“Then they broke, and, stricken with utter panic, Wambe’s soldiers streamed away a scattered crowd of fugitives, while after them thundered the footfall of the victors.
“The fight was over, we had won the day; and for my part I sat down upon a stone and wiped my forehead, thanking Providence that I had lived to see the end of it. Twenty minutes later Nala’s warriors began to return panting. ‘Wambe’s soldiers had taken to the bush and the caves,’ they said, ‘where they had not thought it safe to follow them,’ adding significantly, that many had stopped on the way.
“I was utterly dazed, and now that the fight was over my energy seemed to have left me, and I did not pay much attention, till presently I was aroused by somebody calling me by my name. I looked up, and saw that it was the chief Nala himself, who was bleeding from a flesh wound in his arm. By his side stood Maiwa panting, but unhurt, and wearing on her face a proud and terrifying air.
“‘They are gone, Macumazahn,’ said the chief; ’there is little to fear from them, their heart is broken. But where is Wambe the chief?—and where is the white man thou camest to save?’
“‘I know not,’ I answered.
“Close to where we stood lay a Matuku, a young man who had been shot through the fleshy part of the calf. It was a trifling wound, but it prevented him from running away.
“‘Say, thou dog,’ said Nala, stalking up to him and shaking his red spear in his face, ’say, where is Wambe? Speak, or I slay thee. Was he with the soldiers?’
“‘Nay, lord, I know not,’ groaned the terrified man, ’he fought not with us; Wambe has no stomach for fighting. Perchance he is in his kraal yonder, or in the cave behind the kraal,’ and he pointed to a small enclosure on the hillside, about four hundred yards to the right of where we were.
“‘Let us go and see,’ said Nala, summoning his soldiers.”
VIII—MAIWA IS AVENGED
“The impi formed up; alas, an hour before it had been stronger by a third than it was now. Then Nala detached two hundred men to collect and attend to the injured, and at my suggestion issued a stringent order that none of the enemy’s wounded, and above all no women or children, were to be killed, as is the savage custom among African natives. On the contrary, they were to be allowed to send word to their women that they might come in to nurse them and fear nothing, for Nala made war upon Wambe the tyrant, and not on the Matuku tribe.
“Then we started with some four hundred men for the chief’s kraal. Very soon we were there. It was, as I have said, placed against the mountain side, but within the fortified lines, and did not at all cover more than an acre and a half of ground. Outside was a tiny reed fence, within which, neatly arranged in a semi-circular line, stood the huts of the chief’s principal wives. Maiwa of course knew every inch of the kraal, for she had lived in it, and led us straight to the entrance. We peeped through the gateway—not a soul was to be seen. There were the huts and there was the clear open space floored with a concrete of lime, on which the sun beat fiercely, but nobody could we see or hear.