Now we were together, and there was no room for both, so after a certain amount of dodging I went under, as the lighter dog always does in a fight. That buffalo seemed to do everything to me which a buffalo could do under the circumstances. It tried to horn me, and partially succeeded, although I ducked at each swoop. Then it struck me with its nose and drove me to the bottom of the pool, although I got hold of its lip and twisted it. Then it calmly knelt on me and sank me deeper and deeper into the mud. I remember kicking it in the stomach. After this I remember no more, except a kind of wild dream in which I rehearsed all the scene in the dwarf’s hut, and his request that when I met the buffalo with the cleft horn in the pool of a dried river, I should remember that he was nothing but a “poor old Kafir cheat.”
After this I saw my mother bending over a little child in my bed in the old house in Oxfordshire where I was born, and then—blackness!
I came to myself again and saw, instead of my mother, the stately figure of Saduko bending over me upon one side, and on the other that of Scowl, the half-bred Hottentot, who was weeping, for his hot tears fell upon my face.
“He is gone,” said poor Scowl; “that bewitched beast with the split horn has killed him. He is gone who was the best white man in all South Africa, whom I loved better than my father and all my relatives.”
“That you might easily do, Bastard,” answered Saduko, “seeing that you do not know who they are. But he is not gone, for the ‘Opener-of-Roads’ said that he would live; also I got my spear into the heart of that buffalo before he had kneaded the life out of him, as fortunately the mud was soft. Yet I fear that his ribs are broken”; and he poked me with his finger on the breast.
“Take your clumsy hand off me,” I gasped.
“There!” said Saduko, “I have made him feel. Did I not tell you that he would live?”
After this I remember little more, except some confused dreams, till I found myself lying in a great hut, which I discovered subsequently was Umbezi’s own, the same, indeed, wherein I had doctored the ear of that wife of his who was called “Worn-out-old-Cow.”
For a while I contemplated the roof and sides of the hut by the light which entered it through the smoke-vent and the door-hole, wondering whose it might be and how I came there.
Then I tried to sit up, and instantly was seized with agony in the region of the ribs, which I found were bound about with broad strips of soft tanned hide. Clearly they, or some of them, were broken.
What had broken them? I asked myself, and in a flash everything came back to me. So I had escaped with my life, as the old dwarf, “Opener-of-Roads,” had told me that I should. Certainly he was an excellent prophet; and if he spoke truth in this matter, why not in others? What was I to make of it all? How could a black savage, however ancient, foresee the future?