Albeit unused to fear or awe,
Bowed down in homage, wondering,
And bent his eyes, as fearing to be
Blinded by rays of deity.
Then asked the mighty voice and calm,
“Art thou Ma-anda called?” “I am.”
“And art thou king?” “The king am I,”
The bold Ma-anda made reply.
“Tis rightly spoken; but, my son,
Why hast thou my command forgot,
That no man with thee to this spot
Should come, except thy guide alone?”
“No man has come,” Ma-anda said.
“Alone we journeyed, he and I;
And often have I turned my head,
And never living thing could spy.
None is there, on my faith as king.”
“A king’s word is a weighty thing,”
The old man answered. “Let it be,—
But still a man has followed thee!
Now answer, Ma-anda, one more thing:
Who, first of all thy line, was king?”
“Kintu the god.” “’Tis well, my son,
All creatures Kintu loved,—not one
Too pitiful or weak or small;
He knew them and he loved them all;
And never did a living thing,
Or bird in air or fish in lake,
Endure a pang for Kintu’s sake.
Then rose his sons, of differing mind,
Who gorged on cruel feasts each day,
And bathed in blood, and joyed to slay,
And laughed at pain and suffering.
Then Kintu sadly went his way.
The gods long-suffering are and kind,
Often they pardon, long they wait;
But men are evil, men are blind.
After much tarriance, much debate,
The good gods leave them to their fate;
So Kintu went where none may find.
Each king in turn has sought since then,
From Chora down, the first in line,
To win lost Kintu back to men.
Vain was his search, and vain were thine,
Save that the gods have special grace
To thee, Ma-anda. Face to face
With Kintu thou shall stand, and he
Shall speak the word of power to thee;
Clasped to his bosom, thou shall share
His knowledge of the earth, the air,
And deep things, secret things, shall learn.
But stay,”—the old man’s voice grew stern,—
“Before I further speak, declare
Who is that man in ambush there!”
“There is no man,—no man I see.”
“Deny no longer, it is vain.
Within the shadow of the tree
He lurketh; lo, behold him plain!”
And the king saw;—for at the word
From covert stole the hidden spy,
And sought his monarch’s side. One cry,
A lion’s roar, Ma-anda gave,
Then seized his spear, and poised and drave.
Like lightning bolt it hissed and whirred,
A flash across the midnight blue.
A single groan, a jet of red,
And, pierced and stricken through and through,
Upon the ground the chief fell dead;
But still with love no death could chase,
His eyes sought out his master’s face.