-like
land beyond. No rain had fallen on this side of the river, and the
blood-marks were consequently much more frequent.
"All that day we followed the three bulls, now across open plains, and
now through patches of bush. They seemed to have travelled on almost
without stopping, and I noticed that as they went the wounded bull
recovered his strength a little. This I could see from his spoor, which
had become firmer, and also from the fact that the other two had ceased
to support him. At last evening closed in, and having travelled some
eighteen miles, we camped, thoroughly tired out.
"Before dawn on the following day we were up, and the first break of
light found us once more on the spoor. About half-past five o'clock
we reached the place where the elephants had fed and slept. The
two unwounded bulls had taken their fill, as the condition of the
neighbouring bushes showed, but the wounded one had eaten nothing. He
had spent the night leaning against a good-sized tree, which his weight
had pushed out of the perpendicular. They had not long left this place,
and could not be very far ahead, especially as the wounded bull was now
again so stiff after his night's rest that for the first few miles the
other two had been obliged to support him. But elephants go very quick,
even when they seem to be travelling slowly, for shrub and creepers that
almost stop a man's progress are no hindrance to them. The three had
now turned to the left, and were travelling back again in a semicircular
line toward the mountains, probably with the idea of working round to
their old feeding grounds on the further side of the river.
"There was nothing for it but to follow their lead, and accordingly
we followed with industry. Through all that long hot day did we tramp,
passing quantities of every sort of game, and even coming across the
spoor of other elephants. But, in spite of my men's entreaties, I would
not turn aside after these. I would have those mighty tusks or none.
"By evening we were quite close to our game, probably within a quarter
of a mile, but the bush was dense, and we could see nothing of them, so
once more we must camp, thoroughly disgusted with our luck. That night,
just after the moon rose, while I was sitting smoking my pipe with my
back against a tree, I heard an elephant trumpet, as though something
had startled it, and not three hundred yards away. I was very tired, but
my curiosity overcame my weariness, so, without saying a word to any of
the men, all of whom were asleep, I took my eight-bore and a few spare
cartridges, and steered toward the sound. The game path which we had
been following all day ran straight on in the direction from which the
elephant had trumpeted. It was narrow, but well trodden, and the
light struck down upon it in a straight white line. I crept along it
cautiously for some two hundred yards, when it opened suddenly into a
most beautiful glade some hundred yards or more in width, wherein tall
grass grew and flat-topped trees stood singly. With the caution born of
long experience I watched for a few moments before I entered the glade,
and then I saw why the elephant had trumpeted. There in the middle of
the glade stood a large maned lion. He stood quite still, making a soft
purring noise, and waving his tail to and fro. Presently the grass about
forty yards on the hither side of him gave a wide ripple, and a lioness
sprang out of it like a flash, and bounded noiselessly up to the lion.
Reaching him, the great cat halted suddenly, and rubbed her head against
his shoulder. Then they both began to purr loudly, so loudly that I
believe that in the stillness one might have heard them two hundred
yards or more away.
"After a time, while I was still hesitating what to do, either they got
a whiff of my wind, or they wearied of standing still, and determined
to start in search of game. At any rate, as though moved by a common
impulse, they bounded suddenly away, leap by leap, and vanished in the
depths of the forest to the left. I waited for a little while longer to
see if there were any more yellow skins about, and seeing none, came to
the conclusion that the lions must have frightened the elephants away,
and that I had taken my stroll for nothing. But just as I was turning
back I thought that I heard a bough break upon the further side of the
glade, and, rash as the act was, I followed the sound. I crossed the
glade as silently as my own shadow. On its further side the path went
on. Albeit with many fears, I went on too. The jungle growth was so
thick here that it almost met overhead, leaving so small a passage for
the light that I could scarcely see to grope my way along. Presently,
however, it widened, and then opened into a second glade slightly
smaller than the first, and there, on the further side of it, about
eighty yards from me, stood the three enormous elephants.
"They stood thus:--Immediately opposite and facing me was the wounded
one-tusked bull. He was leaning his bulk against a dead thorn-tree, the
only one in the place, and looked very sick indeed. Near him stood the
second bull as though keeping a watch over him. The third elephant was
a good deal nearer to me and broadside on. While I was still staring at
them, this elephant suddenly walked off and vanished down a path in the
bush to the right.
"There are now two things to be done--either I could go back to the camp
and advance upon the elephants at dawn, or I could attack them at once.
The first was, of course, by far the wiser and safer course. To engage
one elephant by moonlight and single-handed is a sufficiently rash
proceeding; to tackle three was little short of lunacy. But, on
the other hand, I knew that they would be on the march again before
daylight, and there might come another day of weary trudging before I
could catch them up, or they might escape me altogether.
"'No,' I thought to myself, 'faint heart never won fair tusk. I'll risk
it, and have a slap at them. But how?' I could not advance across the
open, for they would see me; clearly the only thing to do was to creep
round in the shadow of the bush and try to come upon them so. So I
started. Seven or eight minutes of careful stalking brought me to the
mouth of the path down which the third elephant had walked. The other
two were now about fifty yards from me, and the nature of the wall of
bush was such that I could not see how to get nearer to them without
being discovered. I hesitated, and peeped down the path which the
elephant had followed. About five yards in, it took a turn round a
shrub. I thought that I would just have a look behind it, and advanced,
expecting that I should be able to catch a sight of the elephant's tail.
As it happened, however, I met his trunk coming round the corner. It is
very disconcerting to see an elephant's trunk when you expect to see his
tail, and for a moment I stood paralyzed almost under the vast brute's
head, for he was not five yards from me. He too halted, threw up his
trunk and trumpeted preparatory to a charge. I was in for it now, for
I could not escape either to the right or left, on account of the bush,
and I did not dare turn my back. So I did the only thing that I could
do--raised the rifle and fired at the black mass of his chest. It was
too dark for me to pick a shot; I could only brown him, as it were.
"The shot rung out like thunder on the quiet air, and the elephant
answered it with a scream, then dropped his trunk and stood for a second
or two as still as though he had been cut in stone. I confess that I
lost my head; I ought to have fired my second barrel, but I did not.
Instead of doing so, I rapidly opened my rifle, pulled out the old
cartridge from the right barrel and replaced it. But before I could snap
the breech to, the bull was at me. I saw his great trunk fly up like a
brown beam, and I waited no longer. Turning, I fled for dear life, and
after me thundered the elephant. Right into the open glade I ran, and
then, thank Heaven, just as he was coming up with me the bullet took
effect on him. He had been shot right through the heart, or lungs, and
down he fell with a crash, stone dead.
"But in escaping from Scylla I had run into the jaws of Charybdis. I
heard the elephant fall, and glanced round. Straight in front of me,
and not fifteen paces away, were the other two bulls. They were staring
about, and at that moment they caught sight of me. Then they came, the
pair of them--came like thunderbolts, and from different angles. I had
only time to snap my rifle to, lift it, and fire, almost at haphazard,
at the head of the nearest, the unwounded bull.
"Now, as you know, in the case of the African elephant, whose skull is
convex, and not concave like that of the Indian, this is always a most
risky and very frequently a perfectly useless shot. The bullet loses
itself in the masses of bone, that is all. But there is one little vital
place, and should the bullet happen to strike there, it will follow
the channel of the nostrils--at least I suppose it is that of the
nostrils--and reach the brain. And this was what happened in the present
case--the ball struck the fatal spot in the region of the eye and
travelled to the brain. Down came the great bull all of a heap, and
rolled on to his side as dead as a stone. I swung round at that instant
to face the third, the monster bull with one tusk that I had wounded
two days before. He was already almost over me, and in the dim moonlight
seemed to tower above me like a house. I lifted the rifle and pulled
at his neck. It would not go off! Then, in a flash, as it were, I
remembered that it was on the half-cock. The lock of this barrel was a
little weak, and a few days before, in firing at a cow eland, the
left barrel had jarred off at the shock of the discharge of the right,
knocking me backwards with the recoil; so after that I had kept it on
the half-cock till I actually wanted to fire it.
"I gave one desperate bound to the right, and, my lame leg
notwithstanding, I believe that few men could have made a better jump.
At any rate, it was none too soon, for as I jumped I felt the wind made
by the tremendous downward stroke of the monster's trunk. Then I ran for
"I ran like a buck, still keeping hold of my gun, however. My idea,
so far as I could be said to have any fixed idea, was to bolt down the
pathway up which I had come, like a rabbit down a burrow, trusting that
he would lose sight of me in the uncertain light. I sped across the
glade. Fortunately the bull, being wounded, could not go full speed;
but wounded or no, he could go quite as fast as I could. I was unable to
gain an inch, and away we went, with just about three feet between our
separate extremities. We were at the other side now, and a glance served
to show me that I had miscalculated and overshot the opening. To reach
it now was hopeless; I should have blundered straight into the elephant.
So I did the only thing I could do: I swerved like a course hare, and
started off round the edge of the glade, seeking for some opening into
which I could plunge. This gave me a moment's start, for the bull
could not turn as quickly as I could, and I made the most of it. But no
opening could I see; the bush was like a wall. We were speeding round
the edge of the glade, and the elephant was coming up again. Now he was
within about six feet, and now, as he trumpeted or rather screamed,
I could feel the fierce hot blast of his breath strike upon my head.
Heavens! how it frightened me!
"We were three parts round the glade now, and about fifty yards ahead
was the single large dead thorn-tree against which the bull had been
leaning. I spurted for it; it was my last chance of safety. But spurt as
I would, it seemed hours before I got there. Putting out my right hand,
I swung round the tree, thus bringing myself face to face with the
elephant. I had not time to lift the rifle to fire, I had barely time to
cock it, and run sideways and backward, when he was on to me. Crash! he
came, striking the tree full with his forehead. It snapped like a carrot
about forty inches from the ground. Fortunately I was clear of the
trunk, but one of the dead branches struck me on the chest as it went
down and swept me to the ground. I fell upon my back, and the elephant
blundered past me as I lay. More by instinct than anything else I lifted
the rifle with one hand and pulled the trigger. It exploded, and, as I
discovered afterwards, the bullet struck him in the ribs. But the recoil
of the heavy rifle held thus was very severe; it bent my arm up, and
sent the butt with a thud against the top of my shoulder and the side of
my neck, for the moment quite paralyzing me, and causing the weapon to
jump from my grasp. Meanwhile the bull was rushing on. He travelled for
some twenty paces, and then suddenly he stopped. Faintly I reflected
that he was coming back to finish me, but even the prospect of imminent
and dreadful death could not rouse me into action. I was utterly spent;
I could not move.
"Idly, almost indifferently, I watched his movements. For a moment
he stood still, next he trumpeted till the welkin rang, and then very
slowly, and with great dignity, he knelt down. At this point I swooned
"When I came to myself again I saw from the moon that I must have been
insensible for quite two hours. I was drenched with dew, and shivering
all over. At first I could not think where I was, when, on lifting
my head, I saw the outline of the one-tusked bull still kneeling some
five-and-twenty paces from me. Then I remembered. Slowly I raised
myself, and was instantly taken with a violent sickness, the result
of over-exertion, after which I very nearly fainted a second time.
Presently I grew better, and considered the position. Two of the
elephants were, as I knew, dead; but how about No. 3? There he knelt in
majesty in the lonely moonlight. The question was, was he resting, or
dead? I rose on my hands and knees, loaded my rifle, and painfully crept
a few paces nearer. I could see his eye now, for the moonlight fell full
upon it--it was open, and rather prominent. I crouched and watched; the
eyelid did not move, nor did the great brown body, or the trunk, or the
ear, or the tail--nothing moved. Then I knew that he must be dead.
"I crept up to him, still keeping the rifle well forward, and gave him a
thump, reflecting as I did so how very near I had been to being thumped
instead of thumping. He never stirred; certainly he was dead, though to
this day I do not know if it was my random shot that killed him, or
if he died from concussion of the brain consequent upon the tremendous
shock of his contact with the tree. Anyhow, there he was. Cold and
beautiful he lay, or rather knelt, as the poet nearly puts it. Indeed, I
do not think that I have ever seen a sight more imposing in its way than
that of the mighty beast crouched in majestic death, and shone upon by
the lonely moon.
"While I stood admiring the scene, and heartily congratulating myself
upon my escape, once more I began to feel sick. Accordingly, without
waiting to examine the other two bulls, I staggered back to the camp,
which in due course I reached in safety. Everybody in it was asleep. I
did not wake them, but having swallowed a mouthful of brandy I threw
off my coat and shoes, rolled myself up in a blanket, and was soon fast
"When I woke it was already light, and at first I thought that, like
Joseph, I had dreamed a dream. At that moment, however, I turned my
head, and quickly knew that it was no dream, for my neck and face were
so stiff from the blow of the butt-end of the rifle that it was agony
to move them. I collapsed for a minute or two. Gobo and another man,
wrapped up like a couple of monks in their blankets, thinking that I was
still asleep, were crouched over a little fire they had made, for the
morning was damp and chilly, and holding sweet converse.
"Gobo said that he was getting tired of running after elephants which
they never caught. Macumazahn (that is, myself) was without doubt a man
of parts, and of some skill in shooting, but also he was a fool. None
but a fool would run so fast and far after elephants which it was
impossible to catch, when they kept cutting the spoor of fresh ones.
He certainly was a fool, but he must not be allowed to continue in
his folly; and he, Gobo, had determined to put a stop to it. He should
refuse to accompany him any further on so mad a hunt.
"'Yes,' the other answered, 'the poor man certainly was sick in his
head, and it was quite time that they checked his folly while they still
had a patch of skin left upon their feet. Moreover, he for his part
certainly did not like this country of Wambe's, which really was full of
ghosts. Only the last night he had heard the spooks at work--they were
out shooting, at least it sounded as though they were. It was very
queer, but perhaps their lunatic of a master----'
"'Gobo, you scoundrel!' I shouted out at this juncture, sitting bolt
upright on the blankets, 'stop idling there and make me some coffee.'
"Up sprang Gobo and his friend, and in half a moment were respectfully
skipping about in a manner that contrasted well with the lordly contempt
of their previous conversation. But all the time they were in earnest in
what they said about hunting the elephants any further, for before I had
finished my coffee they came to me in a body, and said that if I wanted
to follow those elephants I must follow them myself, for they would not
"I argued with them, and affected to be much put out. The elephants were
close at hand, I said; I was sure of it; I had heard them trumpet in the
"'Yes,' answered the men mysteriously, 'they too had heard things in the
night, things not nice to hear; they had heard the spooks out shooting,
and no longer would they remain in a country so vilely haunted.'
"'It was nonsense,' I replied. 'If ghosts went out shooting, surely
they would use air-guns and not black powder, and one would not hear
an air-gun. Well, if they were cowards, and would not come, of course
I could not force them to, but I would make a bargain with them. They
should follow those elephants for one half-hour more, then if we failed
to come upon them I would abandon the pursuit, and we would go straight
to Wambe, chief of the Matuku, and give him hongo.'
"To this compromise the men agreed readily. Accordingly about
half-an-hour later we struck our camp and started, and notwithstanding
my aches and bruises, I do not think that I ever felt in better spirits
in my life. It is something to wake up in the morning and remember that
in the dead of the night, single-handed, one has given battle to and
overthrown three of the largest elephants in Africa, slaying them with
three bullets. Such a feat to my knowledge had never been done before,
and on that particular morning I felt a very 'tall man of my hands'
indeed. The only thing I feared was, that should I ever come to tell
the story nobody would believe it, for when a strange tale is told by
a hunter, people are apt to think it is necessarily a lie, instead of
being only probably so.[*]
[*] For the satisfaction of any who may be so disbelieving
as to take this view of Mr. Quatermain's story, the Editor
may state that a gentleman with whom he is acquainted, and
whose veracity he believes to be beyond doubt, not long ago
described to him how he chanced to kill _four_ African
elephants with four consecutive bullets. Two of these
elephants were charging him simultaneously, and out of the
four three were killed with the head shot, a very uncommon
thing in the case of the African elephant.--Editor.
"Well, we passed on till, having crossed the first glade where I had
seen the lions, we reached the neck of bush that separated it from the
second glade, where the dead elephants were. And here I began to take
elaborate precautions, amongst others ordering Gobo to keep some yards
ahead and look out sharp, as I thought that the elephants might be
about. He obeyed my instructions with a superior smile, and pushed
ahead. Presently I saw him pull up as though he had been shot, and begin
to snap his fingers faintly.
"'What is it?' I whispered.
"'The elephant, the great elephant with one tusk kneeling down.'
"I crept up beside him. There knelt the bull as I had left him last
night, and there too lay the other bulls.
"'Do these elephants sleep?' I whispered to the astonished Gobo.
"'Yes, Macumazahn, they sleep.'
"'Nay, Gobo, they are dead.'
"'Dead? How can they be dead? Who killed them?'
"'What do people call me, Gobo?'
"'They call you Macumazahn.'
"'And what does Macumazahn mean?'
"'It means the man who keeps his eyes open, the man who gets up in the
"'Yes, Gobo, and I am that man. Look, you idle, lazy cowards; while you
slept last night I rose, and alone I hunted those great elephants, and
slew them by the moonlight. To each of them I gave one bullet and only
one, and it fell dead. Look,' and I advanced into the glade, 'here is
my spoor, and here is the spoor of the great bull charging after me, and
there is the tree that I took refuge behind; see, the elephant shattered
it in his charge. Oh, you cowards, you who would give up the chase
while the blood spoor steamed beneath your nostrils, see what I did
single-handed while you slept, and be ashamed.'
"'_Ou!_' said the men, '_ou!_ Koos! Koos y umcool!' (Chief, great
Chief!) And then they held their tongues, and going up to the three dead
beasts, gazed upon them in silence.
"But after that those men looked upon me with awe as being almost
more than mortal. No mere man, they said, could have slain those three
elephants alone in the night-time. I never had any further trouble with
them. I believe that if I had told them to jump over a precipice and
that they would take no harm, they would have believed me.
"Well, I went up and examined the bulls. Such tusks as they had I never
saw and never shall see again. It took us all day to cut them out; and
when they reached Delagoa Bay, as they did ultimately, though not in my
keeping, the single tusk of the big bull scaled one hundred and sixty
pounds, and the four other tusks averaged ninety-nine and a half
pounds--a most wonderful, indeed an almost unprecedented, lot of
ivory.[*] Unfortunately I was forced to saw the big tusk in two,
otherwise we could not have carried it."
[*] The largest elephant tusk of which the Editor has any
certain knowledge scaled one hundred and fifty pounds.
"Oh, Quatermain, you barbarian!" I broke in here, "the idea of spoiling
such a tusk! Why, I would have kept it whole if I had been obliged to
drag it myself."
"Oh yes, young man," he answered, "it is all very well for you to talk
like that, but if you had found yourself in the position which it was
my privilege to occupy a few hours afterwards, it is my belief that you
would have thrown the tusks away altogether and taken to your heels."
"Oh," said Good, "so that isn't the end of the yarn? A very good yarn,
Quatermain, by the way--I couldn't have made up a better one myself."
The old gentleman looked at Good severely, for it irritated him to be
chaffed about his stories.
"I don't know what you mean, Good. I don't see that there is any
comparison between a true story of adventure and the preposterous tales
which you invent about ibex hanging by their horns. No, it is not the
end of the story; the most exciting part is to come. But I have talked
enough for to-night; and if you go on in that way, Good, it will be some
time before I begin again."
"Sorry I spoke, I'm sure," said Good, humbly. "Let's have a split to
show that there is no ill-feeling." And they did.
V--THE MESSAGE OF MAIWA
On the following evening we once more dined together, and Quatermain,
after some pressure, was persuaded to continue his story--for Good's
remark still rankled in his breast.
"At last," he went on, "a few minutes before sunset, the task was
finished. We had laboured at it all day, stopping only once for dinner,
for it is no easy matter to hew out five such tusks as those which
now lay before me in a white and gleaming line. It was a dinner worth
eating, too, I can tell you, for we dined off the heart of the great
one-tusked bull, which was so big that the man whom I sent inside the
elephant to look for his heart was forced to remove it in two pieces.
We cut it into slices and fried it with fat, and I never tasted heart
to equal it, for the meat seemed to melt in one's mouth. By the way, I
examined the jaw of the elephant; it never grew but one tusk; the other
had not been broken off, nor was it present in a rudimentary form.
"Well, there lay the five beauties, or rather four of them, for Gobo and
another man were engaged in sawing the grand one in two. At last
with many sighs I ordered them to do this, but not until by practical
experiment I had proved that it was impossible to carry it in any other
way. One hundred and sixty pounds of solid ivory, or rather more in its
green state, is too great a weight for two men to bear for long across
a broken country. I sat watching the job and smoking the pipe of
contentment, when suddenly the bush opened, and a very handsome and
dignified native girl, apparently about twenty years of age, stood
before me, carrying a basket of green mealies upon her head.
"Although I was rather surprised to see a native girl in such a wild
spot, and, so far as I knew, a long way from any kraal, the matter did
not attract my particular notice; I merely called to one of the men, and
told him to bargain with the woman for the mealies, and ask her if there
were any more to be bought in the neighbourhood. Then I turned my head
and continued to superintend the cutting of the tusk. Presently a shadow
fell upon me. I looked up, and saw that the girl was standing before me,
the basket of mealies still on her head.
"'Marême, Marême,' she said, gently clapping her hands together. The
word Marême among these Matuku (though she was no Matuku) answers to
the Zulu 'Koos,' and the clapping of hands is a form of salutation very
common among the tribes of the Basutu race.
"'What is it, girl?' I asked her in Sisutu. 'Are those mealies for
"'No, great white hunter,' she answered in Zulu, 'I bring them as a
"'Good,' I replied; 'set them down.'
"'A gift for a gift, white man.'
"'Ah,' I grumbled, 'the old story--nothing for nothing in this wicked
world. What do you want--beads?'
"She nodded, and I was about to tell one of the men to go and fetch some
from one of the packs, when she checked me.
"'A gift from the giver's own hand is twice a gift,' she said, and I
thought that she spoke meaningly.
"'You mean that you want me to give them to you myself?'
"I rose to go with her. 'How is it that, being of the Matuku, you speak
in the Zulu tongue?' I asked suspiciously.
"'I am not of the Matuku,' she answered as soon as we were out of
hearing of the men. 'I am of the people of Nala, whose tribe is the
Butiana tribe, and who lives there,' and she pointed over the mountain.
'Also I am one of the wives of Wambe,' and her eyes flashed as she said
"'And how did you come here?'
"'On my feet,' she answered laconically.
"We reached the packs, and undoing one of them, I extracted a handful of
beads. 'Now,' I said, 'a gift for a gift. Hand over the mealies.'
"She took the beads without even looking at them, which struck me as
curious, and setting the basket of mealies on the ground, emptied it.
"At the bottom of the basket were some curiously-shaped green leaves,
rather like the leaves of the gutta-percha tree in shape, only somewhat
thicker and of a more fleshy substance. As though by hazard, the girl
picked one of these leaves out of the basket and smelt it. Then she
handed it to me. I took the leaf, and supposing that she wished me to
smell it also, was about to oblige her by doing so, when my eye fell
upon some curious red scratches on the green surface of the leaf.
"'Ah,' said the girl (whose name, by the way, was Maiwa), speaking
beneath her breath, 'read the signs, white man.'
"Without answering her I continued to stare at the leaf. It had been
scratched or rather written upon with a sharp tool, such as a nail, and
wherever this instrument had touched it, the acid juice oozing through
the outer skin had turned a rusty blood colour. Presently I found the
beginning of the scrawl, and read this in English, and covering the
surface of the leaf and of two others that were in the basket.
"'I hear that a white man is hunting in the Matuku country. This is
to warn him to fly over the mountain to Nala. Wambe sends an impi at
daybreak to eat him up, because he has hunted before bringing hongo. For
God's sake, whoever you are, try to help me. I have been the slave of
this devil Wambe for nearly seven years, and am beaten and tortured
continually. He murdered all the rest of us, but kept me because I could
work iron. Maiwa, his wife, takes this; she is flying to Nala her father
because Wambe killed her child. Try to get Nala to attack Wambe; Maiwa
can guide them over the mountain. You won't come for nothing, for the
stockade of Wambe's private kraal is made of elephants' tusks. For
God's sake, don't desert me, or I shall kill myself. I can bear this no
"'Great heavens!' I gasped. 'Every!--why, it must be my old friend.' The
girl, or rather the woman Maiwa, pointed to the other side of the leaf,
where there was more writing. It ran thus--'I have just heard that the
white man is called Macumazahn. If so, it must be my friend Quatermain.
Pray Heaven it is, for I know he won't desert an old chum in such a fix
as I am. It isn't that I'm afraid of dying, I don't care if I die, but I
want to get a chance at Wambe first.'
"'No, old boy,' thought I to myself, 'it isn't likely that I am going
to leave you there while there is a chance of getting you out. I have
played fox before now--there's still a double or two left in me. I must
make a plan, that's all. And then there's that stockade of tusks. I am
not going to leave that either.' Then I spoke to the woman.
"'You are called Maiwa?'
"'It is so.'
"'You are the daughter of Nala and the wife of Wambe?'
"'It is so.'
"'You fly from Wambe to Nala?'
"'Why do you fly? Stay, I would give an order,'--and calling to Gobo, I
ordered him to get the men ready for instant departure. The woman, who,
as I have said, was quite young and very handsome, put her hand into
a little pouch made of antelope hide which she wore fastened round the
waist, and to my horror drew from it the withered hand of a child, which
evidently had been carefully dried in the smoke.
"'I fly for this cause,' she answered, holding the poor little hand
towards me. 'See now, I bore a child. Wambe was its father, and for
eighteen months the child lived and I loved it. But Wambe loves not his
children; he kills them all. He fears lest they should grow up to slay
one so wicked, and he would have killed this child also, but I begged
its life. One day, some soldiers passing the hut saw the child and
saluted him, calling him the "chief who soon shall be." Wambe heard,
and was mad. He smote the babe, and it wept. Then he said that it should
weep for good cause. Among the things that he had stolen from the white
men whom he slew is a trap that will hold lions. So strong is the trap
that four men must stand on it, two on either side, before it can be
Here old Quatermain broke off suddenly.
"Look here, you fellows," he said, "I can't bear to go on with this part
of the story, because I never could stand either seeing or talking of
the sufferings of children. You can guess what that devil did, and what
the poor mother was forced to witness. Would you believe it, she told
me the tale without a tremor, in the most matter-of-fact way. Only I
noticed that her eyelid quivered all the time.
"'Well,' I said, as unconcernedly as though I had been talking of the
death of a lamb, though inwardly I was sick with horror and boiling
with rage, 'and what do you mean to do about the matter, Maiwa, wife of
"'I mean to do this, white man,' she answered, drawing herself up to her
full height, and speaking in tones as hard as steel and cold as ice--'I
mean to work, and work, and work, to bring this to pass, and to bring
that to pass, until at length it comes to pass that with these living
eyes I behold Wambe dying the death that he gave to his child and my
"'Well said,' I answered.
"'Ay, well said, Macumazahn, well said, and not easily forgotten. Who
could forget, oh, who could forget? See where this dead hand rests
against my side; so once it rested when alive. And now, though it is
dead, now every night it creeps from its nest and strokes my hair and
clasps my fingers in its tiny palm. Every night it does this, fearing
lest I should forget. Oh, my child! my child! ten days ago I held thee
to my breast, and now this alone remains of thee,' and she kissed the
dead hand and shivered, but never a tear did she weep.
"'See now,' she went on, 'the white man, the prisoner at Wambe's kraal,
he was kind to me. He loved the child that is dead, yes, he wept
when its father slew it, and at the risk of his life told Wambe, my
husband--ah, yes, my husband!--that which he is! He too it was who made
a plan. He said to me, "Go, Maiwa, after the custom of thy people, go
purify thyself in the bush alone, having touched a dead one. Say to
Wambe thou goest to purify thyself alone for fifteen days, according to
the custom of thy people. Then fly to thy father, Nala, and stir him up
to war against Wambe for the sake of the child that is dead." This then
he said, and his words seemed good to me, and that same night ere I left
to purify myself came news that a white man hunted in the country, and
Wambe, being mad with drink, grew very wrath, and gave orders that an
impi should be gathered to slay the white man and his people and seize
his goods. Then did the "Smiter of Iron" (Every) write the message on
the green leaves, and bid me seek thee out, and show forth the matter,
that thou mightest save thyself by flight; and behold, this thing have I
done, Macumazahn, the hunter, the Slayer of Elephants.'
"'Ah,' I said, 'I thank you. And how many men be there in the impi of
"'A hundred of men and half a hundred.'
"'And where is the impi?'
"'There to the north. It follows on thy spoor. I saw it pass yesterday,
but myself I guessed that thou wouldst be nigher to the mountain, and
came this way, and found thee. To-morrow at the daybreak the slayers
will be here.'
"'Very possibly,' I thought to myself; 'but they won't find Macumazahn.
I have half a mind to put some strychnine into the carcases of those
elephants for their especial benefit though.' I knew that they would
stop to eat the elephants, as indeed they did, to our great gain, but
I abandoned the idea of poisoning them, because I was rather short of
"Or because you did not like to play the trick, Quatermain?" I suggested
with a laugh.
"I said because I had not enough strychnine. It would take a great deal
of strychnine to poison three elephants effectually," answered the old
I said nothing further, but I smiled, knowing that old Allan could never
have resorted to such an artifice, however severe his strait. But that
was his way; he always made himself out to be a most unmerciful person.
"Well," he went on, "at that moment Gobo came up and announced that we
were ready to march. 'I am glad that you are ready,' I said, 'because
if you don't march, and march quick, you will never march again, that is
all. Wambe has an impi out to kill us, and it will be here presently.'
"Gobo turned positively green, and his knees knocked together. 'Ah, what
did I say?' he exclaimed. 'Fate walks about loose in Wambe's country.'
"'Very good; now all you have to do is to walk a little quicker than
he does. No, no, you don't leave those elephant tusks behind--I am not
going to part with them I can tell you.'
"Gobo said no more, but hastily directed the men to take up their loads,
and then asked which way we were to run.
"'Ah,' I said to Maiwa, 'which way?'
"'There,' she answered, pointing towards the great mountain spur
which towered up into the sky some forty miles away, separating the
territories of Nala and Wambe--'there, below that small peak, is one
place where men may pass, and one only. Also it can easily be blocked
from above. If men pass not there, then they must go round the great
peak of the mountain, two days' journey and half a day.'
"'And how far is the peak from us?'
"'All to-night shall you walk and all to-morrow, and if you walk fast,
at sunset you shall stand on the peak.'
"I whistled, for that meant a five-and-forty miles trudge without sleep.
Then I called to the men to take each of them as much cooked elephant's
meat as he could carry conveniently. I did the same myself, and forced
the woman Maiwa to eat some as we went. This I did with difficulty, for
at that time she seemed neither to sleep nor eat nor rest, so fiercely
was she set on vengeance.
"Then we started, Maiwa guiding us. After going for a half-hour over
gradually rising ground, we found ourselves on the further edge of a
great bush-clad depression something like the bottom of a lake. This
depression, through which we had been travelling, was covered with bush
to a very great extent, indeed almost altogether so, except where it was
pitted with glades such as that wherein I had shot the elephants.
"At the top of this slope Maiwa halted, and putting her hand over her
eyes looked back. Presently she touched me on the arm and pointed across
the sea of forest towards a comparatively vacant space of country some
six or seven miles away. I looked, and suddenly I saw something flash in
the red rays of the setting sun. A pause, and then another quick flash.
"'What is it?' I asked.
"'It is the spears of Wambe's impi, and they travel fast,' she answered
"I suppose that my face showed how little I liked the news, for she went
"'Fear not; they will stay to feast upon the elephants, and while they
feast we shall journey. We may yet escape.'
"After that we turned and pushed on again, till at length it grew so
dark that we had to wait for the rising of the moon, which lost us
time, though it gave us rest. Fortunately none of the men had seen that
ominous flashing of the spears; if they had, I doubt if even I could
have kept control of them. As it was, they travelled faster than I had
ever known loaded natives to go before, so thorough-paced was their
desire to see the last of Wambe's country. I, however, took the
precaution to march last of all, fearing lest they should throw away
their loads to lighten themselves, or, worse still, the tusks; for these
kind of fellows would be capable of throwing anything away if their own
skins were at stake. If the pious Æneas, whose story you were reading
to me the other night, had been a mongrel Delagoa Bay native, Anchises
would have had a poor chance of getting out of Troy, that is, if he was
known to have made a satisfactory will.
"At moonrise we set out again, and with short occasional halts travelled
till dawn, when we were forced to rest and eat. Starting once more,
about half-past five, we crossed the river at noon. Then began the long
toilsome ascent through thick bush, the same in which I shot the bull
buffalo, only some twenty miles to the west of that spot, and not more
than twenty-five miles on the hither side of Wambe's kraal. There were
six or seven miles of this dense bush, and hard work it was to get
through it. Next came a belt of scattered forest which was easier to
pass, though, in revenge, the ground was steeper. This was about two
miles wide, and we passed it by about four in the afternoon. Above this
scattered bush lay a long steep slope of boulder-strewn ground, which
ran up to the foot of the little peak some three miles away. As we
emerged, footsore and weary, on to this inhospitable plain, some of the
men looking round caught sight of the spears of Wambe's impi advancing
rapidly not more than a mile behind us.
"At first there was a panic, and the bearers tried to throw off their
loads and run, but I harangued them, calling out to them that certainly
I would shoot the first man who did so and that if they would but trust
in me I would bring them through the mess. Now, ever since I had killed
those three elephants single-handed, I had gained great influence over
these men, and they listened to me. So off we went as hard as ever we
could go--the members of the Alpine Club would not have been in it with
us. We made the boulders burn, as a Frenchman would say.
"When we had done about a mile the spears began to emerge from the belt
of scattered bush, and the whoop of their bearers as they viewed us
broke upon our ears. Quick as our pace had been before, it grew much
quicker now, for terror lent wings to my gallant crew. But they were
sorely tired, and the loads were heavy, so that run, or rather climb, as
we would, Wambe's soldiers, a scrubby-looking lot of men armed with
big spears and small shields, but without plumes, climbed considerably
faster. The last mile of that pleasing chase was like a fox hunt,
we being the fox, and always in view. What astonished me was the
extraordinary endurance and activity shown by Maiwa. She never even
flagged. I think that girl's muscles must have been made of iron, or
perhaps it was the strength of her will that supported her. At any rate
she reached the foot of the peak second, poor Gobo, who was an excellent
hand at running away, being first.
"Presently I came up panting, and glanced at the ascent. Before us was a
wall of rock about one hundred and fifty feet in height, upon which
the strata were laid so as to form a series of projections sufficiently
resembling steps to make the ascent easy, comparatively speaking, except
at one spot, where it was necessary to climb over a projecting angle
of cliff and bear a little to the left. It was not a really difficult
place, but what made it awkward was, that immediately beneath this
projection gaped a deep fissure or donga, on the brink of which we now
stood, originally dug out, no doubt, by the rush of water from the
peak and cliff. This gulf beneath would be trying to the nerves of
a weak-headed climber at the critical point, and so it proved in the
result. The projecting angle once passed, the remainder of the ascent
was very simple. At the summit, however, the brow of the cliff hung over
and was pierced by a single narrow path cut through it by water, in such
fashion that a single boulder rolled into it at the top would make the
cliff quite impassable to men without ropes.
"At this moment Wambe's soldiers were about a thousand yards from us, so
it was evident that we had no time to lose. I at once ordered the men
to commence the ascent, the girl Maiwa, who was familiar with the pass,
going first to show them the way. Accordingly they began to mount with
alacrity, pushing and lifting their loads in front of them. When the
first of them, led by Maiwa, reached the projecting angle, they put
down their loads upon a ledge of rock and clambered over. Once there, by
lying on their stomachs upon a boulder, they could reach the loads which
were held to them by the men beneath, and in this way drag them over the
awkward place, whence they were carried easily to the top.
"But all of this took time, and meanwhile the soldiers were coming up
fast, screaming and brandishing their big spears. They were now within
about four hundred yards, and several loads, together with all the
tusks, had yet to be got over the rock. I was still standing at the
bottom of the cliff, shouting directions to the men above, but it
occurred to me that it would soon be time to move. Before doing so,
however, I thought that it might be well to try and produce a moral
effect upon the advancing enemy. In my hand I held a Winchester
repeating carbine, but the distance was too great for me to use it with
effect, so I turned to Gobo, who was shivering with terror at my side,
and handing him the carbine, took my express from him.
"The enemy was now about three hundred and fifty yards away, and the
express was only sighted to three hundred. Still I knew that it could be
trusted for the extra fifty yards. Running in front of Wambe's soldiers
were two men--captains, I suppose--one of them very tall. I put up the
three hundred yard flap, and sitting down with my back against the rock,
I drew a long breath to steady myself, and covered the tall man, giving
him a full sight. Feeling that I was on him, I pulled, and before the
sound of the striking bullet could reach my ears, I saw the man throw up
his arms and pitch forward on to his head. His companion stopped dead,
giving me a fair chance. I rapidly covered him, and fired the left
barrel. He turned round once, and then sank down in a heap. This caused
the enemy to hesitate--they had never seen men killed at such a
distance before, and thought that there was something uncanny about the
performance. Taking advantage of the lull, I gave the express back to
Gobo, and slinging the Winchester repeater over my back I began to climb
"When we reached the projecting angle all the loads were over, but
the tusks still had to be passed up, and owing to their weight and the
smoothness of their surface, this was a very difficult task. Of course
I ought to have abandoned the tusks; often and often have I since
reproached myself for not doing so. Indeed, I think that my obstinacy
about them was downright sinful, but I was always obstinate about such
things, and I could not bear the idea of leaving those splendid tusks
which had cost me so much pains and danger to come by. Well, it nearly
cost me my life also, and did cost poor Gobo his, as will be seen
shortly, to say nothing of the loss inflicted by my rifle on the enemy.
When I reached the projection I found that the men, with their usual
stupidity, were trying to hand up the tusks point first. Now the result
of this was that those above had nothing to grip except the round
polished surface of the ivory, and in the position in which they were,
this did not give them sufficient hold to enable them to lift the
weight. I told them to reverse the tusks and push them up, so that the
rough and hollow ends came to the hands of the men above. This they did,
and the first two were dragged up in safety.
"At this point, looking behind me, I saw the Matukus streaming up the
slope in a rough extended order, and not more than a hundred yards away.
Cocking the Winchester I turned and opened fire on them. I don't quite
know how many I missed, but I do know that I never shot better in my
life. I had to keep shifting myself from one enemy to the other, firing
almost without getting a sight, that is, by the eye alone, after the
fashion of the experts who break glass balls. But quick as the work was,
men fell thick, and by the time that I had emptied the carbine of its
twelve cartridges, for the moment the advance was checked. I rapidly
pushed in some more cartridges, and hardly had I done so when the enemy,
seeing that we were about to escape them altogether, came on once more
with a tremendous yell. By this time the two halves of the single tusk
of the great bull alone remained to be passed up. I fired and fired as
effectively as before, but notwithstanding all that I could do, some men
escaped my hail of bullets and began to ascend the cliff. Presently
my rifle was again empty. I slung it over my back, and, drawing my
revolver, turned to run for it, the attackers being now quite close. As
I did so, a spear struck the cliff close to my head.
"The last half of the tusk was now vanishing over the rock, and I sung
out to Gobo and the other man who had been pushing it up to vanish after
it. Gobo, poor fellow, required no second invitation; indeed, his haste
was his undoing. He went at the projecting rock with a bound. The end
of the tusk was still hanging over, and instead of grasping the rock he
caught at it. It twisted in his hand--he slipped--he fell; with one wild
shriek he vanished into the abyss beneath, his falling body brushing me
as it passed. For a moment we stood aghast, and presently the dull thud
of his fall smote heavily upon our ears. Poor fellow, he had met the
Fate which, as he declared, walked about loose in Wambe's country. Then
with an oath the remaining man sprung at the rock and clambered over it
in safety. Aghast at the awfulness of what had happened, I stood still,
till I saw the great blade of a Matuku spear pass up between my feet.
That brought me to my senses, and I began to clamber up the rock like
a cat. I was half way round it. Already I had clasped the hand of that
brave girl Maiwa, who came down to help me, the men having scrambled
forward with the ivory, when I felt some one seize my ankle.
"'Pull, Maiwa, pull,' I gasped, and she certainly did pull. Maiwa was a
very muscular woman, and never before did I appreciate the advantages
of the physical development of females so keenly. She tugged at my left
arm, the savage below tugged at my right leg, till I began to realize
that something must give way ere long. Luckily I retained my presence
of mind, like the man who threw his mother-in-law out of the window, and
carried the mattress down-stairs, when a fire broke out in his house.
My right hand was still free, and in it I held my revolver, which was
secured to my wrist by a leather thong. The pistol was cocked, and I
simply pointed it downwards and fired. The result was instantaneous--and
so far as I am concerned, most satisfactory. The bullet hit the man
beneath me somewhere, I am sure I don't know where; at any rate, he let
go of my leg and plunged headlong into the gulf beneath to join Gobo. In
another moment I was on the top of the rock, and going up the remaining
steps like a lamplighter. A single other soldier appeared in pursuit,
but one of my boys at the top fired my elephant gun at him. I don't know
if he hit him or only frightened him; at any rate, he vanished whence he
came. I do know, however, that he very nearly hit _me_, for I felt the
wind of the bullet.
"Another thirty seconds, and I and the woman Maiwa were at the top of
the cliff panting, but safe.
"My men, being directed thereto by Maiwa, had most fortunately rolled
up some big boulders which lay about, and with these we soon managed to
block the passage through the overhanging ridge of rock in such fashion
that the soldiers below could not possibly climb over it. Indeed, so far
as I could see, they did not even try to do so--their heart was turned
to fat, as the Zulus say.
"Then having rested a few moments we took up the loads, including the
tusks of ivory that had cost us so dear, and in silence marched on for
a couple of miles or more, till we reached a patch of dense bush. And
here, being utterly exhausted, we camped for the night, taking the
precaution, however, of setting a guard to watch against any attempt at
VI--THE PLAN OF CAMPAIGN
"Notwithstanding all that we had gone through, perhaps indeed on account
of it, for I was thoroughly worn out, I slept that night as soundly as
poor Gobo, round whose crushed body the hyænas would now be prowling.
Rising refreshed at dawn we went on our way towards Nala's kraal, which
we reached at nightfall. It is built on open ground after the Zulu
fashion, in a ring fence and with beehive huts. The cattle kraal is
behind and a little to the left. Indeed, both from their habits and
their talk it was easy to see that these Butiana belong to that section
of the Bantu people which, since T'Chaka's time, has been known as the
Zulu race. We did not see the chief Nala that night. His daughter Maiwa
went on to his private huts as soon as we arrived, and very shortly
afterwards one of his head men came to us bringing a sheep and some
mealies and milk with him. 'The chief sent us greeting,' he said, 'and
would see us on the morrow.' Meanwhile he was ordered to bring us to a
place of resting, where we and our goods should be safe and undisturbed.
Accordingly he led the way to some very good huts just outside Nala's
private enclosure, and here we slept comfortably.
"On the morrow about eight o'clock the head man came again, and said
that Nala requested that I would visit him. I followed him into the
private enclosure and was introduced to the chief, a fine-looking man
of about fifty, with very delicately-shaped hands and feet, and a rather
nervous mouth. The chief was seated on a tanned ox-hide outside his hut.
By his side stood his daughter Maiwa, and squatted on their haunches
round him were some twenty head men or Indunas, whose number was
continually added to by fresh arrivals. These men saluted me as I
entered, and the chief rose and took my hand, ordering a stool to be
brought for me to sit on. When this was done, with much eloquence and
native courtesy he thanked me for protecting his daughter in the painful
and dangerous circumstances in which she found herself placed, and also
complimented me very highly upon what he was pleased to call the
bravery with which I had defended the pass in the rocks. I answered in
appropriate terms, saying that it was to Maiwa herself that thanks were
due, for had it not been for her warning and knowledge of the country we
should not have been here to-day; while as to the defence of the pass, I
was fighting for my life, and that put heart into me.
"These courtesies concluded, Nala called upon his daughter Maiwa to tell
her tale to the head men, and this she did most simply and effectively.
She reminded them that she had gone as an unwilling bride to Wambe--that
no cattle had been paid for her, because Wambe had threatened war if she
was not sent as a free gift. Since she had entered the kraal of Wambe
her days had been days of heaviness and her nights nights of weeping.
She had been beaten, she had been neglected and made to do the work of a
low-born wife--she, a chief's daughter. She had borne a child, and this
was the story of the child. Then amidst a dead silence she told them the
awful tale which she had already narrated to me. When she had finished,
her hearers gave a loud ejaculation. '_Ou!_' they said, '_ou!_ Maiwa,
daughter of Nala!'
"'Ay,' she went on with flashing eyes, 'ay, it is true; my mouth is as
full of truth as a flower of honey, and for tears my eyes are like the
dew upon the grass at dawn. It is true I saw the child die--here is the
proof of it, councillors,' and she drew forth the little dead hand and
held it before them.
"'_Ou!_' they said again, '_ou!_ it is the dead hand!'
"'Yes,' she continued, 'it is the dead hand of my dead child, and I bear
it with me that I may never forget, never for one short hour, that I
live that I may see Wambe die, and be avenged. Will you bear it, my
father, that your daughter and your daughter's child should be so
treated by a Matuku? Will ye bear it, men of my own people?'
"'No,' said an old Induna, rising, 'it is not to be borne. Enough have
we suffered at the hands of these Matuku dogs and their loud-tongued
chief; let us put it to the issue.'
"'It is not to be borne indeed,' said Nala; 'but how can we make head
against so great a people?'
"'Ask of him--ask of Macumazahn, the wise white man,' said Maiwa,
pointing at me.
"'How can we overcome Wambe, Macumazahn the hunter?'
"'How does the jackal overreach the lion, Nala?'
"'By cleverness, Macumazahn.'
"'So shall you overcome Wambe, Nala.'
"At this moment an interruption occurred. A man entered and said that
messengers had arrived from Wambe.
"'What is their message?' asked Nala.
"'They come to ask that thy daughter Maiwa be sent back, and with her
the white hunter.'
"'How shall I make answer to this, Macumazahn?' said Nala, when the man
"'Thus shalt thou answer,' I said after reflection; 'say that the woman
shall be sent and I with her, and then bid the messengers be gone. Stay,
I will hide myself here in the hut that the men may not see me,' and I
"Shortly afterwards, through a crack in the hut, I saw the messengers
arrive, and they were great truculent-looking fellows. There were four
of them, and evidently they had travelled night and day. They entered
with a swagger and squatted down before Nala.
"'Your business?' said Nala, frowning.
"'We come from Wambe, bearing the orders of Wambe to Nala his servant,'
answered the spokesman of the party.
"'Speak,' said Nala, with a curious twitch of his nervous-looking mouth.
"'These are the words of Wambe: "Send back the woman, my wife, who has
run away from my kraal, and send with her the white man who has dared to
hunt in my country without my leave, and to slay my soldiers." These are
the words of Wambe.'
"'And if I say I will not send them?' asked Nala.
"'Then on behalf of Wambe we declare war upon you. Wambe will eat you
up. He will wipe you out; your kraals shall be stamped flat--so,' and
with an expressive gesture he drew his hand across his mouth to show
how complete would be the annihilation of that chief who dared to defy
"'These are heavy words,' said Nala. 'Let me take counsel before I
"Then followed a little piece of acting that was really very creditable
to the untutored savage mind. The heralds withdrew, but not out of
sight, and Nala went through the show of earnestly consulting his
Indunas. The girl Maiwa too flung herself at his feet, and appeared to
weep and implore his protection, while he wrung his hands as though in
doubt and tribulation of mind. At length he summoned the messengers to
draw near, and addressed them, while Maiwa sobbed very realistically at
"'Wambe is a great chief,' said Nala, 'and this woman is his wife, whom
he has a right to claim. She must return to him, but her feet are sore
with walking, she cannot come now. In eight days from this day she shall
be delivered at the kraal of Wambe; I will send her with a party of my
men. As for the white hunter and his men, I have nought to do with them,
and cannot answer for their misdeeds. They have wandered hither unbidden
by me, and I will deliver them back whence they came, that Wambe may
judge them according to his law; they shall be sent with the girl. For
you, go your ways. Food shall be given you without the kraal, and a
present for Wambe in atonement of the ill-doing of my daughter. I have
"At first the heralds seemed inclined to insist upon Maiwa's
accompanying them then and there, but on being shown the swollen
condition of her feet, ultimately they gave up the point and departed.
"When they were well out of the way I emerged from the hut, and we went
on to discuss the situation and make our plans. First of all, as I was
careful to explain to Nala, I was not going to give him my experience
and services for nothing. I heard that Wambe had a stockade round
his kraal made of elephant tusks. These tusks, in the event of our
succeeding in the enterprise, I should claim as my perquisite, with the
proviso that Nala should furnish me with men to carry them down to the
"To this modest request Nala and the head men gave an unqualified and
hearty assent, the more hearty perhaps because they never expected to
get the ivory.
"The next thing I stipulated was, that if we conquered, the white man
John Every should be handed over to me, together with any goods which he
might claim. His cruel captivity was, I need hardly say, the only reason
that induced me to join in so hair-brained an expedition, but I was
careful from motives of policy to keep this fact in the background.
Nala accepted this condition. My third stipulation was that no women
or children should be killed. This being also agreed to, we went on to
consider ways and means. Wambe, it appeared, was a very powerful petty
chief, that is, he could put at least six thousand fighting men into the
field, and always had from three to four thousand collected about his
kraal, which was supposed to be impregnable. Nala, on the contrary, at
such short notice could not collect more than from twelve to thirteen
hundred men, though, being of the Zulu stock, they were of much better
stuff for fighting purposes than Wambe's Matukus.
"These odds, though large, under the circumstances were not
overwhelming. The real obstacle to our chance of success was the
difficulty of delivering a crushing assault against Wambe's strong
place. This was, it appeared, fortified all round with schanses or stone
walls, and contained numerous caves and koppies in the hill-side and at
the foot of the mountain which no force had ever been able to capture.
It is said that in the time of the Zulu monarch Dingaan, a great impi of
that king's having penetrated to this district, had delivered an assault
upon the kraal then owned by a forefather of Wambe's, and been beaten
back with the loss of more than a thousand men.
"Having thought the question over, I interrogated Maiwa closely as to
the fortifications and the topographical peculiarities of the spot, and
not without results. I discovered that the kraal was indeed impregnable
to a front attack, but that it was very slightly defended to the rear,
which ran up a slope of the mountain, indeed only by two lines of stone
walls. The reason of this was that the mountain is quite impassable
except by one secret path supposed to be known only to the chief and his
councillors, and this being so, it had not been considered necessary to
"'Well,' I said, when she had done, 'and now as to this secret path of
thine--knowest thou aught of it?'
"'Ay,' she answered, 'I am no fool, Macumazahn. Knowledge learned is
power earned. I won the secret of that path.'
"'And canst thou guide an impi thereon so that it shall fall upon the
town from behind?'
"'Yes, I can do this, if only Wambe's people know not that the impi
comes, for if they know, then they can block the way.'
"'So then here is my plan. Listen, Nala, and say if it be good, or if
thou hast a better, show it forth. Let messengers go out and summon all
thy impi, that it be gathered here on the third day from now. This being
done, let the impi, led by Maiwa, march on the morrow of the fourth day,
and crossing the mountains let it travel along on the other side of the
mountains till it come to the place on the further side of which is the
kraal of Wambe; that shall be some three days' journey in all.[*] Then
on the night of the third day's journey, let Maiwa lead the impi
in silence up the secret path, so that it comes to the crest of the
mountain that is above the strong place, and here let it hide among the
[*] About one hundred and twenty miles.--Editor.
"'Meanwhile on the sixth day from now let one of thy Indunas, Nala,
bring with him two hundred men that have guns, and lead me and my men
as prisoners, and take also a girl from among the Butiana people, who
by form and face is like unto Maiwa, and bind her hands, and pass by
the road on which we came and through the cutting in the cliff on to the
kraal of Wambe. But the men shall take no shields or plumes with them,
only their guns and one short spear, and when they meet the people of
Wambe they shall say that they come to give up the woman and the white
man and his party to Wambe, and to make atonement to Wambe. So shall
they pass in peace. And travelling thus, on the evening of the seventh
day we shall come to the gates of the place of Wambe, and nigh the gates
there is, so says Maiwa, a koppie very strong and full of rocks and
caves, but having no soldiers on it except in time of war, or at the
worst but a few such as can easily be overpowered.
"'This being done, at the dawn of day the impi on the mountain behind
the town must light a fire and put wet grass on it, so that the smoke
goes up. Then at the sight of the smoke we in the koppie will begin to
shoot into the town of Wambe, and all the soldiers will run to kill us.
But we will hold our own, and while we fight the impi shall charge down
the mountain side and climb the schanses, and put those who defend them
to the assegai, and then falling upon the town shall surprise it, and
drive the soldiers of Wambe as a wind blows the dead husks of corn. This
is my plan. I have spoken.'
"'_Ou!_' said Nala, 'it is good, it is very good. The white man is
cleverer than a jackal. Yes, so shall it be; and may the snake of the
Butiana people stand up upon its tail and prosper the war, for so shall
we be rid of Wambe and the tyrannies of Wambe.'
"After that the girl Maiwa stood up, and once more producing the
dreadful little dried hand, made her father and several of his head
councillors swear by it and upon it that they would carry out the war of
vengeance to the bitter end. It was a very curious sight to see. And by
the way, the fight that ensued was thereafter known among the tribes of
that district as the War of the Little Hand.
"The next two days were busy ones for us. Messengers were sent out,
and every available man of the Butiana tribe was ordered up to 'a great
dance.' The country was small, and by the evening of the second day,
some twelve hundred and fifty men were assembled with their assegais and
shields, and a fine hardy troop they were. At dawn of the following day,
the fourth from the departure of the heralds, the main impi, having
been doctored in the usual fashion, started under the command of Nala
himself, who, knowing that his life and chieftainship hung upon the
issue of the struggle, wisely determined to be present to direct it.
With them went Maiwa, who was to guide them up the secret path. Of
course we were obliged to give them two days' start, as they had more
than a hundred miles of rough country to pass, including the crossing of
the great mountain range which ran north and south, for it was necessary
that the impi should make a wide détour in order to escape detection.
"At length, however, at dawn on the sixth day, I took the road,
accompanied by my most unwilling bearers, who did not at all like the
idea of thus putting their heads into the lion's mouth. Indeed, it was
only the fear of Nala's spears, together with a vague confidence in
myself, that induced them to accept the adventure. With me also were
about two hundred Butianas, all armed with guns of various kinds, for
many of these people had guns, though they were not very proficient in
the use of them. But they carried no shields and wore no head-dress or
armlets; indeed, every warlike appearance was carefully avoided. With
our party went also a sister of Maiwa's, though by a different mother,
who strongly resembled her in face and form, and whose mission it was to
impersonate the runaway wife.
"That evening we camped upon the top of the cliff up which we had so
barely escaped, and next morning at the first breaking of the light we
rolled away the stones with which we had blocked the passage some days
before, and descended to the hill-side beneath. Here the bodies, or
rather the skeletons of the men who had fallen before my rifle, still
lay about. The Matuku soldiers had left their comrades to be buried by
the vultures. I descended the gully into which poor Gobo had fallen, and
searched for his body, but in vain, although I found the spot where he
and the other man had struck, together with the bones of the latter,
which I recognized by the waist-cloth. Either some beast of prey had
carried Gobo off, or the Matuku people had disposed of his remains, and
also of my express rifle which he carried. At any rate, I never saw or
heard any more of him.
"Once in Wambe's country, we adopted a very circumspect method of
proceeding. About fifty men marched ahead in loose order to guard
against surprise, while as many more followed behind. The remaining
hundred were gathered in a bunch between, and in the centre of these men
I marched, together with the girl who was personating Maiwa, and all my
bearers. We were disarmed, and some of my men were tied together to show
that we were prisoners, while the girl had a blanket thrown over her
head, and moved along with an air of great dejection. We headed straight
for Wambe's place, which was at a distance of about twenty-five miles
from the mountain-pass.
"When we had gone some five miles we met a party of about fifty of
Wambe's soldiers, who were evidently on the look-out for us. They
stopped us, and their captain asked where we were going. The head man
of our party answered that he was conveying Maiwa, Wambe's runaway wife,
together with the white hunter and his men, to be given up to Wambe in
accordance with his command. The captain then wanted to know why we
were so many, to which our spokesman replied that I and my men were very
desperate fellows, and that it was feared that if we were sent with a
smaller escort we should escape, and bring disgrace and the wrath of
Wambe upon their tribe. Thereon this gentleman, the Matuku captain,
began to amuse himself at my expense, and mock me, saying that Wambe
would make me pay for the soldiers whom I had killed. He would put me
into the 'Thing that bites,' in other words, the lion trap, and leave me
there to die like a jackal caught by the leg. I made no answer to this,
though my wrath was great, but pretended to look frightened. Indeed
there was not much pretence about it, I was frightened. I could not
conceal from myself that ours was a most hazardous enterprise, and that
it was very possible that I might make acquaintance with that lion trap
before I was many days older. However, it seemed quite impossible to
desert poor Every in his misfortune, so I had to go on, and trust to
Providence, as I have so often been obliged to do before and since.
"And now a fresh difficulty arose. Wambe's soldiers insisted upon
accompanying us, and what is more, did all they could to urge us
forward, as they were naturally anxious to get to the chief's place
before evening. But we, on the other hand, had excellent reasons for not
arriving till night was closing in, since we relied upon the gloom to
cover our advance upon the koppie which commanded the town. Finally,
they became so importunate that we were obliged to refuse flatly to
move faster, alleging as a reason that the girl was tired. They did
not accept this excuse in good part, and at one time I thought that we
should have come to blows, for there is no love lost between Butianas
and Matukus. At last, however, either from motives of policy, or because
they were so evidently outnumbered, they gave in and suffered us to
go our own pace. I earnestly wished that they would have added to the
obligation by going theirs, but this they declined absolutely to do. On
the contrary, they accompanied us every foot of the way, keeping up a
running fire of allusions to the 'Thing that bites' that jarred upon my
nerves and discomposed my temper.
"About half-past four in the afternoon we came to a neck or ridge of
stony ground, whence we could see Wambe's town plainly lying some six or
seven miles away, and three thousand feet beneath us. The town is built
in a valley, with the exception of Wambe's own kraal, that is situated
at the mouth of some caves upon the slope of the opposing mountains,
over which I hoped to see our impi's spears flashing in the morrow's
light. Even from where we stood, it was easy to see how strongly the
place was fortified with schanses and stone walls, and how difficult
of approach. Indeed, unless taken by surprise, it seemed to me quite
impregnable to a force operating without cannon, and even cannon would
not make much impression on rocks and stony koppies filled with caves.
"Then came the descent of the pass, and an arduous business it was, for
the path--if it may be called a path--is almost entirely composed of
huge water-worn boulders, from the one to the other of which we must
jump like so many grasshoppers. It took us two hours to climb down,
and, travelling through that burning sun, when at last we did reach the
bottom, I for one was nearly played out. Shortly afterwards, just as
it was growing dark, we came to the first line of fortifications, which
consisted of a triple stone wall pierced by a gateway, so narrow that
a man could hardly squeeze through it. We passed this without question,
being accompanied by Wambe's soldiers. Then, came a belt of land three
hundred paces or more in width, very rocky and broken, and having no
huts upon it. Here in hollows in this belt the cattle were kraaled in
case of danger. On the further side were more fortifications and another
small gateway shaped like a V, and just beyond and through it I saw the
koppie we had planned to seize looming up against the line of mountains
"As we went I whispered my suggestions to our captain, with the result
that at the second gateway he halted the cavalcade, and addressing
the captain of Wambe's soldiers, said that we would wait here till we
received Wambe's word to enter the town. The other man said that this
was well, only he must hand over the prisoners to be taken up to the
chief's kraal, for Wambe, was 'hungry to begin upon them,' and his
'heart desired to see the white man at rest before he closed his eyes in
sleep,' and as for his wife, 'surely he would welcome her.' Our leader
replied that he could not do this thing, because his orders were to
deliver the prisoners to Wambe at Wambe's own kraal, and they might not
be broken. How could he be responsible for the safety of the prisoners
if he let them out of his hand? No, they would wait there till Wambe's
word was brought.
"To this, after some demur, the other man consented, and went away,
remarking that he would soon be back. As he passed me he called out
with a sneer, pointing as he did so to the fading red in the western
sky--'Look your last upon the light, White Man, for the "Thing that
bites" lives in the dark.'
"Next day it so happened that I shot this man, and, do you know, I think
that he is about the only human being who has come to harm at my hands
for whom I do not feel sincere sorrow and, in a degree, remorse."
"Just where we halted ran a little stream of water. I looked at it, and
an idea struck me: probably there would be no water on the koppie. I
suggested this to our captain, and, acting on the hint, he directed all
the men to drink what they could, and also to fill the seven or eight
cooking pots which we carried with us with water. Then came the crucial
moment. How were we to get possession of the koppie? When the captain
asked me, I said that I thought that we had better march up and take
it, and this accordingly we went on to do. When we came to the narrow
gateway we were, as I expected stopped by two soldiers who stood on
guard there and asked our business. The captain answered that we had
changed our minds, and would follow on to Wambe's kraal. The soldiers
said no, we must now wait.
"To this we replied by pushing them to one side and marching in single
file through the gateway, which was not distant more than a hundred
yards from the koppie. While we were getting through, the men we had
pushed away ran towards the town calling for assistance, a call that was
promptly responded to, for in another minute we saw scores of armed men
running hard in our direction. So we ran too, for the koppie. As soon as
they understood what we were after, which they did not at first, owing
to the dimness of the light, they did their best to get there before us.
But we had the start of them, and with the exception of one unfortunate
man who stumbled and fell, we were well on to the koppie before
they arrived. This man they captured, and when fighting began on the
following morning, and he refused to give any information, they killed
him. Luckily they had no time to torture him, or they would certainly
have done so, for these Matuku people are very fond of torturing their
"When we reached the koppie, the base of which covers about half an acre
of ground, the soldiers who had been trying to cut us off halted, for
they knew the strength of the position. This gave us a few minutes
before the light had quite vanished to reconnoitre the place. We found
that it was unoccupied, fortified with a regular labyrinth of stone
walls, and contained three large caves and some smaller ones. The next
business was to post the soldiers to such advantage as time would allow.
My own men I was careful to place quite at the top. They were perfectly
useless from terror, and I feared that they might try to escape and give
information of our plans to Wambe. So I watched them like the apple of
my eye, telling them that should they dare to stir they would be shot.
"Then it grew quite dark, and presently out of the darkness I heard
a voice--it was that of the leader of the soldiers who had escorted
us--calling us to come down. We replied that it was too dark to move, we
should hit our feet against the stones. He insisted upon our descending,
and we flatly refused, saying that if any attempt was made to dislodge
us we would fire. After that, as they had no real intention of attacking
us in the dark, the men withdrew, but we saw from the fires which were
lit around that they were keeping a strict watch upon our position.
"That night was a wearing one, for we never quite knew how the situation
was going to develop. Fortunately we had some cooked food with us, so
we did not starve. It was lucky, however, that we drunk our fill before
coming up, for, as I had anticipated, there was not a drop of water on
"At length the night wore away, and with the first tinge of light I
began to go my rounds, and stumbling along the stony paths, to make
things as ready as I could for the attack, which I felt sure would be
delivered before we were two hours older. The men were cramped and cold,
and consequently low-spirited, but I exhorted them to the best of my
ability, bidding them remember the race from which they sprang, and not
to show the white feather before a crowd of Matuku dogs. At length it
began to grow light, and presently I saw long columns of men advancing
towards the koppie. They halted under cover at a distance of about
a hundred and fifty yards, and just as the dawn broke a herald came
forward and called to us. Our captain stood up upon a rock and answered
"'These are the words of Wambe,' the herald said. 'Come forth from the
koppie, and give over the evil-doers, and go in peace, or stay in the
koppie and be slain.'
"'It is too early to come out as yet,' answered our man in fine
diplomatic style. 'When the sun sucks up the mist then we will come out.
Our limbs are stiff with cold.'
"'Come forth even now,' said the herald.
"'Not if I know it, my boy,' said I to myself; but the captain replied
that he would come out when he thought proper, and not before.
"'Then make ready to die,' said the herald, for all the world like the
villain of a transpontine piece, and majestically stalked back to the
"I made my final arrangements, and looked anxiously at the mountain
crest a couple of miles or so away, from which the mist was now
beginning to lift, but no column of smoke could I see. I whistled,
for if the attacking force had been delayed or made any mistake, our
position was likely to grow rather warm. We had barely enough water to
wet the mouths of the men, and when once it was finished we could not
hold the place for long in that burning heat.
"At length, just as the sun rose in glory over the heights behind us,
the Matuku soldiers, of whom about fifteen hundred were now assembled,
set up a queer whistling noise, which ended in a chant. Then some shots
were fired, for the Matuku had a few guns, but without effect, though
one bullet passed just by a man's head.
"'Now they are going to begin,' I thought to myself, and I was not
far wrong, for in another minute the body of men divided into three
companies, each about five hundred strong, and, heralded by a running
fire, charged at us on three sides. Our men were now all well under
cover, and the fire did us no harm. I mounted on a rock so as to command
a view of as much of the koppie and plain as possible, and yelled to our
men to reserve their fire till I gave the word, and then to shoot low
and load as quickly as possible. I knew that, like all natives, they
were sure to be execrable shots, and that they were armed with weapons
made out of old gas-pipes, so the only chance of doing execution was to
let the enemy get right on to us.
"On they came with a rush; they were within eighty yards now, and as
they drew near the point of attack, I observed that they closed their
ranks, which was so much the better for us.
"'Shall we not fire, my father?' sung out the captain.
"'No, confound you!' I answered.
"'Sixty yards--fifty--forty--thirty. Fire, you scoundrels!' I yelled,
setting the example by letting off both barrels of my elephant gun into
the thickest part of the company opposite to me.
"Instantly the place rang out with the discharge of two hundred and odd
guns, while the air was torn by the passage of every sort of missile,
from iron pot legs down to slugs and pebbles coated with lead. The
result was very prompt. The Matukus were so near that we could not miss
them, and at thirty yards a lead-coated stone out of a gas-pipe is as
effective as a Martini rifle, or more so. Over rolled the attacking
soldiers by the dozen, while the survivors, fairly frightened, took to
their heels. We plied them with shot till they were out of range--I made
it very warm for them with the elephant gun, by the way--and then we
loaded up in quite a cheerful frame of mind, for we had not lost a man,
whereas I could count more than fifty dead and wounded Matukus. The only
thing that damped my ardour was that, stare as I would, I could see no
column of smoke upon the mountain crest.
"Half an hour elapsed before any further steps were taken against us.
Then the attacking force adopted different tactics. Seeing that it
was very risky to try to rush us in dense masses, they opened out into
skirmishing order and ran across the open space in lots of five and six.
As it happened, right at the foot of the koppie the ground broke away a
little in such fashion that it was almost impossible for us to search
it effectually with our fire. On the hither side of this dip Wambe's
soldiers were now congregating in considerable numbers. Of course we did
them as much damage as we could while they were running across, but this
sort of work requires good shots, and that was just what we had not got.
Another thing was, that so many of our men would insist upon letting off
the things they called guns at every little knot of the enemy that ran
across. Thus, the first few lots were indeed practically swept away, but
after that, as it took a long while to load the gas-pipes and old flint
muskets, those who followed got across in comparative safety. For my own
part, I fired away with the elephant gun and repeating carbine till they
grew almost too hot to hold, but my individual efforts could do nothing
to stop such a rush, or perceptibly to lessen the number of our enemies.
"At length there were at least a thousand men crowded into the dip of
ground within a few yards of us, whence those of them who had guns kept
up a continued fusillade upon the koppie. They killed two of my bearers
in this way, and wounded a third, for being at the top of the koppie
these men were most exposed to the fire from the dip at its base. Seeing
that the situation was growing most serious, at length, by the dint of
threats and entreaties, I persuaded the majority of our people to cease
firing useless shots, to reload, and prepare for the rush. Scarcely had
I done so when the enemy came for us with a roar. I am bound to say that
I should never have believed that Matukus had it in them to make such
a determined charge. A large party rushed round the base of the koppie,
and attacked us in flank, while the others swarmed wherever they could
get a foothold, so that we were taken on every side.
"'_Fire!_' I cried, and we did with terrible effect. Many of their men
fell, but though we checked we could not stop them. They closed up and
rushed the first fortification, killing a good number of its defenders.
It was almost all cold steel work now, for we had no time to reload, and
that suited the Butiana habits of fighting well enough, for the stabbing
assegai is a weapon which they understand. Those of our people who
escaped from the first line of walls took refuge in the second, where
I stood myself, encouraging them, and there the fight raged fiercely.
Occasionally parties of the enemy would force a passage, only to perish
on the hither side beneath the Butiana spears. But still they kept
it up, and I saw that, fight as we would, we were doomed. We were
altogether outnumbered, and to make matters worse, fresh bodies
of soldiers were pouring across the plain to the assistance of our
assailants. So I made up my mind to direct a retreat into the caves,
and there expire in a manner as heroic as circumstances would allow; and
while mentally lamenting my hard fate and reflecting on my sins I fought
away like a fiend. It was then, I remember, that I shot my friend the
captain of our escort of the previous day. He had caught sight of
me, and making a vicious dig at my stomach with a spear (which I
successfully dodged), shouted out, or rather began to shout out, one of
his unpleasant allusions to the 'Thing that----' He never got as far as
'bites,' because I shot him after 'that.'
"Well, the game was about up. Already I saw one man throw down his spear
in token of surrender--which act of cowardice cost him his life, by the
way--when suddenly a shout arose.
"'Look at the mountain,' they cried; 'there is an impi on the mountain
"I glanced up, and there sure enough, about half-way down the mountain,
nearing the first fortification, the long-plumed double line of Nala's
warriors was rushing down to battle, the bright light of the morning
glancing on their spears. Afterwards we discovered that the reason of
their delay was that they had been stopped by a river in flood, and
could not reach the mountain crest by dawn. When they did reach it,
however, they saw instantly that the fight was already going on, was
'in flower,' as they put it, and so advanced at once without waiting to
"Meanwhile they had been observed from the town, and parties of soldiers
were charging up the steep side of the hill, to occupy the schanses, and
the second line of fortifications behind them. The first line they did
not now attempt to reach or defend; Nala pressed them too close.
But they got to the schanses or pits protected with stone walls, and
constructed to hold from a dozen to twenty men, and soon began to open
fire from them, and from isolated rocks. I turned my eyes to the gates
of the town, which were placed to the north and south. Already they were
crowded with hundreds of fugitive women and children flying to the rocks
and caves for shelter from the foe.
"As for ourselves, the appearance of Nala's impi produced a wonderful
change for the better in our position. The soldiers attacking us turned,
realizing that the town was being assailed from the rear, and clambering
down the koppie streamed off to protect their homes against this new
enemy. In five minutes there was not a man left except those who would
move no more, or were too sorely wounded to escape. I felt inclined to
ejaculate '_Saved!_' like the gentleman in the play, but did not because
the occasion was too serious. What I did do was to muster all the men
and reckon up our losses. They amounted to fifty-one killed and wounded,
sixteen men having been killed outright. Then I sent men with the
cooking-pots to the stream of water, and we drank. This done I set my
bearers, being the most useless part of the community, from a fighting
point of view, to the task of attending the injured, and turned to watch
"By this time Nala's impi had climbed the first line of fortifications
without opposition, and was advancing in a long line upon the schanses
or pits which were scattered about between it and the second line,
singing a war chant as it came. Presently puffs of smoke began to start
from the schanses, and with my glasses I could see several of our men
falling over. Then as they came opposite a schanse that portion of the
long line of warriors would thicken up and charge it with a wild rush. I
could see them leap on to the walls and vanish into the depths beneath,
some of their number falling backward on each occasion, shot or stabbed
"Next would come another act in the tragedy. Out from the hither side of
the schanse would pour such of its defenders as were left alive, perhaps
three or four and perhaps a dozen, running for dear life, with the war
dogs on their tracks. One by one they would be caught, then up flashed
the great spear and down fell the pursued--dead. I saw ten of our men
leap into one large schanse, but though I watched for some time nobody
came out. Afterwards we inspected the place and found these men all
dead, together with twenty-three Matukus. Neither side would give in,
and they had fought it out to the bitter end.
"At last they neared the second line of fortifications, behind which
the whole remaining Matuku force, numbering some two thousand men, was
rapidly assembling. One little pause to get their breath, and Nala's men
came at it with a rush and a long wild shout of '_Bulala Matuku_' (kill
the Matuku) that went right through me, thrilling every nerve. Then came
an answering shout, and the sounds of heavy firing, and presently I saw
our men retreating, somewhat fewer in numbers than they had advanced.
Their welcome had been a warm one for the Matuku fight splendidly behind
walls. This decided me that it was necessary to create a diversion; if
we did not do so it seemed very probable that we should be worsted after
all. I called to the captain of our little force, and rapidly put the
position before him.
"Seeing the urgency of the occasion, he agreed with me that we must risk
it, and in two minutes more, with the exception of my own men, whom I
left to guard the wounded, we were trotting across the open space and
through the deserted town towards the spot where the struggle was taking
place, some seven hundred yards away. In six or eight minutes we reached
a group of huts--it was a head man's kraal, that was situated about a
hundred and twenty yards behind the fortified wall, and took possession
of it unobserved. The enemy was too much engaged with the foe in front
of him to notice us, and besides, the broken ground rose in a hog-back
shape between. There we waited a minute or two and recovered our breath,
while I gave my directions. So soon as we heard the Butiana impi begin
to charge again, we were to run out in a line to the brow of the hogback
and pour our fire into the mass of defenders behind the wall. Then the
guns were to be thrown down and we must charge with the assegai. We
had no shields, but that could not be helped; there would be no time to
reload the guns, and it was absolutely necessary that the enemy should
be disconcerted at the moment when the main attack was delivered.
"The men, who were as plucky a set of fellows as ever I saw, and whose
blood was now thoroughly up, consented to this scheme, though I could
see that they thought it rather a large order, as indeed I did myself.
But I knew that if the impi was driven back a second time the game would
be played, and for me at any rate it would be a case of the 'Thing
that bites,' and this sure and certain knowledge filled my breast with
"We had not long to wait. Presently we heard the Butiana war-song
swelling loud and long; they had commenced their attack. I made a sign,
and the hundred and fifty men, headed by myself, poured out of the
kraal, and getting into a rough line ran up the fifty or sixty yards of
slope that intervened between ourselves and the crest of the hog-backed
ridge. In thirty seconds we were there, and immediately beyond us was
the main body of the Matuku host waiting the onslaught of the enemy with
guns and spears. Even now they did not see us, so intent were they upon
the coming attack. I signed to my men to take careful aim, and suddenly
called out to them to fire, which they did with a will, dropping thirty
or forty Matukus.
"'_Charge!_' I shouted, again throwing down my smoking rifle and drawing
my revolver, an example which they followed, snatching up their spears
from the ground where they had placed them while they fired. The men
set up a savage whoop, and we started. I saw the Matuku soldiers wheel
around in hundreds, utterly taken aback at this new development of the
situation. And looking over them, before we had gone twenty yards I
saw something else. For of a sudden, as though they had risen from the
earth, there appeared above the wall hundreds of great spears, followed
by hundreds of savage faces shadowed with drooping plumes. With a yell
they sprang upon the wall shaking their broad shields, and with a yell
they bounded from it straight into our astonished foes.
"_Crash!_ we were in them now, and fighting like demons. _Crash!_ from
the other side. Nala's impi was at its work, and still the spears
and plumes appeared for a moment against the brown background of the
mountain, and then sprang down and rushed like a storm upon the foe.
The great mob of men turned this way and turned that way, astonished,
bewildered, overborne by doubt and terror.
"Meanwhile the slayers stayed not their hands, and on every side spears
flashed, and the fierce shout of triumph went up to heaven. There too on
the wall stood Maiwa, a white garment streaming from her shoulders, an
assegai in her hand, her breast heaving, her eyes flashing. Above all
the din of battle I could catch the tones of her clear voice as she
urged the soldiers on to victory. But victory was not yet. Wambe's
soldiers gathered themselves together, and bore our men back by the
sheer weight of numbers. They began to give, then once more they
rallied, and the fight hung doubtfully.
"'Slay, you war-whelps,' cried Maiwa from the wall. 'Are you afraid,
you women, you chicken-hearted women! Strike home, or die like dogs!
What--you give way! Follow me, children of Nala.' And with one long cry
she leapt from the wall as leaps a stricken antelope, and holding the
spear poised rushed right into the thickest of the fray. The warriors
saw her, and raised such a shout that it echoed like thunder against the
mountains. They massed together, and following the flutter of her white
robe crashed into the dense heart of the foe. Down went the Matuku
before them like trees before a whirlwind. Nothing could stand in the
face of such a rush as that. It was as the rush of a torrent bursting
its banks. All along their line swept the wild desperate charge; and
there, straight in the forefront of the battle, still waved the white
robe of Maiwa.
"Then they broke, and, stricken with utter panic, Wambe's soldiers
streamed away a scattered crowd of fugitives, while after them thundered
the footfall of the victors.
"The fight was over, we had won the day; and for my part I sat down upon
a stone and wiped my forehead, thanking Providence that I had lived to
see the end of it. Twenty minutes later Nala's warriors began to return
panting. 'Wambe's soldiers had taken to the bush and the caves,' they
said, 'where they had not thought it safe to follow them,' adding
significantly, that many had stopped on the way.
"I was utterly dazed, and now that the fight was over my energy seemed
to have left me, and I did not pay much attention, till presently I was
aroused by somebody calling me by my name. I looked up, and saw that it
was the chief Nala himself, who was bleeding from a flesh wound in his
arm. By his side stood Maiwa panting, but unhurt, and wearing on her
face a proud and terrifying air.
"'They are gone, Macumazahn,' said the chief; 'there is little to fear
from them, their heart is broken. But where is Wambe the chief?--and
where is the white man thou camest to save?'
"'I know not,' I answered.
"Close to where we stood lay a Matuku, a young man who had been shot
through the fleshy part of the calf. It was a trifling wound, but it
prevented him from running away.
"'Say, thou dog,' said Nala, stalking up to him and shaking his red
spear in his face, 'say, where is Wambe? Speak, or I slay thee. Was he
with the soldiers?'
"'Nay, lord, I know not,' groaned the terrified man, 'he fought not
with us; Wambe has no stomach for fighting. Perchance he is in his kraal
yonder, or in the cave behind the kraal,' and he pointed to a small
enclosure on the hillside, about four hundred yards to the right of
where we were.
"'Let us go and see,' said Nala, summoning his soldiers."
VIII--MAIWA IS AVENGED
"The impi formed up; alas, an hour before it had been stronger by a
third than it was now. Then Nala detached two hundred men to collect
and attend to the injured, and at my suggestion issued a stringent order
that none of the enemy's wounded, and above all no women or children,
were to be killed, as is the savage custom among African natives. On the
contrary, they were to be allowed to send word to their women that they
might come in to nurse them and fear nothing, for Nala made war upon
Wambe the tyrant, and not on the Matuku tribe.
"Then we started with some four hundred men for the chief's kraal. Very
soon we were there. It was, as I have said, placed against the mountain
side, but within the fortified lines, and did not at all cover more
than an acre and a half of ground. Outside was a tiny reed fence, within
which, neatly arranged in a semi-circular line, stood the huts of the
chief's principal wives. Maiwa of course knew every inch of the kraal,
for she had lived in it, and led us straight to the entrance. We peeped
through the gateway--not a soul was to be seen. There were the huts and
there was the clear open space floored with a concrete of lime, on which
the sun beat fiercely, but nobody could we see or hear.
"'The jackal has gone to earth,' said Maiwa; 'he will be in the cave
behind his hut,' and she pointed with her spear towards another small
and semi-circular enclosure, over which a large hut was visible, that
had the cliff itself for a background. I stared at this fence; by
George! it was true, it was entirely made of tusks of ivory planted in
the ground with their points bending outwards. The smallest ones, though
none were small, were placed nearest to the cliff on either side, but
they gradually increased in size till they culminated in two enormous
tusks, which, set up so that their points met, something in the shape of
an inverted V, formed the gateway to the hut. I was dumbfoundered with
delight; and indeed, where is the elephant-hunter who would not be, if
he suddenly saw five or six hundred picked tusks set up in a row, and
only waiting for him to take them away? Of course the stuff was what is
known as 'black' ivory; that is, the exterior of the tusks had become
black from years or perhaps centuries of exposure to wind and weather,
but I was certain that it would be none the worse for that. Forgetting
the danger of the deed, in my excitement I actually ran right across
the open space, and drawing my knife scratched vigorously at one of the
great tusks to see how deep the damage might be. As I thought, it was
nothing; there beneath the black covering gleamed the pure white ivory.
I could have capered for joy, for I fear that I am very mercenary at
heart, when suddenly I heard the faint echo of a cry for assistance.
'Help!' screamed a voice in the Sisutu dialect from somewhere behind the
hut; 'help! they are murdering me.'
"_I knew the voice_; it was John Every's. Oh, what a selfish brute was
I! For the moment that miserable ivory had driven the recollection of
him out of my head, and now--perhaps it was too late.
"Nala, Maiwa, and the soldiers had now come up. They too heard the voice
and interpreted its tone, though they had not caught the words.
"'This way,' cried Maiwa, and we started at a run, passing round the hut
of Wambe. Behind was the narrow entrance to a cave. We rushed through
it heedless of the danger of the ambush, and this is what we saw, though
very confusedly at first, owing to the gloom.
"In the centre of the cave, and with either end secured to the floor by
strong stakes, stood a huge double-springed lion trap edged with sharp
and grinning teeth. It was set, and beyond the trap, indeed almost over
it, a terrible struggle was in progress. A naked or almost naked white
man, with a great beard hanging down over his breast, in spite of his
furious struggles, was being slowly forced and dragged towards the trap
by six or eight women. Only one man was present, a fat, cruel-looking
man with small eyes and a hanging lip. It was the chief Wambe, and he
stood by the trap ready to force the victim down upon it so soon as the
women had dragged him into the necessary position.
"At this instant they caught sight of us, and there came a moment's
pause, and then, before I knew what she was going to do, Maiwa lifted
the assegai she still held, and whirled it at Wambe's head. I saw the
flash of light speed towards him, and so did he, for he stepped backward
to avoid it--stepped backward right into the trap. He yelled with pain
as the iron teeth of the 'Thing that bites' sprang up with a rattling
sound like living fangs and fastened into him--such a yell I have not
often heard. Now at last he tasted of the torture which he had inflicted
upon so many, and though I trust I am a Christian, I cannot say that I
felt sorry for him.
"The assegai sped on and struck one of the women who had hold of the
unfortunate Every, piercing through her arm. This made her leave go, an
example that the other women quickly followed, so that Every fell to the
ground, where he lay gasping.
"'Kill the witches,' roared Nala, in a voice of thunder, pointing to the
group of women.
"'Nay,' gasped Every, 'spare them. He made them do it,' and he pointed
to the human fiend in the trap. Then Maiwa waved her hand to us to
fall back, for the moment of her vengeance was come. We did so, and she
strode up to her lord, and flinging the white robe from her stood before
him, her fierce beautiful face fixed like stone.
"'Who am I?' she cried in so terrible a voice that he ceased his yells.
'Am I that woman who was given to thee for wife, and whose child thou
slewest? Or am I an avenging spirit come to see thee die?
"'What is this?' she went on, drawing the withered baby-hand from the
pouch at her side.
"'Is it the hand of a babe? and how came that hand to be thus alone?
What cut it off from the babe? and where is the babe? Is it a hand? or
is it the vision of a hand that shall presently tear thy throat?
"'Where are thy soldiers, Wambe? Do they sleep and eat and go forth to
do thy bidding? or are they perchance dead and scattered like the winter
"He groaned and rolled his eyes while the fierce-faced woman went on.
"'Art thou still a chief, Wambe? or does another take thy place and
power, and say, Lord, what doest thou there? and what is that slave's
leglet upon thy knee?
"'Is it a dream, Wambe, great lord and chief? or'--and she lifted her
clenched hands and shook them in his face--'hath a woman's vengeance
found thee out and a woman's wit o'ermatched thy tyrannous strength? and
art thou about to slowly die in torments horrible to think on, oh, thou
accursed murderer of little children?'
"And with one wild scream she dashed the dead hand of the child straight
into his face, and then fell senseless on the floor. As for the demon
in the trap, he shrank back so far as its iron bounds would allow, his
yellow eyes starting out of his head with pain and terror, and then once
more began to yell.
"The scene was more than I could bear.
"'Nala,' I said, 'this must stop. That man is a fiend, but he must not
be left to die there. See thou to it.'
"'Nay," answered Nala, 'let him taste of the food wherewith he hath fed
so many; leave him till death shall find him.'
"'That I will not,' I answered. 'Let his end be swift; see thou to it.'
"'As thou wilt, Macumazahn,' answered the chief, with a shrug of the
shoulders; 'first let the white man and Maiwa be brought forth.'
"So the soldiers came forward and carried Every and the woman into the
open air. As the former was borne past his tormentor, the fallen chief,
so cowardly was his wicked heart, actually prayed him to intercede
for him, and save him from a fate which, but for our providential
appearance, would have been Every's own.
"So we went away, and in another moment one of the biggest villains on
the earth troubled it no more. Once in the fresh air Every recovered
quickly. I looked at him, and horror and sorrow pierced me through to
see such a sight. His face was the face of a man of sixty, though he
was not yet forty, and his poor body was cut to pieces with stripes and
scars, and other marks of the torments which Wambe had for years amused
himself with inflicting on him.
"As soon as he recovered himself a little he struggled on to his
knees, burst into a paroxysm of weeping, and clasping my legs with his
emaciated arms, would have actually kissed my feet.
"'What are you about, old fellow?' I said, for I am not accustomed to
that sort of thing, and it made me feel uncomfortable.
"'Oh, God bless you?' he moaned, 'God bless you! If only you knew what
I have gone through; and to think that you should have come to help
me, and at the risk of your own life! Well, you were always a true
friend--yes, yes, a true friend.'
"'Bosh,' I answered testily; 'I'm a trader, and I came after that
ivory,' and I pointed to the stockade of tusks. 'Did you ever hear of
an elephant-hunter who would not have risked his immortal soul for them,
and much more his carcase?'
"But he took no notice of my explanations, and went on God blessing me
as hard as ever, till at last I bethought me that a nip of brandy, of
which I had a flask full, might steady his nerves a bit. I gave it him,
and was not disappointed in the result, for he brisked up wonderfully.
Then I hunted about in Wambe's hut, and found a kaross to put over his
poor bruised shoulders, and he was quite a man again.
"'Now,' I said, 'why did the late lamented Wambe want to put you in that
"'Because as soon as they heard that the fight was going against them,
and that Maiwa was charging at the head of Nala's impi, one of the women
told Wambe that she had seen me write something on some leaves and give
them to Maiwa before she went away to purify herself. Then of course
he guessed that I had to do with your seizing the koppie and holding it
while the impi rushed the place from the mountain, so he determined to
torture me to death before help could come. Oh, heavens! what a mercy it
is to hear English again.'
"'How long have you been a prisoner here, Every?' I asked.
"'Six years and a bit, Quatermain; I have lost count of the odd months
lately. I came up here with Major Aldey and three other gentlemen and
forty bearers. That devil Wambe ambushed us, and murdered the lot to
get their guns. They weren't much use to him when he got them, being
breech-loaders, for the fools fired away all the ammunition in a month
or two. However, they are all in good order, and hanging up in the hut
there. They didn't kill me because one of them saw me mending a gun just
before they attacked us, so they kept me as a kind of armourer. Twice
I tried to make a bolt of it, but was caught each time. Last time Wambe
had me flogged very nearly to death--you can see the scars upon my back.
Indeed I should have died if it hadn't been for the girl Maiwa, who
nursed me by stealth. He got that accursed lion trap among our things
also, and I suppose he has tortured between one and two hundred people
to death in it. It was his favourite amusement, and he would go every
day and sit and watch his victim till he died. Sometimes he would give
him food and water to keep him alive longer, telling him or her that he
would let him go if he lived till a certain day. But he never did let
them go. They all died there, and I could show you their bones behind
"'The devil!' I said, grinding my teeth. 'I wish I hadn't interfered; I
wish I had left him to the same fate.'
"'Well, he got a taste of it any way,' said Every; 'I'm glad he got
a taste. There's justice in it, and now he's gone to hell, and I hope
there is another one ready for him there. By Jove! I should like to have
the setting of it.'
"And so he talked on, and I sat and listened to him, wondering how he
had kept his reason for so many years. But he didn't talk as I have told
it, in plain English. He spoke very slowly, and as though he had got
something in his mouth, continually using native words because the
English ones had slipped his memory.
"At last Nala came up and told us that food was made ready, and thankful
enough we were to get it, I can tell you. After we had eaten we held
a consultation. Quite a thousand of Wambe's soldiers were put _hors
de combat_, but at least two thousand remained hidden in the bush and
rocks, and these men, together with those in the outlying kraals, were a
source of possible danger. The question arose, therefore, what was to
be done--were they to be followed or left alone? I waited till everybody
had spoken, some giving one opinion and some another, and then being
appealed to I gave mine. It was to the effect that Nala should take a
leaf out of the great Zulu T'Chaka's book, and incorporate the tribe,
not destroy it. We had a good many women among the prisoners. Let them,
I suggested, be sent to the hiding-places of the soldiers and make
an offer. If the men would come and lay down their arms and declare
allegiance to Nala, they and their town and cattle should be spared.
Wambe's cattle alone would be seized as the prize of war. Moreover,
Wambe having left no children, his wife Maiwa should be declared
chieftainess of the tribe, under Nala. If they did not accept this offer
by the morning of the second day it should be taken as a declaration
that they wished to continue the war. Their town should be burned, their
cattle, which our men were already collecting and driving in in great
numbers, would be taken, and they should be hunted down.
"This advice was at once declared to be wise, and acted on. The women
were despatched, and I saw from their faces that they never expected to
get such terms, and did not think that their mission would be in vain.
Nevertheless, we spent that afternoon in preparations against possible
surprise, and also in collecting all the wounded of both parties into a
hospital, which we extemporized out of some huts, and there attending to
them as best we could.
"That evening Every had the first pipe of tobacco that he had tasted
for six years. Poor fellow, he nearly cried with joy over it. The night
passed without any sign of attack, and on the following morning we began
to see the effect of our message, for women, children, and a few men
came in in little knots, and took possession of their huts. It was of
course rather difficult to prevent our men from looting, and generally
going on as natives, and for the matter of that white men too, are in
the habit of doing after a victory. But one man who after warning was
caught maltreating a woman was brought out and killed by Nala's order,
and though there was a little grumbling, that put a stop to further
"On the second morning the head men and numbers of their followers came
in in groups, and about midday a deputation of the former presented
themselves before us without their weapons. They were conquered, they
said, and Wambe was dead, so they came to hear the words of the great
lion who had eaten them up, and of the crafty white man, the jackal, who
had dug a hole for them to fall in, and of Maiwa, Lady of War, who had
led the charge and turned the fate of the battle.
"So we let them hear the words, and when we had done an old man rose and
said, that in the name of the people he accepted the yoke that was laid
upon their shoulders, and that the more gladly because even the rule of
a woman could not be worse than the rule of Wambe. Moreover, they knew
Maiwa, the Lady of War, and feared her not, though she was a witch and
terrible to see in battle.
"Then Nala asked his daughter if she was willing to become chieftainess
of the tribe under him.
"Maiwa, who had been very silent since her revenge was accomplished,
answered yes, that she was, and that her rule should be good and gentle
to those who were good and gentle to her, but the froward and rebellious
she would smite with a rod of iron; which from my knowledge of her
character I thought exceedingly probable.
"The head man replied that that was a good saying, and they did not
complain at it, and so the meeting ended.
"Next day we spent in preparations for departure. Mine consisted chiefly
in superintending the digging up of the stockade of ivory tusks, which I
did with the greatest satisfaction. There were some five hundred of them
altogether. I made inquiries about it from Every, who told me that the
stockade had been there so long that nobody seemed to know exactly
who had collected the tusks originally. There was, however, a kind of
superstitious feeling about them which had always prevented the chiefs
from trying to sell this great mass of ivory. Every and I examined it
carefully, and found that although it was so old its quality was really
as good as ever, and there was very little soft ivory in the lot. At
first I was rather afraid lest, now that my services had been rendered,
Nala should hesitate to part with so much valuable property, but this
was not the case. When I spoke to him on the subject he merely said,
'Take it, Macumazahn, take it; you have earned it well,' and, to speak
the truth, though I say it who shouldn't, I think I had. So we pressed
several hundred Matuku bearers into our service, and next day marched
off with the lot.
"Before we went I took a formal farewell of Maiwa, whom we left with a
bodyguard of three hundred men to assist her in settling the country.
She gave me her hand to kiss in a queenly sort of way, and then said,
"'Macumazahn, you are a brave man, and have been a friend to me in my
need. If ever you want help or shelter, remember that Maiwa has a good
memory for friend and foe. All I have is yours.
"And so I thanked her and went. She was certainly a very remarkable
woman. A year or two ago I heard that her father Nala was dead, and that
she had succeeded to the chieftainship of both tribes, which she ruled
with great justice and firmness.
"I can assure you that we ascended the pass leading to Wambe's town with
feelings very different from those with which we had descended it a
few days before. But if I was grateful for the issue of events, you can
easily imagine what poor Every's feelings were. When we got to the top
of the pass, before the whole impi he actually flopped down upon his
knees and thanked Heaven for his escape, the tears running down his
face. But then, as I have said, his nerves were shaken--though now that
his beard was trimmed and he had some sort of clothes on his back, and
hope in his heart, he looked a very different man from the poor wretch
whom we had rescued from death by torture.
"Well, we separated from Nala at the little stairway or pass over the
mountain--Every and I and the ivory going down the river which I had
come up a few weeks before, and the chief returning to his own kraal on
the further side of the mountain. He gave us an escort of a hundred
and fifty men, however, with instructions to accompany us for six days'
journey, and to keep the Matuku bearers in order and then return. I knew
that in six days we should be able to reach a district where porters
were plentiful, and whence we could easily get the ivory conveyed to
"And did you land it up safe?" I asked.
"Well no," said Quatermain, "we lost about a third of it in crossing a
river. A flood came down suddenly just as the men were crossing and many
of them had to throw down their tusks to save their lives. We had no
means of dragging it up, and so we were obliged to leave it, which
was very sad. However, we sold what remained for nearly seven thousand
pounds, so we did not do so badly. I don't mean that I got seven
thousand pounds out of it, because, you see, I insisted upon Every
taking a half share. Poor fellow, he had earned it, if ever a man did.
He set up a store in the old colony on the proceeds and did uncommonly
"And what did you do with the lion trap?" asked Sir Henry.
"Oh, I brought that away with me also, and when I reached Durban I put
it in my house. But really I could not bear to sit opposite to it at
nights as I smoked. Visions of that poor woman and the hand of her dead
child would rise up in my mind, and also of all the horrors of which it
had been the instrument. I began to dream at last that it held me by the
leg. This was too much for my nerves, so I just packed it up and shipped
it to its maker in England, whose name was stamped upon the steel,
sending him a letter at the same time to tell him to what purpose the
infernal machine had been put. I believe that he gave it to some museum
"And what became of the tusks of the three bulls which you shot! You
must have left them at Nala's kraal, I suppose."
The old gentleman's face fell at this question.
"Ah," he said, "that is a very sad story. Nala promised to send them
with my goods to my agent at Delagoa, and so he did. But the men who
brought them were unarmed, and, as it happened, they fell in with a
slave caravan under the command of a half-bred Portuguese, who seized
the tusks, and what is worse, swore that he had shot them. I paid him
out afterwards, however," he added with a smile of satisfaction, "but it
did not give me back my tusks, which no doubt have been turned into hair
brushes long ago;" and he sighed.
"Well," said Good, "that is a capital yarn of yours, Quatermain,
"But what?" he asked sharply, foreseeing a draw.
"But I don't think that it was so good as mine about the ibex--it hasn't
the same _finish_."
Mr. Quatermain made no reply. Good was beneath it.
"Do you know, gentlemen," he said, "it is half-past two in the morning,
and if we are going to shoot the big wood to-morrow we ought to leave
here at nine-thirty sharp."
"Oh, if you shoot for a hundred years you will never beat the record of
those three woodcocks," I said.
"Or of those three elephants," added Sir Henry.
And then we all went to bed, and I dreamed that I had married Maiwa, and
was much afraid of that attractive but determined lady.