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Kaffir (Xhosa) Folk-Lore, by George McCall Theal, [1886], at


HERE was once a chief's daughter who had reached the age when it was necessary for her to observe the ntonjane. She was therefore placed in a hut, in which she was to remain during the period of the ceremony. One day her companions persuaded her to go and bathe in a stream near at hand, though this was against the custom of the ntonjane. When they came out of the water, they saw a snake with black blotches, called the Isinyobolokondwana, near their clothes. They were very much afraid, and did not know what to do at first. But by and-by one of them commenced to sing these words:

Bring my mantle!"

The snake replied:

"Take it,
And pass on."

The companions of the chief's daughter, one after the other, asked the snake for their mantles in this manner, and obtained permission to take them. Last of all was the chief's daughter. But instead of speaking to the snake respectfully as the others had done, she said mockingly, "Ngcingcingci, ngcingcingci." [1] So the snake became very angry, and bit her, when she immediately became of the same hideous colour as it was. Her companions were so frightened that they left her and ran away home. They put another girl in the hut, and pretended that she was the chief's daughter. The girl, thus left alone, went to a forest close by, and climbed up a tree to hide herself.

[1. Words without meaning, but used to express contempt, being merely a repetition of the sound ngci.]

About this time the chief was killing an ox on account of his daughter, and so he sent a young man to the forest to get pieces of wood with which to peg out the skin. The young man was cutting sticks, when he heard some one crying: "Man cutting sticks, tell my father and mother that the sinyobolokondwana bit me." He heard this repeated twice, and, without looking to see what was crying, he ran home and told the chief. Two young men were then sent back with him to see what it was, one of these happening to be the girl's brother. These two were told to hide themselves and listen while the other cut the sticks. They did so, and heard the voice crying as before. Then the brother of the girl knew the voice of his sister, and they all went to the tree where she was, and took her home with them.

The chief was very much surprised to see his daughter in that state, and was so angry with her companions for taking her to the river, and then for substituting another girl so as to deceive him, that he caused them all to be killed.

Then he sent some of his men with forty cattle to take his daughter to a distant country, where she was to remain far away from him. They did as they were told, and built huts in that place to live in. After they had been there a long time, they found that the cows which the chief sent with them were giving more milk than they could consume, so they poured what was left in a hole in the ground. To their amazement, the milk rose, and rose, and rose, higher and still higher, till at last it stood up out of the ground like a great overhanging rock. They called the girl to see this wonderful thing that was happening. In her curiosity she went close to the precipice, when it fell down on her, and, as the milk ran over her, all her ugly blotched skin disappeared, and she was again beautiful as at first.

Soon afterwards a young chief who was passing by saw the girl, and fell in love with her. He thought she was the daughter of one of the men who were there to protect her, but when he made inquiries they told him she was the daughter of their chief. Then he went to her father, and some of the men went also to tell how the milk had cured the girl. The young chief had very many cattle, which he offered to her father. So the old chief agreed to let him marry the girl, and she became his great wife, and was loved by him very dearly.

Next: The Story Of Simbukumbukwana