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|Child of Storm||H. Rider Haggard|
|Page 5 of 7||
"Dying! What of, Tshoza?"
"I don't know," he answered mysteriously; "but I think he must be bewitched. For a long while, a year or more, he has eaten little and cannot bear to be alone in the dark; indeed, ever since he left Zululand he has been very strange and moody."
Now I remembered what old Zikali had said to me years before to the effect that Saduko was living with a ghost which would kill him.
"Does he think much about Umbelazi, Tshoza?" I asked.
"O Macumazana, he thinks of nothing else; the Spirit of Umbelazi is in him day and night."
"Indeed," I said. "Can I see him?"
"I don't know, Macumazahn. I will go and ask the lady Nandie at once, for, if you can, I believe there is no time to lose." And he left the hut.
Ten minutes later he returned with a woman, Nandie the Sweet herself, the same quiet, dignified Nandie whom I used to know, only now somewhat worn with trouble and looking older than her years.
"Greeting, Macumazahn," she said. "I am pleased to see you, although it is strange, very strange, that you should come here just at this time. Saduko is leaving us--on a long journey, Macumazahn."
I answered that I had heard so with grief, and wondered whether he would like to see me.
"Yes, very much, Macumazahn; only be prepared to find him different from the Saduko whom you knew. Be pleased to follow me."
So we went out of Tshoza's hut, across a courtyard to another large hut, which we entered. It was lit with a good lamp of European make; also a bright fire burned upon the hearth, so that the place was as light as day. At the side of the hut a man lay upon some blankets, watched by a woman. His eyes were covered with his hand, and he was moaning:
"Drive him away! Drive him away! Cannot he suffer me to die in peace?"
"Would you drive away your old friend, Macumazahn, Saduko?" asked Nandie very gently, "Macumazahn, who has come from far to see you?"
He sat up, and, the blankets falling off him, showed me that he was nothing but a living skeleton. Oh! how changed from that lithe and handsome chief whom I used to know. Moreover, his lips quivered and his eyes were full of terrors.
"Is it really you, Macumazahn?" he said in a weak voice. "Come, then, and stand quite close to me, so that he may not get between us," and he stretched out his bony hand.
I took the hand; it was icy cold.
"Yes, yes, it is I, Saduko," I said in a cheerful voice; "and there is no man to get between us; only the lady Nandie, your wife, and myself are in the hut; she who watched you has gone."
"Oh, no, Macumazahn, there is another in the hut whom you cannot see. There he stands," and he pointed towards the hearth. "Look! The spear is through him and his plume lies on the ground!"
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|Child of Storm
H. Rider Haggard
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