“Nay, Macumazahn; I will give orders that whoever conquers, the man that dares to lift a spear against you shall die. In this matter, at least, I shall not be disobeyed. Oh! I pray you, do not desert me in my trouble. Go down with the regiment that I shall send and breathe your wisdom into the ear of my son, Umbelazi. As for your reward, I swear to you by the head of the Black One [Chaka] that it shall be great. I will see to it that you do not leave Zululand empty-handed, Macumazahn.”
Still I hesitated, for I mistrusted me of this business.
“O Watcher-by-Night,” exclaimed Panda, “you will not desert me, will you? I am afraid for the son of my heart, Umbelazi, whom I love above all my children; I am much afraid for Umbelazi,” and he burst into tears before me.
It was foolish, no doubt, but the sight of the old King weeping for his best-beloved child, whom he believed to be doomed, moved me so much that I forgot my caution.
“If you wish it, O Panda,” I said, “I will go down to the battle with your regiment and stand there by the side of the Prince Umbelazi.”
UMBELAZI THE FALLEN
So I stayed on at Nodwengu, who, indeed, had no choice in the matter, and was very wretched and ill at ease. The place was almost deserted, except for a couple of regiments which were quartered there, the Sangqu and the Amawombe. This latter was the royal regiment, a kind of Household Guards, to which the Kings Chaka, Dingaan and Panda all belonged in turn. Most of the headmen had taken one side or the other, and were away raising forces to fight for Cetewayo or Umbelazi, and even the greater part of the women and children had gone to hide themselves in the bush or among the mountains, since none knew what would happen, or if the conquering army would not fall upon and destroy them.
A few councillors, however, remained with Panda, among whom was old Maputa, the general, who had once brought me the “message of the pills.” Several times he visited me at night and told me the rumours that were flying about. From these I gathered that some skirmishes had taken place and the battle could not be long delayed; also that Umbelazi had chosen his fighting ground, a plain near the banks of the Tugela.
“Why has he done this,” I asked, “seeing that then he will have a broad river behind him, and if he is defeated water can kill as well as spears?”
“I know not for certain,” answered Maputa; “but it is said because of a dream that Saduko, his general, has dreamed thrice, which dream declares that there and there alone Umbelazi will find honour. At any rate, he has chosen this place; and I am told that all the women and children of his army, by thousands, are hidden in the bush along the banks of the river, so that they may fly into Natal if there is need.”
“Have they wings,” I asked, “wherewith to fly over the Tugela ’in wrath,’ as it well may be after the rains? Oh, surely his Spirit has turned from Umbelazi!”