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Wm F P Burton
No Weapons
So Near, So Far
Ignoring Warning
Night up a Tree
Living Stones
Gaol Bird
Queen of the Night
The Atheist
Out of a Horrible Pit

Wm. F. P. Burton

A Night Up a Tree

The Kazaza Christians were having a hard time. The Budye secret society had its lodge, (kinyengele) near the village and a prominent leader was old Umpaki, the medicine man.

Umpaki was famous. He made charms to protect people from snakes, wild animals, spirits, witches and every other calamity. He claimed to be able to give them healing in sickness, success in hunting or trading, fruitful gardening, freedom from pain in child-birth, skill in crafts and a lot more.

People came from far and near to purchase Umpaki's charms He grew covetous as he grew rich. The only people who did not come to buy his charms were the Christians. They did not believe in his pretensions and so he hated them and incited the Budye secret society to persecute them, so that very few dared to come to the little meeting house and the leading Christians were ostracised and insulted. They retaliated by praying for him.

One afternoon, Umpaki and a companion had a fruitless hunt in the forest and now the sun was dipping toward the western horizon.

The companion said, "I must be getting back to the village while there is light to see the way."

Umpaki, who had sold so many charms to give success in hunting, was ashamed to return home empty-handed, and so he said, "I'm not afraid of wild animals, for my charms will protect me. Leave me here!" and he prepared to pass the night at the foot of a great tree.

Before long, however, he was aroused from his slumbers by the roar of a lion in one direction, answered by his mate from the opposite direction. There was no doubt. They had got his scent and were closing in on him.

Panic seized Umpaki. What could he do? By the dim light he could see a great tangle of creepers by which to scramble up into the safety of the branches above. Yay! The creepers were plentifully armed with cruel thorns. He had no choice, however, for, as he mounted scratched and bleeding, he could already hear the lions below tearing at the skin quiver which held his arrows.

What a night he spent up in that tree, while the lions kept vigil below! And with what agony of mind he contemplated descending in the morning by the same thorny path that he had mounted.

With dawn, the lions left and quivering with agony, poor Umpaki climbed down from his lofty perch.

Later he presented himself at the little church, his whole body scratched and bleeding, his clothes in ribbons, a most dejected man. Calling the Christians together he said, "Help me to become a Christian. I'm tired of the witch-doctor business. IT DOES NOT WORK. It is a pack of lies."

Today, Umpaki and the greater part of the Budye secret society have renounced their old heathen superstitions and have trusted in the Lord Jesus.

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