following the curvature of the suspending ropes, is made
Wardlaw nodded eagerly. The story was getting into ground that he knew about.
'The thing to remember is that all these little empires thought themselves the successors of Prester John. It took me a long time to find this out, and I have spent days in the best libraries in Europe over it. They all looked back to a great king in the north, whom they called by about twenty different names. They had forgotten about his Christianity, but they remembered that he was a conqueror.
'Well, to make a long story short, Monomotapa disappeared in time, and fresh tribes came down from the north, and pushed right down to Natal and the Cape. That is how the Zulus first appeared. They brought with them the story of Prester John, but by this time it had ceased to be a historical memory, and had become a religious cult. They worshipped a great Power who had been their ancestor, and the favourite Zulu word for him was Umkulunkulu. The belief was perverted into fifty different forms, but this was the central creed - that Umkulunkulu had been the father of the tribe, and was alive as a spirit to watch over them.
'They brought more than a creed with them. Somehow or other, some fetich had descended from Prester John by way of the Mazimba and Angoni and Makaranga. What it is I do not know, but it was always in the hands of the tribe which for the moment held the leadership. The great native wars of the sixteenth century, which you can read about in the Portuguese historians, were not for territory but for leadership, and mainly for the possession of this fetich. Anyhow, we know that the Zulus brought it down with them. They called it Ndhlondhlo, which means the Great Snake, but I don't suppose that it was any kind of snake. The snake was their totem, and they would naturally call their most sacred possession after it.
'Now I will tell you a thing that few know. You have heard of Tchaka. He was a sort of black Napoleon early in the last century, and he made the Zulus the paramount power in South Africa, slaughtering about two million souls to accomplish it. Well, he had the fetich, whatever it was, and it was believed that he owed his conquests to it. Mosilikatse tried to steal it, and that was why he had to fly to Matabeleland. But with Tchaka it disappeared. Dingaan did not have it, nor Panda, and Cetewayo never got it, though he searched the length and breadth of the country for it. It had gone out of existence, and with it the chance of a Kaffir empire.'
Captain Arcoll got up to light his pipe, and I noticed that his face was grave. He was not telling us this yarn for our amusement.
'So much for Prester John and his charm,' he said. 'Now I have to take up the history at a different point. In spite of risings here and there, and occasional rows, the Kaffirs have been quiet for the better part of half a century. It is no credit to us. They have had plenty of grievances, and we are no nearer understanding them than our fathers were. But they are scattered and divided. We have driven great wedges of white settlement into their territory, and we have taken away their arms. Still, they are six times as many as we are, and they have long memories, and a thoughtful man may wonder how long the peace will last. I have often asked myself that question, and till lately I used to reply, "For ever because they cannot find a leader with the proper authority, and they have no common cause to fight for." But a year or two ago I began to change my mind.
'It is my business to act as chief Intelligence officer among the natives. Well, one day, I came on the tracks of a curious person. He was a Christian minister called Laputa, and he was going among the tribes from Durban to the Zambesi as a roving evangelist. I found that he made an enormous impression, and yet the people I spoke to were chary of saying much about him. Presently I found that he preached more than the gospel. His word was "Africa for the Africans," and his chief point was that the natives had had a great empire in the past, and might have a great empire again. He used to tell the story of Prester John, with all kinds of embroidery of his own. You see, Prester John was a good argument for him, for he had been a Christian as well as a great potentate. 'For years there has been plenty of this talk in South Africa, chiefly among Christian Kaffirs. It is what they call "Ethiopianism," and American negroes are the chief apostles. For myself, I always thought the thing perfectly harmless. I don't care a fig whether the native missions break away from the parent churches in England and call themselves by fancy names. The more freedom they have in their religious life, the less they are likely to think about politics. But I soon found out that Laputa was none of your flabby educated negroes from America, and I began to watch him.
- was anxious to examine a reported coal-mine which turned
- would have left the children in despair, but for the splendid
- douar in the jungle. Few it is true, but there had been
- from him. In her new world she loved a man of her own kind.
- and not Spaniards and that they were in sad want of tobacco
- have transpired since last he had seen her. Then the coming
- Onward they went, the scent of the lion and his prey becoming
- weapon. The man stopped outside, and Meriem could hear
- to sleep, rose and wandered out into the garden. The Hon.
- but could not. His throat was dry and parched. Never in
- men had formed a mutual esteem that was to endure through
- from her hiding place and ran quickly across the clearing
- either a watch or a clock; and an old man who was supposed
- ‘You have saved my life,’ it said. ‘I know that man
- was sundered from the other. I had no power to seek for
- Meriem, dazed by the unexpected sight of Korak whom she
- innocent purpose: each parish has a public musket, and
- opening in it, and in this opening, just below the water,
- Meriem raced straight back toward the point she imagined
- event that had transpired at his camp the previous night—an
- For three weeks Hanson had remained. During this time he
- She was alone, and they had left a canoe in which lay a
- won't feel so bad about it—especially after livin' with
- shores, catching fish after a fashion of his own devising
- to sleep, rose and wandered out into the garden. The Hon.
- How could such as he protect Meriem from the countless
- hands, and Anthea caught it in hers, which were not very
- officers’ epaulets and doctors’ lancets. There were
- bivouacked near us. They had no shelter during the rain.
- So Cyril took the shilling, and they all started off. They
- Malbihn screamed to her to halt. He seemed to have gone
- thought of his duplicity which these recollections aroused—thoughts
- fit, often wandering along in the great flower garden that
- they were approaching their goal, and knowing as he did
- no time in establishing the old relations of father and
- not notice the gifts which the Psammead gave. And when
- reason to believe her dead, and that it was because of
- entered her mind. To her Meriem was fit for a king. She
- was dusty and dirty, and its fur was untidy and ragged.
- And I know there are heaps of things you can see in London
- the sailors bought with a stick of tobacco, of the value
- went round by the Tottenham Court Road to buy a piece of
- upon him. There were two men in the world that Malbihn
- purpose of the beast. He shrieked aloud to Korak. Help!
- about the premises by night. He came and went as he saw
- They have not marched here at all, said Meriem. The
- to take the girl along I'll help you, and I'll guarantee
- ‘Don’t make your voice buzz like that, it tickles my
- was scarcely superior to an English cottager. At night
- ‘I expect they could teach us something too,’ said