King Solomon's Mines HTML version

The Witch-Hunt
On reaching our hut I motioned to Infadoos to enter with us.
"Now, Infadoos," I said, "we would speak with thee."
"Let my lords say on."
"It seems to us, Infadoos, that Twala the king is a cruel man."
"It is so, my lords. Alas! the land cries out because of his cruelties. To-night ye shall see.
It is the great witch-hunt, and many will be smelt out as wizards and slain. No man's life
is safe. If the king covets a man's cattle, or a man's wife, or if he fears a man that he
should excite a rebellion against him, then Gagool, whom ye saw, or some of the witch-
finding women whom she has taught, will smell that man out as a wizard, and he will be
killed. Many must die before the moon grows pale to-night. It is ever so. Perhaps I too
shall be killed. As yet I have been spared because I am skilled in war, and am beloved by
the soldiers; but I know not how long I have to live. The land groans at the cruelties of
Twala the king; it is wearied of him and his red ways."
"Then why is it, Infadoos, that the people do not cast him down?"
"Nay, my lords, he is the king, and if he were killed Scragga would reign in his place, and
the heart of Scragga is blacker than the heart of Twala his father. If Scragga were king his
yoke upon our neck would be heavier than the yoke of Twala. If Imotu had never been
slain, or if Ignosi his son had lived, it might have been otherwise; but they are both dead."
"How knowest thou that Ignosi is dead?" said a voice behind us. We looked round
astonished to see who spoke. It was Umbopa.
"What meanest thou, boy?" asked Infadoos; "who told thee to speak?"
"Listen, Infadoos," was the answer, "and I will tell thee a story. Years ago the king Imotu
was killed in this country and his wife fled with the boy Ignosi. Is it not so?"
"It is so."
"It was said that the woman and her son died upon the mountains. Is it not so?"
"It is even so."
"Well, it came to pass that the mother and the boy Ignosi did not die. They crossed the
mountains and were led by a tribe of wandering desert men across the sands beyond, till
at last they came to water and grass and trees again."
"How knowest thou this?"
"Listen. They travelled on and on, many months' journey, till they reached a land where a
people called the Amazulu, who also are of the Kukuana stock, live by war, and with
them they tarried many years, till at length the mother died. Then the son Ignosi became a