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The Orange Fairy Book
By Andrew Lang
Dover Publications, Inc.Copyright © 1933 Lenora Lang
All rights reserved.
THE STORY OF THE HERO MAKÓMA
From the Senna (Oral Tradition)
ONCE upon a time, at the town of Senna on the banks of the Zambesi, was born a child. He was not like other children, for he was very tall and strong; over his shoulder he carried a big sack, and in his hand an iron hammer. He could also speak like a grown man, but usually he was very silent.
One day his mother said to him: 'My child, by what name shall we know you?'
And he answered: 'Call all the head men of Senna here to the river's bank.' And his mother called the head men of the town, and when they had come he led them down to a deep black pool in the river where all the fierce crocodiles lived.
'O great men!' he said, while they all listened, 'which of you will leap into the pool and overcome the crocodiles?' But no one would come forward. So he turned and sprang into the water and disappeared.
The people held their breath, for they thought: 'Surely the boy is bewitched and throws away his life, for the crocodiles will eat him! 'Then suddenly the ground trembled, and the pool, heaving and swirling, became red with blood, and presently the boy rising to the surface swam on shore.
But he was no longer just a boy! He was stronger than any man and very tall and handsome, so that the people shouted with gladness when they saw him.
'Now, O my people!' he cried waving his hand, 'you know my name—I am Makóma, "the Greater"; for have I not slain the crocodiles in the pool where none would venture?'
Then he said to his mother: 'Rest gently, my mother, for I go to make a home for myself and become a hero.' Then, entering his hut he took Nu-éndo, his iron hammer, and throwing the sack over his shoulder, he went away.
Makóma crossed the Zambesi, and for many moons he wandered towards the north and west until he came to a very hilly country where, one day, he met a huge giant making mountains.
'Greeting,' shouted Makóma, 'who are you?'
'I am Chi-éswa-mapíri, who makes the mountains,' answered the giant; 'and who are you?'
'I am Makóma, which signifies "greater,"' answered he.
'Greater than who?' asked the giant.
'Greater than you!' answered Makóma.
The giant gave a roar and rushed upon him. Makóma said nothing, but swinging his great hammer, Nu-éndo, he struck the giant upon the head.
He struck him so hard a blow that the giant shrank into quite a little man, who fell upon his knees saying: 'You are indeed greater than I, O Makóma; take me with you to be your slave!' So Makóma picked him up and dropped him into the sack that he carried upon his back.
He was greater than ever now, for all the giant's strength had gone into him; and he resumed his journey, carrying his burden with as little difficulty as an eagle might carry a hare.
Before long he came to a country broken up with huge stones and immense clods of earth. Looking over one of the heaps he saw a giant wrapped in dust dragging out the very earth and hurling it in handfuls on either side of him.
'Who are you,' cried Makóma, 'that pulls up the earth in this way?'
'I am Chi-dúbula-táka,' said he, 'and I am making the river-beds.'
'Do you know who I am?' said Makóma. 'I am he that is called "greater"!.'
'Greater than who?' thundered the giant.
'Greater than you!' answered Makóma.
With a shout, Chi-dúbula-táka seized a great clod of earth and launched it at Makóma. But the hero had his sack held over his left arm and the stones and earth fell harmlessly upon it, and, tightly gripping his iron hammer, he rushed in and struck the giant to the ground. Chi-dúbula-táka grovelled before him, all the while growing smaller and smaller; and when he had become a convenient size Makóma picked him up and put him into the sack beside Chi-éswa-mapíri.
He went on his way even greater than before, as all the river-maker's power had become his; and at last he came to a forest of bao-babs and thorn trees. He was astonished at their size, for every one was full grown and larger than any trees he had ever seen, and close by he saw Chi-gwísa-míti, the giant who was planting the forest.
Chi-gwísa-míti was taller than either of his brothers, but Makóma was not afraid, and called out to him: 'Who are you, O Big One?'
'I,' said the giant, 'am Chi-gwísa-míti, and I am planting these bao-babs and thorns as food for my children the elephants.'
'Leave off!' shouted the hero, 'for I am Makóma, and would like to exchange a blow with thee!'
The giant, plucking up a monster bao-bab by the roots, struck heavily at Makóma; but the hero sprang aside, and as the weapon sank deep into the soft earth, whirled Nu-éndo the hammer round his head and felled the giant with one blow.
So terrible was the stroke that Chi-gwísa-míti shrivelled up as the other giants had done; and when he had got back his breath he begged Makóma to take him as his servant. 'For,' said he, 'it is honourable to serve a man so great as thou."
Makóma, after placing him in his sack, proceeded upon his journey, and travelling for many days he at last reached a country so barren and rocky that not a single living thing grew upon it—everywhere reigned grim desolation. And in the midst of this dead region he found a man eating fire.
'What are you doing? demanded Makóma.
'I am eating fire,' answered the man, laughing;' and my name is Chi-ídea-móto, for I am the flame-spirit, and can waste and destroy what I like.'
'You are wrong,' said Makóma; 'for I am Makóma, who is "greater" than you—and you cannot destroy me!'
The fire-eater laughed again, and blew a flame at Makóma. But the hero sprang behind a rock—just in time, for the ground upon which he had been standing was turned to molten glass, like an overbaked pot, by the heat of the flame-spirit's breath.
Then the hero flung his iron hammer at Chi-ídea-móto, and, striking him, it knocked him helpless; so Makóma placed him in the sack, Woro-nówu, with the other great men that he had overcome.
And now, truly, Makóma was a very great hero; for he had the strength to make hills, the industry to lead rivers over dry wastes, foresight and wisdom in planting trees, and the power of producing fire when he wished.
Wandering on he arrived one day at a great plain, well watered and full of game; and in the very middle of it, close to a large river, was a grassy spot, very pleasant to make a home upon.
Makóma was so delighted with the little meadow that he sat down under a large tree, and removing the sack from his shoulder, took out all the giants and set them before him. 'My friends,' said he, 'I have travelled far and am weary. Is not this such a place as would suit a hero for his home? Let us then go, to-morrow, to bring in timber to make a kraal.'
So the next day Makóma and the giants set out to get poles to build the kraal, leaving only Chi-éswa-mapíri to look after the place and cook some venison which they had killed. In the evening, when they returned, they found the giant helpless and tied to a tree by one enormous hair!
'How is it,' said Makóma, astonished, 'that we find you thus bound and helpless?'
'O Chief,' answered Chi-éswa-mapíri, 'at mid-day a man came out of the river; he was of immense stature, and his grey moustaches were of such length that I could not see where they ended! He demanded of me "Who is thy master?" And I answered: "Makóma, the greatest of heroes.' Then the man seized me, and pulling a hair from his moustache, tied me to this tree—even as you see me.'
Makóma was very wroth, but he said nothing, and drawing his finger-nail across the hair (which was as thick and strong as palm rope) cut it, and set free the mountain-maker.
The three following days exactly the same thing happened, only each time with a different one of the party; and on the fourth day Makóma stayed in camp when the others went to cut poles, saying that he would see for himself what sort of man this was that lived in the river and whose moustaches were so long that they extended beyond men's sight.
So when the giants had gone he swept and tidied the camp and put some venison on the fire to roast. At midday, when the sun was right overhead, he heard a rumbling noise from the river, and looking up he saw the head and shoulders of an enormous man emerging from it. And behold! right down the river-bed and up the river-bed, till they faded into the blue distance, stretched the giant's grey moustaches!
'Who are you?' bellowed the giant, as soon as he was out of the water.
'I am he that is called Makóma,' answered the hero; 'and, before I slay thee, tell me also what is thy name and what thou doest in the river?'
'My name is Chin-débou Máu-giri,' said the giant. 'My home is in the river, for my moustache is the grey fever-mist that hangs above the water, and with which I bind all those that come unto me so that they die.'
'You cannot bind me!' shouted Makóma, rushing upon him and striking with his hammer. But the river giant was so slimy that the blow slid harmlessly off his green chest, and as Makóma stumbled and tried to regain his balance, the giant swung one of his long hairs around him and tripped him up.
For a moment Makóma was helpless, but remembering the power of the flame-spirit which had entered into him, he breathed a fiery breath upon the giant's hair and cut himself free.
As Chin-débou Máu-giri leaned forward to seize him the hero flung his sack Woronówu over the giant's slippery head, and gripping his iron hammer, struck him again; this time the blow alighted upon the dry sack and Chin-débou Máu-giri fell dead.
When the four giants returned at sunset with the poles they rejoiced to find that Makóma had overcome the fever-spirit, and they feasted on the roast venison till far into the night; but in the morning, when they awoke, Makóma was already warming his hands at the fire, and his face was gloomy.
'In the darkness of the night, O my friends,' he said presently, 'the white spirits of my fathers came unto me and spoke, saying: "Get thee hence, Makóma, for thou shalt have no rest until thou hast found and fought with Sákatirína, who has five heads, and is very great and strong; so take leave of thy friends, for thou must go alone.'"
Then the giants were very sad, and bewailed the loss of their hero; but Makóma comforted them, and gave back to each the gifts he had taken from them. Then bidding them' Farewell,' he went on his way.
Makóma travelled far towards the west; over rough mountains and water-logged morasses, fording deep rivers, and tramping for days across dry deserts where most men would have died, until at length he arrived at a hut standing near some large peaks, and inside the hut were two beautiful women.
'Greeting!' said the hero. 'Is this the country of Sákatirína of five heads, whom I am seeking?'
'We greet you, O Great One!' answered the women. 'We are the wives of Sákatirína; your search is at an end, for there stands he whom you seek! 'And they pointed to what Makóma had thought were two tall mountain peaks.' Those are his legs,' they said; 'his body you cannot see, for it is hidden in the clouds.'
Makóma was astonished when he beheld how tall was the giant; but, nothing daunted, he went forward until he reached one of Sákatirína's legs, which he struck heavily with Nu-éndo. Nothing happened, so he hit again and then again until, presently, he heard a tired, far-away voice saying: 'Who is it that scratches my feet?'
And Makóma shouted as loud as he could, answering: 'It is I, Makóma, who is called "Greater"!' And he listened, but there was no answer.
Then Makóma collected all the dead brushwood and trees that he could find, and making an enormous pile round the giant's legs, set a light to it.
This time the giant spoke; his voice was very terrible, for it was the rumble of thunder in the clouds. 'Who is it,' he said, 'making that fire smoulder around my feet?'
'It is I, Makóma!' shouted the hero. 'And I have come from far away to see thee, O Sákatirína, for the spirits of my fathers bade me go seek and fight with thee, lest I should grow fat, and weary of myself.'
There was silence for a while, and then the giant spoke softly: 'It is good, O Makóma!' he said. 'For I too have grown weary. There is no man so great as I, therefore I am all alone. Guard thyself! 'And bending suddenly he seized the hero in his hands and dashed him upon the ground. And lo! instead of death, Makóma had found life, for he sprang to his feet mightier in strength and stature than before, and rushing in he gripped the giant by the waist and wrestled with him.
Hour by hour they fought, and mountains rolled beneath their feet like pebbles in a flood; now Makóma would break away, and summoning up his strength, strike the giant with Nuéndo his iron hammer, and Sákatirína would pluck up the mountains and hurl them upon the hero, but neither one could slay the other. At last, upon the second day, they grappled so strongly that they could not break away; but their strength was failing, and, just as the sun was sinking, they fell together to the ground, insensible.
In the morning when they awoke, Mulímo the Great Spirit was standing by them; and he said: 'O Makóma and Sákatirína! Ye are heroes so great that no man may come against you. Therefore ye will leave the world and take up your home with me in the clouds.' And as he spake the heroes became invisible to the people of the Earth, and were no more seen among them.
[Native Rhodesian Tale.]
THE MAGIC MIRROR
From the Senna
A LONG, long while ago, before ever the White Men were seen in Senna, there lived a man called Gopáni-Kúfa.
One day, as he was out hunting, he came upon a strange sight. An enormous python had caught an antelope and coiled itself around it; the antelope, striking out in despair with its horns, had pinned the python's neck to a tree, and so deeply had its horns sunk in the soft wood that neither creature could get away.
'Help!' cried the antelope, 'for I was doing no harm, yet I have been caught, and would have been eaten, had I not defended myself.'
'Help me,' said the python, 'for I am Insáto, King of all the Reptiles, and will reward you well!'
Gopáni-Kúfa considered for a moment, then stabbing the antelope with his assegai, he set the python free.
'I thank you,' said the python; 'come back here with the new moon, when I shall have eaten the antelope, and I will reward you as I promised.'
'Yes,' said the dying antelope, 'he will reward you, and lo! your reward shall be your own undoing!'
Gopáni-Kúfa went back to his kraal, and with the new moon he returned again to the spot where he had saved the python.
Insáto was lying upon the ground, still sleepy from the effects of his huge meal, and when he saw the man he thanked him again, and said: 'Come with me now to Píta, which is my own country, and I will give you what you will of all my possessions.'
Gopáni-Kúfa at first was afraid, thinking of what the antelope had said, but finally he consented and followed Insáto into the forest.
For several days they travelled, and at last they came to a hole leading deep into the earth. It was not very wide, but large enough to admit a man. 'Hold on to my tail,' said Insáto, 'and I will go down first, drawing you after me.' The man did so, and Insáto entered.
Down, down, down they went for days, all the while getting deeper and deeper into the earth, until at last the darkness ended and they dropped into a beautiful country; around them grew short green grass, on which browsed herds of cattle and sheep and goats. In the distance Gopáni-Kúfa saw a great collection of houses all square, built of stone and very tall, and their roofs were shining with gold and burnished iron.
Gopáni-Kúfa turned to Insáto, but found, in the place of the python, a man, strong and handsome, with the great snake's skin wrapped round him for covering; and on his arms and neck were rings of pure gold.
The man smiled. 'I am Insáto,' said he; 'but in my own country I take man's shape— even as you see me—for this is Pita, the land over which I am king.' He then took Gopáni-Kúfa by the hand and led him towards the town.
On the way they passed rivers in which men and women were bathing and fishing and boating; and farther on they came to gardens covered with heavy crops of rice and maize, and many other grains which Gopáni-Kúfa did not even know the name of. And as they passed, the people who were singing at their work in the fields, abandoned their labours and saluted Insáto with delight, bringing also palm wine and green cocoanuts for refreshment, as to one returned from a long journey.
'These are my children!' said Insáto, waving his hand towards the people. Gopáni-Kúfa was much astonished at all that he saw, but he said nothing. Presently they came to the town; everything here, too, was beautiful, and everything that a man might desire he could obtain. Even the grains of dust in the streets were of gold and silver.
Excerpted from The Orange Fairy Book by Andrew Lang. Copyright © 1933 Lenora Lang. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
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