“Curse—I mean bless—the Great Medicine,” I said as I lifted my rifle to my shoulder.
At that moment all those Amahagger—there were about sixty of them left—became seized with a certain perturbation. They stood still, they stared towards the fold of ground out of which they had emerged; they called to each other words which I did not catch, and then—they turned to run.
Umslopogaas saw, and with a leader’s instinct, acted. Springing over the parapet, followed by his remaining Zulus of the Axe, he leapt upon them with a roar. Down they went before Inkosikaas, like corn before a sickle. The thing was marvellous to see, it was like the charge of a leopard, so swift was the rush and so lightning-like were the strokes or rather the pecks of that flashing axe, for now he was tapping at their heads or spines with the gouge-like point upon its back. Nor were these the only victims, for those brave followers of his also did their part. In a minute all who remained upon their feet of the Amahagger were in full flight, vanishing this way and that among the trees. Hans fired a parting shot after the last of them, then sat down upon a stone and finding his corn-cob pipe, proceeded to fill it.
“The Great Medicine, Baas,” he began sententiously, “or perhaps your reverend father, the Predikant——” Here he paused and pointed doubtfully with the bowl of the pipe towards the fold in the ground, adding, “Here it is, but I think it must be your reverend father, not the Great Medicine, yes, the Predikant himself, returned from Heaven, the Place of Fires!”
Looking vaguely in the direction indicated, for I could not conceive what he meant and thought that the excitement must have made him mad, I perceived a venerable old man with a long white beard and clothed in a flowing garment, also white, who reminded me of Father Christmas at a child’s party, walking towards us and radiating benignancy. Also behind him I perceived a whole forest of spear points emerging from the gully. He seemed to take it for granted that we should not shoot at him, for he came on quite unconcerned, carefully picking his way among the corpses. When he was near enough he stopped and said in a kind of Arabic which I could understand,
“I greet you, Strangers, in the name of her I serve. I see that I am just in time, but this does not surprise me, since she said that it would be so. You seem to have done very well with these dogs,” and he prodded a dead Amahagger with his sandalled foot. “Yes, very well indeed. You must be great warriors.”
Then he paused and we stared at each other.
THROUGH THE MOUNTAIN WALL
“These do not seem to be friends of yours,” I said, pointing to the fallen. “And yet,” I added, nodding towards the spearmen who were now emerging from the gully, “they are very like your friends.”