“They laughed in their pride, twenty thousand men, and yet a twenty thousand.
“Their plumes covered the valleys as the plumes of a bird cover her nest; they shook their shields and shouted, yea, they shook their shields in the sunlight; they lusted for battle and were glad.
“They came up against me; their strong ones ran swiftly to slay me; they cried, ‘Ha! ha! he is as one already dead.’
“Then breathed I on them, and my breath was as the breath of a wind, and lo! they were not.
“My lightnings pierced them; I licked up their strength with the lightning of my spears; I shook them to the ground with the thunder of my shoutings.
“They broke—they scattered—they were gone as the mists of the morning.
“They are food for the kites and the foxes, and the place of battle is fat with their blood.
“Where are the mighty ones who rose up in the morning?
“Where are the proud ones who tossed their spears and cried, ’He is as a man already dead’?
“They bow their heads, but not in sleep; they are stretched out, but not in sleep.
“They are forgotten; they have gone into the blackness; they dwell in the dead moons; yea, others shall lead away their wives, and their children shall remember them no more.
“And I—! the king—like an eagle I have found my eyrie.
“Behold! far have I flown in the night season, yet have I returned to my young at the daybreak.
“Shelter ye under the shadow of my wings, O people, and I will comfort you, and ye shall not be dismayed.
“Now is the good time, the time of spoil.
“Mine are the cattle on the mountains, mine are the virgins in the kraals.
“The winter is overpast with storms, the summer is come with flowers.
“Now Evil shall cover up her face, now Mercy and Gladness shall dwell in the land.
“Rejoice, rejoice, my people!
“Let all the stars rejoice in that this tyranny is trodden down, in that I am the king.”
Ignosi ceased his song, and out of the gathering gloom came back the deep reply—
“Thou art the king!”
Thus was my prophecy to the herald fulfilled, and within the forty-eight hours Twala’s headless corpse was stiffening at Twala’s gate.
GOOD FALLS SICK
After the fight was ended, Sir Henry and Good were carried into Twala’s hut, where I joined them. They were both utterly exhausted by exertion and loss of blood, and, indeed, my own condition was little better. I am very wiry, and can stand more fatigue than most men, probably on account of my light weight and long training; but that night I was quite done up, and, as is always the case with me when exhausted, that old wound which the lion gave me began to pain. Also my head was aching violently from the blow I had received in the morning, when I was knocked senseless. Altogether, a more miserable trio than we were that evening it would have been difficult to discover; and our only comfort lay in the reflection that we were exceedingly fortunate to be there to feel miserable, instead of being stretched dead upon the plain, as so many thousands of brave men were that night, who had risen well and strong in the morning.