Twala! Twala! Chielé! Chielé! (Twala! Twala! Smite! smite!). "Ignosi! Ignosi! Chielé! Chielé!" answered our people. They were quite close now, and the tollas, or throwing knives, began to flash backward and forward, and now with an awful yell the battle closed in.
To and fro swayed the mass of struggling warriors, men falling thick as leaves in an autumn wind; but before long the superior weight of the attacking force began to tell, and our first line of defence was slowly pressed back, till it merged into the second. Here the struggle was very fierce, but again our people were driven back and up, till at length, within twenty minutes of the commencement of the fight, our third line came into action.
But by this time the assailants were much exhausted, and had, besides, lost many men killed and wounded, and to break through that third impenetrable hedge of spears proved beyond their powers. For a while the dense mass of struggling warriors swung backward and forward in the fierce ebb and flow of battle, and the issue was doubtful. Sir Henry watched the desperate struggle with a kindling eye, and then without a word he rushed off, followed by Good, and flung himself into the hottest of the fray. As for myself, I stopped where I was.
The soldiers caught sight of his tall form as he plunged into the battle, and there rose a cry of -
"Nanzig Incubu!" (Here is the Elephant! ) "Chielé! Chielé!
From that moment the issue was no longer in doubt. Inch by inch, fighting with desperate gallantry, the attacking force was pressed hack down the hillside, till at last it retreated upon its reserves in something like confusion. At that moment, too, a messenger arrived to say that the left attack had been repulsed, and I was just beginning to congratulate myself that the affair was over for the present, when, to our horror, we perceived our men who had been engaged in the right defence being driven towards us across the plain, followed by swarms of the enemy, who had evidently succeeded at this point.
Ignosi, who was standing by me, took in the situation at a glance, and issued a rapid order. Instantly the reserve regiment round us (the Grays) extended itself.
Again Ignosi gave a word of command, which was taken up and repeated by the captains, and in another second, to my intense disgust, I found myself involved in a furious onslaught upon the advancing foe. Getting as much as I could behind Ignosi's huge frame, I made the best of a bad job, and toddled along to be killed, as though I liked it. In a minute or two - the time seemed all too short to me - we were plunging through the flying groups of our men, who at once began to re-form behind us, and then I am sure I do not know what happened. All I can remember is a dreadful rolling noise of the meeting of shields, and the sudden apparition of a huge ruffian, whose eyes seemed literally to be starting out of his head, making straight at me with a bloody spear. But - I say it with pride - -I rose to the occasion. It was an occasion before which most people would have collapsed once and for all. Seeing that if I stood where I was I must be done for, I - as the horrid apparition came, flung myself down in front of him - so cleverly that, being unable to stop himself, he took a header right over my prostrate form. Before he could rise again I had risen and settled the matter from behind with my revolver.