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period, Retief, the leader of those emigrants who had gone further into the country, paid a visit to the chief of the Zulus, the nation which lived to the east of the Natal district.
It was a lovely, calm evening, early in February, that Hans, having returned from a day's successful shooting, was sitting on the front of his waggon cleaning his gun, and describing his day's sport to Katrine, who was engaged knitting. In all directions round them waggons were grouped, whilst large herds of cattle grazed on the surrounding hills and in the valleys. Every thing looked peaceable, and suitable for freedom and enjoyment, and each emigrant was rejoicing at the fair prospect before him.
•We shall have a large addition to our forces from the colony,' said an emigrant named Uys, as he came to Hans' waggon and examined the fine reitbok he had brought back with him; 'for the news has gone down that this country is very fine, and is full of game. Retief, too, will make good terms with Dingaan, and that will enable us to live here quietly. We have fought enough with the Amakosa and with Moselekatse; we should now grow corn.'
“Yes,' replied Hans; 'I must grow corn soon and in plenty, for I shall marry in the winter, and therefore shall have two to feed.'
• Where is Victor?' inquired Uys.
'He has gone down towards the coast to see his cousin there, and to trade for a horse he wants. I hear the
country down there is very fine, and elephants come into the bush every year.'
Yes; that is the truth : there is game in plenty, and the forests contain good timber. Cess, who is this riding over the hill ? He will kill his horse if he comes at that rate.'
It is Victor,' said Hans. Something must be wrong, or he would never ride like that, and so near home.'
As Victor approached the encampment he raised his hat and shouted, ‘To arms, men; to arms for your
lives!' Such a cry to a people who had long had to deal with dangerous foes was not to be neglected : a rush was made to Hans' waggon, where Victor had reined in his panting steed, and a hundred men were eagerly inquiring what was the danger.
• The whole Zulu army is upon us, shouted Victor. * Retief and all his party are murdered. Between us and the Zulus not a Dutchman is left alive. Men, women, and children are all slain.'
Shrieks of horror from the women and cries of vengeance from the men greeted this intelligence, whilst an organized defence was hastily arranged. The waggons were brought together and formed into a square, whilst brushwood was cut to fill up the intervals. A three-pounder gun was mounted on
a waggon, and pointed in the direction from which the enemy was expected. Guns and ammunition having been served out to all who could use them,-even the females tended their services as loaders of spare guns,—and
the party having sent out mounted spies, they waited in momentary expectation of being attacked.
Victor had now time to give a detailed account of the events which had come to his knowledge, and which subsequent inquiry proved to be in the main correct.
Retief, having entered the Natal district with his party, decided after some time to visit the residence of the Zulu chief, in order to negotiate a treaty of peace, and, if possible, to obtain from him a grant or sale of land. An English missionary, Mr. Owen, was resident at the kraal of Dingaan, and believed he had so influenced the mind of the monarch that a friendly reception would be given to the Dutchmen. The mind of a savage despot is, however, very intricate, and neither Retief nor the missionary had any idea of the plot that was working in the chief's mind. After having welcomed Retief and his party, Dingaan agreed to yield a large portion of land to his friends, the white men, when they had proved themselves friends, and they were to prove their friendship by retaking from Sikongella a quantity of cattle which this chief, a Mantatee, had captured from the Zulus.
This Retief promised to do, and having first sent messengers to Sikonyella, demanding restitution, they made preparations for attacking him in case of his refusal.
Sikonyella immediately gave up about seven hundred head of cattle, as well as horses and guns, some of which he had taken from parties of farmers, and Retief returned with these, and with a party of about seventy of his bestmounted and best-equipped young men.
Dingaan again welcomed the return of Retief and his party, and actually affixed his signature to a document which ceded to the emigrants the greater part of the Natal district.
During all this time, however, a plot had been thickening in the mind of the crafty savage. He had heard how his powerful enemy, Moselekatse, had been defeated by these white men; how he had been compelled to quit his kraal, and retreat into the interior; and he therefore
; decided that they were dangerous neighbours. With a mistaken, short-sighted policy, he fancied that, could he destroy all those who were now near his country, he would deter others from again venturing near him; but such an act, instead of freeing him from his neighbours, was only likely to bring destruction on his head. His proceedings, however, had been determined on, and his acts may be described as follows.
Having acted in every way so as to gain the confidence of his guests, he invited them to witness a great war-dance, as a fit termination to the visit; and as it was against custom to bring any weapons into the royal presence, the visitors were requested to leave their guns outside the kraal. Dingaan had assembled about three thousand warriors, all armed with the broad-bladed stabbing assagy, and with the heavy knob kerrie, or clubbed stick. The Boers were invited into the centre of a circle of these warriors, and invited to sit down and drink
Slaughter of Retief and Party.
itchuala, a species of beer; whilst the warriors, striking their shields and beating their feet in time, continued to advance and retire, whilst they shouted one of their popular songs. The very ground seemed to tremble beneath the heavy beat of six thousand feet, and the Boers began to regret that they had left their trusty weapons outside the kraal. The Zulu warriors advanced and retired, shaking their assagies and knob kerries with threatening gestures, the chief Dingaan watching the effect upon his guests. Suddenly withdrawing from the immediate presence of his men, he from a distance exclaimed, 'Bulala,' and on the signal the warriors closed in on their victims, whom they outnumbered forty to one, and after a brief struggle,- for the Dutchmen drew their hunting-knives, and fought desperately, slaying several of their enemies,-killed them all, not before they had tortured several who had been the most formidable in the defence.
As soon as this slaughter was complete, Dingaan ordered ten thousand men to dash into the Natal territory, and destroy the white men there located. The Zulus spread like locusts over the land ', and, as the
1 A detailed description of the slaughter of Retief and his party was given us by two eye-witnesses, one a Kaffir, who subsequently deserted from Panda, Dingaan's successor, and who was a warrior in Dingaan's service at the time of the slaughter of Retief. This man stated that two Boers had concealed their guns, and had time to use them, but not to reload; thus evincing that some at least of the party suspected treachery. The other account was from a Kaffir named Copen, who spoke English well, and who was a boy at the time in Dingaan's kraal. Both accounts agreed in the main facts.