200 THE ROVER OF THE PLAIN
'Hail, murderer! hail! you have slain us all!'
The young man stared, not knowing what he meant, and answered, wonderingly:
'I shot a buffalo; is that why you call me a murderer ?'
' A buffalo — yes; but the servant of your wife! It was he who carried the wood and drew the water. Did you not know it?'
'No; I did not know it,' replied the husband in surprise. 'Why did no one tell me? Of course I should not have shot him!'
'Well, he is dead,' answered they, 'and we must die too.'
At this the girl took a cup in which some poisonous herbs had been crushed, and holding it in her hands, she wailed: 'O my father, Rover of the Plain!' Then drinking a deep draught from it, fell back dead. One by one her parents, her brothers and her sisters, drank also and died, singing a dirge to the memory of the buffalo.
The girl's husband looked on with horror; and returned sadly home across the mountains, and, entering his hut, threw himself on the ground. At first he was too tired to speak; but at length he raised his head and told all the story to his father and mother, who sat watching him. When he had finished they shook their heads and said:
'Now you see that we spoke no idle words when we told you that ill would come of your marriage! We offered you a good and hard-working wife, and you would have none of her. And it is not only your wife you have lost, but your fortune also. For who will give you back your dowry if they are all dead?'
' It is true, O my father,' answered the young man. But in his heart he thought more of the loss of his wife than of the money he had given for her.
(From VEtude Ethnographique sur Les Baronga, par Henri Junod.)