“Inkoosi,” he said, lifting his hand in salute with a flash of his dark eyes, “you are generous, you honour me. What is there that I should love better? Yet,” he added, and his face fell, “first I must ask Zikali the Little, Zikali my foster-father.”
“Oh!” I said, “so you are still tied to the Wizard’s girdle, are you?”
“Not so, Macumazahn; but I promised him not long ago that I would undertake no enterprise, save that you know of, until I had spoken with him.”
“How far off does Zikali live?” I asked Saduko.
“One day’s journeying. Starting at sunrise I can be there by sunset.”
“Good! Then I will put off the shooting for three days and come with you if you think that this wonderful old dwarf will receive me.”
“I believe that he will, Macumazahn, for this reason—he told me that I should meet you and love you, and that you would be mixed up in my fortunes.”
“Then he poured moonshine into your gourd instead of beer,” I answered. “Would you keep me here till midnight listening to such foolishness when we must start at dawn? Begone now and let me sleep.”
“I go,” he answered with a little smile. “But if this is so, O Macumazana, why do you also wish to drink of the moonshine of Zikali?” and he went.
Yet I did not sleep very well that night, for Saduko and his strange and terrible story had taken a hold of my imagination. Also, for reasons of my own, I greatly wished to see this Zikali, of whom I had heard a great deal in past years. I wished further to find out if he was a common humbug, like so many witch-doctors, this dwarf who announced that my fortunes were mixed up with those of his foster-son, and who at least could tell me something true or false about the history and position of Bangu, a person for whom I had conceived a strong dislike, possibly quite unjustified by the facts. But more than all did I wish to see Mameena, whose beauty or talents produced so much impression upon the native mind. Perhaps if I went to see Zikali she would be back at her father’s kraal before we started on our shooting trip.
Thus it was then that fate wove me and my doings into the web of some very strange events; terrible, tragic and complete indeed as those of a Greek play, as it has often done both before and since those days.
THE MOONSHINE OF ZIKALI
On the following morning I awoke, as a good hunter always should do, just at that time when, on looking out of the wagon, nothing can be seen but a little grey glint of light which he knows is reflected from the horns of the cattle tied to the trek-tow. Presently, however, I saw another glint of light which I guessed came from the spear of Saduko, who was seated by the ashes of the cooking fire wrapped in his kaross of wildcat skins. Slipping from the voorkisse, or driving-box, I came behind him softly and touched him on the shoulder. He leapt up with a start which revealed his nervous nature, then recognising me through the soft grey gloom, said: