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The White Hecatomb And other Stories   By: (1855-1943)

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The White Hecatomb And other stories By William Charles Scully Published by Methuen and Co, London. This edition dated 1897.

The White Hecatomb, by William Charles Scully.

THE WHITE HECATOMB, BY WILLIAM CHARLES SCULLY.

CHAPTER ONE.

THE WHITE HECATOMB.

"For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind." Hosea VIII, 7.

"Ehea, Inkosi am. I know by the smell of it that this snuff is of the same kind as that which my grandson brought from you the other day. Well, I am thankful that before I die I taste in my nose what really is snuff. But to think that I should have had to wait all these years for it; and now to be unable to see its colour! There, I have kissed your hand, and that is all I can do to show my gratitude.

"That one like you one who can have as much as he likes of such snuff should want to come here and talk to an old woman such as I, is wonderful. You cannot be old, to judge by your voice. Is it not perhaps the young women you want to talk to? But give them none of that snuff, they are impudent children of no experience, and would not value it. Well, if it be myself that you want to talk to, my tongue is alive although my eyes are dead.

"When was I born, did you say? That I can hardly tell you. I think that none but myself are now living who saw that day. My father's clan dwelt far from here, beyond the Tugela river. He was just a common man of the Amangwane tribe, and he stood close, until the day of his death, to the great fighting chief Matiwane. In the days of my childhood I saw nothing but fighting and wandering about. I do not remember when we first began to wander, but I think my mother was wandering when she bore me. Tshaka had fallen upon us, the Amangwane, and we, in turn, fell upon the Amahlubi, whom we followed, fighting, across the Quathlamba Mountains into a land of wide plains, high mountains, and great rivers.

"When still a little girl I have often sat on a hill with the women and the other children, and looked down upon the fighting. When the villages of the Bathlokua were burnt the sun and the whole sky were hidden by smoke.

"Matiwane was one who loved blood. He drank the gall of every chief that was slain, to make him fierce. When he fled back to the Zulu country, Dingaan filled his mouth with the liver of an ox, and told the captive Hlubis to beat him with sticks on the belly until he died. But that was long afterwards, after much blood had flowed. Blood, blood; the light died in my eyes many years ago, yet whenever I think of the days when I was a child, I seem to see a great redness glowing through the darkness.

"When Tshaka fell upon us for the third time, he drove us back among the steep mountains of the Lesuto, and here we said we would henceforth dwell. After Tshakas `impi' had departed, Matiwane sent back parties to gather some millet from the ruined fields, for our crops were nearly ripe when we were driven forth. Then our men took to hunting, and we lived on what they killed; but there was much sickness among us, because there was no grain for the children to eat, the little grain we had being kept for seed. When the children cried with hunger they were told to wait until the millet grew, for that then their hunger would be satisfied.

"The spring rains fell early, and on every mountain ledge we broke the ground and planted the millet. It grew as millet has never grown before or since, in spite of the steepness of the ground, and we used to go and sit among the high thick stalks, and fondle them, and think that in a few weeks more we should be feasting upon the food we loved so much and had been without for such a long time.

"Just as the grain commenced forming, small flights of locusts began to arrive from the westward... Continue reading book >>




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