THE telling of Folk-lore Tales amounts, with the African Negro, almost to a passion. By day, both men and women have their manual occupations, or, even if idling, pass the time in sleep or gossip; but at night, particularly with moonlight, if there be on hand no dances, either of fetich-worship or of mere amusement, some story-teller is asked to recite. All know the tales, but not all can recite them dramatically. The audience never wearies of repetition. The skilful story-teller in Africa occupies in the community the place filled in civilization by the actor or concert-singer.
This is true all over Africa. In any one region there are certain tales common to all the tribes in that region. But almost every tribe will have tales distinctive to it. It is part of native courtesy to ask a visitor to contribute his local story to the amusement of the evening.
Some of these tales are probably of ancient origin, as to their plot and their characters. I am disposed to give the folk-lore of Africa a very ancient origin. Ethnology and philology trace the Bantu stream from the northeast, not by a straight line diagonally to the southwest, but the stream, starting with an infusion of Hamitic (and perhaps Caucasian) blood in the Nubian provinces, flowed south to the Cape, and then, turning on itself, flowed northwestward until it lost itself at the Bight of Benin. That blood gave to the Bantu features more delicate than those of the northern Guinea Negro.
That stream, as it flowed, carried with it arts, thoughts, plants, and animals from the south of Egypt. The bellows used in every village smithy on the West Coast is the same as is depicted on Egyptian monuments. The great personages mentioned as "kings" are probably semi-deified ancestors, or are even confounded with the Creator. It may not be only a coincidence that the ancient Egyptian word "Ra" exists in west equatorial tribes (contracted from "rera" = my father) with its meaning of "Lord," "Master,"Sir." In these tales the name Ra-Mborakinda, is used interchangeably with the Divine Name, Ra-Nyambe.
But it is true that a doubt can be raised against the antiquity of some of the tales, in which are introduced words, e.g. "cannon," "pistol," articles not known to the African until comparatively modern times. And in the case of a few, such as No. V., the origin is in all probability modern. In No. V. the reader at once turns in thought to "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves." There the internal evidence is positive, either that the story was heard long ago from Arabs (or perhaps within the last hundred years from some foreigner), or there may have been an original African story, to which modern narrators have attached incidents of Ali Baba which they have overheard within the last fifty years from some white trader or educated Sierra-Leonian.
But it would not necessarily condemn a tale's claim to antiquity that it had in it modern words. Such words as "gun," "pistol," "stairway," "canvas," and others may be interpolations. It was probably true long ago, as is now the case, that narrators added to or changed words uttered by the characters. Where in the plot some modern weipon is named, long ago it was perhaps a spear, club, or bow and arrow. When Dutch and Portuguese built their forts on the African shore three hundred years ago, some bright narrator could readily have varied the evening's performance by introducing a cannon into the story. Such variations necessarily grew; for the native languages were not crystallized into written ones until the days of the modern missionary.
In recitation great latitude is allowed as to the time occupied. Brevity is not desired. A story whose outline could be told in ten minutes may be spread over two hours by a vivid use of the speaker's imagination in a minute description of details. A great deal of repetition (after the manner of "This is the house that Jack built") is employed, that would be wearisome to a civilized audience, but is intensely enjoyed by the African, e.g., where the plot calls for the doing of an act for several days in succession, we would say simply, "And the next day he did the same." But the native lover of folk-lore will repeat the same details in the same words for the second and third and even fourth day. In my reporting I have omitted this repetition.
I have purposely used some native idioms in order to retain local color. African narrators use very short sentences. ... One of their daily recognized idioms finds its exact parallel in the speech of our own children. Listen to a civilized child's animated account of some act. They repeat. The native does so constantly. He is not satisfied, in telling the narrative of a journey, by saying curtly, "I went." His form is, "I went, went, there, there," etc. His dramatic acting keeps up the interest of the audience in the twice-told tale.
A king, by name Ra-Mborakinda, had many wives, but be had no children at all. He was dissatisfied, and was always saying that he wanted children. So he went to a certain great wizard, named Ra-Marânge, to get help for his trouble.
Whenever any one went on any business to Ra-Marânge, before he had time to tell the wizard what he wanted, Ra-Marânge would say, "Have you come to have something wonderful done?" On the visitor saying, "Yes," Ra-Marânge, as the first step in his preparations and to obtain all needed power, would jump into fire or do some other astonishing act.
So, this day, he sprang into the fire, and came out unharmed and strong. Then he told Ra-Mborakinda to tell his story of what be had come for.
The king said, "Other people have children, but I have none. Make me a medicine that sball cause my women to bear children." Ra-Marânge replied, "Yes, I will fix you the medicine; and after I have made the mixture, you must require all of your women to eat of it." So the wizard fixed the medicine, and the king took it with him and went home.
His queen's name was Ngwe-nkonde; and among his lesser wives and concubines were two quite young women who were friends, one of whom lived with the queen in her hut as her little manja, or handmaid.
As soon as Ra-Mborakinda arrived, he announced his possession of the medicine, and ordered all his women to come and eat of it. But Ngwe-nkonde was jealous of her young maid, and did not wish her to become a mother. So, early in the morning, she purposely sent the manja away to their mpindi (plantation hut) on a made-up errand, so that she might not be present at the feast.
At the appointed hour the king spread out the medicine, and called the women to come. They each came with a piece of plantain leaf as a plate, and assembled to eat, and Ramborakinda divided out the medicine among them. Then the other of the two young women remembered her friend the manja, and observed that she was absent. So she quickly tore off a piece of her plantain leaf, and divided on it a part of her own share of the medicine, and hid it by her, to keep it for the manja, so that she could have it on her return from the mpindi. In the afternoon, when the manja returned, her friend gave her the portion of the medicine, and she ate it. Soon after this, all these women told Ra-Mborakinda that they expected to become mothers.
After a few months he announced to them that he was going away on a long trade-journey and that he would not return until a stated time. He gave them directions that in the meanwhile they should leave his town and go to their parents' homes and stay there until his return.
Now it happened that all these women had homes except the little manja; her parents were dead, but she remembered the locality of their deserted village.
So Ra-Mborakinda left to go on his journey, and all the expectant mothers scattered to the homes of their parents, except the manja, who had to follow with the queen to her people's village. But soon after their arrival at Ngwe-nkonde's home, the latter began to treat her maid cruelly; and finally, in her severity, she said, "Go away to your own home and sojourn there," the while that she knew very well that her manja had no home. Her thought and hope were that the manja would perish in the wilderness.
As the maid knew the spot where her home had been, she left Ngwe-nkonde's village, and started into the forest to go to her deserted village. On arriving there, she found no houses nor any remains of human habitation. But there was a very large fallen tree, with a trunk so curved that it was not lying entirely flat on the ground. Under this enormous log she sat down to rest, and it gave her shade and shelter. She accepted it as her place at which to live and slept there that night. When she awoke in the morning, she saw lying near her food and other needed things; but she saw no one coming or going. A few days later on awaking in the morning she saw a nice little house with everything prepared of food and clothing and medicines and such articles as would be needed by a mother for her babe. She stayed there, and in a few days gave birth to a man-child. Each day in the morning she found, prepared for her hand, food and other needed things lying near.
So she stayed there a long time till her baby was able to creep. When the baby had grown strong, she knew it was the time that Ra-Mborakinda had appointed for the return of his women to his town. She flnally gathered together her things for the journey next day. That night, before she had gone to sleep, suddenly she saw a little girl standing near her, and she heard a voice which she remembered as her mother's saying, "I give you this little girl to carry the babe for you. But when you go back to Ra-Mborakinda, do not allow anyone but yourself and this girl to carry the child; if you do, the girl will disappear." So the next morning they started on their journey, the young mother and baby and the girl-nurse.
During this while each of the other women had also born her baby, and they were now preparing to return to Ra-Mborakinda's town. But of them all none had born real human beings, except the manja and her young friend. All the others had born monstrosities, like snakes, frogs, and other creatures. Ngwe-nkonde had born two snails, of the kind called "nkala." (It is a very large snail.)
So that day Ngwe-nkonde was coming along with her nyamba (a long scarf) hung over her right shoulder, and her two snails resting in the slack of the scarf, as in a hammock, over her left hip, and supported by her left arm. When the manja reached the cross-roads, she found the queen waiting there. Her object in waiting there was to know whether her maid was still in existence.
On seeing the manja, Ngwe-nkonde pretended to be pleased and said, "Let me see the child you have born;" and she stepped forward to take the baby away from the little girl-nurse. Manja, in her fear of her mistress and accustomed to submit to her, forgot to resist. Ngwe-nkonde saw that the babe was healthy and attractive, and she coveted it. She exclaimed, "Oh, what a nice child you have born! Let me help you carry it!" The moment she took the baby, the girl-nurse disappeared. Ngwe-nkonde deposited the babe in her scarf, and gave the two snails to her manja, saying, "You carry this for me!" She did this, intending to cause Ra-Mborakinda to think that the baby was her own; she had no intention to return it to its real mother; and the manja did not dare to complain.
So they went onward on their journey to the king's town. All the women, as they arrived there, saluted each other, "Mbolo!" "Ai! mbolo!" "Ai!" and each told her story and showed her baby. Then they all brought their babies to the King Ra-Mborakinda, that the father might see his children. In the king's presence Ngwe-nkonde took out the baby boy from her scarf and placed it at her breast to nurse. But the child turned its bead away and would not nurse, and did nothing but cry and cry. Poor little manja did not dare to claim her own, and she took no interest in the snails to show them to the king. For a whole day there was confusion. The baby boy persisted in rejecting Ngwenkonde's breast and kept on crying, and the snails were moaning.
Not knowing what to make of this trouble, Ra-Mborakinda went again to Ra-Marânge. The wizard laughed when he saw the king coming with this new trouble, for, by his magic power, he already knew all that had happened. "So!" he says, "you have come with another trouble, eh?" And at once he jumps into the fire, and emerges clean and strong.
Then the king informed the wizard what his difficulty was. And Ra-Marânge told him, "This is a small thing. It does not need medicine. Go you and tell all your women each to cook some very nice food; then, sitting in a circle, each must put the nice food near her feet. All the babies must be put in a bunch together in the centre, and you will see what will happen."
So Ra-Mborakinda went back to his town and told the women to follow these directions. They all did so, except the queen and her manja. The former did not put the baby boy in the bunch of the other babies, but retained him on her lap, and tried to make him eat of her nice food. But he only resisted, and kept on crying, and the manja, in her grief and hopelessness, had not prepared any nice food, only a pottage of greens, which she thought good enough for her present unhappiness.
The king seeing that the wizard's directions were not fully followed by the queen, compelled her to put the baby down in the company of the other creatures, and then he and all the mothers sat around watching what would happen.
Soon all the children began to creep, each to its own mother. The two snails went to Ngwe-nkonde, and began to eat of her nice food. The little baby boy crept rapidly toward the manja, and began with satisfaction to eat of the poor food at its mother's feet.
That was a revelation to the king and to all the other mothers. They were surprised and indignant that Ngwenkonde had been trying to steal the baby from the manja; Ra-Mborakinda deposed her from being queen. And the other women shouted derision at her, "Ngwe-nkonde! O! o-o-o!" and drove her from the town. She went away in her shame, leaving the two snails behind, and never returned.
And the king made the manja queen in her place. And the story ends.
There was a married woman, a king's daughter, by name Maria, who was very beautiful. She had a magic mirror that possessed the power of speech, which she used every day, particularly when she desired to go out for a promenade. She would then take this mirror from its hiding-place, and looking at it, would ask, "My mirror! is there any other beautiful woman like myself?" And this mirror would reply, "Mistress! there is none."
This she was accustomed to do every day until she became jealous at the very thought of ever having a rival.
Subsequently she became a mother, and bore a daughter. She saw that the child was very beautiful, more so than even herself. This child grew in gracefulness; was amiable, not proud; and was unconscious of her beauty.
When the daughter was about twelve years of age, the mother dreaded lest her child should know how attractive she was and should unintentionally rival her. She told her never to enter a certain room where she had her toilet. And the mother went on as formerly, looking into her mirror, and then going out to display her beauty.
One day the daughter said to herself, "Ah! I'm tired of this prohibition I" So she took the keys, and opened the door of the forbidden room. She looked around, but not observing anything especially noticeable, she went out again, locking the door. And the next day, the mother went in as usual, and then went out for her walk. After the mother had gone, the daughter said again to herself, "No! there must be something special about that room. I will go in again and make a search." Looking around carefully, she noticed a pretty casket on a table. Opening it, she saw it contained a mirror. There was something strange about its appearance, and she determined to examine it. While she was doing so, the mirror spoke, and said, "Oh, maiden! there is no one as beautiful as you!" She put back the mirror in its place, and went out, carefully fastening the door. The next day, when the mother went as usual to make her toilet and to ask of the mirror her usual question, "Is there another as beautiful as I?" it replied, "Yes, mistress, there is another fairer than you."
So she went out of the room much displeased, and, suspecting her daughter, said to her, "Daughter, have you been in that room?" The girl said, "No, I have not." But the mother insisted, "Yes, you have; for how is it that my mirror tells me that there is another woman more beautiful than I? And you are the only one who has beauty such as mine."
During all these years the mother had kept the daughter in the palace, and had not allowed her to be seen in public, as she dreaded to bear any one but herself praised. Then the enraged mother sent for her father's soldiers, and delivering the girl to them, she commanded, "You just go out into the forest and kill this girl."
They obeyed her orders, and led the girl away, taking with them also two big dogs. When they reached the forest, the soldiers said to her, "Your mother told us to kill you. But you are so good and pretty that we are not willing to do it. You just go your way and wander in this forest, and await what may happen."
The girl went her way; and the soldiers killed the two dogs, so that they might have blood on their swords to show to the mother. Having done this, they went back to her, and said, "We have killed the girl; here is her blood on our swords." And the mother was satisfied.
But in the forest the girl had gone on, wandering aimlessly, till she happened to reach what seemed a hamlet having only one house. She went up its front steps and tried the door. It was not locked, and she went in. She saw or heard no one, but she noticed that the house was very much in disorder; so she began to arrange it. After sweeping and putting everything in neat order, she went upstairs and hid herself under one of the bedsteads.
But she did not know that the house belonged to robbers who spent their days in stealing, and brought their plunder home in the evening. When they returned that day, laden with booty, they were surprised to find their house in neat order and their goods arranged in piles. In their wonder they exclaimed, "Who has been here and fixed our house so nicely?"
So they prepared their food, ate, drank, and slept, but they did not clean up the table nor wash the dishes.
And the next day they went out again on their business of stealing.
After they were gone, the girl, hungry and frightened, crept out of her hiding-place, and cooked and ate food for herself. Then, as on the first day, she swept the floors and washed up the dishes. And then she cooked a meal for the men to have it ready against their return in the late afternoon; and again she occupied herself with the arrangement of the goods in the rooms. Then she went back to her hiding-place.
When the robbers returned that day and laid down their booty, they were again surprised to find not only their house in good order, but food ready on the table. And they wondered, "Who does all this for us?"
They first sat down to eat; and then they said, "Let us look around and find out who does all this." They searched, but they found no one.
The next day they armed themselves as usual to go out, leaving the table and their recent load of stealings in disorder.
When they had gone, the girl again emerged from her hiding-place, and, as before, cooked, ate, washed up, swept, arranged, and prepared the evening meal.
Again the robbers, on their return, were still more astonished, as they exclaimed, "Whoever does this? If it is a woman, then we will take her as our sister. She shall take care of our house and our goods, but none of us shall marry her; but if it is a man, he must be compelled to join in our business."
The next day, when they were all going out on their ways, they appointed one of their number to remain behind, hidden, who should watch, and thus they should know who had been helping them.
When they had gone, the girl, ignorant that one had been left to watch, came out of her biding, and began to do as on the other days. When she went outdoors to the kitchen [kitchens here are all detached] to cook, the watcher came in sight. She was frightened, and began to run away; but he called out, "Don't be afraid! Don't run, but come here! What are you afraid of? You are not doing anything bad, you have been doing us only good. Come here!" She stood and said, "I was afraid you would kill me!"
He came to her, saying, "What a beautiful girl to look at! When did you come here, and who are you?" So she told him her story. And when she had finished all the housework, she sat down with this man to await the coming of the others. When the others came and saw the two, they said to him, "So you found her?" He replied only, "Yes." Looking on her, they exclaimed, "Oh, what a beautiful girl!" To calm her excitement, they told her, "Do not be alarmed! You are to be our sister."
So they took all their goods and put them in her care, and herself in charge of the house. Thus they lived for some time,--they stealing, and she taking care for them.
But one day, at the palace, the wicked mother began to have some uneasy doubts whether her soldiers had really obeyed her orders to kill her daughter, and thought, "Perhaps the child was not really killed." She had a familiar servant, an old woman, very friendly to her. To her she revealed her story, and said, "Please go out and spy in every town. Look whether you see a girl who is very beautiful; if so, she is my daughter. You must kill her." The old woman replied, "Yes, my friend, I will do this thing for you." So she went out and began her spying.
The very first place at which she happened to arrive was the robbers' house. There being no people in sight, she entered the house, and found a girl alone. On account of the girl's great beauty, she felt sure at once that this was her friend's daughter. The girl gave her a seat and offered hospitality. The old woman exclaimed, "Oh, what a nice looking child! Who are you, and who is your mother?" The girl, not suspecting evil, told her story.
Then the old woman said, "Your hair looks a little untidy. Come here, and let me fix it." The girl consented; and the old woman began to braid her hair. She had bidden in her sleeve a long sharpened nail. When she had completed the hair-dressing, she thrust the nail deeply into the girl's head, who instantly fell down, apparently dead. Looking at the limp body, the old woman said to herself, "Good for that! I have done it for my friend." And she went away, leaving the corpse lying there, and reported to the mother what she had done. The mother felt sure her friend had not deceived her.
When the robbers returned that day, they found the girl lying dead. They were very much troubled. They began to examine the corpse, to find what was the cause of death, but they found no sign of any wound; and instead of the corpse being rigid, it was limp; there was perspiration on the head and neck. So they decided, "This nice life-looking face we will not put in a grave." So they made a handsome casket, overlaid it with gold, and adorned the body with a profusion of gold ornaments. They did not nail on the lid, but made it to slide in grooves. Supposing the body liable to decay, they placed the coffin outdoors in the air; and to keep it out of the reach of any animals, they hung it by the halliards of their flag-staff. Every day, on their going out and on their return, they pulled it down by the halliards, drew out the lid, and looked on the fresh, apparently living face of their "sister."
One day while they were all out on their business there happened to stray that way a man by name Eserengila (tale-bearer), who lived at the town of a man named Ogula. Coming to the robbers' house, he saw no one; but he at once observed the hanging golden box. Exclaiming, "What a nice thing!" he hasted back to his master Ogula, and called him. "Come and see what a nice thing I have found; it is something worth taking!" So Ogula went with him, and Eserengila pulled down the gilded box from the flag-staff. They did not enter the house, nor did they know anything of its character; and they carried away the box in baste, without looking at its contents, to Ogula's, and put it in a small room in his house.
Some days after it had been placed there Ogula went in to examine what it contained. He saw that the top of this coffin-like box was not nailed, but slid in a groove. He withdrew it, and was amazed to see a beautiful young woman apparently dead. Yet there was no look or odor of death. As she was not emaciated by disease, he examined the body to find a possible cause of death; but be found no sign, and wondering, exclaimed, "This beautiful girl! What has caused her to die?"
He replaced the lid, and left the room, carefully closing the door. But he again returned to look at the beautiful face of the corpse; and sighed, "Oh, I wish this beautiful being were alive! She would be such a nice playmate for my daughter, who is just about her size." Again be went and shut the door very carefully. He told his daughter never to enter that room, and she said, "Yes "; and he continued his daily visits there.
After many days Ogula's daughter became tired of seeing him enter while she was forbidden. So one day, when he was gone out of the house, she said to herself, "My father always forbids me this room; now I will go in and see what he has there." She entered, and saw only the gilded box, and exclaimed, "Oh, what a nice box! I'll just open it and see what is inside."
She began to draw the lid out of its grooves, and a human head was revealed with a splendid mass of hair covered with gold ornaments. She withdrew the lid entirely, and saw the form of the young woman, and delightedly said, "A beautiful girl, with such nice hair, and covered with golden ornaments!" She did not know why the girl seemed so unconscious, and began to say, "I wish she could speak to me, so we might be friends, because she is only a little larger than I." So she gave the stranger's salutation, "Mbolo! mbolo!" As no response was made, she protested, "Oh, I salute you, mbolo, but you do not answer!" She was disappointed, and slid back the cover, and went out of the room. Something about the door aroused the suspicions of her father on his return to the house, and he asked her, "Have you been inside that room?" She answered, "No! You told me never to go there, and I have not gone." Next day Ogula went out again, and his daughter thought she would have another look at the beautiful face. Entering the room, she again drew out the lid, and again she gave the salutation, "Mbolo!" There was no response. Again she protested, "Oh, I speak to you, and you won't answer me!" And then she added, "May I play with you, and fondle your head, and feel your hair? Perhaps you have lice for me to remove?" [one of the commonest of native African friendly services among both men and women]. She began to feel through the hair with her fingers, and presently she touched something hard. Looking closely, she found it was the head of a nail. Astonished, she said, Oh, she has a nail in her head! I 'll try to pull it out!
Instantly, on her doing so, the girl sneezed, opened her eyes, stared around, rose up in a sitting posture, and said, "Oh, I must have been sleeping a long time." The other asked, "You were only sleeping?" And the girl replied, "Yes." Then Ogula's daughter saluted, "Mbolo! and the girl responded, "Ai, Mbolo!" and the other, "Ai!"
Then the girl asked, "Where amI? What place is this?" The other said, "Why, you are in my father's house. This is my father's house." And the girl asked, "But who or what brought me here?" Then Ogula's daughter told her the whole story of Eserengila's having found the gilded box. They at once conceived a great liking for each other, and started to be friends. They played and laughed and talked and embraced, and fondled each other. This they did for quite a while.
Then the beautiful one was tired, and she said, "It is better that you put back the nail and let me sleep again." So the girl lay down in the box, the nail was inserted in her bead, and she instantly fell into unconsciousness.
Ogula's daughter slid back the lid, and went out of the room, carefully closing the doox. She now lost all desire to go out of the house and play with her former companions. Her father observed this, and urged her to play and visit as she formerly had done. But she declined, making some excuses, and saying she had no wish to do so. All her interest lay in that room of the gilded box and beautiful girl. Whenever her father went out, she at once would go to the room, draw out the lid, and pull out the nail; her friend would sit up, and they would play, and repeat their friendship. Ogula's daughter, seeing that her friend's desire for sleep was weakness for want of food, daily brought her food. And the girl grew strong and well and happy.
This was kept up many days without Ogula knowing of it.
But it happened one day, when the two girls were thus sitting in their friendship, they continued their play and conversation so long that Ogula's daughter forgot the time of her father's return; and he suddenly entered the room, and was surprised to see the two girls talking. She was frightened when she saw her father. But he was not angry, and quieted her, saying, "Do not be afraid! How is it that you have been able to bring this girl to life? What have you done?"
She told her father all about it, especially of the nail. Then Ogula sat down by the girl of the gilded box, and asked the story of her life. She told him all. Then he said, "As your mother is the kind of woman that sends people to kill, and I am chief in this place, I will-investigate this matter to-morrow. I will call all the people of this region, and there will be an ozâzâ (palaver) in the morning; and you shall remain, for you are to be my wife."
The next day all the country side were called,--the wicked mother, the soldiers, the old woman, and everybody else (except the unknown robbers). The palaver was talked from point to point of the history, and, just at the last, this beautiful girl walked into the assemblage, accompanied by Ogula's daughter.
As soon as Maria saw her daughter enter, she started from her seat, looked at the old woman, and fiercely said to her, "Here is this girl again! not dead yet! I thought you killed her!" The old woman was amazed, but asserted, "Yes, and I did. I kept my promise to you!"
Then the girl sat down, and Ogula bade her tell her entire story in the presence of all the people. So she told from the very beginning,--about the magic looking-glass, about the soldiers, about the robbers' house, and on till the stay in Ogula's house.
Then all the people began to shout and deride and revile, and threaten Maria and the old woman. This frightened the cruel Maria and her wicked friend, and they ran away to a far country, and never came back again.
So the beautiful young woman was married to Ogula, and was happy with his daughter as a companion.
But the robbers, in their secret house, not having heard of the ozâzâ , kept on mourning and grieving for their lost sister, not knowing where she had gone or what had become of her. And so the story ends.
(The above story is probably not more than two hundred or two hundred and fifty years old; the name "Maria" doubtless being derived from Portuguese occupants of the Kongo country.)
Ra-Nyambie in his great town had his wives and sons and daughters, and lived in glory.
He had a best-beloved daughter, by name Ilâmbe. There is a certain fetich charm called "ngalo," by means of which its possessor can have gratified any wish be may express. Ngalo is not obtainable by purchase or art; only certain persons are born with it. This Ilâmbe was born with a ngalo. While she was growing up, her father made a great deal of her and gave her very many things,--servants and houses, according to her wishes. When Ilâmbe had grown up to womanbood, she said, "Father, I will not like a man who has other wives. I shall want my husband all for myself." And the father said, "Be it so."
As years went on, Ilâmbe thought it was time she should be married, but she saw no one who pleased her fancy. So she took counsel with her ngalo, thinking, "What shall I do to get a husband for myself?"
She decided on a plan. Her father's people often went out hunting. One day, when they were going out, she said to them, "If you find some small animal, do not kill it, but bring it to me alive."
So they went out hunting, and they found a small animal resembling a goat, called "mbinde" (wild goat). They brought it to her, asking pardon for its smallness, and said, "We did not find anything, only this mbinde." She took it, saying, "It is good." Then turning to one of the men, she bade him, "Just skin this very carefully for me"; and to another of the servants, "Bring me plenty of water, and put it in my bathroom for a bath." Each of these servants did as he was bidden,--this one flaying the animal, that one bringing the water. When the one had finished flaying, and brought the entire flesh to her, she said, "Just put it into this water for a bath." She left it there two days, soaking in the water., The skin she put in a fire, burned it to black ashes, and carefully saved all the ash. This she did not do herself, but told a servant to do it, cautioning him to lose none of it. When it was brought to her, she wrapped it up with care, and put it safely away so that none of it should be lost.
On the third day she spoke to her ngalo, "Ngalo mine, ngalo mine, I tell you, turn this mbinde to a very handsomelooking man!" Instantly the mbinde was changed to a finely formed man, who jumped out of the bath-tub, dressed very richly.
Then Ilâmbe called one of her servants, and bade, "Go to my father, and tell him I wish the town to be cleaned as thoroughly and quickly as possible, because I have a husband, and I want to come and show him to you; so my father must be ready to greet us."
The father summoned his servant Ompunga (Wind), who came, and at once swept up the place clean.
Ilâmbe went out from her house with her husband, be and she walking side by side through the street on the way to her father's house. All along their route the people were wondering at the man's fine appearance, and shouting, "Where did Ilâmbe get this man?" When she reached her father's house, he ordered a salute of cannon for her. He was much pleased to see the man with the crowd of people, and received him with respect.
Having thus visited her father, Ilâmbe returned to her own house with her husband, the people still shouting in admiration of him. The news spread everywhere about Ilâmbe's fine-looking husband, and there was great praise of them. They lived happily in their marriage for a while, but trouble came.
Ilâmbe had a younger sister living still at her father's house. One day Ilâmbe changed her mind about having a husband all to herself, and thought, "I better share him with my younger sister." So she went out to her father to tell him about it, saying, "Father, I 've changed my mind. 1 want my younger sister to live with me, and marry the same man with me."
Her father, though himself having many wives, said, "You now change your mind, and are willing to share your husband with another woman. Will there be no trouble in the future?" She answered "No!" He repeated his question; but she assured him it would be agreeable. So she took her sister (without consulting the husband, as he was under her control, by power of her ngalo), led her to her house, and presented her as a new wife to her husband.
They remained on these terms for some time without any trouble. But as time went on, the report about that handsome man went far, and finally reached Ra-Mborakinda's town. Another woman lived there, also named Ilâmbe, of the same age as the other, and she was unmarried. This Ilâmbe said to herself, "I am tired of hearing the report about this handsome man. I will go, though uninvited I be, and see for myself." So she tells her brother and some of his men, "Take me over there to that town, and I will return to-day." She told her father the same words: "I am going to see that man, and will return." When this Ilâmbe got to the other Ilâmbe's house, the husband was out, but the wife received her with great hospitality; and the two sisters and their visitor all ate together. Soon the husband came, and the wife introduced the visitor. "Here is my friend Ilâmbe come to see you." "Good," he said. Then it was late in the day, and the visiting Ilâmbe's attendants said to her, "The day is past; let us be going." But she refused to go, and told them to return, saying that she would stay awhile with her friend Ilâmbe.
But really, in her coming she was not simply a visitor and sightseer; she intended to stay and share in the husband.
As her brother was leaving, he asked, "But when will you return? and shall we come for you?" She said, "No; I myself will come back when I please." When the evening came, the hostess began to fix a sleeping-place for her visitor, showing her much kindness in the care of her arrangements.
The second day the hostess observed something suspicious in the manner with which her husband regarded the visitor; he said to his wife, "Here is your friend. Speak to her for me. Are you willing to do that?" She looked at him steadily, and slowly said, "Yes." So at evening she spoke of the matter to her visitor, who at once assented.
When Ilâmbe parted with her husband before retiring, she said to him, "Go with this new woman, but do not forget your and my morning custom." [That was their habit of rising very early for a morning bath.] He only said, "Yes." They all retired for the night.
The next morning the hostess was up early as usual, and had her bath, and was out of her room, waiting. But the man was not up yet, nor were there any sounds of preparation in his room. So Ilâmbe, after waiting awhile, had to call to waken him. He woke, saying, "Oh, yes, yes, I'm coming!"
The next day it was the same, he staying with the new Ilâmbe and rising late in the morning. The fourth day his wife said to him, "You have work to do, and you do not get up to do it till late." He was displeased at her fault-finding. When she saw that, she also was displeased.
So when he went to the bathroom she followed him there. On the way she had secretly taken with her the roll of black powder she had kept from the day of his creation.
While he was bathing, she turned aside, without his noticing it, and opening the roll of the powder, took out of it a little, and held it between her finger and thumb.
While he was dressing, she came near, stooped down, and rubbed the powder on his feet. They suddenly turned to hoofs. He began stamping his hoofs on the floor, surprised, and saying, "Wife, what is this?" She said, "It is nothing. You have finished dressing. Go out." He began to plead; she relented, and by her ngalo's power changed the hoofs back to feet. They both went out of the room and had their breakfast, and that day passed. But at night he again abandoned his wife for the new Ilâmbe, and next morning he was up later even than on the previous days. He had to be called several times before he would awake. He began to grumble and scold, "Can't a person be left to sleep as long as be desires?" And when he and the new Ilâmbe came from that bedroom, she joined in the man's displeasure at his having been disturbed. He went for his bath. The wife followed, and used the powder as she had done the day before, turning his feet to hoofs. He begged and pleaded. She again forgave him, and fixed the feet again. And they two came out of the bathroom and had their breakfast as usual. He went to his work, and the day wore on. At night he again deserted his wife. The next morning there was the same confusion in arousing him as on the other days.
His wife accompanied him to the bathroom as usual. While be was in the bath, and before he was done bathing, she left the room, and told the new Ilâmbe, "You sit down near the bathroom door. You will see him come out." The visitor replied, "It is well "; and she sat down. And Ilâmbe went into the bathroom again.
When the man got out of his bath, as soon as he attempted to dress himself, Ilâmbe, without saying anything or making any complaint, went behind him, and having the whole roll of powder with her, she opened the bundle, flung it on his back, and said, "You go back to where you came from!" Instantly he was changed to a mbinde, and he began to leap about as a goat. Then Ilâmbe cried out to the other Ilâmbe at the door, "Are you ready to receive him? He's coming!" and she opened the door. Out ran the mbinde, leaped from the house, dashed through the town and off to the forest, the people shouting in derision, "Hâ! Hâ! Hâ! So, indeed, that handsome man was the mbinde that was taken to Ilâmbe's house!
Then the wife said to the other Ilâmbe, "Did you see your man? Call him! That's he running off there!" The next day Ilâmbe said to the visitor, "Send word for your people that they may come for you."
The following day they were sent for, and they came to Ilâmbe's house. After they had arrived, Ilâmbe sent word to her father, "Have your place cleaned, I am coming to enter a complaint." The father replied, "Very well!" Ompunga came and swept the place. Seats were prepared in the street. Ilâmbe summoned the visitor and her people, saying, "Let us all go to my father's house."
So they went there, and Ilâmbe made her complaint, telling all from the beginning: how she obtained a husband; how the other Ilâmbe had come; how she received her kindly; how she even had been willing to share her busband with her, but how the new Ilâmbe had monopolized instead of simply sharing; and how things had become so bad that she had to send the man back to his beast origin. Turning to the visiting people, she said, "I have nothing more to say except that your sister Ilâmbe is not going back to your town, but has to be my slave all the days of my life."
So the king's council justified her, and pronounced the judgment just. The people scattered to their homes. And the two sisters went to their house, with the other Ilâmbe as their slave.
In his great town, King Ra-Mborakinda, or Ra-Nyambie, lived in glory with all his wives and sons and daughters. Some of his great and favored sons had large business and great wealth. But there was one of the sons, named Nkombe, whose mother was not a favorite wife of the king, so this Nkombe was poor. Everything went against him, and his life was quite miserable; only, he had a gun, and he knew bow to shoot; that was all. So he thought, "I'm tired of this kind of life. I better leave and go off by myself."
He gathered together the few things that belonged to him,--a few plates and pots, and his gun and ammunition,--and went away. He went far into the forest, and with his machete began to clear a little place for a camping-ground (olako).
He fixed up his camp, and next morning went out hunting. When he began to feel hungry, he turned back to cook his food. On his return be had fresh meat with him; this he cooked, set it on the table, and ate. After eating, be cleared off the table, washed the dishes, brushed up the floor, and the new meat that was left he put on the orala (drying-frame) for next day's use. So that day's work was done.
Next day he again leaves the camp, and with his gun is off again to his hunting. At noon he comes back with his meat,--antelope, or wild pig, or whatever it may be. He cooks his food, eats; and that day's work is done just as the day before.
So he did many days. After each day's work he was so tired and felt so lonely he wished he had a mother or some one to do for him.
Unknown to him, since he had come to that olako, there was a woman named Ilâmbe, who belonged to the awiri (fairies), who secretly had observed, all that he did. One day she thought to herself, "Oh, I am sorry for this man; I think that as I have the power I will turn myself into a human being and help him, for I do not like to see him suffer." So she said to herself, "To-day I will cause Nkombe to be unsuccessful, so that he shall kill only ntori (a big forest rat), and I will bide myself in ntori."
So Nkombe hunted long and far that day, and saw nothing worthy of being shot. He was getting hungry, and murmured, "Ah! I have not been able to kill anything to-day." But presently he saw ntori pass by, and he said, "Well, I'll have to take this small animal, utori!" He shot it, and took it with him to his camp. When he reached the olako, as he had other meat on the orala, and was in a hurry, after singeing and cleaning ntori, he threw it on the orala, and took the older dried meat, and began to cook it for his supper. He, went on with his usual day's work, as it took only a little while to arrange ntori on the orala.
Next day be went out as usual on his hunting journey. While he was away, and before be returned, Ilâmbe had crept out of the head of ntori. She brushed up the camp, and made everything neat and clean. She began to cook, taking meat from the drying-frame. She cooked it very nicely, and ate part,--her share, just enough to satisfy her appetite. Then she crept back into ntori's head, as she knew Nkombe must be about starting back.
Late in the afternoon Nkombe returned with some wild meat. He took down dried meat from the orala, leaving his fresh meat unattended to, for be was in a burry to cook, being hungry. He went to his little hut to get plate, kettle, and so forth. To his surprise, on the table was everything ready, food and plate and drink. He exclaimed, "What word is this? Where did this come from? Is this the work of my mother's spirit? She has pitied me and has come and done this. I wish I knew where she came from."
This occurred during three successive days, just the same each day. Nkombe was puzzled. He wanted to find out, and decided to go to the great prophet, Ra-Marânge. The prophet saw hiin coming, and greeted him, "Sale! (Hail) my son, sale!" "Mbolo," replied Nkombe. Ra-Marânge continued, "What did you come for? What are you doing?" "I come for you to make medicine, that you may prophesy for me about a matter I want to find out."
Ra-Marânge said, "Child, I am old, and do not do such things now. I have given the power to Ogula-ya-impazya-vazya" [so called because his body was all-covered-by-a-disease-of-pimples]. "Well, where shall I go to him?" The prophet replied, "He is not far."
Nkombe starts to go to Ogula-ya-impazya-vazya, who presently sees him coming. As soon as Nkombe reached him, Ogula-ya-impazya-vazya said, "If you come to me for medicine, good, for that is my only business; but if for anything else, clear off!" "Yes, that is what I came for."
So Ogula-ya-impazya-vazya began to kindle his big fire. Nkombe was surprised, not knowing what was to be done with the fire. The next minute he sees Ogula-ya-impazya-vazya throw himself into the flames. Nkombe was startled and afraid, thinking, "Is this man going to kill himself for me?" The prophet rolled himself several times in the fire in order to get the power. Some of his pimples on his body burst in the flame; and he jumped out, ready with his power to do the medicine. He said, "Hah, repeat your story; I am ready!" Nkombe told all his story,--how be had worked for himself, and how for a few days past he had been helped by some one, and wanted to know who it was, if Ogula-yaimpazya-vazya would please tell him. "Hah, that's a small matter for me!" So the prophet told him, "You killed ntori for yourself a few days ago, and this being is a woman who has come to be your wife, and has hidden herself in ntori." "But," said Nkombe, "how shall I be able to catch her, so that she shall be a real woman, for I do not see her?"
"I'll let you know how. Go back and hunt all the same for three days. On the fourth day go out as usual, but do not go hunting. Hide near the olako,--near, but not where you will be seen." Then the prophet gave Nkombe a prepared powder, and told him to keep it carefully. He gave him also a small cornucopia (ozyoto) full of a bruised medicinal leaf, and told him, "Go and put these two medicines in a secret place near your olako. On the fourth day have these two medicines with you where you hide. When you see her come out, and while she is doing your work, you will run and seize her, and say to her, "You are my wife." She will not understand your language, and will niurmur and shake her bead and resist. But when you hold her fast, sprinkle the powder all over her body. Then take the ozoto, and squeeze some of the juice in her nostrils, eyes, and mouth. She will begin to sneeze. Repeat the words, 'You are my wife, my wife!' Then she will understand you, and will yield."
So Nkombe took the medicines, and obeyed directions; hid the medicines and hunted the three days, his heart bursting with anxiety to get the days done that seemed so long. At last the three days were over and the fourth day came.
Now the woman, by the power that was with her, knew all these things; she knew she would be caught that day.
After Nkombe had left in the morning with the medicines, had hidden himself, and was waiting for the hours to pass, the woman, hesitating on her fate, did not come out quickly as on the other days. But finally Nkombe saw the pieces of meat on the frames shake. And out of ntori's head came a beautiful woman with clean soft skin. He could hardly restrain himself. She went on with all the usual work,--cooking, and so forth. But that day she did not divide nor partake of the food, but put all of it on the table. When be saw she had finished, and was washing her hands preparatory to jumping back into ntori on the orala, he came out of the bushes, and stepping cautiously but rapidly, rushed to seize her. He caught her. She began to resist, and he followed the prophet's directions. The woman at first was murmuring and sobbing, and Nkombe was trying to calm her with the words "My wife." Finally, under the powder, she quieted. When the juice was dropped into her mouth, she was able to speak his language. She told him all her story,--how she had pitied him, and had entered into ntori, and everything else. "But," she said, "there is one more thing I must tell you. I have come indeed to be your wife, and I have the power to make you rich or poor, happy or unhappy. I will give you only one rule: Be good to me, and I will be so to you; but never say to me that I came from the low origin of a rat's head." Nkombe exclaimed, "No, no I You have done so much for me, I could never so humiliate you." "You speak well, but be very careful not to break your promise." So they ate and finished the day's work.
Next day the woman wanted to build a town by word of her power. She said, "Mwe [Sir] Nkombe, surely you will not live in an olako all your life. Look for a site for a town, and mark it with stakes for its length and width." Nkombe was puzzled. He had a wife, but where would be get materials for a house; for be was as poor of goods as he was before? Being troubled, he made no reply to his wife, and did not go to mark a site. At night they retired, Nkombe still troubled about the building of a town; but Ilâmbe was smiling in her heart, for she knew what she would do. So she made him fall into a deep sleep. She went out at night a short distance, and chose a good town-site. She spoke to her ngalo (a guardian-spirit charm), "Ngalo mine, before morning I want to see all this place cleared, and covered with nice houses, and all the houses furnished--and supplied with men and maid servants." And she returned to bed.
Before daybreak everything was ready, as Ilâmbe desired. The ngalo had made the olako disappear, and. Nkombe and wife were sleeping inside their nice house. When morning came, Nkombe did not know where he was, nor even on which side to get out of bed. He exclaimed, "What is this word?" "You are in your own house and in your own town." So both went out to inspect their town and their servants. Nkombe did not know how well to thank her, so glad was he.
Later the wife became a mother, and a son was born. Nkombe called this first-born Ogula. Again, a daughter was born. Then the wife told her ngalo to bring ships of wealth. The next day ships were seen coming. Nkombe went on board and had a conversation with the captains. They stayed a few days, and then sailed a-way, leaving Nkombe a cargo of wealth. Another time ships came, and Nkombe went off on board as before; and these ships sailed away, also leaving wealth. Other children ivere born to them. Children of a fairy mother are called "aganlo "; they grow very fast, and are very wise.
Other ships came. One day one comes, and Nkombe, having gone on board, has there a convivial time, stays all day, and returns nearly drunk. The wife says to him, "Nkombe, often you come from ships looking in this way, and I do not like it. I have spoken with you often, that if a food or a drink is not good in its effects, it is better to leave it off. But you do not care for my words." Nkombe, under the influence of liquor, was vexed with her, rebuked her, and began to use hard words with orâwo (insult): "You--you--this woman who--but I won't finish it." Soon, however, he took up the quarrel again, saying, "A person can know from your manners that you came out of--" The wife said, "When you are drunk, you say half sentences; why hold back? Say what you want to say."
He shouted angrily, "Yes, if I want to say it, I will say it! It was my own ntori that I killed. If I had not killed it, would you have come out of it?" Then Ilâmbe said, "Please repeat that; I do not quite understand you." He repeated it. She exclaimed, "Eh!" but said no more, and waited until morning, when he would be sober.
So early in the morning she told him to get up, so that she could do her housework. She did the morning's work, washing things neatly. but rapidly. Then she called her sons and daughters, and in their presence said to their father, "You said so-and-so yesterday; now I am off and with my children."
Nkombe knew he had said the forbidden words. He pleaded for mercy; but she replied, "No, you broke your promise." The two elder children pleaded for their father: "It was only once. Though a bad thing, it cannot break a marriage. Forgive it." But the mother persisted, "No!" Then the two elder ones said they would not leave their father.
So she said to him, "Now be thankful you have these two. If it was not for them, I would put you back where you were just as I found you; but for the sake of these two children, I leave some of my power with them." Then to those two she said, "You will call on me for help when you have need, and I will be near to help you."
So she took the two younger ones, and said to their father, "As this place is quite open, Nkombe, sit you here and see me depart." Nkombe did so. He and the two older children watched the mother and the two younger ones walk down the path from the town. They went to the bank of the river, and, wading in, disappeared in the river depths.
Ra-Mborakinda had his big town of men and women and children, all in good condition. But a kind of plague came upon the people suddenly, killing many. In a short time it destroyed most of the inhabitants, and finally but few were left.
So one of the elder sons said to a younger one, "Let us flee for our lives!" This elder brother's name was Ogula, and the younger brother's name was Nkombe. When Ogula had thus said, "Let us flee for our lives," Nkombe agreed. Ogula took as his servant a boy, and together with Nkombe they went out. They went aimlessly, not following any particular plan, but vaguely hoping to happen on any place.
They went, went, wandering on, on, till they came to a small hut, almost too miserable for a dwelling. But in their extremity they said, "Oh! there is a house! Let us go to it; maybe we'll find shelter there." So they walked up to it, and, to their surprise, saw there. an old man mending a piece of canvas.
He saluted them, and asked them where they came from. They told their story, and Ogula asked the old man whether he would, of his kindness, give them shelter. He said, "Yes, if you are willing to do as I tell you; for living here is hard, and there is nothing to eat. I have to cut firewood and carry it to the city (osenge) far away, and sell it there. That city belongs to a big merchant."
Ogula said, "Yes; we are willing." So the next day Ogula himself and Nkombe and their servant set themselves ready for work. After they had cut their firewood, they asked the old man the way to the city. He directed them. They went, sold their firewood, and brought food. This they did many times, cutting firewood and going to the city and buying food; and they each built a house of their own near the old man's hut.
But after a while Ogula began to tire of this kind of life so he said to himself, "If I only had a gun, I could go hunting. But even without the gun, I will go out and see what I can see." So he went out alone, not calling his brother or his servant to go with him. He went and went, on, on, for a half-day's journey, till he happened to come to a large house built in a very strange style, having no door at its side and with a flat roof. The place looked clean, as if kept in order by people. He approached cautiously; but looking around, he saw no one at all. He said to himself, "Who owns this place? Surely some one owns it, for it is so clean; but I see no one here. I won't leave this place to-day till I know who lives here." He decided to retire a little and climb up a tall tree overlooking the house and watch from there. He was very hungry, having had no food that day, but he still decided to wait and see what was about the house.
After he had been up the tree a long while, late in the afternoon he saw a number of men coming. He saw one of them climb up the side of the house to the roof, where was a trap-door. All of the men had bundles of goods. The first one who had climbed to the roof spoke a few words to the door as he stood before it, and the two parts of the door flew open of themselves. Then the other men climbed up with their bundles, and went into the house.
All this Ogula could see from his tree-top. He said to himself, "Now I am hungry, and must go, for I have seen enough to-day. I see that this house is occupied, and by men, and how they enter; it is enough for to-day." He thought it time to move before any of the people should come out of the house. He came down rapidly, and went back to the little hut of the old man.
When he got to his own house, his brother Nkombe asked, Where have you been all day?" Ogula said, "I was tired of working, and took a walk to the forest, and missed my way." But he did not tell his brother the story of what he had seen.
Ogula then ate a little and went to bed, though it was not very late. He went thus soon to bed, for he wanted to go early next day to inspect the big house again. So, very, very early, before daylight, Ogula was up and off, for he did not wish his brother to ask him where he was going.
He remembered the way to the big house, and went directly there. He climbed his tree. He looked and saw that the door of the house was open. He waited a little while, and then saw the men climbing out of the door. Their leader was the last; he spoke a cabalistic word, pressed his foot on the threshold, as the two sides of the door folded together, and it was closed.
After they had been gone quite awhile, Ogula thought he would try to enter the house, first seeking what was the way to open it. He said to himself, "I know they have goods there, for I have seen them carried in." So he descended from the tree, and going to the house, climbed up the side. When he got to the top, he searched for something by which the door could be opened. He saw nothing like a key or lock or handle. Then he remembered the words he had heard the leader use, and thought, "Perhaps they were the means by which the door was opened." So he uttered the words, "Yâginla mie, kâ nungwa, aweme!" (Obey me, and thyself open!) and, to his surprise, the door flew open. Then he went down the flight of steps leading below to the interior of the house. He was startled when he saw the room full of all kinds of money and goods and wealth that any one could wish to have. One could have taken away a great deal without its absence being noticed, so abundant was the amount.
Ogula thought, "Isn't this fine! But I must be quick, lest the owners of this house catch me here." So he took a cloth, and put into it a few small articles and a quantity of cash. He tied up the bundle, went up the stairway, and walked out of the door which he had left open. At the top he remembered the word "Nunja!" (Shut!) which the leader had used for closing. He spoke it; and the door shut. He hasted away, and back to the hut of the old man. He did not--enter it, but went to his own house and there hid the bundle. He told no one anything, neither the old man nor his servant nor even his brother. Soon the brother came over from his house, saying, "Brother! I looked for you this morning; you must have gone out very early." "Yes, I went out early, for I am tired of seeing so little; so I went out to see what I could see."
The next day he did the same. On this trip be took not only money from the house, but some fine clothing for himself to wear. As before, on emerging at the top of the house, he spoke the word "Nunja!" the door closed, and he was away again, no one having seen him. When Ogula got back to his house, Nkombe asked him the same question of the day before, "Where have you been?" and he made only the evasive answer. But Nkorobe began to be troubled. He feared something was wrong, and be determined to find out what was the matter. So he decided to get up next morning just as early as Ogula. The reason that Ogula did not tell Nkombe was because the latter had a had jealous heart, and was very covetous of money. So early in the morning Ogula was off. He did not know that Nkombe had any thought of following him. But as soon as Nkombe saw Ogula start, be followed him cautiously, so that he might find out what his brother was doing.
Ogula walked on straight and rapidly, and never looked behind, for he had no suspicion that he was being followed. When he got to the house, as usual he ordered the door to open, and descended inside. While he was beginning to select the things he wanted to take, to his surprise he saw Nkombe also descending the stairway. Ogula said, "Nkombe! what is this? Who showed you the way? Who told youto come here? I am troubled to find you here; for this will be the end of you! I knew it was not safe for you to come here. What I took was for us both."
Nkombe said, "No! you hid it from me. I have found it now. I will be rich for myself." By this time Ogula had tied up his bundle ready to go out. But Nkombe was snatching up a large quantity from every side. Ogula said, "Nkombe! be quick! You do not know how to shut that door, and it will not be safe for us to be found here by those people." But Nkombe was not satisfied with one bundle, he was still gathering up other bundles. Ogula wearied of waiting and begging of Nkombe to come, so he said he must go and leave him, saying, "Now, Nkombe, it is not safe to wait longer. I have waited for you and begged you to leave with me; so I go alone. You cannot get out with all those bundles."
But Nkombe would not listen. So Ogula went out, and spoke the word that closed the door, leaving Nkombe in the house. However, being anxious for his brother, Ogula did not go away, but climbed his tree to see what would happen.
When Nkombe had entered the house, he had with him a big, sharp knife.
Ogula waited outside till those people should come. Soon they came. The leader did as usual, being the first to climb to the house-top and to order the door to open. The door flew open, and the leader descended. As soon as he entered, he found another man, Nkombe, in the house. The leader asked, "Who are you, and how did you get in here?" Nkombe did not reply, but drawing his knife, plunged it into the leaders neck. With one outcry the man fell dead. By this time some of the other men had climbed up and were about to enter. When they got inside, they saw their leader lying dead, and this stranger standing armed. One of the men drew his pistol and shot Nkombe. [Observe the pistol; all these folk-lore stories disregard anachronisms or even impossibilities.] They carried his dead body to the roof, and threw it off to the ground. All this Ogula saw, looking from the treetop down into the house.
Then those people began to be perplexed and suspicious, saying, "This is not the work of only one, for we found the door closed on our arrival. So this person inside must have had some associate outside. How shall we find it out?"
They began to plan, each one with his proposition. One said, "Let us go and bury the dead body." Another, "Let us leave it and go on with our business, and if on our return the body is missing, that will be a proof that a partner has taken it. Then we will get on the track and find where the body was taken." And they agreed that he whose plan proved successful should be their new leader. So they closed the door, left Nkombe's dead body lying, and went off on their usual business.
After they had been gone quite a while, Ogula came down quickly from the tree. He tried to carry the body of his brother without dragging it so as not to leave any sign of a trail. And he did not follow the path, but walked parallel with it among the bushes. He hid the body, and then went away to his house. He called his servant, telling him that Nkombe was dead, and that he wanted him to come help bury the body. He did not call the old man, but only told him that his brother was dead.
He and the servant went to the spot where he had left his brother's body. They carried it far into the forest, buried it, and then went back to their house.
When the thieves came again to their house, they missed the dead body, so that part of their plan had proved true; and they said to the one who had proposed it, "You were right. You are our leader. What is your next order? "He said, "To-morrow we will not go out to do our business, but we will go out to hunt for this other man."
The next day they went, and scattering searched on all paths to see whether they would meet with some one or see some house. Some of them who were on a certain path came to the huts of the old man and Ogula. The first person they saw was the old man sitting in his doorway. They stopped and saluted. They asked him a few questions, and then consulting together agreed to return to their house and come back next day, hoping to find out something from the old man. They went back to their house. Previous to this, from the time that Ogula had been stealing goods he had built with his servant a little village of his own some distance from the old man's hut. On this first coming of the thieves, Ocula, hidden in his house, had seen them, and he said to himself, As they now know of this place, I better go away, for fear this thing be found out, and they kill me as they did my brother." So at night he left that house and went off to his village.
In the morning of the next day, when the thieves came, they brought liquor, for they had planned that they would make this old man drunk, that he might talk when he was foolish with liquor.
They came to the old man's and saluted him. They sat and conversed, asking him,"How many people are here? Are you always living alone?" At first be replied, "Yes, I live alone." "But you are so old, how do you get your food by yourself? Would you like to taste a nice drink? We are sorry for you in your lack of comforts." "Yes, I would like to taste it."
So they opened their liquor, drank a little themselves, and gave to him. After he had drunk he became talkative, and began conversation again: "Oh, yes, you asked me if I lived alone. But not quite alone. There is a young man here." The thieves were glad to hear him talk, and gave him more liquor. He drank; they asked more questions, "You said there was another man with you; where is he?" Then the old man repeated the whole story of the coming of the brothers, to the death of one of them; and added, "A few days ago one of them came to tell me he was going to bury his brother; but I do not know when or how he died." So they asked the old man, "You know where be was buried?" "No." "But where is that living brother?" "Oh, he has just left me, and is gone to his new place not very far away. I have not been there, but you can easily find it."
They consulted among themselves. "As this other man may hear of what we are about, we will go away to-day, disguise ourselves, and to-morrow seek for his place." So they all left.
Next day two or three came disguised, and found Ogula's new house in the afternoon. He did not recognize their faces. He welcomed them as strangers and treated them politely. They asked, "Is this your house? Do you live alone?" He answered straightly, but did not mention his brother. But they felt they had enough proof of who he was, and left. But before they left they had observed the number and location of the rooms and the shape of the house. In the house was a large public reception and sitting room, and from it were doors leading to the servant's room and to a little entry opening into Ogula's room.
The next day Ogula and his servant were doing their work of refining the gum-copal they had gathered for trade; it was being boiled in an enormous kettle. When this copal was melted, the kettle was set, with its boiling-hot pitchy contents, in that little entry. In the afternoon came the whole company of thieves, all disguised. They said, "We have come to make your acquaintance, and to relieve your loneliness by an evening's amusement." Ogula began to prepare them food. They sat at the food, eating and drinking; had conversation, and spent the evening laughing and playing. At night most of them pretended to be drunk and sleepy, and stretched themselves on the floor of the large room as if in sleep.
Ogula also had been drinking, and said he was tired and would go to bed. But his servant was sober; he saw what the men were doing, and suspected evil. He thought: "Ah! my master is drunk, and these people are strangers. What will happen?" So when the lights were put out and he was going to bed, he left open the door of the little entry and locked the door of his master's room. After midnight the thieves rose and consulted. "Let us go and kill him." They arose and trod softly toward Ogula's room. Not quite sober, they missed the proper way, stepped through the open door of the little entry, and stumbled into the caldron of copal. It was still hot, and stuck to their bodies like pitch. They were in agony, but did not dare to cry out. They all were crawling covered with the hot gum, except the last man, who had jumped over the bodies of those who had fallen before him; and he ran away to their house.
But Ogula was sleeping, ignorant of what was going on.
In the morning the boy, who also had slept, on opening the house, found the kettle full of tarred limbs of dead human bodies. He knocked at Ogula's door and waked him. But Ogula said, "Don't disturb me, I am so tired from last night's revel." "Yes, but get up and see what has happened." Ogula came and saw. Then he told the lad that but for him he would have been dead. Ogula thenceforth took him as a brother. Then he and the boy had a big work of throwing out the bodies of the thieves. Ogula was not afraid of a charge of murder, for the thieves had tumbled themselves into the scalding contents of the kettle. He had enough wealth, and did not go again to the thieves' house.
But that one man who had escaped was wishing for revenge, yet was afraid to come to Ogula's house by himself. Time went on. Ogula remained quiet. But his enemy still sought revenge, waiting for an opportunity.
Gradually, too, Ogula had forgotten his enemy's face; for the thieves were many, and all disguised, and he would be unable to distinguish which one had escaped.
On a time it happened that this thief went far to another country; and while he was there, Ogula also happened to journey to that very town. The lad had said, being now a young man, "May I go too?" "Yes, you may, for you are like a brother. You must go wherever I do." On the very second day in the town the two, Ogula and the thief, met. The thief recognized Ogula; but Ogula did not recognize him, and neither spoke; but the young man, with better memory, said to himself, "I have seen this man somewhere." He looked closely, but said nothing.
The next day the thief made a feast. He met Ogula again on the street and saluted him, "Mbolo! I am making a feast. You seem a stranger. I would like you to come." "Yes; where?" "At such-and-such a place.",Yes, I will come. But this attendant of mine is good, and must be invited too." "Yes, I have no objections." Next evening the feast was held, and people came to it. The thief placed Ogula and his servant near himself. There was much eating and drinking. The thief became excited, and determined to kill Ogula at the table by sticking him with a knife.
All the while that the thief was watching Ogula, the servant was watching the thief. Presently the latter turned slightly and began to draw a knife. The servant watched him closely. The thief's knife was out, and the servant's knife was out too. But the thief was watching only Ogula, and did not know what the servant was doing. Just as the thief was about to thrust at Ogula, the servant jumped and thrust his knife into the thief's neck. The man fell, blood flowing abundantly over the table. The guests were alarmed, and were about to seize the servant, who pointed at the drawn knife in the man's hand that had been intended for his master; and then he told their whole story.
So the guests decided that there was no charge against Ogula and his servant, and scattered. The next day Ogula and his servant left. As he knew that that man was the last of the company of thieves, he said, in gladness, "Now! Glory!" Then he thought, "All that wealth is mine, since this last one who tried to take my life is dead."
As he had seen enough of the world by travel, he decided to stay in one place. He would call people to live with him in a new town which he would build for them around that enchanted house of the thieves, which he took as his own with all its wealth. And he lived long in that house in great glory, with wife and children and retainers and slaves.
Ra-Mborakinda lived in his town with his sons and daughters and his glory. One son was Nkombe, and another Ogula, whose full name was Ogula-keva-anlingo-n'-ogendâ (Ogula-who-goes-faster-than-water); but they were not of the same mother.
Ogula grew up without taking any wife. He became a great man, with knowledge of sorcery. One day his father said to him, "Ogula, as you are a big man now, I think it is time for you to have a wife. I think you had better choose from one of my young wives." Ogula replied, "No, I will get a wife in my own way." So one day be went to another osenge (clearing) of a town which belonged to a man of the awiri (spirits; plural of "ombwiri"), i.e., one who possessed magic power, and obtained one of his daughters. Her name was Ikâgu-ny'-awiri.
He brought the girl home to his father's house, where she was very much admired as "a fine woman! a fine woman!" She was indeed very pretty. Then Ogula said to her, "As you are now my wife, you must be orunda (set apart from) to other men, and I will be orunda to other women, even if I go to work at another place." And she replied, "It is well."
At another time Ogula said, "I think it better for us to move away from my father's town, and put my house just a little way off." After the new house was finished they moved to it, and lived by themselves. Ogula had business elsewhere that compelled him to be often absent, returning at times in the afternoons. Whenever Nkombe knew that Ogula was out, he would come and annoy Ikâgu with solicitation to leave her husband and marry him. Ogula knew of this, for he had a ngalo (a special fetich) that enabled him to know what was going on elsewhere. The wife would say, "Ah, Nkombe! No, I know that you are my husband's brother; but I do not want you!" Then, when it was time for Ogula to return, Nkombe would go off. That went on for many days; Nkombe visiting Ikâgu whenever he had opportunity, and the wife refusing him every time. It went on so long that at last Ogula thought that he would speak to his wife about it.
So he began to ask her, "Is everything all right? Has any one been troubling you?" She answered, "No." He asked her again, and again she said, "No." Thus it went on,--Nkombe coming; Ogula asking questions; and the wife, unwilling to make trouble between the two brothers, denying. But one day the trouble that Nkombe made the wife was so great that Ogula, with the aid of his ngalo, thought surely she would acknowledge. But she did not; for that day, when he came and called his wife into their bedroom, and asked her, she only asserted weakly, "No trouble." Then he said, "Do you think I do not know? You are a good wife to me. I know all that has passed between you and Nkombe." And he added, "As Nkombe is making you all this trouble, I will have to remove again far from my father's town, and go elsewhere." So he went far away, and built a small village for himself and wife. They put it in good order, and made the pathway wide and clean.
But in his going far from his father's town be had unknowingly come near to another town that belonged to another Ra-Mborakinda, who also had great power and many sons and daughters. One of the sons also was named Ogula, just as old and as large as this first Ogula. One day this Ogula went out hunting with his gun. He went far, leaving his town far away, going on and on till be saw it was late in the day and that it was time to go back.
Just as be was about returning he came to a nice clean pathway, and he wondered, "So here are people? This fine path! who cleans it? and where does it lead to?" So be thought he would go and see for himself; and he started on the path. He had not gone far before he came to the house of Ogula. There he stood, admiring the house and grounds. "A fine house! a fine house!"
When Ogula saw Ogula 2d standing in the street, he invited him up into the house. They asked each other a few questions, became acquainted, and made friendship; and Ogula kept Ogula 2d for two days as his guest. Then Ogula 2d said, "They may think me lost, in town, after these two days. Thanks for your kindness, but I had better go." And he added, "Some day I will send for you, and you will come to visit me, that I may show you hospitality."
Ogula 2d went back to his place. He had a sister who was a very troublesome woman, assuming authority and giving orders like a man. Her name was Banga-yi-baganlo-tani (Banga-of-five-faces). Though her father, the king, and her brother were still living, she insisted on governing the town. When any one displeased her, or she was vexed with any one, she would order that person to lie down before a cannon and be shot to pieces. The father was wearied of her annoyances, but did not know what to do with her.
As Ogula 2d had left word with Ogula that be would invite him on another day, he did so. Ogula accepted; but as the invitation was only to himself, he did not take his wife, but went by himself, and was welcomed and entertained.
When it was late afternoon, he was about to go back, but Ogula 2d said, "You were so kind to me; do not go back to-day. Stay with me." And Ogula consented.
In asking Ogula to stay, Ogula 2d thought, "As his wife is not here, perhaps he will want another woman. I have my sister here; but if I first offer her, it will be a shame, for he has not asked for any one" [an actual native African custom, to give a guest a temporary wife, as one of the usual hospitalities. The custom is not resented by the women].
All this while Ogula had not seen the sister. When they were ready for the evening meal, Ogula 2d thought it time to call his sister to see the guest. She fixed herself up finely, clean, and with ornaments. She came and sat in the house, and there were the usual salutations of "Mbolo!" "Ai, mbolo!" and some conversation.
While they were talking, Banga had her face cast down with eyes to the ground. And when she lifted her eyes to look at Ogula, her face changed. From the time she came in till meal-time, she made a succession of these changes of her face, thinking that Ogula would be surprised, and would admire the changes, and expecting that he would ask her brother for her.
She waited and waited; Ogula saw all these five changes of her face, but was not attracted. They went to their food, and ate and finished. And they talked on till bedtime; but Ogula had said nothing of love. Banga was annoyed and disappointed; she went to her bed piqued and with resentful thoughts.
The next morning Ogula said it was time to go back to his wife. When he was getting ready to go, Banga said to him, "Have you a wife?"
He answered, "Yes." She said, "I want her to come and visit me some day." And Ogula agreed. He went, and returning to his house, told his wife that Banga wanted to see her.
After Ogula was gone, Banga asked her brother about Ogula's wife. "Is she pretty?" And he told her how finely the wife had looked. Banga was not pleased at that, was jealous, and waited till Ikâgu should come that she might see for herself. "I will see if she is more beautiful than I with my five countenances." Subsequently Banga chose a day, and sent for Ikâgu. She dressed for the journey, and Ogula, not being invited, took her only half-way.
When Ogula's wife arrived, Banga saw that it was true that she was pretty, and of graceful carriage in her walking, and she did not wonder that her husband was charmed with her. But she hid her jealousy, and pretended to be pleased with her visitor. Ogula's wife did not spend the night there; when she thought it time to go, she said good-bye, and turned to leave.
When she had gone, Banga was planning for a contest with her. She said to herself, "Now I see wky that man made me feel ashamed at his not asking for my love,--because his wife is so beautiful. She shall see that I will have her killed, and I shall have her husband."
So after a few days she sent word to Ogula's wife, "Prepare yourself for a fight, and come and meet me at my fatber's house."
But the wife said to Ogula, "I have done nothing. What is the fight for?" Nevertheless, she began to prepare a fighting dress, and before it was finished another messenger came with word, "You are waited for."
So she said, "As it is not a call for peace, I had better put on a dress that befits blood." So she dressed in red. After she was dressed she started, and Ogula went with her, to hear what was the ground of the challenge.
As soon, as they got to the town, they found Banga striding up and down the street. Her cannon was already loaded, waiting to be fired. When Ogula wanted to know what the "palaver" was, Banga said, "I do not want to talk with you; I only want you to obey my orders."
But Ikâgu wanted to know what the trouble was, and began to ask, "What have I done?" Banga only repeated, "I don't want any words from you; only, you come and lie down in front of this cannon." Ikâgu obeyed, and lay down, and Banga ordered her men to fire the cannon.
By this time Ogula, by the power of his ngalo, had changed the places of the two women. When the cannon was fired, and the smoke had cleared away, the people who stood by saw Ikâgu standing safe by her husband, and Banga lying dead. All the assembled people began to wonder, "What is this? What is this?"
So Banga's father called Ogula, and said, "Do not think I am displeased with you at the death of my daughter; I too was wearied at her doings. So, as you are justified, and Banga was wrong, it is no matter to be quarrelled about."
And Ogula 2d said to Ogula, "I am not vexed at you. You had done nothing. She wanted to bring trouble on you, and it has come on herself. I have no fight with you. We will still be friends. But do not live off in your forest village by yourself; come you and your wife to live in this town."
So Ogula and his wife consented, and agreed to remove, and live with Ogula 2d. And thcy did so without further trouble.
Ra-Mborakinda has his great town, and his wives, and his children, and the glory of his kingdoin. All his women had no children, except the loved head-wife, Ngwe-nkonde (Mother of Queens), and the unloved Ngwe-vazya (Mother of Skin-Disease). Each of these two had children, sons, at the same time. The father gave them their names. Ngwenkonde's was Nkombe, and Ngwe-vazya's was Ogula. Again these two women became mothers. This time both of them had daughters. Ngwe-nkonde's was named Ngwanga, and Ngwe-vazya's was Ilâmbe. A third time these two bore children, sons, on the same day. These two sons grew up without names till they began to talk, for the father had delayed to give them names. But one day he called them to announce to them their names. What he had selected they refused, saying that they had already named themselves. Ngwe-nkonde's child named himself Osongo, and Ngwe-vazya's Obengi. And the father agreed.
These two children grew and loved each other very much. No one would have thought that they belonged to different mothers, so great was the love they had for each other. They were always seen together, and always ate at the same place. When one happened to be out at mealtime, the other would not eat, and would begin to cry till the absent one returned. Both were handsome in form and feature.
When Ngwe-vazya's people beard about her nice-looking little boy, they sent word to her, "We have heard about your children, but we have not seen you for a long time. Come and visit us, and bring your youngest son, for we have beard of him and want to see him."
So she went and asked permission of Ra-Mborakinda, saying that she wanted to go and see her people. He was willing. Then she made herself ready to start. As soon as Osongo knew that his brother Obengi was going away, be began to cry at the thought of separation. He said, "I am not going to stay alone. I have to go too, for I am not willing to be separated from my brother. And Obengi said the same: "If Osongo does not go with us, then I will not go at all." Then Ngwe-vazya thought to herself, "No, it will not,do for me to take Osongo along with me, for his mother and I are not friendly." And she told Osongo that he must stay. But both the boys persisted, "No, we both must go." So Ngwe-vazya said, "Well, let it be so. I will take care of Osongo as if he were my own son." And Ra-Mborakinda and Ngwe-nkonde were willing that Osongo should go.
So they started and went; and when they reached the town of Ngwe-vazya's family the people were very glad to receive them. She was very attentive to both the boys, watching them wherever they went, for they were the beloved sons of Ra-Mborakinda. She was there at her people's town about two months. Then she told them that it was time to return home with the two boys. Her people assented, and began to load her and the boys with parting presents.
They went back to Ra-Mborakinda's town, and there also their people were glad to see them return, for the children had grown, and looked well. The people, and even Ra-Mborakinda, praised Ngwe-vazya for having so well cared for the children, especially the one who was not her own.
This made Ngwe-nkonde more jealous, because of the praise that Ra-Mborakinda gave, and because of the boys' fine report of their visit and the abundance of gifts with which Ngwe-vazya had returned. So Ngwe-nkonde made up her mind that some day she would do the same, that she might receive similar praise. She waited some time before she attempted to carry out her plan. By the time that she got ready to ask leave to go the boys had grown to be lads. One day she thought proper to ask Ra-Mborakinda permission to go visiting with her son. Ra-Mborakinda was willing, and she commenced her preparations.
And again confusion came because of the two lads refusing to be separated. Osongo refused to go alone. But afterward he, knowing of his mother's jealous disposition, changed his mind, and said to Obengi, "No, I think you better stay." But Obengi refused, saying, "No, I have to go too." Osongo then told him the true reason for his objecting. "I said this because I know that my mother is not like yours, So please stay; I will be gone only two days, and will then come and meet you." But Obengi insisted, "If you go, I go." And Ngwe-nkonde said, "Well, let it be so; I will take care of you both."
So they went. When they reached the town of Ngwe-nkonde's family, the people were glad to see them. She also was apparently kind and attentive to the lads for the first two days. On the third day she began to think the care was troublesome. "These lads, are big enough to take care of themselves like men."
She did indeed feel kindly toward Obengi, liking his looks, and she said to herself, "I think I will try to win his affections from his mother to myself." She tried to do so, but the lad was not influenced by her. When she noticed that he did not seem to care for her attentions, she was displeased, began to hate him, and made up her mind to kill him.
All the days that the lads were there at the town they went out on excursions to the forest, hunting animals. As soon as they came back they would sit down together to chat and to eat sugar-cane [with African children a substitute for candy].
Ngwe-nkonde knew of this habit. After she had decided to kill Obengi, on the next day she had the sugar-cane ready for them. She rubbed poison on one of the stalks, and arranged that that very piece should be the the first one that Obengi would take. He had taken only two bites, and was chewing, when he exclaimed, "Brother, I begin to feel giddy, and my eyes see double! Please give me some water quickly!" Water was brought to him. He took a little of it. Others, spectators, became excited, and began to dash water over his face. But soon he fell down dead.
Then Ngwe-Nkonde exclaimed to herself, "So I've been here only five days, and now the lad is dead. I don't care! Let him die!"
By this time Osongo had become greatly excited, crying out, and repeating over and over, "My brother! Oh, my brother! Oh, my same age!" His mother said to him, "To-morrow I will have him buried, and we will start back to our town." Osongo replied to her, "That shall not be. He shall not be buried here. We both came together, and though he is dead, we both will go back together." The next morning Osongo said to his mother, "I know that you are at the bottom of this trouble. You know something about it. You brought him. And now he is dead. I charge you with killing him." She only replied, "I know nothing of that. We will wait, and we shall know."
They began to get ready for the return journey, and some of the people said, "Let a coffin be made, and the body be placed there." But Osongo said, "No, I don't want that, I have a hammock, and he shall be carried in it." So they prepared the hammock, and placed in it the dead body.
As to Ngwe-Nkonde, Osongo had her arrested, and held as a prisoner, with her hands tied behind her, and he took a long whip with which to drive her. And they started on their journey.
On the way Osongo was wailing a mourning-song, and cursing his mother, and weeping, saying, "Oh, we both came together, and he is dead! Oh, my brother! Oh, my same age! Obengi gone! Osongo left! Oh, the children of one father! Osongo, who belongs to Ngwe-Nkonde, left, and Obengi, who belongs to Ngwe-Vazya, gone!" And thus they went, be repeating these impromptu words of his song, and weeping as he went. As they were going thus, while they were still only half-way on their route, a man, Eserengila (tale-bearer), one of his father's servants, was out in the forest hunting. He heard the song. Listening, he said to himself, "Those words! What do they mean?" Listening still, he thought he recognized Osongo's voice, and understood that one was living and the other dead.
So he ran ahead to carry the news to the town before the corpse should arrive there. When he reached the town, he first told his wife about it. She advised him, "If that is so, don't go and tell this bad news to the king; a servant like you should not be the bearer of ill news." But he still said, "No, but I'm going to tell the father." His wife insisted, "Do not do it! With those two beloved children, if the news be not true, the parents will make trouble for you!" But Eserengila started to tell, and by the time he had finished his story the company with the corpse were near enough for the people of the town to hear all the words of Osongo's song of mourning.
Obengi's father and mother were so excited with grief that their people had to bold them fast as if they were prisoners, to prevent them injuring themselves. The funeral company all went up to the king's house, and laid down the body of his son; and Osongo's mother, still tied, was led into the house.
The townspeople were all excited, shouting and weeping. Some began to give directions about the making of a fine coffin. But Osongo said, "No, I don't want him to be put into a coffin yet, because when my brother was alive we had many confidences and secrets, and now that he is dead, I have somewhat of a work to do before he is buried. Let the corpse wait awhile." So be asked them all to leave the corpse alone while he went out of the town for a short time.
Then he went away to the village of Ra-Mârânge, and said to him, "I'm in great trouble, and indeed I need your help." The prophet replied, "Child, I am too old; I am not making medicine now. Go to Ogula-y'-impazya-vazya, and repeat your story to him; he will help you."
Ra-Maranue showed him the way to Ogula-y'-impazya-vazya's place. He went, and had not gone far when be found it. Going to the magician, Osongo said, "I'm in trouble, and have come to you." As soon as he had said this, Ogula-y'-impazya-vazya made his magic fire, and stepped into it. Osongo was frightened, thinking, "I've come to this man, and he is about to kill himself for me"; and he ran away. But he had not gone far, when he heard the niagician's nkendo (a witchcraft bell) ringing, and his voice calling to him, "If you have come for medicine, come back; but if for anything else, then run away." So Osongo returned quickly, and found that the old magician had emerged from his fire and was waiting for him. Osongo told his story of his brother's death, and said be wanted direction what to do. Ogula-y'-impazya-vazya gave him medicine for a certain purpose, and told him what to do and bow to do it.
When Osongo came back with the medicine, he entered his father's house, into the room where his brother's corpse was lying, and ordered every one to leave him alone for a while. They all left the room. He closed the door, and following the directions given him by Ogula-y'-impazya-vazya, be brought Obengi to life again.
Now came a question what was to be done with Ngwe-nkonde, the attempted murderess. It was demanded that her throat should be cut, and that her body, weighted with stones, should be flung into the river. "For," said Osongo, "I will not own such a mother; she is very bad. Obengi's mother shall be my mother." It was decided so. And Ra-Mborakinda said to Ngwe-vazya, "You step up to the queen's seat with your two sons" (meaning Osongo and Obengi).
And Ngwe-vazya became head-wife, and was very kind and attentive to both sons.
And the matter ended.
Ra-Mborakinda had his town where he lived with his wives, his sons, his daughters, and his glory.
Lord Mborakinda had his loved head-wife, Ngwe-nkonde, and the unloved one, Ngwe-lege. Both of these, with other of his wives, had sons and daughters. Ngwe-nkonde's first son was Nkombe, and she had two others. Ngwe-lege also had three sons, but the eldest of these, Jeki, was a thief. He stole everything he came across,--food,:fish, and all. This became so notorious that when people saw him approach their houses they would begin to hide their food and goods, saying, "There comes that thief!"
Jeki's grandfather, the father of his mother, was dead. One night, in a dream, that grandfather came to him, and said to him, "Jeki, my son, when will you leave off that stealing, and try to work and do other things as others do? To-morrow morning come to me early; I have a word to say to you." Jeki replied, "But where do you live, and how can I know the way to that town?" He answered, "You just start at your town entrance, and go on, and you will see the way to my place before you reach it."
So the next morning Jeki, remembering his dream, said to his mother, "Please fix me up some food." [He did not tell her that the purpose of the food was not simply for his breakfast, but as an extra supply for a journey.] The food that was prepared for him was five rolls made of boiled plantains mashed into a kind of pudding called "nkima," and tied up with dried fish. When these were ready, he put them inside his travelling-bag. Then be dressed himself for his-journey.
His mother said, "Where are you going. He evaded, and said, "I will be back again." So he went away.
After he had been gone a little while, be came to a fork of the road, and without hesitation his feet took the one leading to the right. After going on for a while he met two people named Isakiliya, fighting, whose forms were like sticks. [These sticks were abambo, or ghosts. In all native folk-lore, where spirits embody themselves, they take an absurd or singular form, that they may test the amiability or severity, as the case may be, of human beings with whom they may meet. They bless the kind, and curse the unkind.] He went to them to make peace, and parted them; took out one of his rolls of nkima and fish, gave to them, and passed on. They thanked him, and gave him a blessing, "Peace be on you, both going and coming!" He went on and on, and then he met two Antyâ (eyes) fighting. In the same way as with the Isakiliya, he went to them, separated them, gave them food, was blessed, and went on his way.
Again he met in the same way two Kumu (stumps) fighting, and in the same way he interfered between them, made peace, gave food, was blessed, and went on his journey. He went on and on, and met with a fourth fight. This time it was between two Poti (heads), and in the same way he made peace between them, gave a gift, was blessed, and went on.
He journeyed and journeyed. And he came to a dividing of the way, and was puzzled which to take. Suddenly an old woman appeared. He saluted her, "Mbolo!" took out his last roll of nkima, and gave it to her. The old woman thanked him, and asked him, "Where are you going?" He replied, "I'm on my way to an old man, but am a little uncertain as to my way." She said, "Oh, joy! I know him. I know the way. His name is Re-ve-nla-gâ-li." She showed him the way, pronounced a blessing on him, and he passed on. He had not gone much farther when he came to the place.
hen the old grandfather saw him, he greeted him, "Have you come, son?" He answered, "Yes."
"Well," said the grandfather, "I just live here by myself, and do my work myself." And the old man made food for him. Then next day this grandfather began to have a talk with Jeki. He rebuked him for his habit of stealing. Jeki replied, "But, grandfather, what can I do? I have no work nor any money. Even if I try to leave off stealing, I cannot. I do not know what medicine will cause me to leave it off." Then said the grandfather, "Well, child, I will make the medicine for you before you go back to your mother." So Jeki remained a few days with his grandfather, and then said, "I wish to go back." The grandfather said, "Yes, but I have some little work for you to do before you leave." So Jeki said, "Good! let me have the work."
The grandfather gave him an axe, and told him to go and cut firewood sufficient to fill the small woodshed. Jeki did so, filling the shed in that one day. The regular occupation of the old man was the twisting of ropes for the lines of seines. So the next day he told Jeki to go and get the inner barks, whose fibre was used in his rope-making. Jeki went to the forest, gathered this material, and returned with it to the old man.
The next day the grandfather said to Jeki, "Now I am ready to start you off on your journey." And he added, "As you gave as reasons for stealing that you had neither money nor the means of getting it, I will provide that." Then the old man called him, took him to a brook-side, and reminded him that he had promised that he could make a medicine to cure him of his desire to steal.
The grandfather began to cut open Jeki's chest, and took out his heart, washed it all clean, and put it back again. Then they went back to the grandfather's house. There be gave Jeki an ozâzi (wooden pestle), and said, "Now, son, take this. This is your wealth. Everything that you wish, this will bring to you. Hold it up, express your wish, and will get it. But there is one orunda (taboo) connected with it: no one must pronounce the word 'salt' in your hearing. You may see and use salt, but may not speak its name nor hear it spoken, for if you do things will turn out bad for you." "But," the old man added, "if that happens, I will now tell you what to do." And he revealed to him a secret, and gave him full directions. When the grandfather had finished, he led him a short distance on the way, and returned to his house. He had not prepared any food for Jeki for the journey, for he with the ozâzi would himself be able to supply all his own wishes.
Jeki goes on and on, and then exclaims doubtfully, "Ah, only this ozâzi is to furnish me with everything! I'm getting hungry; so, soon I'll try its power." He went on a little farther, and then decided that he would try whether be could get anything by means of the ozâzi. So be held it up, and said, "I wish a table of food to be spread for me, with two white men to eat with me." Instantly there was seen a tent, and table covered with food, and two white men sitting. He sat down with these two companions. After they had eaten, be spoke to the ozâzi to cause the tent and its contents to disappear. They did so. This proved for him the power of his ozâzi, and be was glad, and went on his way satisfied.
Finally he reached his father's town, whose people saw him coming, but gave him no welcome, except his mother, who was glad to see him. But most of the people only said, "There! there is that thief coming again. We must begin to hide our things. After Jeki's arrival, in a few days, the townspeople noticed a change in him, and inquired of each other, "Has he been stealing, or has he really changed?" for shortly after his return be had told his mother and brothers all the news, and had warned the people of the town about the orunda of "salt." In the course of a few days Jeki did many wonderful things with his ozâzi. He wished for nice little premises of his own with houses and conveniences, near his father's town, supplied with servants and clothing and furniture. These appeared. Soon, by the wealth that he possessed, be became master of the town, and ruled over the other children of his father. He obtained from that same ozâzi, created by its power, two wives,--Ngwanga and Ilâmbe, who were loving and obedient. He also bought three other wives from the village, who were like servants to the two chief ones. He confided his plans and everything to the two favored ones who had come out of the ozâzi.
In the course of time he thought he would display his power before the people, and for their benefit, by causing ships to come with wealth. So he held up the ozâzi, and said, "I want to see a ship come full of merchandise!"
Presently the townspeople began to shout, "A ship! a ship!" It anchored. Jeki called his own brothers and half-brothers, and directed," You all get ready and go out to the ship, and tell the captain that I will follow you." They made ready, and went on board, and asked, "What goods have you brought?" The captain told them, "Mostly cloth, and a few other things." They informed him, "Soon the chief of the town will come." And they returned ashore, and reported to Jeki what was on board. He made himself ready and went, leaving word for them to follow soon and discharge the cargo. The ship lay there a few days, and then sailed away. Then Jeki divided the goods among his brothers and parents, keeping only a small share for himself.
Thus it went on: every few months Jeki ordering a ship to come with goods. As usual, he would send his brothers first, they would bring a report, and then he would go on board. Sometimes he would eat with the ship's company, sometimes he would invite them ashore to eat in his own house.
All this time no one had broken the orunda of "salt." But, to prove things, Jeki thought be would try his half-brothers, and see what were their real feelings toward him. So the next time he caused ships to come with a cargo of salt only. At sight of the ships there was the usual shout of "A ship! a ship!" The brothers went aboard as usual, and found what the cargo was. The half-brotbers returned ashore immediately, and began to shout when they neared Jeki's house, "The ships are full of salt!" He heard the word, and said to his mother and to his two chief wives, "Do you hear that?"
The half-brothers came close to him, and exclaimed, "Dâgula [Sir], the ships are loaded with nothing but salt, salt, salt, and the captain is waiting for you." Jeki asked again, as if he had not heard, "What is it the captains have brought?" And they said, "Salt." So he said, "Let it be so. To-day is the day. Good! You go and get ready, and I will get ready, and we shall all go together."
Then the two chief wives looked very sorrowful, for they felt sure by his look and tone that something bad was about to happen.
First be ordered a bath to be prepared for himself. It was made ready, and be bathed, and went to dress himself in the other room, where his goods were stored. When he had entered, be called his own two brothers and the two wives, and closed the door. He began to examine a few of his boxes. Opening a certain one, he said, "Of all my wealth, this was one of the first. Now I am going to die. But as it is always the custom, a few days after the funeral, to decide who shall be the successor and inheritor, when that day arrives, come and open this particular box. Do not forget to take the cloth for covering the throne of my successor from this box."
Inside of that box was a small casket, holding a large black silk handkerchief. He kept the secret received from his grandfather, and did not tell them what would happen when they should come to get cloth from the box. They understood only that on the throne-day they were to open the big box and the little casket it contained. Then he told them, "Now you may go out." They went out. Jeki shut the door, and began to dress for the ships. But, before dressing, he took out the black silk handkerchief from the small box, and rubbed it over his entire body; and, carefully folding it, put it back again in the casket and closed it. Then be was ready to start. And they all went off to the ships, be with the ozâzi in hand. He, with his own brothers, was in a boat following the boat of his half-brothers.
He raised a death-song, "Ilendo! Ilendo! give me skill for a dance! Ilendo! Ilendo! give me skill for a play!" This he sang on the way, jumping from boat to boat. He said be would go on board the ships, but ordered all his brothers not to come. His plan was that they were to be only witnesses of his death. He boarded one of the ships, and went over the deck singing and dancing with that same Ilendo song. Then he jumped to the deck of the next vessel.
As be did so, the first one sank instantly. On the second ship he sang and danced, and jumped thence to the third, the second sinking as the first. On the third ship be continued the song and dance; he remained on it a long while, for he caused it to sink slowly. When the water reached the vessel's deck, the brothers in the boats were looking on with fear. His own brothers began to cry, seeing the ship sinking, for they knew that Jeki would die with it. When it sank, the boats went ashore wailing, and took the news to the town.
But the half-brothers were not really mourning; they were planning the division of Jeki's property. All the town held the kwedi (mourning); but after the fifth day the half-brothers told their father that it was time for the exaltation of a successor to Jeki, the ceremony of ampenda (glories). Ngwe-nkonde's first-born son, Nkombe, said, "I will be the first to stand on the throne, and my two brothers will be next." Jeki's two brothers refused to have anything to say about the division. They determined they would remain quiet and see what would be done. And the two wives of Jeki said the same.
When the half-brothers came to the house of mourning, they began to discuss which of these two women they would inherit. Then one of the two wives said, "Oh, Ngwanga, we must not forget what Jeki told us about the box, now that the people are fixing for the ampenda!"
So the two brothers of Jeki and the two women went inside the room, shut the door, and began to open the big box to take out the little casket. By this time the people outside had everything ready for the ceremony of the ampenda. The two women now opened the casket, took out the black handkerchief, and unfolded it. And Jeki stood in the middle of the room, with his ozâzi in his hand. Their surprise was great; their joy extreme. In their joy they ran to embrace him.
The people outside were very busy with their arrangements. Nkombe already had taken the throne, having painted his face with the little white mark of rule, and given orders to have the signal-drum beaten; and the crowd began to dance and sing to his praise.
Jeki sent his youngest brother, Oraniga (last-born), saying, "Just go privately and tell my father about me, that I have come to life. And I want him to have the whole town swept, and to lay bars of iron along the streets for me to step on from this house to his. Say also that Ntyege (monkey) must continue his firing of guns and cannon; then I will come and meet my father."
Oraniga did so; and the father said, "Good!" and Oraniga returned. The father gave the desired orders about the sweeping and the iron bars and the firing of cannon; but the people at the throne-house did not know of all this.
Then Jeki and his two wives and two brothers dressed themselves finely to walk to the father's house, and marched in procession through the street. A few of the people saw them, wondered, and asked the drums to stop, exclaiming, "Where did they come from?" The procession went on to the father's house, and Ntyege kept on with the cannon firing.
On reaching his father's house, Jeki told him he had something to say, and the father ordered the drum to cease. All the people were summoned to the father's house to hear Jeki's words. He said, "Father, I know that I am your son, and Nkombe is your son. You, all know what Nkombe has done, for he was at the bottom of this matter; so now choose between him and me. If you love him more, I will go far away and stay by myself; but if you love me, Nkombe must be removed from this town."
So the father asked the opinion of others. (For himself, he wanted to have Jeki.) Nkombe's own brothers said he ought to be killed, "for he is not so good to us as Jeki was." So they bound Nkombe, and tied a stone about his neck, and drowned him in the sea.
And everything went on well, Jeki governing, and providing for the town.