“I can’t remember which of them proposed it,” yawned Panda. “Who can keep on talking about things from night till morning? At any rate, I propose it, and I will make your husband a big man among our people. Have you anything to say against it?”
“I have nothing to say, my Father. I have met Saduko, and like him well—for the rest, you are the judge. But,” she added slowly, “does Saduko like me? When he speaks my name, does he feel it here?” and she pointed to her throat.
“I am sure I do not know what he feels in his throat,” Panda replied testily, “but I feel that mine is dry. Well, as no one says anything, the matter is settled. To-morrow Saduko shall give the umqoliso [the Ox of the Girl], that makes marriage—if he has not got one here I will lend it to him, and you can take the new, big hut that I have built in the outer kraal to dwell in for the present. There will be a dance, if you wish it; if not, I do not care, for I have no wish for ceremony just now, who am too troubled with great matters. Now I am going to sleep.”
Then sinking from his stool on to his knees, Panda crawled through the doorway of his great hut, which was close to him, and vanished.
Umbelazi and I departed also through the gateway of the fence, leaving Saduko and the Princess Nandie alone together, for there were no attendants present. What happened between them I am sure I do not know, but I gather that, in one way or another, Saduko made himself sufficiently agreeable to the princess to persuade her to take him to husband. Perhaps, being already enamoured of him, she was not difficult to persuade. At any rate, on the morrow, without any great feasting or fuss, except the customary dance, the umqoliso, the “Ox of the Girl,” was slaughtered, and Saduko became the husband of a royal maiden of the House of Senzangakona.
Certainly, as I remember reflecting, it was a remarkable rise in life for one who, but a few months before, had been without possessions or a home.
I may add that, after our brief talk in the King’s kraal, while Panda was dozing, I had no further words with Saduko on this matter of his marriage, for between its proposal and the event he avoided me, nor did I seek him out. On the day of the marriage also, I trekked for Natal, and for a whole year heard no more of Saduko, Nandie, and Mameena; although, to be frank, I must admit I thought of the last of these persons more often, perhaps, than I should have done.
The truth is that Mameena was one of those women who sticks in a man’s mind even more closely than a “Wait-a-bit” thorn does in his coat.
ALLAN RETURNS TO ZULULAND