From the preface:The writer of this romance has been encouraged to his task by apurpose somewhat beyond that of setting out a wild tale of savagelife. When he was yet a lad,--now some seventeen years ago,--fortunetook him to South Africa. There he was thrown in with men who, forthirty or forty years, had been intimately acquainted with the Zulupeople, with their history, their heroes, and their customs. Fromthese he heard many tales and traditions, some of which, perhaps, arerarely told nowadays, and in time to come may cease to be toldaltogether. Then the Zulus were still a nation; now that nation hasbeen destroyed, and the chief aim of its white rulers is to root outthe warlike spirit for which it was remarkable, and to replace it by aspirit of peaceful progress. The Zulu military organisation, perhapsthe most wonderful that the world has seen, is already a thing of thepast; it perished at Ulundi. It was Chaka who invented thatorganisation, building it up from the smallest beginnings. When heappeared at the commencement of this century, it was as the ruler of asingle small tribe; when he fell, in the year 1828, beneath theassegais of his brothers, Umhlangana and Dingaan, and of his servant,Mopo or Umbopo, as he is called also, all south-eastern Africa was athis feet, and in his march to power he had slaughtered more than amillion human beings. An attempt has been made in these pages to setout the true character of this colossal genius and most evil man,--aNapoleon and a Tiberiius in one,--and also that of his brother andsuccessor, Dingaan, so no more need be said of them here. The author'saim, moreover, has been to convey, in a narrative form, some idea ofthe remarkable spirit which animated these kings and their subjects,and to make accessible, in a popular shape, incidents of history whichare now, for the most part, only to be found in a few scarce works ofreference, rarely consulted, except by students. It will be obviousthat such a task has presented difficulties, since he who undertakesit must for a time forget his civilisation, and think with the mindand speak with the voice of a Zulu of the old regime. All the horrorsperpetrated by the Zulu tyrants cannot be published in this polite ageof melanite and torpedoes; their details have, therefore, beensuppressed. Still much remains, and those who think it wrong thatmassacre and fighting should be written of,--except by specialcorrespondents,--or that the sufferings of mankind beneath one of theworld's most cruel tyrannies should form the groundwork of romance,may be invited to leave this book unread. Most, indeed nearly all, ofthe historical incidents here recorded are substantially true. Thus,it is said that Chaka did actually kill his mother, Unandi, for thereason given, and destroy an entire tribe in the Tatiyana cleft, andthat he prophesied of the coming of the white man after receiving hisdeath wounds. Of the incident of the Missionary and the furnace oflogs, it is impossible to speak so certainly. It came to the writerfrom the lips of an old traveller in "the Zulu"; but he cannotdiscover any confirmation of it. Still, these kings undoubtedly puttheir soldiers to many tests of equal severity. Umbopo, or Mopo, as heis named in this tale, actually lived. After he had stabbed Chaka, herose to great eminence. Then he disappears from the scene, but it isnot accurately known whether he also went "the way of the assegai," orperhaps, as is here suggested, came to live near Stanger under thename of Zweete. The fate of the two lovers at the mouth of the cave isa true Zulu tale, which has been considerably varied to suit thepurposes of this romance. The late Mr. Leslie, who died in 1874, tellsit in his book "Among the Zulus and Amatongas." "I heard a story theother day," he says, "which, if the power of writing fiction werepossessed by me, I might have worked up into a first-class sensationalnovel." It is the story that has been woven into the plot of thisbook. To him also the writer is indebted for the artifice by whichUmslopogaas obtained admission to the Swazi stronghold; it was told toMr. Leslie by the Zulu who performed the feat and thereby won a wife.Also the writer's thanks are due to his friends, Mr. F. B. Fynney,late Zulu border agent, for much information given to him in bygoneyears by word of mouth, and more recently through his pamphlet"Zululand and the Zulus," and to Mr. John Bird, formerly treasurer tothe Government of Natal, whose compilation, "The Annals of Natal," isinvaluable to all who would study the early history of that colony andof Zululand.As for the wilder and more romantic incidents of this story, such asthe hunting of Umslopogaas and Galazi with the wolves, or rather withthe hyaenas,--for there are no true wolves in Zululand,--the authorcan only say that they seem to him of a sort that might well have beenmythically connected with the names of those heroes. Similar beliefsand traditions are common in the records of primitive peoples. Theclub "Watcher of the Fords," or, to give its Zulu name, U-nothlola-mazibuko, is an historical weapon, chronicled by Bishop Callaway. Itwas once owned by a certain Undhlebekazizwa. He was an arbitraryperson, for "no matter what was discussed in our village, he wouldbring it to a conclusion with a stick." But he made a good end; forwhen the Zulu soldiers attacked him, he killed no less than twenty ofthem with the Watcher, and the spears stuck in him "as thick as reedsin a morass." This man's strength was so great that he could kill aleopard "like a fly," with his hands only, much as Umslopogaas slewthe traitor in this story.Perhaps it may be allowable to add a few words about the Zulumysticism, magic, and superstition, to which there is some allusion inthis romance. It has been little if at all exaggerated. Thus thewriter well remembers hearing a legend how the Guardian Spirit of theAma-Zulu was seen riding down the storm. Here is what Mr. Fynney saysof her in the pamphlet to which reference has been made: "The nativeshave a spirit which they call Nomkubulwana, or the Inkosazana-ye-Zulu(the Princess of Heaven). She is said to be robed in white, and totake the form of a young maiden, in fact an angel. She is said toappear to some chosen person, to whom she imparts some revelation;but, whatever that revelation may be, it is kept a profound secretfrom outsiders. I remember that, just before the Zulu war,Nomkubulwana appeared, revealing something or other which had a greateffect throughout the land, and I know that the Zulus were quiteimpressed that some calamity was about to befall them. One of theominous signs was that fire is said to have descended from heaven, andignited the grass over the graves of the former kings of Zululand.. . . On another occasion Nomkubulwana appeared to some one inZululand, the result of that visit being, that the native women buriedtheir young children up to their heads in sand, deserting them for thetime being, going away weeping, but returning at nightfall to unearththe little ones again."For this divine personage there is, therefore, authority, and the samemay be said of most of the supernatural matters spoken of in thesepages. The exact spiritual position held in the Zulu mind by theUmkulunkulu,--the Old--Old,--the Great--Great,--the Lord of Heavens,--is a more vexed question, and for its proper consideration the readermust be referred to Bishop Callaway's work, the "Religious System ofthe Amazulu." Briefly, Umkulunkulu's character seems to vary from theidea of an ancestral spirit, or the spirit of an ancestor, to that ofa god. In the case of an able and highly intelligent person like theMopo of this story, the ideal would probably not be a low one;therefore he is made to speak of Umkulunkulu as the Great Spirit, orGod.It only remains to the writer to express his regret that this story isnot more varied in its hue. It would have been desirable to introducesome gayer and more happy incidents. But it has not been possible. Itis believed that the picture given of the times is a faithful one,though it may be open to correction in some of its details. At theleast, the aged man who tells the tale of his wrongs and vengeancecould not be expected to treat his subject in an optimistic or even ina cheerful vein.