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after promising a speedy recovery, he departed, taking a fat ox as his fee. But poor little Tobe became worse and worse; his legs and arms that had been so chubby were now mere skinny sticks, and his ribs were sharply defined under the dry, feverish skin of his thorax. When not coughing he wailed almost incessantly, and he hardly ever slept.
Madilenda grew very thin and holloweyed herself, and she went her weary way the picture of utter misery. Sikulume was very much distressed at the poor little boy's plight, and he sent to a distance for another "gqira," a most celebrated practitioner. Upon arriving at the kraal this one required a fat black ox to be killed, with the blood of which he sprinkled every member of Sikulume's family, poor little Tobe coming in for an extra share.
After speaking in the most slighting terms of the former doctor's treatment, he made a powder of the burnt bones of several kinds of snakes and birds. He then made small
cumstances, and should it die untimely, such is regarded as a token of evil fortune. The hairs of the tail are thought to have peculiarly protective properties for members of the "house," in respect of illness. This animal is known as the "ubulunga."
incisions with a sharpened stick across the chest, and around the neck, arms, and body of the patient, and into these rubbed the powder. After this he applied a plaster of fresh cow-dung to little Tobe's chest, and then wrapped him up in the skin of the black ox killed on the previous evening. Then he carried him out of the hut and laid him in the middle of the cattle kraal. This occurred at noon, and until sundown the "gqira" danced and chanted around his patient in the most violent and grotesque manner conceivable. Just after sundown he fell down in a kind of fit, foaming at the mouth and yelling horribly, and then appeared to go off into a swoon. When he awoke from this he crawled over to where the poor little child was looking out from among his wraps with wondering eyes, inserted his hands between the folds of the skin, and drew forth a lizard about four inches in length. This he held up to view of the admiring and applauding crowd. Here was the cause of the malady, rid of which the child would at once mend. Madilenda wept tears of joy as she released little Tobe from his unsavoury durance.
The "gqira" left next morning with a reputation more firmly established than ever. He took with him two of Sikulume's best cattle.
For about a week after the function described the weather was mild and dry, and little Tobe really appeared to be somewhat better. Unfortunately, however, the improvement did not last. A cold rain set in, and the cough became worse than ever. The mother then grew desperate; she loved the child so passionately that the thought of the possibility of losing him maddened her. The idea that little Tobe had been bewitched had gradually developed in her mind. Among the uncivilized natives, illness, especially in the case of one who is young, is almost always attributed to witchcraft. Some enemy, by means of occult arts, has caused the disease, embodied in a snake, a lizard, or a toad, to enter the body of the sufferer during sleep. The unhappy mother strongly suspected Mamagobatyana of having committed some iniquity of this kind in revenge for the spoiling of her dress. She was confirmed in this idea by an old woman from a neighbouring kraal, who had a spite against Mamagobatyana, and who suggested to Madilenda what she had long been thinking of. As a matter of fact, however, it had been for some little time whispered throughout the neighbourhood that Mamagobatyana had bewitched little Tobe.
Here and there among the Hlubi kraals are to be found the dwellings of Basuto waifs who have drifted over the Maluti and Drakensberg mountains to find a refuge from deserved punishment or despotic oppression. Among the natives an alien is often believed to be an adept in magic more effective than that practised by their own local tribal doctors, and the sorcery of the Basuto, being associated with the awful, mysterious, and cloudy mountains of his (in parts) almost impenetrable land, is held to be very potent indeed.
Now, an old Basuto, named Lotuba, dwelt high up in the valley in which Sikulume's kraal was situated. Lotuba was famed far and near for his skill as a wizard. It was believed that he could reveal the secrets of the past as easily as he could foretell the future. His methods were quite different to those practised by the Hlubi witch-doctors, and consisted principally of divining through the medium of the "dolossie" bones. These are the metatarsal and metacarpal bones of sheep, goats, antelopes, and other animals, coloured vanously. Lotuba would sit on a mat, gather up two or three dozen of these bones, shake them up together in the corner of his calfskin kaross, and then fling them down on the ground after the manner of dice. From the different combinations formed by the bones as they lay on the ground he would read the answer to any question put to him. It was usual for those consulting him to pay a goat as a fee in advance. In this manner he had accumulated considerable wealth.
One night Madilenda asked Sikulume to let her take a goat from his flock and drive it up to the kraal of Lotuba, whose advice as to little Tobe she wished to ask for. It happened, however, that Sikulume had reasons of his own for disliking the Basuto doctor, whose kraal, by permission of the chief, was built on what Sikulume considered to be by right his own particular run of pasturage, so he refused Madilenda's request, telling her rather roughly that he had had enough of doctors. Madilenda heard him in silence. She sat the whole night through, rocking little Tobe in her lap, and trying to soothe his cough.
It was now mid-winter, and when the