The Ivory Child

by H. Rider Haggard



Now I, Allan Quatermain, come to the story of what was, perhaps, one
of the strangest of all the adventures which have befallen me in the
course of a life that so far can scarcely be called tame or humdrum.

Amongst many other things it tells of the war against the Black Kendah
people and the dead of Jana, their elephant god. Often since then I
have wondered if this creature was or was not anything more than a
mere gigantic beast of the forest. It seems improbable, even
impossible, but the reader of future days may judge of this matter for

Also he can form his opinion as to the religion of the White Kendah
and their pretensions to a certain degree of magical skill. Of this
magic I will make only one remark: If it existed at all, it was by no
means infallible. To take a single instance, Harūt and Marūt were
convinced by divination that I, and I only, could kill Jana, which was
why they invited me to Kendahland. Yet in the end it was Hans who
killed him. Jana nearly killed me!

Now to my tale.

In another history, called "The Holy Flower," I have told how I came
to England with a young gentleman of the name of Scroope, partly to
see him safely home after a hunting accident, and partly to try to
dispose of a unique orchid for a friend of mine called Brother John by
the white people, and Dogeetah by the natives, who was popularly
supposed to be mad, but, in fact, was very sane indeed. So sane was he
that he pursued what seemed to be an absolutely desperate quest for
over twenty years, until, with some humble assistance on my part, he
brought it to a curiously successful issue. But all this tale is told
in "The Holy Flower," and I only allude to it here, that is at
present, to explain how I came to be in England.

While in this country I stayed for a few days with Scroope, or,
rather, with his fiancée and her people, at a fine house in Essex. (I
called it Essex to avoid the place being identified, but really it was
one of the neighbouring counties.) During my visit I was taken to see
a much finer place, a splendid old castle with brick gateway towers,
that had been wonderfully well restored and turned into a most
luxurious modern dwelling. Let us call it "Ragnall," the seat of a
baron of that name.

I had heard a good deal about Lord Ragnall, who, according to all
accounts, seemed a kind of Admirable Crichton. He was said to be
wonderfully handsome, a great scholar--he had taken a double first at
college; a great athlete--he had been captain of the Oxford boat at
the University race; a very promising speaker who had already made his
mark in the House of Lords; a sportsman who had shot tigers and other
large game in India; a poet who had published a successful volume of
verse under a pseudonym; a good solider until he left the Service; and
lastly, a man of enormous wealth, owning, in addition to his estates,
several coal mines and an entire town in the north of England.

"Dear me!" I said when the list was finished, "he seems to have been
born with a whole case of gold spoons in his mouth. I hope one of them
will not choke him," adding: "Perhaps he will be unlucky in love."

"That's just where he is most lucky of all," answered the young lady
to whom I was talking--it was Scroope's fiancée, Miss Manners--"for he
is engaged to a lady that, I am told, is the loveliest, sweetest,
cleverest girl in all England, and they absolutely adore each other."

"Dear me!" I repeated. "I wonder what Fate /has/ got up its sleeve for
Lord Ragnall and his perfect lady-love?"

I was doomed to find out one day.

So it came about that when, on the following morning, I was asked if I
would like to see the wonders of Ragnall Castle, I answered "Yes."
Really, however, I wanted to have a look at Lord Ragnall himself, if
possible, for the account of his many perfections had impressed the
imagination of a poor colonist like myself, who had never found an
opportunity of setting his eyes upon a kind of human angel. Human
devils I had met in plenty, but never a single angel--at least, of the
male sex. Also there was always the possibility that I might get a
glimpse of the still more angelic lady to whom he was engaged, whose
name, I understood, was the Hon. Miss Holmes. So I said that nothing
would please me more than to see this castle.

Thither we drove accordingly through the fine, frosty air, for the
month was December. On reaching the castle, Mr. Scroope was told that
Lord Ragnall, whom he knew well, was out shooting somewhere in the
park, but that, of course, he could show his friend over the place. So
we went in, the three of us, for Miss Manners, to whom Scroope was to
be married very shortly, had driven us over in her pony carriage. The
porter at the gateway towers took us to the main door of the castle
and handed us over to another man, whom he addressed as Mr. Savage,
whispering to me that he was his lordship's personal attendant.

I remember the name, because it seemed to me that I had never seen
anyone who looked much less savage. In truth, his appearance was that
of a duke in disguise, as I imagine dukes to be, for I never set eyes
on one. His dress--he wore a black morning cut-away coat--was
faultless. His manners were exquisite, polite to the verge of irony,
but with a hint of haughty pride in the background. He was handsome
also, with a fine nose and a hawk-like eye, while a touch of baldness
added to the general effect. His age may have been anything between
thirty-five and forty, and the way he deprived me of my hat and stick,
to which I strove to cling, showed, I thought, resolution of
character. Probably, I reflected to myself, he considers me an unusual
sort of person who might damage the pictures and other objects of art
with the stick, and not seeing his way how to ask me to give it up
without suggesting suspicion, has hit upon the expedient of taking my
hat also.

In after days Mr. Samuel Savage informed me that I was quite right in
this surmise. He said he thought that, judging from my somewhat
unconventional appearance, I might be one of the dangerous class of
whom he had been reading in the papers, namely, a "hanarchist." I
write the word as he pronounced it, for here comes the curious thing.
This man, so flawless, so well instructed in some respects, had a
fault which gave everything away. His h's were uncertain. Three of
them would come quite right, but the fourth, let us say, would be
conspicuous either by its utter absence or by its unwanted appearance.
He could speak, when describing the Ragnall pictures, in rotund and
flowing periods that would scarcely have disgraced the pen of Gibbon.
Then suddenly that "h" would appear or disappear, and the illusion was
over. It was like a sudden shock of cold water down the back. I never
discovered the origin of his family; it was a matter of which he did
not speak, perhaps because he was vague about it himself; but if an
earl of Norman blood had married a handsome Cockney kitchenmaid of
native ability, I can quite imagine that Samuel Savage might have been
a child of the union. For the rest he was a good man and a faithful
one, for whom I have a high respect.

On this occasion he conducted us round the castle, or, rather, its
more public rooms, showing us many treasures and, I should think, at
least two hundred pictures by eminent and departed artists, which gave
him an opportunity of exhibiting a peculiar, if somewhat erratic,
knowledge of history. To tell the truth, I began to wish that it were
a little less full in detail, since on a December day those large
apartments felt uncommonly cold. Scroope and Miss Manners seemed to
keep warm, perhaps with the inward fires of mutual admiration, but as
I had no one to admire except Mr. Savage, a temperature of about 35
degrees produced its natural effect upon me.

At length we took a short cut from the large to the little gallery
through a warmed and comfortable room, which I understood was Lord
Ragnall's study. Halting for a moment by one of the fires, I observed
a picture on the wall, over which a curtain was drawn, and asked Mr.
Savage what it might be.

"That, sir," he replied with a kind of haughty reserve, "is the
portrait of her future ladyship, which his lordship keeps for his
private heye."

Miss Manners sniggered, and I said:

"Oh, thank you. What an ill-omened kind of thing to do!"

Then, observing through an open door the hall in which my hat had been
taken from me, I lingered and as the others vanished in the little
gallery, slipped into it, recovered my belongings, and passed out to
the garden, purposing to walk there till I was warm again and Scroope
reappeared. While I marched up and down a terrace, on which, I
remember, several very cold-looking peacocks were seated, like
conscientious birds that knew it was their duty to be ornamental,
however low the temperature, I heard some shots fired, apparently in a
clump of ilex oaks which grew about five hundred yards away, and
reflected to myself that they seemed to be those of a small rifle, not
of a shotgun.

My curiosity being excited as to what was to be an almost professional
matter, I walked towards the grove, making a circuit through a
shrubbery. At length I found myself near to the edge of a glade, and
perceived, standing behind the shelter of a magnificent ilex, two men.
One of these was a young keeper, and the other, from his appearance, I
felt sure must be Lord Ragnall himself. Certainly he was a splendid-
looking man, very tall, very broad, very handsome, with a peaked
beard, a kind and charming face, and large dark eyes. He wore a cloak
upon his shoulders, which was thrown back from over a velvet coat,
and, except for the light double-barrelled rifle in his hand, looked
exactly like a picture by Van Dyck which Mr. Savage had just informed
me was that of one of his lordship's ancestors of the time of Charles

Standing behind another oak, I observed that he was trying to shoot
wood-pigeons as they descended to feed upon the acorns, for which the
hard weather had made them greedy. From time to time these beautiful
blue birds appeared and hovered a moment before they settled, whereon
the sportsman fired and--they flew away. /Bang! Bang!/ went the
double-barrelled rifle, and off fled the pigeon.

"Damn!" said the sportsman in a pleasant, laughing voice; "that's the
twelfth I have missed, Charles."

"You hit his tail, my lord. I saw a feather come out. But, my lord, as
I told you, there ain't no man living what can kill pigeons on the
wing with a bullet, even when they seem to sit still in the air."

"I have heard of one, Charles. Mr. Scroope has a friend from Africa
staying with him who, he swears, could knock over four out of six."

"Then, my lord, Mr. Scroope has a friend what lies," replied Charles
as he handed him the second rifle.

This was too much for me. I stepped forward, raising my hat politely,
and said:

"Sir, forgive me for interrupting you, but you are not shooting at
those wood-pigeons in the right way. Although they seem to hover just
before they settle, they are dropping much faster than you think. Your
keeper was mistaken when he said that you knocked a feather out of the
tail of that last bird at which you fired two barrels. In both cases
you shot at least a foot above it, and what fell was a leaf from the
ilex tree."

There was a moment's silence, which was broken by Charles, who
ejaculated in a thick voice:

"Well, of all the cheek!"

Lord Ragnall, however, for it was he, looked first angry and then

"Sir," he said, "I thank you for your advice, which no doubt is
excellent, for it is certainly true that I have missed every pigeon
which I tried to shoot with these confounded little rifles. But if you
could demonstrate in practice what you so kindly set out in precept,
the value of your counsel would be enhanced."

Thus he spoke, mimicking, I have no doubt (for he had a sense of
humour), the manner of my address, which nervousness had made somewhat

"Give me the rifle," I answered, taking off my greatcoat.

He handed it me with a bow.

"Mind what you are about," growled Charles. "That there thing is full
cocked and 'air-triggered."

I withered, or, rather, tried to wither him with a glance, but this
unbelieving keeper only stared back at me with insolence in his round
and bird-like eyes. Never before had I felt quite so angry with a
menial. Then a horrible doubt struck me. Supposing I should miss! I
knew very little of the manner of flight of English wood-pigeons,
which are not difficult to miss with a bullet, and nothing at all of
these particular rifles, though a glance at them showed me that they
were exquisite weapons of their sort and by a great maker. If I muffed
the thing now, how should I bear the scorn of Charles and the polite
amusement of his noble master? Almost I prayed that no more pigeons
would put in an appearance, and thus that the issue of my supposed
skill might be left in doubt.

But this was not to be. These birds came from far in ones or twos to
search for their favourite food, and the fact that others had been
scared away did not cause them to cease from coming. Presently I heard
Charles mutter:

"Now, then, look out, guv'nor. Here's your chance of teaching his
lordship how to do it, though he does happen to be the best shot in
these counties."

While he spoke two pigeons appeared, one a little behind the other,
coming down very straight. As they reached the opening in the ilex
grove they hovered, preparing to alight, for of us they could see
nothing, one at a distance of about fifty and the other of, say,
seventy yards away. I took the nearest, got on to it, allowing for the
drop and the angle, and touched the trigger of the rifle, which fell
to my shoulder very sweetly. The bullet struck that pigeon on the
crop, out of which fell a shower of acorns that it had been eating, as
it sank to the ground stone dead. Number two pigeon, realizing danger,
began to mount upwards almost straight. I fired the second barrel, and
by good luck shot its head off. Then I snatched the other rifle, which
Charles had been loading automatically, from his outstretched hand,
for at that moment I saw two more pigeons coming. At the first I
risked a difficult shot and hit it far back, knocking out its tail,
but bringing it, still fluttering, to the ground. The other, too, I
covered, but when I touched the trigger there was a click, no more.

This was my opportunity of coming even with Charles, and I availed
myself of it.

"Young man," I said, while he gaped at me open-mouthed, "you should
learn to be careful with rifles, which are dangerous weapons. If you
give one to a shooter that is not loaded, it shows that you are
capable of anything."

Then I turned, and addressing Lord Ragnall, added:

"I must apologize for that third shot of mine, which was infamous, for
I committed a similar fault to that against which I warned you, sir,
and did not fire far enough ahead. However, it may serve to show your
attendant the difference between the tail of a pigeon and an oak
leaf," and I pointed to one of the feathers of the poor bird, which
was still drifting to the ground.

"Well, if this here snipe of a chap ain't the devil in boots!"
exclaimed Charles to himself.

But his master cut him short with a look, then lifted his hat to me
and said:

"Sir, the practice much surpasses the precept, which is unusual. I
congratulate you upon a skill that almost partakes of the marvellous,
unless, indeed, chance----" And he stopped.

"It is natural that you should think so," I replied; "but if more
pigeons come, and Mr. Charles will make sure that he loads the rifle,
I hope to undeceive you."

At this moment, however, a loud shout from Scroope, who was looking
for me, reinforced by a shrill cry uttered by Miss Manners, banished
every pigeon within half a mile, a fact of which I was not sorry,
since who knows whether I should have it all, or any, of the next
three birds?

"I think my friends are calling me, so I will bid you good morning," I
said awkwardly.

"One moment, sir," he exclaimed. "Might I first ask you your name?
Mine is Ragnall--Lord Ragnall."

"And mine is Allan Quatermain," I said.

"Oh!" he answered, "that explains matters. Charles, this is Mr.
Scroope's friend, the gentleman that you said--exaggerated. I think
you had better apologize."

But Charles was gone, to pick up the pigeons, I suppose.

At this moment Scroope and the young lady appeared, having heard our
voices, and a general explanation ensued.

"Mr. Quatermain has been giving me a lesson in shooting pigeons on the
wing with a small-bore rifle," said Lord Ragnall, pointing to the dead
birds that still lay upon the ground.

"He is competent to do that," said Scroope.

"Painfully competent," replied his lordship. "If you don't believe me,
ask the under-keeper."

"It is the only thing I can do," I explained modestly. "Rifle-shooting
is my trade, and I have made a habit of practising at birds on the
wing with ball. I have no doubt that with a shot-gun your lordship
would leave me nowhere, for that is a game at which I have had little
practice, except when shooting for the pot in Africa."

"Yes," interrupted Scroope, "you wouldn't have any chance at that,
Allan, against one of the finest shots in England."

"I'm not so sure," said Lord Ragnall, laughing pleasantly. "I have an
idea that Mr. Quatermain is full of surprises. However, with his
leave, we'll see. If you have a day to spare, Mr. Quatermain, we are
going to shoot through the home coverts to-morrow, which haven't been
touched till now, and I hope you will join us."

"It is most kind of you, but that is impossible," I answered with
firmness. "I have no gun here."

"Oh, never mind that, Mr. Quatermain. I have a pair of breech-loaders"
--these were new things at that date--"which have been sent down to me
to try. I am going to return them, because they are much too short in
the stock for me. I think they would just suit you, and you are quite
welcome to the use of them."

Again I excused myself, guessing that the discomfited Charles would
put all sorts of stories about concerning me, and not wishing to look
foolish before a party of grand strangers, no doubt chosen for their
skill at this particular form of sport.

"Well, Allan," exclaimed Scroope, who always had a talent for saying
the wrong thing, "you are quite right not to go into a competition
with Lord Ragnall over high pheasants."

I flushed, for there was some truth in his blundering remark, whereon
Lord Ragnall said with ready tact:

"I asked Mr. Quatermain to shoot, not to a shooting match, Scroope,
and I hope he'll come."

This left me no option, and with a sinking heart I had to accept.

"Sorry I can't ask you too, Scroope," said his lordship, when details
had been arranged, "but we can only manage seven guns at this shoot.
But will you and Miss Manners come to dine and sleep to-morrow
evening? I should like to introduce your future wife to my future
wife," he added, colouring a little.

Miss Manners being devoured with curiosity as to the wonderful Miss
Holmes, of whom she had heard so much but never actually seen,
accepted at once, before her lover could get out a word, whereon
Scroope volunteered to bring me over in the morning and load for me.
Being possessed by a terror that I should be handed over to the care
of the unsympathetic Charles, I replied that I should be very
grateful, and so the thing was settled.

On our way home we passed through a country town, of which I forget
the name, and the sight of a gunsmith's shop there reminded me that I
had no cartridges. So I stopped to order some, as, fortunately, Lord
Ragnall had mentioned that the guns he was going to lend me were
twelve-bores. The tradesman asked me how many cartridges I wanted, and
when I replied "a hundred," stared at me and said:

"If, as I understood, sir, you are going to the big winter shoot at
Ragnall to-morrow, you had better make it three hundred and fifty at
least. I shall be there to watch, like lots of others, and I expect to
see nearly two hundred fired by each gun at the last Lake stand."

"Very well," I answered, fearing to show more ignorance by further
discussion. "I will call for the cartridges on my way to-morrow
morning. Please load them with three drachms of powder."

"Yes, sir, and an ounce and an eighth of No. 5 shot, sir? That's what
all the gentlemen use."

"No," I answered, "No. 3; please be sure as to that. Good evening."

The gunsmith stared at me, and as I left the shop I heard him remark
to his assistant:

"That African gent must think he's going out to shoot ostriches with
buck shot. I expect he ain't no good, whatever they may say about



On the following morning Scroope and I arrived at Castle Ragnall at or
about a quarter to ten. On our way we stopped to pick up my three
hundred and fifty cartridges. I had to pay something over three solid
sovereigns for them, as in those days such things were dear, which
showed me that I was not going to get my lesson in English pheasant
shooting for nothing. The gunsmith, however, to whom Scroope gave a
lift in his cart to the castle, impressed upon me that they were dirt
cheap, since he and his assistant had sat up most of the night loading
them with my special No. 3 shot.

As I climbed out of the vehicle a splendid-looking and portly person,
arrayed in a velvet coat and a scarlet waistcoat, approached with the
air of an emperor, followed by an individual in whom I recognized
Charles, carrying a gun under each arm.

"That's the head-keeper," whispered Scroope; "mind you treat him

Much alarmed, I took off my hat and waited.

"Do I speak to Mr. Allan Quatermain?" said his majesty in a deep and
rumbling voice, surveying me the while with a cold and disapproving

I intimated that he did.

"Then, sir," he went on, pausing a little at the "sir," as though he
suspected me of being no more than an African colleague of his own, "I
have been ordered by his lordship to bring you these guns, and I hope,
sir, that you will be careful of them, as they are here on sale or
return. Charles, explain the working of them there guns to this
foreign gentleman, and in doing so keep the muzzles up /or/ down. They
ain't loaded, it's true, but the example is always useful."

"Thank you, Mr. Keeper," I replied, growing somewhat nettled, "but I
think that I am already acquainted with most that there is to learn
about guns."

"I am glad to hear it, sir," said his majesty with evident disbelief.
"Charles, I understand that Squire Scroope is going to load for the
gentleman, which I hope he knows how to do with safety. His lordship's
orders are that you accompany them and carry the cartridges. And,
Charles, you will please keep count of the number fired and what is
killed dead, not reckoning runners. I'm sick of them stories of

These directions were given in a portentous stage aside which we were
not supposed to hear. They caused Scroope to snigger and Charles to
grin, but in me they raised a feeling of indignation.

I took one of the guns and looked at it. It was a costly and
beautifully made weapon of the period, with an under-lever action.

"There's nothing wrong with the gun, sir," rumbled Red Waistcoat. "If
you hold it straight it will do the rest. But keep the muzzle up, sir,
keep it up, for I know what the bore is without studying the same with
my eye. Also perhaps you won't take it amiss if I tell you that here
at Ragnall we hates a low pheasant. I mention it because the last
gentleman who came from foreign parts--he was French, he was--shot
nothing all day but one hen bird sitting just on the top of the brush,
two beaters, his lordship's hat, and a starling."

At this point Scroope broke into a roar of idiotic laughter. Charles,
from whom Fortune decreed that I was not to escape, after all, turned
his back and doubled up as though seized with sudden pain in the
stomach, and I grew absolutely furious.

"Confound it, Mr. Keeper," I explained, "what do you mean by lecturing
me? Attend to your business, and I'll attend to mine."

At this moment who should appear from behind the angle of some
building--we were talking in the stableyard, near the gun-room--but
Lord Ragnall himself. I could see that he had overheard the
conversation, for he looked angry.

"Jenkins," he said, addressing the keeper, "do what Mr. Quatermain has
said and attend to your own business. Perhaps you are not aware that
he has shot more lions, elephants, and other big game than you have
cats. But, however that may be, it is not your place to try to
instruct him or any of my guests. Now go and see to the beaters."

"Beg pardon, my lord," ejaculated Jenkins, his face, that was as
florid as his waistcoat, turning quite pale; "no offence meant, my
lord, but elephants and lions don't fly, my lord, and those accustomed
to such ground varmin are apt to shoot low, my lord. Beaters all ready
at the Hunt Copse, my lord."

Thus speaking he backed himself out of sight. Lord Ragnall watched him
go, then said with a laugh:

"I apologize to you, Mr. Quatermain. That silly old fool was part of
my inheritance, so to speak; and the joke of it is that he is himself
the worst and most dangerous shot I ever saw. However, on the other
hand, he is the best rearer of pheasants in the county, so I put up
with him. Come in, now, won't you? Charles will look after your guns
and cartridges."

So Scroope and I were taken through a side entrance into the big hall
and there introduced to the other members of the shooting party, most
of whom were staying at the castle. They were famous shots. Indeed, I
had read of the prowess of some of them in /The Field/, a paper that I
always took in Africa, although often enough, when I was on my distant
expeditions, I did not see a copy of it for a year at a time.

To my astonishment I found that I knew one of these gentlemen. We had
not, it is true, met for a dozen years; but I seldom forget a face,
and I was sure that I could not be mistaken in this instance. That
mean appearance, those small, shifty grey eyes, that red, pointed nose
could belong to nobody except Van Koop, so famous in his day in South
Africa in connexion with certain gigantic and most successful frauds
that the law seemed quite unable to touch, of which frauds I had been
one of the many victims to the extent of £250, a large sum for me.

The last time we met there had been a stormy scene between us, which
ended in my declaring in my wrath that if I came across him on the
veld I should shoot him at sight. Perhaps that was one of the reasons
why Mr. van Koop vanished from South Africa, for I may add that he was
a cur of the first water. I believe that he had only just entered the
room, having driven over from wherever he lived at some distance from
Ragnall. At any rate, he knew nothing of my presence at this shoot.
Had he known I am quite sure that he would have been absent. He
turned, and seeing me, ejaculated: "Allan Quatermain, by heaven!"
beneath his breath, but in such a tone of astonishment that it
attracted the attention of Lord Ragnall, who was standing near.

"Yes, Mr. van Koop," I answered in a cheerful voice, "Allan
Quatermain, no other, and I hope you are as glad to see me as I am to
see you."

"I think there is some mistake," said Lord Ragnall, staring at us.
"This is Sir Junius Fortescue, who used to be Mr. Fortescue."

"Indeed," I replied. "I don't know that I ever remember his being
called by that particular name, but I do know that we are old--

Lord Ragnall moved away as though he did not wish to continue the
conversation, which no one else had overheard, and Van Koop sidled up
to me.

"Mr. Quatermain," he said in a low voice, "circumstances have changed
with me since last we met."

"So I gather," I replied; "but mine have remained much the same, and
if it is convenient to you to repay me that £250 you owe me, with
interest, I shall be much obliged. If not, I think I have a good story
to tell about you."

"Oh, Mr. Quatermain," he answered with a sort of smile which made me
feel inclined to kick him, "you know I dispute that debt."

"Do you?" I exclaimed. "Well, perhaps you will dispute the story also.
But the question is, will you be believed when I give the proofs?"

"Ever heard of the Statute of Limitations, Mr. Quatermain?" he asked
with a sneer.

"Not where character is concerned," I replied stoutly. "Now, what are
you going to do?"

He reflected for a moment, and answered:

"Look here, Mr. Quatermain, you were always a bit of a sportsman, and
I'll make you an offer. If I kill more birds than you do to-day, you
shall promise to hold your tongue about my affairs in South Africa;
and if you kill more than I do, you shall still hold your tongue, but
I will pay you that £250 and interest for six years."

I also reflected for a moment, knowing that the man had something up
his sleeve. Of course, I could refuse and make a scandal. But that was
not in my line, and would not bring me nearer my £250, which, if I
chanced to win, might find its way back to me.

"All right, done!" I said.

"What is your bet, Sir Junius?" asked Lord Ragnall, who was
approaching again.

"It is rather a long story," he answered, "but, to put it shortly,
years ago, when I was travelling in Africa, Mr. Quatermain and I had a
dispute as to a sum of £5 which he thought I owed him, and to save
argument about a trifle we have agreed that I should shoot against him
for it to-day."

"Indeed," said Lord Ragnall rather seriously, for I could see that he
did not believe Van Koop's statement as to the amount of the bet;
perhaps he had heard more than we thought. "To be frank, Sir Junius, I
don't much care for betting--for that's what it comes to--here. Also I
think Mr. Quatermain said yesterday that he had never shot pheasants
in England, so the match seems scarcely fair. However, you gentlemen
know your own business best. Only I must tell you both that if money
is concerned, I shall have to set someone whose decision will be final
to count your birds and report the number to me."

"Agreed," said Van Koop, or, rather, Sir Junius; but I answered
nothing, for, to tell the truth, already I felt ashamed of the whole

As it happened, Lord Ragnall and I walked together ahead of the
others, to the first covert, which was half a mile or more away.

"You have met Sir Junius before?" he said to me interrogatively.

"I have met Mr. van Koop before," I answered, "about twelve years
since, shortly after which he vanished from South Africa, where he was
a well-known and very successful--speculator."

"To reappear here. Ten years ago he bought a large property in this
neighbourhood. Three years ago he became a baronet."

"How did a man like Van Koop become a baronet?" I inquired.

"By purchase, I believe."

"By purchase! Are honours in England purchased?"

"You are delightfully innocent, Mr. Quatermain, as a hunter from
Africa should be," said Lord Ragnall, laughing. "Your friend----"

"Excuse me, Lord Ragnall, I am a very humble person, not so elevated,
indeed, as that gamekeeper of yours; therefore I should not venture to
call Sir Junius, late Mr. van Koop, my friend, at least in earnest."

He laughed again.

"Well, the individual with whom you make bets subscribed largely to
the funds of his party. I am telling you what I know to be true,
though the amount I do not know. It has been variously stated to be
from fifteen to fifty thousand pounds, and, perhaps by coincidence,
subsequently was somehow created a baronet."

I stared at him.

"That's all the story," he went on. "I don't like the man myself, but
he is a wonderful pheasant shot, which passes him everywhere. Shooting
has become a kind of fetish in these parts, Mr. Quatermain. For
instance, it is a tradition on this estate that we must kill more
pheasants than on any other in the country, and therefore I have to
ask the best guns, who are not always the best fellows. It annoys me,
but it seems that I must do what was done before me."

"Under those circumstances I should be inclined to give up the thing
altogether, Lord Ragnall. Sport as sport is good, but when it becomes
a business it grows hateful. I know, who have had to follow it as a
trade for many years."

"That's an idea," he replied reflectively. "Meanwhile, I do hope that
you will win back your--£5 from Sir Junius. He is so vain that I would
gladly give £50 to see you do so."

"There is little chance of that," I said, "for, as I told you, I have
never shot pheasants before. Still, I'll try, as you wish it."

"That's right. And look here, Mr. Quatermain, shoot well forward of
them. You see, I am venturing to advise you now, as you advised me
yesterday. Shot does not travel so fast as ball, and the pheasant is a
bird that is generally going much quicker than you think. Now, here we
are. Charles will show you your stand. Good luck to you."

Ten minutes later the game began outside of a long covert, all the
seven guns being posted within sight of each other. So occupied was I
in watching the preliminaries, which were quite new to me, that I
allowed first a hare and then a hen pheasant to depart without firing
at them, which hen pheasant, by the way, curved round and was
beautifully killed by Van Koop, who stood two guns off upon my right.

"Look here, Allan," said Scroope, "if you are going to beat your
African friend you had better wake up, for you won't do it by admiring
the scenery or that squirrel on a tree."

So I woke up. Just at that moment there was a cry of "cock forward." I
thought it meant a cock pheasant, and was astonished when I saw a
beautiful brown bird with a long beak flitting towards me through the
tops of the oak trees.

"Am I to shoot at that?" I asked.

"Of course. It is a woodcock," answered Scroope.

By this time the brown bird was rocking past me within ten yards. I
fired and killed it, for where it had been appeared nothing but a
cloud of feathers. It was a quick and clever shot, or so I thought.
But when Charles stepped out and picked from the ground only a beak
and a head, a titter of laughter went down the whole line of guns and

"I say, old chap," said Scroope, "if you will use No. 3 shot, let your
birds get a little farther off you."

The incident upset me so much that immediately afterwards I missed
three easy pheasants in succession, while Van Koop added two to his

Scroope shook his head and Charles groaned audibly. Now that I was not
in competition with his master he had become suddenly anxious that I
should win, for in some mysterious way the news of that bet had
spread, and my adversary was not popular amongst the keeper class.

"Here you come again," said Scroope, pointing to an advancing

It was an extraordinarily high pheasant, flushed, I think, outside the
covert by a stop, so high that, as it travelled down the line,
although three guns fired at it, including Van Koop, none of them
seemed to touch it. Then I fired, and remembering Lord Ragnall's
advice, far in front. Its flight changed. Still it travelled through
the air, but with the momentum of a stone to fall fifty yards to my
right, dead.

"That's better!" said Scroope, while Charles grinned all over his
round face, muttering:

"Wiped his eye that time."

This shot seemed to give me confidence, and I improved considerably,
though, oddly enough, I found that it was the high and difficult
pheasants which I killed and the easy ones that I was apt to muff. But
Van Koop, who was certainly a finished artist, killed both.

At the next stand Lord Ragnall, who had been observing my somewhat
indifferent performance, asked me to stand back with him behind the
other guns.

"I see the tall ones are your line, Mr. Quatermain," he said, "and you
will get some here."

On this occasion we were placed in a dip between two long coverts
which lay about three hundred yards apart. That which was being beaten
proved full of pheasants, and the shooting of those picked guns was
really a thing to see. I did quite well here, nearly, but not
altogether, as well as Lord Ragnall himself, though that is saying a
great deal, for he was a lovely shot.

"Bravo!" he said at the end of the beat. "I believe you have got a
chance of winning your £5, after all."

When, however, at luncheon, more than an hour later, I found that I
was thirty pheasants behind my adversary, I shook my head, and so did
everybody else. On the whole, that luncheon, of which we partook in a
keeper's house, was a very pleasant meal, though Van Koop talked so
continuously and in such a boastful strain that I saw it irritated our
host and some of the other gentlemen, who were very pleasant people.
At last he began to patronize me, asking me how I had been getting on
with my "elephant-potting" of late years.

I replied, "Fairly well."

"Then you should tell our friends some of your famous stories, which I
promise I won't contradict," he said, adding: "You see, they are
different from us, and have no experience of big-game shooting."

"I did not know that you had any, either, Sir Junius," I answered,
nettled. "Indeed, I thought I remembered your telling me in Africa
that the only big game you had ever shot was an ox sick with the red-
water. Anyway, shooting is a business with me, not an amusement, as it
is to you, and I do not talk shop."

At this he collapsed amid some laughter, after which Scroope, the most
loyal of friends, began to repeat exploits of mine till my ears
tingled, and I rose and went outside to look at the weather.

It had changed very much during luncheon. The fair promise of the
morning had departed, the sky was overcast, and a wind, blowing in
strong gusts, was rising rapidly, driving before it occasional
scurries of snow.

"My word," said Lord Ragnall, who had joined me, "the Lake covert--
that's our great stand here, you know--will take some shooting this
afternoon. We ought to kill seven hundred pheasants in it with this
team, but I doubt if we shall get five. Now, Mr. Quatermain, I am
going to stand Sir Junius Fortescue and you back in the covert, where
you will have the best of it, as a lot of pheasants will never face
the lake against this wind. What is more, I am coming with you, if I
may, as six guns are enough for this beat, and I don't mean to shoot
any more to-day."

"I fear that you will be disappointed," I said nervously.

"Oh, no, I sha'n't," he answered. "I tell you frankly that if only you
could have a season's practice, in my opinion you would make the best
pheasant shot of the lot of us. At present you don't quite understand
the ways of the birds, that's all; also those guns are strange to you.
Have a glass of cherry brandy; it will steady your nerves."

I drank the cherry brandy, and presently off we went. The covert we
were going to shoot, into which we had been driving pheasants all the
morning, must have been nearly a mile long. At the top end it was
broad, narrowing at the bottom to a width of about two hundred yards.
Here it ran into a horse-shoe shaped piece of water that was about
fifty yards in breadth. Four of the guns were placed round the bow of
this water, but on its farther side, in such a position that the
pheasants should stream over them to yet another covert behind at the
top of a slope, Van Koop and I, however, were ordered to take our
places, he to the right and I to the left, about seventy yards up the
tongue in little glades in the woodland, having the lake to our right
and our left respectively. I noticed with dismay that we were so set
that the guns below us on its farther side could note all that we did
or did not do; also that a little band of watchers, among whom I
recognized my friend the gunsmith, were gathered in a place where,
without interfering with us, they could see the sport. On our way to
the boat, however, which was to row us across the water, an incident
happened that put me in very good spirits and earned some applause.

I was walking with Lord Ragnall, Scroope and Charles, about sixty
yards clear of a belt of tall trees, when from far away on the other
side of the trees came a cry of "Partridges over!" in the hoarse voice
of the red-waistcoated Jenkins, who was engaged in superintending the
driving in of some low scrub before he joined his army at the top of
the covert.

"Look out, Mr. Quatermain, they are coming this way," said Lord
Ragnall, while Charles thrust a loaded gun into my hand.

Another moment and they appeared over the tree-tops, a big covey of
them in a long, straggling line, travelling at I know not what speed,
for a fierce gust from the rising gale had caught them. I fired at the
first bird, which fell at my feet. I fired again, and another fell
behind me. I snatched up the second gun and killed a third as it
passed over me high up. Then, wheeling round, I covered the last
retreating bird, and lo! it too fell, a very long shot indeed.

"By George!" said Scroope, "I never saw that done before," while
Ragnall stared and Charles whistled.

But now I will tell the truth and expose all my weakness. The second
bird was not the one I aimed at. I was behind it and caught that which
followed. And in my vanity I did not own up, at least not till that

The four dead partridges--there was not a runner among them--having
been collected amidst many congratulations, we went on and were punted
across the lake to the covert. As we entered the boat I observed that,
in addition to the great bags, Charles was carrying a box of
cartridges under his arm, and asked him where he got it from.

He replied, from Mr. Popham--that was the gunsmith's name--who had
brought it with him in case I should not have enough. I made no
remark, but as I knew I had quite half of my cartridges left out of
the three hundred and fifty that I had bought, I wondered to myself
what kind of a shoot this was going to be.

Well, we took up our stands, and while we were doing so, suddenly the
wind increased to a tearing gale, which seemed to me to blow from all
points of the compass in turn. Rooks flying homewards, and pigeons
disturbed by the beaters were swept over us like drifting leaves; wild
duck, of which I got one, went by like arrows; the great bare oaks
tossed their boughs and groaned; while not far off a fir tree was
blown down, falling with a splash into the water.

"It's a wild afternoon," said Lord Ragnall, and as he spoke Van Koop
came from his stand, looking rather scared, and suggested that the
shoot should be given up.

Lord Ragnall asked me what I wished to do. I replied that I would
rather go on, but that I was in his hands.

"I think we are fairly safe in these open places, Sir Junius," he
said; "and as the pheasants have been so much disturbed already, it
does not much matter if they are blown about a bit. But if you are of
another opinion, perhaps you had better get out of it and stand with
the others over the lake. I'll send for my guns and take your place."

On hearing this Van Koop changed his mind and said that he would go

So the beat began. At first the wind blew from behind us, and
pheasants in increasing numbers passed over our heads, most of them
rather low, to the guns on the farther side of the water, who, skilled
though they were, did not make very good work with them. We had been
instructed not to fire at birds going forward, so I let these be. Van
Koop, however, did not interpret the order in the same spirit, for he
loosed at several, killing one or two and missing others.

"That fellow is no sportsman," I heard Lord Ragnall remark. "I suppose
it is the bet."

Then he sent Charles to ask him to desist.

Shortly after this the gale worked round to the north and settled
there, blowing with ever-increasing violence. The pheasants, however,
still flew forward in the shelter of the trees, for they were making
for the covert on the hill, where they had been bred. But when they
got into the open and felt the full force of the wind, quite four out
of six of them turned and came back at a most fearful pace, many so
high as to be almost out of shot.

For the next three-quarters of an hour or more--as I think I have
explained, the beat was a very long one--I had such covert shooting as
I suppose I shall never see again. High above those shrieking trees,
or over the lake to my left, flashed the wind-driven pheasants in an
endless procession. Oddly enough, I found that this wild work suited
me, for as time went on and the pheasants grew more and more
impossible, I shot better and better. One after another down they came
far behind me with a crash in the brushwood or a splash in the lake,
till the guns grew almost too hot to hold. There were so many of them
that I discovered I could pick my shots; also that nine out of ten
were caught by the wind and curved at a certain angle, and that the
time to fire was just before they took the curve. The excitement was
great and the sport splendid, as anyone will testify who has shot
December pheasants breaking back over the covert and in a tearing
gale. Van Koop also was doing very well, but the guns in front got
comparatively little shooting. They were forced to stand there, poor
fellows, and watch our performance from afar.

As the thing drew towards an end the birds came thicker and thicker,
and I shot, as I have said, better and better. This may be judged from
the fact that, notwithstanding their height and tremendous pace, I
killed my last thirty pheasants with thirty-five cartridges. The final
bird of all, a splendid cock, appeared by himself out of nothingness
when we thought that all was done. I think it must have been flushed
from the covert on the hill, or been turned back just as it reached it
by the resistless strength of the storm. Over it came, so high above
us that it looked quite small in the dark snow-scud.

"Too far--no use!" said Lord Ragnall, as I lifted the gun.

Still, I fired, holding I know not how much in front, and lo! that
pheasant died in mid air, falling with a mighty splash near the bank
of the lake, but at a great distance behind us. The shot was so
remarkable that everyone who saw it, including most of the beaters,
who had passed us by now, uttered a cheer, and the red-waistcoated old
Jenkins, who had stopped by us, remarked: "Well, bust me if that
bain't a master one!"

Scroope made me angry by slapping me so hard upon the back that it
hurt, and nearly caused me to let off the other barrel of the gun.
Charles seemed to become one great grin, and Lord Ragnall, with a
brief congratulatory "Never enjoyed a shoot so much in my life,"
called to the men who were posted behind us to pick up all the dead
pheasants, being careful to keep mine apart from those of Sir Junius

"You should have a hundred and forty-three at this stand," he said,
"allowing for every possible runner. Charles and I make the same

I remarked that I did not think there were many runners, as the No. 3
shot had served me very well, and getting into the boat was rowed to
the other side, where I received more congratulations. Then, as all
further shooting was out of the question because of the weather, we
walked back to the castle to tea.

As I emptied my cup Lord Ragnall, who had left the room, returned and
asked us to come and see the game. So we went, to find it laid out in
endless lines upon the snow-powdered grass in the quadrangle of the
castle, arranged in one main and two separate lots.

"Those are yours and Sir Junius's," said Scroope. "I wonder which of
you has won. I'll put a sovereign on you, old fellow."

"Then you're a donkey for your pains," I answered, feeling vexed, for
at that moment I had forgotten all about the bet.

I do not remember how many pheasants were killed altogether, but the
total was much smaller than had been hoped for, because of the gale.

"Jenkins," said Lord Ragnall presently to Red Waistcoat, "how many
have you to the credit of Sir Junius Fortescue?"

"Two hundred and seventy-seven, my lord, twelve hares, two woodcocks,
and three pigeons."

"And how many to that of Mr. Quatermain?" adding: "I must remind you
both, gentlemen, that the birds have been picked as carefully as
possible and kept unmixed, and therefore that the figures given by
Jenkins must be considered as final."

"Quite so," I answered, but Van Koop said nothing. Then, while we all
waited anxiously, came the amazing answer:

"Two hundred and seventy-seven pheasants, my lord, same number as
those of Sir Junius, Bart., fifteen hares, three pigeons, four
partridges, one duck, and a beak--I mean a woodcock."

"Then it seems you have won your £5, Mr. Quatermain, upon which I
congratulate you," said Lord Ragnall.

"Stop a minute," broke in Van Koop. "The bet was as to pheasants; the
other things don't count."

"I think the term used was 'birds,'" I remarked. "But to be frank,
when I made it I was thinking of pheasants, as no doubt Sir Junius was
also. Therefore, if the counting is correct, there is a dead heat and
the wager falls through."

"I am sure we all appreciate the view you take of the matter," said
Lord Ragnall, "for it might be argued another way. In these
circumstances Sir Junius keeps his £5 in his pocket. It is unlucky for
you, Quatermain," he added, dropping the "mister," "that the last high
pheasant you shot can't be found. It fell into the lake, you remember,
and, I suppose, swam ashore and ran."

"Yes," I replied, "especially as I could have sworn that it was quite

"So could I, Quatermain; but the fact remains that it isn't there."

"If we had all the pheasants that we think fall dead our bags would be
much bigger than they are," remarked Van Koop, with a look of great
relief upon his face, adding in his horrid, patronizing way: "Still,
you shot uncommonly well, Quatermain. I'd no idea you would run me so

I felt inclined to answer, but didn't. Only Lord Ragnall said:

"Mr. Quatermain shot more than well. His performance in the Lake
covert was the most brilliant that I have ever seen. When you went in
there together, Sir Junius, you were thirty ahead of him, and you
fired seventeen more cartridges at the stand."

Then, just as we turned to go, something happened. The round-eyed
Charles ran puffing into the quadrangle, followed by another man with
a dog, who had been specially set to pick my birds, and carrying in
his hand a much-bedraggled cock pheasant without a tail.

"I've got him, my lord," he gasped, for he had run very fast; "the
little gent's--I mean that which he killed in the clouds with the last
shot he fired. It had gone right down into the mud and stuck there.
Tom and me fished him up with a pole."

Lord Ragnall took the bird and looked at it. It was almost cold, but
evidently freshly killed, for the limbs were quite flexible.

"That turns the scale in favour of Mr. Quatermain," he said, "so, Sir
Junius, you had better pay your money and congratulate him, as I do."

"I protest," exclaimed Van Koop, looking very angry and meaner than
usual. "How am I to know that this was Mr. Quatermain's pheasant? The
sum involved is more than £5 and I feel it is my duty to protest."

"Because my men say so, Sir Junius; moreover, seeing the height from
which the bird fell, their story is obviously true."

Then he examined the pheasant further, pointing out that it appeared
to have only one wound--a shot through the throat almost exactly at
the root of the beak, of which shot there was no mark of exit. "What
sized shot were you using, Sir Junius?" he asked.

"No. 4 at the last stand."

"And you were using No. 3, Mr. Quatermain. Now, was any other gun
using No. 3?"

All shook their heads.

"Jenkins, open that bird's head. I think the shot that killed it will
be found in the brain."

Jenkins obeyed, using a penknife cleverly enough. Pressed against the
bone of the skull he found the shot.

"No. 3 it is, sure enough, my lord," he said.

"You will agree that settles the matter, Sir Junius," said Lord
Ragnall. "And now, as a bet has been made here it had better be paid."

"I have not enough money on me," said Van Koop sulkily.

"I think your banker is mine," said Lord Ragnall quietly, "so you can
write a cheque in the house. Come in, all of you, it is cold in this

So we went into the smoking-room, and Lord Ragnall, who, I could see,
was annoyed, instantly fetched a blank cheque from his study and
handed it to Van Koop in rather a pointed manner.

He took it, and turning to me, said:

"I remember the capital sum, but how much is the interest? Sorry to
trouble you, but I am not very good at figures."

"Then you must have changed a good deal during the last twelve years,
Sir Junius," I could not help saying. "Still, never mind the interest,
I shall be quite satisfied with the principal."

So he filled up the cheque for £250 and threw it down on the table
before me, saying something about its being a bother to mix up
business with pleasure.

I took the draft, saw that it was correct though rather illegible, and
proceeded to dry it by waving it in the air. As I did so it came into
my mind that I would not touch the money of this successful scamp, won
back from him in such a way.

Yielding to a perhaps foolish impulse, I said:

"Lord Ragnall, this cheque is for a debt which years ago I wrote off
as lost. At luncheon to-day you were talking of a Cottage Hospital for
which you are trying to get up an endowment fund in this
neighbourhood, and in answer to a question from you Sir Junius
Fortescue said that he had not as yet made any subscription to its
fund. Will you allow me to hand you Sir Junius's subscription--to be
entered in his name, if you please?" And I passed him the cheque,
which was drawn to myself or bearer.

He looked at the amount, and seeing that it was not £5, but £250,
flushed, then asked:

"What do you say to this act of generosity on the part of Mr.
Quatermain, Sir Junius?"

There was no answer, because Sir Junius had gone. I never saw him
again, for years ago the poor man died quite disgraced. His passion
for semi-fraudulent speculations reasserted itself, and he became a
bankrupt in conditions which caused him to leave the country for
America, where he was killed in a railway accident while travelling as
an immigrant. I have heard, however, that he was not asked to shoot at
Ragnall any more.

The cheque was passed to the credit of the Cottage Hospital, but not,
as I had requested, as a subscription from Sir Junius Fortescue. A
couple of years later, indeed, I learned that this sum of money was
used to build a little room in that institution to accommodate sick
children, which room was named the Allan Quatermain ward.

Now, I have told this story of that December shoot because it was the
beginning of my long and close friendship with Ragnall.

When he found that Van Koop had gone away without saying good-bye,
Lord Ragnall made no remark. Only he took my hand and shook it.

I have only to add that, although, except for the element of
competition which entered into it, I enjoyed this day's shooting very
much indeed, when I came to count up its cost I felt glad that I had
not been asked to any more such entertainments. Here it is, taken from
an old note-book:

  Cartridges, including those not used and given to Charles £4  0  0
  Game License                                               3  0  0
  Tip to Red Waistcoat (keeper)                              2  0  0
  Tip to Charles                                             0 10  0
  Tip to man who helped Charles to find pheasant             0  5  0
  Tip to man who collected pheasants behind me               0 10  0
                                                           £10  5  0

Truly pheasant shooting in England is, or was, a sport for the rich!



Two and a half hours passed by, most of which time I spent lying down
to rest and get rid of a headache caused by the continual, rapid
firing and the roar of the gale, or both; also in rubbing my shoulder
with ointment, for it was sore from the recoil of the guns. Then
Scroope appeared, as, being unable to find my way about the long
passages of that great old castle, I had asked him to do, and we
descended together to the large drawing-room.

It was a splendid apartment, only used upon state occasions, lighted,
I should think, with at least two or three hundred wax candles, which
threw a soft glow over the panelled and pictured walls, the priceless
antique furniture, and the bejewelled ladies who were gathered there.
To my mind there never was and never will be any artificial light to
equal that of wax candles in sufficient quantity. The company was
large; I think thirty sat down to dinner that night, which was given
to introduce Lord Ragnall's future wife to the neighbourhood, whereof
she was destined to be the leader.

Miss Manners, who was looking very happy and charming in her jewels
and fine clothes, joined us at once, and informed Scroope that "she"
was just coming; the maid in the cloakroom had told her so.

"Is she?" replied Scroope indifferently. "Well, so long as you have
come I don't care about anyone else."

Then he told her she was looking beautiful, and stared at her with
such affection that I fell back a step or two and contemplated a
picture of Judith vigorously engaged in cutting off the head of

Presently the large door at the end of the room was thrown open and
the immaculate Savage, who was acting as a kind of master of the
ceremonies, announced in well-bred but penetrating tones, "Lady
Longden and the Honourable Miss Holmes." I stared, like everybody
else, but for a while her ladyship filled my eye. She was an ample
and, to my mind, rather awful-looking person, clad in black satin--she
was a widow--and very large diamonds. Her hair was white, her nose was
hooked, her dark eyes were penetrating, and she had a bad cold in her
head. That was all I found time to notice about her, for suddenly her
daughter came into my line of vision.

Truly she was a lovely girl, or rather, young woman, for she must have
been two or three-and-twenty. Not very tall, her proportions were
rounded and exquisite, and her movements as graceful as those of a
doe. Altogether she was doe-like, especially in the fineness of her
lines and her large and liquid eyes. She was a dark beauty, with rich
brown, waving hair, a clear olive complexion, a perfectly shaped mouth
and very red lips. To me she looked more Italian or Spanish than
Anglo-Saxon, and I believe that, as a matter of fact, she had some
southern blood in her on her father's side. She wore a dress of soft
rose colour, and her only ornaments were a string of pearls and a
single red camellia. I could see but one blemish, if it were a
blemish, in her perfect person, and that was a curious white mark upon
her breast, which in its shape exactly resembled the crescent moon.

The face, however, impressed me with other than its physical
qualities. It was bright, intelligent, sympathetic and, just now,
happy. But I thought it more, I thought it mystical. Something that
her mother said to her, probably about her dress, caused her smile to
vanish for a moment, and then, from beneath it as it were, appeared
this shadow of innate mysticism. In a second it was gone and she was
laughing again; but I, who am accustomed to observe, had caught it,
perhaps alone of all that company. Moreover, it reminded me of

What was it? Ah! I knew. A look that sometimes I had seen upon the
face of a certain Zulu lady named Mameena, especially at the moment of
her wonderful and tragic death. The thought made me shiver a little; I
could not tell why, for certainly, I reflected, this high-placed and
fortunate English girl had nothing in common with that fate-driven
Child of Storm, whose dark and imperial spirit dwelt in the woman
called Mameena. They were as far apart as Zululand is from Essex. Yet
it was quite sure that both of them had touch with hidden things.

Lord Ragnall, looking more like a splendid Van Dyck than ever in his
evening dress, stepped forward to greet his fiancée and her mother
with a courtly bow, and I turned again to continue my contemplation of
the stalwart Judith and the very ugly head of Holofernes. Presently I
was aware of a soft voice--a very rich and thrilling voice--asking
quite close to me:

"Which is he? Oh! you need not answer, dear. I know him from the

"Yes," replied Lord Ragnall to Miss Holmes--for it was she--"you are
quite right. I will introduce you to him presently. But, love, whom do
you wish to take you in to dinner? I can't--your mother, you know; and
as there are no titles here to-night, you may make your choice. Would
you like old Dr. Jeffreys, the clergyman?"

"No," she replied, with quiet firmness, "I know him; he took me in
once before. I wish Mr. Allan Quatermain to take me in. He is
interesting, and I want to hear about Africa."

"Very well," he answered, "and he /is/ more interesting than all the
rest put together. But, Luna, why are you always thinking and talking
about Africa? One might imagine that you were going to live there."

"So I may one day," she answered dreamily. "Who knows where one has
lived, or where one will live!" And again I saw that mystic look come
into her face.

I heard no more of that conversation, which it is improbable that
anyone whose ears had not been sharpened by a lifetime of listening in
great silences would have caught at all. To tell the truth, I made
myself scarce, slipping off to the other end of the big room in the
hope of evading the kind intentions of Miss Holmes. I have a great
dislike of being put out of my place, and I felt that among all these
local celebrities it was not fitting that I should be selected to take
in the future bride on an occasion of this sort. But it was of no use,
for presently Lord Ragnall hunted me up, bringing the young lady with

"Let me introduce you to Miss Holmes, Quatermain," he said. "She is
anxious that you should take her in to dinner, if you will be so kind.
She is very interested in--in----"

"Africa," I suggested.

"In Mr. Quatermain, who, I am told, is one of the greatest hunters in
Africa," she corrected me, with a dazzling smile.

I bowed, not knowing what to say. Lord Ragnall laughed and vanished,
leaving us together. Dinner was announced. Presently we were wending
in the centre of a long and glittering procession across the central
hall to the banqueting chamber, a splendid room with a roof like a
church that was said to have been built in the times of the
Plantagenets. Here Mr. Savage, who evidently had been looking out for
her future ladyship, conducted us to our places, which were upon the
left of Lord Ragnall, who sat at the head of the broad table with Lady
Longden on his right. Then the old clergyman, Dr. Jeffreys, a pompous
and rather frowsy ecclesiastic, said grace, for grace was still in
fashion at such feasts in those days, asking Heaven to make us truly
thankful for the dinner we were about to consume.

Certainly there was a great deal to be thankful for in the eating and
drinking line, but of all I remember little, except a general vision
of silver dishes, champagne, splendour, and things I did not want to
eat being constantly handed to me. What I do remember is Miss Holmes,
and nothing but Miss Holmes; the charm of her conversation, the light
of her beautiful eyes, the fragrance of her hair, her most flattering
interest in my unworthy self. To tell the truth, we got on "like fire
in the winter grass," as the Zulus say, and when that dinner was over
the grass was still burning.

I don't think that Lord Ragnall quite liked it, but fortunately Lady
Longden was a talkative person. First she conversed about her cold in
the head, sneezing at intervals, poor soul, and being reduced to send
for another handkerchief after the entrées. Then she got off upon
business matters; to judge from the look of boredom on her host's
face, I think it must have been of settlements. Three times did I hear
him refer her to the lawyers--without avail. Lastly, when he thought
he had escaped, she embarked upon a quite vigorous argument with Dr.
Jeffreys about church matters--I gathered that she was "low" and he
was "high"--in which she insisted upon his lordship acting as referee.

"Do try and keep your attention fixed, George," I heard her say
severely. "To allow it to wander when high spiritual affairs are under
discussion (sneeze) is scarcely reverent. Could you tell the man to
shut that door? The draught is dreadful. It is quite impossible for
you to agree with both of us, as you say you do, seeing that
metaphorically Dr. Jeffreys is at one pole and I am at the other."

"Then I wish I were at the Tropic of Cancer," I heard him mutter with
a groan.

In vain; he had to keep his "attention fixed" on this point for the
next three-quarters of an hour. So as Miss Manners was at the other
side of me, and Scroope, unhampered by the presence of any prospective
mother-in-law, was at the other side of her, for all practical
purposes Miss Holmes and I were left alone.

She began by saying:

"I hear you beat Sir Junius Fortescue out shooting to-day, and won a
lot of money from him which you gave to the Cottage Hospital. I don't
like shooting, and I don't like betting; and it's strange, because you
don't look like a man who bets. But I detest Sir Junius Fortescue, and
that is a bond of union between us."

"I never said I detested him."

"No, but I am sure you do. Your face changed when I mentioned his

"As it happens, you are right. But, Miss Holmes, I should like you to
understand that you were also right when you said I did not look like
a betting man." And I told her some of the story of Van Koop and the

"Ah!" she said, when I had finished, "I always felt sure he was a
horror. And my mother wanted me, just because he pretended to be low
church--but that's a secret."

Then I congratulated her upon her approaching marriage, saying what a
joyful thing it was now and again to see everything going in real,
happy, storybook fashion: beauty, male and female, united by love,
high rank, wealth, troops of friends, health of body, a lovely and an
ancient home in a settled land where dangers do not come--at present--
respect and affection of crowds of dependants, the prospect of a high
and useful career of a sort whereof the door is shut to most people,
everything in short that human beings who are not actually royalty
could desire or deserve. Indeed after my second glass of champagne I
grew quite eloquent on these and kindred points, being moved thereto
by memories of the misery that is in the world which formed so great a
contrast to the lot of this striking and brilliant pair.

She listened to me attentively and answered:

"Thank you for your kind thoughts and wishes. But does it not strike
you, Mr. Quatermain, that there is something ill-omened in such talk?
I believe that it does; that as you finished speaking it occurred to
you that after all the future is as much veiled from all of us as--as
the picture which hangs behind its curtain of rose-coloured silk in
Lord Ragnall's study is from you."

"How did you know that?" I asked sharply in a low voice. For by the
strangest of coincidences, as I concluded my somewhat old-fashioned
little speech of compliments, this very reflection had entered my
mind, and with it the memory of the veiled picture which Mr. Savage
had pointed out to me on the previous morning.

"I can't say, Mr. Quatermain, but I did know it. You were thinking of
the picture, were you not?"

"And if I was," I said, avoiding a direct reply, "what of it? Though
it is hidden from everybody else, he has only to draw the curtain and

"Supposing he should draw the curtain one day and see nothing, Mr.

"Then the picture would have been stolen, that is all, and he would
have to search for it till he found it again, which doubtless sooner
or later he would do."

"Yes, sooner or later. But where? Perhaps you have lost a picture or
two in your time, Mr. Quatermain, and are better able to answer the
question than I am."

There was silence for a few moments, for this talk of lost pictures
brought back memories which choked me.

Then she began to speak again, low, quickly, and with suppressed
passion, but acting wonderfully all the while. Knowing that eyes were
on her, her gestures and the expression of her face were such as might
have been those of any young lady of fashion who was talking of
everyday affairs, such as dancing, or flowers, or jewels. She smiled
and even laughed occasionally. She played with the golden salt-cellar
in front of her and, upsetting a little of the salt, threw it over her
left shoulder, appearing to ask me if I were a victim of that ancient
habit, and so on.

But all the while she was talking deeply of deep things, such as I
should never have thought would pass her mind. This was the substance
of what she said, for I cannot set it all down verbatim; after so many
years my memory fails me.

"I am not like other women. Something moves me to tell you so,
something very real and powerful which pushes me as a strong man
might. It is odd, because I have never spoken to anyone else like
that, not to my mother for instance, or even to Lord Ragnall. They
would neither of them understand, although they would misunderstand
differently. My mother would think I ought to see a doctor--and if you
knew that doctor! He," and she nodded towards Lord Ragnall, "would
think that my engagement had upset me, or that I had grown rather more
religious than I ought to be at my age, and been reflecting too much--
well, on the end of all things. From a child I have understood that I
am a mystery set in the midst of many other mysteries. It all came to
me one night when I was about nine years old. I seemed to see the past
and the future, although I could grasp neither. Such a long, long past
and such an infinite future. I don't know what I saw, and still see
sometimes. It comes in a flash, and is in a flash forgotten. My mind
cannot hold it. It is too big for my mind; you might as well try to
pack Dr. Jeffreys there into this wineglass. Only two facts remain
written on my heart. The first is that there is trouble ahead of me,
curious and unusual trouble; and the second, that permanently,
continually, I, or a part of me, have something to do with Africa, a
country of which I know nothing except from a few very dull books.
Also, by the way--this is a new thought--that I have a great deal to
do with /you/. That is why I am so interested in Africa and you. Tell
me about Africa and yourself now, while we have the chance." And she
ended rather abruptly, adding in a louder voice, "You have lived there
all your life, have you not, Mr. Quatermain?"

"I rather think your mother would be right--about the doctor, I mean,"
I said.

"You /say/ that, but you don't /believe/ it. Oh! you are very
transparent, Mr. Quatermain--at least, to me."

So, hurriedly enough, for these subjects seemed to be uncomfortable,
even dangerous in a sense, I began to talk of the first thing about
Africa that I remembered--namely, of the legend of the Holy Flower
that was guarded by a huge ape, of which I had heard from a white man
who was supposed to be rather mad, who went by the name of Brother
John. Also I told her that there was something in it, as I had with me
a specimen of the flower.

"Oh! show it me," she said.

I replied that I feared I could not, as it was locked away in a safe
in London, whither I was returning on the morrow. I promised, however,
to send her a life-sized water-colour drawing of which I had caused
several to be made. She asked me if I were going to look for this
flower, and I said that I hoped so if I could make the necessary
arrangements. Next she asked me if there chanced to be any other
African quests upon which I had set my mind. I replied that there were
several. For instance, I had heard vaguely through Brother John, and
indirectly from one or two other sources, of the existence of a
certain tribe in East Central Africa--Arabs or semi-Arabs--who were
reported to worship a child that always remained a child. This child,
I took it, was a dwarf; but as I was interested in native religious
customs which were infinite in their variety, I should much like to
find out the truth of the matter.

"Talking of Arabs," she broke in, "I will tell you a curious story.
Once when I was a little girl, eight or nine years of age--it was just
before that kind of awakening of which I have spoken to you--I was
playing in Kensington Gardens, for we lived in London at the time, in
the charge of my nurse-governess. She was talking to some young man
who she said was her cousin, and told me to run about with my hoop and
not to bother. I drove the hoop across the grass to some elm trees.
From behind one of the trees came out two tall men dressed in white
robes and turbans, who looked to me like scriptural characters in a
picture-book. One was an elderly man with flashing, black eyes, hooked
nose, and a long grey beard. The other was much younger, but I do not
remember him so well. They were both brown in colour, but otherwise
almost like white men; not Negroes by any means. My hoop hit the elder
man, and I stood still, not knowing what to say. He bowed politely and
picked it up, but did not offer to return it to me. They talked
together rapidly, and one of them pointed to the moon-shaped birthmark
which you see I have upon my neck, for it was hot weather, and I was
wearing a low-cut frock. It was because of this mark that my father
named me Luna. The elder of the two said in broken English:

"'What is your name, pretty little girl?'

"I told him it was Luna Holmes. Then he drew from his robe a box made
of scented wood, and, opening it, took out some sweetmeat which looked
as if it had been frozen, and gave me a piece that, being very fond of
sweet, I put into my mouth. Next, he bowled the hoop along the ground
into the shadow of the trees--it was evening time and beginning to
grow dark--saying, 'Run, catch it, little girl!'

"I began to run, but something in the taste of that sweet caused me to
drop it from my lips. Then all grew misty, and the next thing I
remember was finding myself in the arms of the younger Eastern, with
the nurse and her 'cousin,' a stalwart person like a soldier, standing
in front of us.

"'Little girl go ill,' said the elder Arab. 'We seek policeman.'

"'You drop that child,' answered the 'cousin,' doubling his fists.
Then I grew faint again, and when I came to myself the two white-robed
men had gone. All the way home my governess scolded me for accepting
sweets from strangers, saying that if my parents came to know of it, I
should be whipped and sent to bed. Of course, I begged her not to tell
them, and at last she consented. Do you know, I think you are the
first to whom I have ever mentioned the matter, of which I am sure the
governess never breathed a word, though after that, whenever we walked
in the gardens, her 'cousin' always came to look after us. In the end
I think she married him."

"You believe the sweet was drugged?" I asked.

She nodded. "There was something very strange in it. It was a night or
two after I had tasted it that I had what just now I called my
awakening, and began to think about Africa."

"Have you ever seen these men again, Miss Holmes?"

"No, never."

At this moment I heard Lady Longden say, in a severe voice:

"My dear Luna, I am sorry to interrupt your absorbing conversation,
but we are all waiting for you."

So they were, for to my horror I saw that everyone was standing up
except ourselves.

Miss Holmes departed in a hurry, while Scroope whispered in my ear
with a snigger:

"I say, Allan, if you carry on like that with his young lady, his
lordship will be growing jealous of you."

"Don't be a fool," I said sharply. But there was something in his
remark, for as Lord Ragnall passed on his way to the other end of the
table, he said in a low voice and with rather a forced smile:

"Well, Quatermain, I hope your dinner has not been as dull as mine,
although your appetite seemed so poor."

Then I reflected that I could not remember having eaten a thing since
the first entrée. So overcome was I that, rejecting all Scroope's
attempts at conversation, I sat silent, drinking port and filling up
with dates, until not long afterwards we went into the drawing-room,
where I sat down as far from Miss Holmes as possible, and looked at a
book of views of Jerusalem.

While I was thus engaged, Lord Ragnall, pitying my lonely condition,
or being instigated thereto by Miss Holmes, I know not which, came up
and began to chat with me about African big-game shooting. Also he
asked me what was my permanent address in that country. I told him
Durban, and in my turn asked why he wanted to know.

"Because Miss Holmes seems quite crazy about the place, and I expect I
shall be dragged out there one day," he replied, quite gloomily. It
was a prophetic remark.

At this moment our conversation was interrupted by Lady Longden, who
came to bid her future son-in-law good night. She said that she must
go to bed, and put her feet in mustard and water as her cold was so
bad, which left me wondering whether she meant to carry out this
operation in bed. I recommended her to take quinine, a suggestion she
acknowledged rather inconsequently by remarking in somewhat icy tones
that she supposed I sat up to all hours of the night in Africa. I
replied that frequently I did, waiting for the sun to rise next day,
for that member of the British aristocracy irritated me.

Thus we parted, and I never saw her again. She died many years ago,
poor soul, and I suppose is now freezing her former acquaintances in
the Shades, for I cannot imagine that she ever had a friend. They talk
a great deal about the influences of heredity nowadays, but I don't
believe very much in them myself. Who, for instance, could conceive
that persons so utterly different in every way as Lady Longden and her
daughter, Miss Holmes, could be mother and child? Our bodies, no
doubt, we do inherit from our ancestors, but not our individualities.
These come from far away.

A good many of the guests went at the same time, having long distances
to drive on that cold frosty night, although it was only just ten
o'clock. For as was usual at that period even in fashionable houses,
we had dined at seven.



After Lord Ragnall had seen his guests to the door in the old-
fashioned manner, he returned and asked me if I played cards, or
whether I preferred music. I was assuring him that I hated the sight
of a card when Mr. Savage appeared in his silent way and respectfully
inquired of his lordship whether any gentleman was staying in the
house whose Christian name was /Here-come-a-zany/. Lord Ragnall looked
at him with a searching eye as though he suspected him of being drunk,
and then asked what he meant by such a ridiculous question.

"I mean, my lord," replied Mr. Savage with a touch of offence in his
tone, "that two foreign individuals in white clothes have arrived at
the castle, stating that they wish to speak at once with a /Mr. Here-
come-a-zany/ who is staying here. I told them to go away as the butler
said he could make nothing of their talk, but they only sat down in
the snow and said they would wait for /Here-come-a-zany/."

"Then you had better put them in the old guardroom, lock them up with
something to eat, and send the stable-boy for the policeman, who is a
zany if ever anybody was. I expect they are after the pheasants."

"Stop a bit," I said, for an idea had occurred to me. "The message may
be meant for me, though I can't conceive who sent it. My native name
is Macumazana, which possibly Mr. Savage has not caught quite
correctly. Shall I go to see these men?"

"I wouldn't do that in this cold, Quatermain," Lord Ragnall answered.
"Did they say what they are, Savage?"

"I made out that they were conjurers, my lord. At least when I told
them to go away one of them said, 'You will go first, gentleman.'
Then, my lord, I heard a hissing sound in my coat-tail pocket and,
putting my hand into it, I found a large snake which dropped on the
ground and vanished. It quite paralysed me, my lord, and while I stood
there wondering whether I was bitten, a mouse jumped out of the
kitchenmaid's hair. She had been laughing at their dress, my lord,
but /now/ she's screaming in hysterics."

The solemn aspect of Mr. Savage as he narrated these unholy marvels
was such that, like the kitchenmaid, we both burst into ill-timed
merriment. Attracted by our laughter, Miss Holmes, Miss Manners, with
whom she was talking, and some of the other guests, approached and
asked what was the matter.

"Savage here declares that there are two conjurers in the kitchen
premises, who have been producing snakes out of his pocket and mice
from the hair of one of the maids, and who want to see Mr.
Quatermain," Lord Ragnall answered.

"Conjurers! Oh, do have them in, George," exclaimed Miss Holmes; while
Miss Manners and the others, who were getting a little tired of
promiscuous conversation, echoed her request.

"By all means," he answered, "though we have enough mice here without
their bringing any more. Savage, go and tell your two friends that
/Mr. Here-come-a-zany/ is waiting for them in the drawing-room, and
that the company would like to see some of their tricks."

Savage bowed and departed, like a hero to execution, for by his pallor
I could see that he was in a great fright. When he had gone we set to
work and cleared a space in the middle of the room, in front of which
we arranged chairs for the company to sit on.

"No doubt they are Indian jugglers," said Lord Ragnall, "and will want
a place to grow their mango-tree, as I remember seeing them do in

As he spoke the door opened and Mr. Savage appeared through it,
walking much faster than was his wont. I noted also that he gripped
the pockets of his swallow-tail coat firmly in his hand.

"Mr. Hare-root and Mr. Mare-root," he announced.

"Hare-root and Mare-root!" repeated Lord Ragnall.

"Harūt and Marūt, I expect," I said. "I think I have read somewhere
that they were great magicians, whose names these conjurers have
taken." (Since then I have discovered that they are mentioned in the
Koran as masters of the Black Art.)

A moment later two men followed him through the doorway. The first was
a tall, Eastern-looking person with a grave countenance, a long, white
beard, a hooked nose, and flashing, hawk-like eyes. The second was
shorter and rather stout, also much younger. He had a genial, smiling
face, small, beady-black eyes, and was clean-shaven. They were very
light in colour; indeed I have seen Italians who are much darker; and
there was about their whole aspect a certain air of power.

Instantly I remembered the story that Miss Holmes had told me at
dinner and looked at her covertly, to see that she had turned quite
pale and was trembling a little. I do not think that anyone else
noticed this, however, as all were staring at the strangers. Moreover
she recovered herself in a moment, and, catching my eye, laid her
finger on her lips in token of silence.

The men were clothed in thick, fur-lined cloaks, which they took off
and, folding them neatly, laid upon the floor, standing revealed in
robes of a beautiful whiteness and in large plain turbans, also white.

"High-class Somali Arabs," thought I to myself, noting the while that
as they arranged the robes they were taking in every one of us with
their quick eyes. One of them shut the door, leaving Savage on this
side of it as though they meant him to be present. Then they walked
towards us, each of them carrying an ornamental basket made apparently
of split reeds, that contained doubtless their conjuring outfit and
probably the snake which Savage had found in his pocket. To my
surprise they came straight to me, and, having set down the baskets,
lifted their hands above their heads, as a person about to dive might
do, and bowed till the points of their fingers touched the floor. Next
they spoke, not in Arabic as I had expected that they would, but in
Bantu, which of course I understood perfectly well.

"I, Harūt, head priest and doctor of the White Kendah People, greet
you, O Macumazana," said the elder man.

"I, Marūt, a priest and doctor of the People of the White Kendah,
greet you, O Watcher-by-night, whom we have travelled far to find,"
said the younger man. Then together,

"We both greet you, O Lord, who seem small but are great, O Chief with
a troubled past and with a mighty future, O Beloved of Mameena who has
'gone down' but still speaks from beneath, Mameena who was and is of
our company."

At this point it was my turn to shiver and become pale, as any may
guess who may have chanced to read the history of Mameena, and the
turn of Miss Holmes to watch /me/ with animated interest.

"O Slayer of evil men and beasts!" they went on, in their rich-voiced,
monotonous chant, "who, as our magic tells us, are destined to deliver
our land from the terrible scourge, we greet you, we bow before you,
we acknowledge you as our lord and brother, to whom we vow safety
among us and in the desert, to whom we promise a great reward."

Again they bowed, once, twice, thrice; then stood silent before me
with folded arms.

"What on earth are they saying?" asked Scroope. "I could catch a few
words"--he knew a little kitchen Zulu--"but not much."

I told him briefly while the others listened.

"What does Mameena mean?" asked Miss Holmes, with a horrible
acuteness. "Is it a woman's name?"

Hearing her, Harūt and Marūt bowed as though doing reverence to that
name. I am sorry to say that at this point I grew confused, though
really there was no reason why I should, and muttered something about
a native girl who had made trouble in her day.

Miss Holmes and the other ladies looked at me with amused disbelief,
and to my dismay the venerable Harūt turned to Miss Holmes, and with
his inevitable bow, said in broken English:

"Mameena very beautiful woman, perhaps more beautiful than you, lady.
Mameena love the white lord Macumazana. She love him while she live,
she love him now she dead. She tell me so again just now. You ask
white lord tell you pretty story of how he kiss her before she kill

Needless to say all this very misleading information was received by
the audience with an attention that I can but call rapt, and in a kind
of holy silence which was broken only by a sudden burst of sniggering
on the part of Scroope. I favoured him with my fiercest frown. Then I
fell upon that venerable villain Harūt, and belaboured him in Bantu,
while the audience listened as intently as though they understood.

I asked him what he meant by coming here to asperse my character. I
asked him who the deuce he was. I asked him how he came to know
anything about Mameena, and finally I told him that soon or late I
would be even with him, and paused exhausted.

He stood there looking for all the world like a statue of the
patriarch Job as I imagine him, and when I had done, replied without
moving a muscle and in English:

"O Lord, Zikali, Zulu wizard, friend of mine! All great wizard friend
just like all elephant and all snake. Zikali make me know Mameena, and
she tell me story and send you much love, and say she wait for you
always." (More sniggers from Scroope, and still intenser interest
evinced by Miss Holmes and others.) "If you like, I show you Mameena
'fore I go." (Murmurs from Miss Holmes and Miss Manners of "Oh,
/please/ do!") "But that very little business, for what one long-ago
lady out of so many?"

Then suddenly he broke into Bantu, and added: "A jest is a jest,
Macumazana, though often there is meaning in a jest, and you shall see
Mameena if you will. I come here to ask you to do my people a service
for which you shall not lack reward. We, the White Kendah, the People
of the Child, are at war with the Black Kendah, our subjects who
outnumber us. The Black Kendah have an evil spirit for a god, which
spirit from the beginning has dwelt in the largest elephant in all the
world, a beast that none can kill, but which kills many and bewitches
more. While that elephant, which is named Jana, lives we, the People
of the Child, go in terror, for day by day it destroys us. We have
learned--how it does not matter--that you alone can kill that
elephant. If you will come and kill it, we will show you the place
where all the elephants go to die, and you shall take their ivory,
many wagon-loads, and grow rich. Soon you are going on a journey that
has to do with a flower, and you will visit peoples named the Mazitu
and the Pongo who live on an island in a lake. Far beyond the Pongo
and across the desert dwell my people, the Kendah, in a secret land.
When you wish to visit us, as you will do, journey to the north of
that lake where the Pongo dwell, and stay there on the edge of the
desert shooting till we come. Now mock me if you will, but do not
forget, for these things shall befall in their season, though that
time be far. If we meet no more for a while, still do not forget. When
you have need of gold or of the ivory that is gold, then journey to
the north of the lake where the Pongo dwell, and call on the names of
Harūt and Marūt."

"And call on the names of Harūt and Marūt," repeated the younger man,
who hitherto appeared to take no interest in our talk.

Next, before I could answer, before I could think the thing out
indeed, for all this breath from savage and mystical Africa blowing on
me suddenly here in an Essex drawing-room, seemed to overwhelm me, the
ineffable Harūt proceeded in his English conjurer's patter:

"Rich ladies and gentlemen want see trick by poor old wizard from
centre Africa. Well, we show them, but please 'member no magic, all
quite simple trick. Teach it you if you pay. Please not look too hard,
no want you learn how it done. What you like see? Tree grow out of
nothing, eh? Good! Please lend me that plate--what you call him--

Then the performance began. The tree grew admirably upon the china
plate under the cover of an antimacassar. A number of bits of stick
danced together on the said plate, apparently without being touched.
At a whistle from Marūt a second snake crawled out of the pocket of
the horrified Mr. Savage, who stood observing these proceedings at a
respectful distance, erected itself on its tail upon the plate and
took fire till it was consumed to ashes, and so forth.

The show was very good, but to tell the truth I did not take much
notice of it, for I had seen similar things before and was engaged in
thoughts much excited by what Harūt had said to me. At length the pair
paused amidst the clapping of the audience, and Marūt began to pack up
the properties as though all were done. Then Harūt observed casually:

"The Lord Macumazana think this poor business and he right. Very poor
business, any conjurer do better. All common trick"--here his eye fell
upon Mr. Savage who was wriggling uneasily in the background. "What
matter with that gentleman? Brother Marūt, go see."

Brother Marūt went and freed Mr. Savage from two more snakes which
seemed to have taken possession of various parts of his garments.
Also, amidst shouts of laughter, from a large dead rat which he
appeared to draw from his well-oiled hair.

"Ah!" said Harūt, as his confederate returned with these prizes,
leaving Savage collapsed in a chair, "snake love that gentleman much.
He earn great money in Africa. Well, he keep rat in hair; hungry snake
always want rat. But as I say, this poor business. Now you like to see
some better, eh? Mameena, eh?"

"No," I replied firmly, whereat everyone laughed.

"Elephant Jana we want you kill, eh? Just as he look this minute."

"Yes," I said, "very much indeed, only how will you show it me?"

"That quite easy, Macumazana. You just smoke little Kendah 'bacco and
see many things, if you have gift, as I /think/ you got, and as I
almost /sure/ that lady got," and he pointed to Miss Holmes.
"Sometimes they things people want see, and sometimes they things
people not want see."

"Dakka," I said contemptuously, alluding to the Indian hemp on which
natives make themselves drunk throughout great districts of Africa.

"Oh! no, not dakka, that common stuff; this 'bacco much better than
dakka, only grow in Kendah-land. You think all nonsense? Well, you
see. Give me match please."

Then while we watched he placed some tobacco, at least it looked like
tobacco, in a little wooden bowl that he also produced from his
basket. Next he said something to his companion, Marūt, who drew a
flute from his robe made out of a thick reed, and began to play on it
a wild and melancholy music, the sound of which seemed to affect my
backbone as standing on a great height often does. Presently too Harūt
broke into a low song whereof I could not understand a word, that rose
and fell with the music of the flute. Now he struck a match, which
seemed incongruous in the midst of this semi-magical ceremony, and
taking a pinch of the tobacco, lit it and dropped it among the rest. A
pale, blue smoke arose from the bowl and with it a very sweet odour
not unlike that of the tuberoses gardeners grow in hot-houses, but
more searching.

"Now you breath smoke, Macumazana," he said, "and tell us what you
see. Oh! no fear, that not hurt you. Just like cigarette. Look," and
he inhaled some of the vapour and blew it out through his nostrils,
after which his face seemed to change to me, though what the change
was I could not define.

I hesitated till Scroope said:

"Come, Allan, don't shirk this Central African adventure. I'll try if
you like."

"No," said Harūt brusquely, "/you/ no good."

Then curiosity and perhaps the fear of being laughed at overcame me. I
took the bowl and held it under my nose, while Harūt threw over my
head the antimacassar which he had used in the mango trick, to keep in
the fumes I suppose.

At first these fumes were unpleasant, but just as I was about to drop
the bowl they seemed to become agreeable and to penetrate to the
inmost recesses of my being. The general affect of them was not unlike
that of the laughing gas which dentists give, with this difference,
that whereas the gas produces insensibility, these fumes seemed to set
the mind on fire and to burn away all limitations of time and
distance. Things shifted before me. It was as though I were no longer
in that room but travelling with inconceivable rapidity.

Suddenly I appeared to stop before a curtain of mist. The mist rolled
up in front of me and I saw a wild and wonderful scene. There lay a
lake surrounded by dense African forest. The sky above was still red
with the last lights of sunset and in it floated the full moon. On the
eastern side of the lake was a great open space where nothing seemed
to grow and all about this space were the skeletons of hundreds of
dead elephants. There they lay, some of them almost covered with grey
mosses hanging to their bones, through which their yellow tusks
projected as though they had been dead for centuries; others with the
rotting hide still on them. I knew that I was looking on a cemetery of
elephants, the place where these great beasts went to die, as I have
since been told the extinct moas did in New Zealand. All my life as a
hunter had I heard rumours of these cemeteries, but never before did I
see such a spot even in a dream.

See! There was one dying now, a huge gaunt bull that looked as though
it were several hundred years old. It stood there swaying to and fro.
Then it lifted its trunk, I suppose to trumpet, though of course I
could hear nothing, and slowly sank upon its knees and so remained in
the last relaxation of death.

Almost in the centre of this cemetery was a little mound of water-
washed rock that had endured when the rest of the stony plain was
denuded in past epochs. Suddenly upon that rock appeared the shape of
the most gigantic elephant that ever I beheld in all my long
experience. It had one enormous tusk, but the other was deformed and
broken off short. Its sides were scarred as though with fighting and
its eyes shone red and wickedly. Held in its trunk was the body of a
woman whose hair hung down upon one side and whose feet hung down upon
the other. Clasped in her arms was a child that seemed to be still

The rogue, as a brute of this sort is called, for evidently such it
was, dropped the corpse to the ground and stood a while, flapping its
ears. Then it felt for and picked up the child with its trunk, swung
it to and fro and finally tossed it high into the air, hurling it far
away. After this it walked to the elephant that I had just seen die,
and charged the carcass, knocking it over. Then having lifted its
trunk as though to trumpet in triumph, it shambled off towards the
forest and vanished.

The curtain of mist fell again and in it, dimly, I thought I saw--
well, never mind who or what I saw. Then I awoke.

"Well, did you see anything?" asked a chorus of voices.

I told them what I had seen, leaving out the last part.

"I say, old fellow," said Scroope, "you must have been pretty clever
to get all that in, for your eyes weren't shut for more than ten

"Then I wonder what you would say if I repeated everything," I
answered, for I still felt dreamy and not quite myself.

"You see elephant Jana?" asked Harūt. "He kill woman and child, eh?
Well, he do that every night. Well, that why people of White Kendah
want you to kill /him/ and take all that ivory which they no dare
touch because it in holy place and Black Kendah not let them. So he
live still. That what we wish know. Thank you much, Macumazana. You
very good look through-distance man. Just what I think. Kendah 'bacco
smoke work very well in you. Now, beautiful lady," he added turning to
Miss Holmes, "you like look too? Better look. Who knows what you see?"

Miss Holmes hesitated a moment, studying me with an inquiring eye. But
I made no sign, being in truth very curious to hear /her/ experience.

"Yes," she said.

"I would prefer, Luna, that you left this business alone," remarked
Lord Ragnall uneasily. "I think it is time that you ladies went to

"Here is a match," said Miss Holmes to Harūt who was engaged in
putting more tobacco into the bowl, the suspicion of a smile upon his
grave and statuesque countenance. Harūt received the match with a low
bow and fired the stuff as before. Then he handed the bowl, from which
once again the blue smoke curled upwards, to Miss Holmes, and gently
and gracefully let the antimacassar fall over it and her head, which
it draped as a wedding veil might do. A few seconds later she threw
off the antimacassar and cast the bowl, in which the fire was now out,
on to the floor. Then she stood up with wide eyes, looking wondrous
lovely and, notwithstanding her lack of height, majestic.

"I have been in another world," she said in a low voice as though she
spoke to the air, "I have travelled a great way. I found myself in a
small place made of stone. It was dark in the place, the fire in that
bowl lit it up. There was nothing there except a beautiful statue of a
naked baby which seemed to be carved in yellow ivory, and a chair made
of ebony inlaid with ivory and seated with string. I stood in front of
the statue of the Ivory Child. It seemed to come to life and smile at
me. Round its neck was a string of red stones. It took them from its
neck and set them upon mine. Then it pointed to the chair, and I sat
down in the chair. That was all."

Harūt followed her words with an interest that I could see was
intense, although he attempted to hide it. Then he asked me to
translate them, which I did.

As their full sense came home to him, although his face remained
impassive, I saw his dark eyes shine with the light of triumph.
Moreover I heard him whisper to Marūt words that seemed to mean,

"The Sacred Child accepts the Guardian. The Spirit of the White Kendah
finds a voice again."

Then as though involuntarily, but with the utmost reverence, both of
them bowed deeply towards Miss Holmes.

A babel of conversation broke out.

"What a ridiculous dream," I heard Lord Ragnall say in a vexed voice.
"An ivory child that seemed to come to life and to give you a
necklace. Whoever heard such nonsense?"

"Whoever heard such nonsense?" repeated Miss Holmes after him, as
though in polite acquiescence, but speaking as an automaton might

"I say," interrupted Scroope, addressing Miss Manners, "this is a
drawing-room entertainment and a half, isn't it, dear?"

"I don't know," answered Miss Manners, doubtfully, "it is rather too
queer for my taste. Tricks are all very well, but when it comes to
magic and visions I get frightened."

"Well, I suppose the show is over," said Lord Ragnall. "Quatermain,
would you mind asking your conjurer friends what I owe them?"

Here Harūt, who had understood, paused from packing up his properties
and answered,

"Nothing, O great Lord, nothing. It is we owe you much. Here we learn
what we want know long time. I mean if elephant Jana still kill people
of Kendah. Kendah 'bacco no speak to us. Only speak to new spirit. You
got great gift, lady, and you too, Macumazana. You not like smoke more
Kendah 'bacco and look into past, eh? Better look! Very full, past,
learn much there about all us; learn how things begin. Make you
understand lot what seem odd to-day. No! Well, one day you look
p'raps, 'cause past pull hard and call loud, only no one hear what it
say. Good night, O great Lord. Good night, O beautiful lady. Good
night, O Macumazana, till we meet again when you come kill elephant
Jana. Blessing of the Heaven-Child, who give rain, who protect all
danger, who give food, who give health, on you all."

Then making many obeisances they walked backwards to the door where
they put on their long cloaks.

At a sign from Lord Ragnall I accompanied them, an office which,
fearing more snakes, Mr. Savage was very glad to resign to me.
Presently we stood outside the house amidst the moaning trees, and
very cold it was there.

"What does all this mean, O men of Africa?" I asked.

"Answer the question yourself when you stand face to face with the
great elephant Jana that has in it an evil spirit, O Macumazana,"
replied Harūt. "Nay, listen. We are far from our home and we sought
tidings through those who could give it to us, and we have won those
tidings, that is all. We are worshippers of the Heavenly Child that is
eternal youth and all good things, but of late the Child has lacked a
tongue. Yet to-night it spoke again. Seek to know no more, you who in
due season will know all things."

"Seek to know no more," echoed Marūt, "who already, perhaps, know too
much, lest harm should come to you, Macumazana."

"Where are you going to sleep to-night?" I asked.

"We do not sleep here," answered Harūt, "we walk to the great city and
thence find our way to Africa, where we shall meet you again. You know
that we are no liars, common readers of thought and makers of tricks,
for did not Dogeetah, the wandering white man, speak to you of the
people of whom he had heard who worshipped the Child of Heaven? Go in,
Macumazana, ere you take harm in this horrible cold, and take with you
this as a marriage gift from the Child of Heaven whom she met
to-night, to the beautiful lady stamped with the sign of the young
moon who is about to marry the great lord she loves."

Then he thrust a little linen-wrapped parcel into my hand and with his
companion vanished into the darkness.

I returned to the drawing-room where the others were still discussing
the remarkable performance of the two native conjurers.

"They have gone," I said in answer to Lord Ragnall, "to walk to London
as they said. But they have sent a wedding-present to Miss Holmes,"
and I showed the parcel.

"Open it, Quatermain," he said again.

"No, George," interrupted Miss Holmes, laughing, for by now she seemed
to have quite recovered herself, "I like to open my own presents."

He shrugged his shoulders and I handed her the parcel, which was
neatly sewn up. Somebody produced scissors and the stitches were cut.
Within the linen was a necklace of beautiful red stones, oval-shaped
like amber beads and of the size of a robin's egg. They were roughly
polished and threaded on what I recognized at once to be hair from an
elephant's tail. From certain indications I judged these stones, which
might have been spinels or carbuncles, or even rubies, to be very
ancient. Possibly they had once hung round the neck of some lady in
old Egypt. Indeed a beautiful little statuette, also of red stone,
which was suspended from the centre of the necklace, suggested that
this was so, for it may well have been a likeness of one of the great
gods of the Egyptians, the infant Horus, the son of Isis.

"That is the necklace I saw which the Ivory Child gave me in my
dream," said Miss Holmes quietly.

Then with much deliberation she clasped it round her throat.



The sequel to the events of this evening may be told very briefly and
of it the reader can form his own judgment. I narrate it as it

That night I did not sleep at all well. It may have been because of
the excitement of the great shoot in which I found myself in
competition with another man whom I disliked and who had defrauded me
in the past, to say nothing of its physical strain in cold and heavy
weather. Or it may have been that my imagination was stirred by the
arrival of that strange pair, Harūt and Marūt, apparently in search of
myself, seven thousand miles away from any place where they can have
known aught of an insignificant individual with a purely local repute.
Or it may have been that the pictures which they showed me when under
the influence of the fumes of their "tobacco"--or of their hypnotism--
took an undue possession of my brain.

Or lastly, the strange coincidence that the beautiful betrothed of my
host should have related to me a tale of her childhood of which she
declared she had never spoken before, and that within an hour the two
principal actors in that tale should have appeared before my eyes and
hers (for I may state that from the beginning I had no doubt that they
were the same men), moved me and filled me with quite natural
foreboding. Or all these things together may have tended to a
concomitant effect. At any rate the issue was that I could not sleep.

For hour after hour I lay thinking and in an irritated way listening
for the chimes of the Ragnall stable-clock which once had adorned the
tower of the church and struck the quarters with a damnable
reiteration. I concluded that Messrs. Harūt and Marūt were a couple of
common Arab rogues such as I had seen performing at the African ports.
Then a quarter struck and I concluded that the elephants' cemetery
which I beheld in the smoke undoubtedly existed and that I meant to
collar those thousands of pounds' worth of ivory before I died. Then
after another quarter I concluded that there was no elephants'
cemetery--although by the way my old friend, Dogeetah or Brother John,
had mentioned such a thing to me--but that probably there was a tribe,
as he had also mentioned, called the Kendah, who worshipped a baby, or
rather its effigy.

Well now, as had already occurred to me, the old Egyptians, of whom I
was always fond of reading when I got a chance, also worshipped a
child, Horus the Saviour. And that child had a mother called Isis
symbolized in the crescent moon, the great Nature goddess, the
mistress of mysteries to whose cult ten thousand priests were sworn--
do not Herodotus and others, especially Apuleius, tell us all about
her? And by a queer coincidence Miss Holmes had the mark of a crescent
moon upon her breast. And when she was a child those two men, or
others very like them, had pointed out that mark to each other. And I
had seen them staring hard at it that night. And in her vapour-invoked
dream the "Heavenly Child," /alias/ Horus, or the double of Horus, the
/Ka/, I think the Egyptians called it, had awakened at the sight of
her and kissed her and given her the necklace of the goddess, and--all
the rest. What did it mean?

I went to sleep at last wondering what on earth it /could/ mean, till
presently that confounded clock woke me up again and I must go through
the whole business once more.

By degrees, this was towards dawn, I became aware that all hope of
rest had vanished from me utterly; that I was most painfully awake,
and what is more, oppressed by a curious fear to the effect that
something was going to happen to Miss Holmes. So vivid did this fear
become that at length I arose, lit a candle and dressed myself. As it
happened I knew where Miss Holmes slept. Her room, which I had seen
her enter, was on the same corridor as mine though at the other end of
it near the head of a stair that ran I knew not whither. In my
portmanteau that had been sent over from Miss Manners's house, amongst
other things was a small double-barrelled pistol which from long habit
I always carried with me loaded, except for the caps that were in a
little leather case with some spare ammunition attached to the pistol
belt. I took it out, capped it and thrust it into my pocket. Then I
slipped from the room and stood behind a tall clock in the corridor,
watching Miss Holmes's door and reflecting what a fool I should look
if anyone chanced to find me.

Half an hour or so later by the light of the setting moon which
struggled through a window, I saw the door open and Miss Holmes emerge
in a kind of dressing-gown and still wearing the necklace which Harūt
and Marūt had given her. Of this I was sure for the light gleamed upon
the red stones.

Also it shone upon her face and showed me without doubt that she was
walking in her sleep.

Gliding as silently as a ghost she crossed the corridor and vanished.
I followed and saw that she had descended an ancient, twisting
stairway which I had noted in the castle wall. I went after her, my
stockinged feet making no noise, feeling my way carefully in the
darkness of the stair, for I did not dare to strike a match. Beneath
me I heard a noise as of someone fumbling with bolts. Then a door
creaked on its hinges and there was some light. When I reached the
doorway I caught sight of the figure of Miss Holmes flitting across a
hollow garden that was laid out in the bottom of the castle moat which
had been drained. The garden, as I had observed when we walked through
it on the previous day on our way to the first covert that we shot,
was bordered by a shrubbery through which ran paths that led to the
back drive of the castle.

Across the garden glided the figure of Miss Holmes and after it went
I, crouching and taking cover behind every bush as though I were
stalking big game, which indeed I was. She entered the shrubbery,
moving much more swiftly now, for as she went she seemed to gather
speed, like a stone which is rolled down a hill. It was as though
whatever might be attracting her, for I felt sure that she was being
drawn by something, acted more strongly upon her sleeping will as she
drew nearer to it. For a while I lost sight of her in the shadow of
the tall trees. Then suddenly I saw her again, standing quite still in
an opening caused by the blowing down in the gale of one of the avenue
of elms that bordered the back drive. But now she was no longer alone,
for advancing towards her were two cloaked figures in whom I
recognized Harūt and Marūt.

There she stood with outstretched arms, and towards her, stealthily as
lions stalking a buck, came Harūt and Marūt. Moreover, between the
naked boughs of the fallen elm I caught sight of what looked like the
outline of a closed carriage standing upon the drive. Also I heard a
horse stamp upon the frosty ground. Round the edge of the little glade
I ran, keeping in the dark shadow, as I went cocking the pistol that
was in my pocket. Then suddenly I darted out and stood between Harūt
and Marūt and Miss Holmes.

Not a word passed between us. I think that all three of us
subconsciously were anxious not to awake the sleeping woman, knowing
that if we did so there would be a terrible scene. Only after
motioning to me to stand aside, of course in vain, Harūt and Marūt
drew from their robes curved and cruel-looking knives and bowed, for
even now their politeness did not forsake them. I bowed back and when
I straightened myself those enterprising Easterns found that I was
covering the heart of Harūt with my pistol. Then with that perception
which is part of the mental outfit of the great, they saw that the
game was up since I could have shot them both before a knife touched

"You have won this time, O Watcher-by-Night," whispered Harūt softly,
"but another time you will lose. That beautiful lady belongs to us and
the People of the White Kendah, for she is marked with the holy mark
of the young moon. The call of the Child of Heaven is heard in her
heart, and will bring her home to the Child as it has brought her to
us to-night. Now lead her hence still sleeping, O brave and clever
one, so well named Watcher-by-Night."

Then they were gone and presently I heard the sound of horses being
driven rapidly along the drive.

For a moment I hesitated as to whether I would or would not run in and
shoot those horses. Two considerations stayed me. The first was that
if I did so my pistol would be empty, or even if I shot one horse and
retained a barrel loaded, with it I could only kill a single man,
leaving myself defenceless against the knife of the other. The second
consideration was that now as before I did not wish to wake up Miss

I crept to her and not knowing what else to do, took hold of one of
her outstretched hands. She turned and came with me at once as though
she knew me, remaining all the while fast asleep. Thus we went back to
the house, through the still open door, up the stairway straight to
her own room, on the threshold of which I loosed her hand. The room
was dark and I could see nothing, but I listened until I heard a sound
as of a person throwing herself upon the bed and drawing up the
blankets. Then knowing that she was safe for a while, I shut the door,
which opened outwards as doors of ancient make sometimes do, and set
against it a little table that stood in the passage.

Next, after reflecting for a minute, the circumstances being awkward
in many ways, I went to my room and lit a candle. Obviously it was my
duty to inform Lord Ragnall of what had happened and that as soon as
possible. But I had no idea in what part of that huge building his
sleeping place might be, nor, for patent reasons, was it desirable
that I should disturb the house and so create talk. In this dilemma I
remembered that Lord Ragnall's confidential servant, Mr. Savage, when
he conducted me to my room on the previous night, which he made a
point of doing perhaps because he wished to talk over the matter of
the snakes that had found their way into his pockets, had shown me a
bell in it which he said rang outside his door. He called it an
"emergency bell." I remarked idly that it was improbable that I should
have any occasion for its use.

"Who knows, sir?" said Mr. Savage prophetically. "There are folk who
say that this old castle is haunted, which after what I have seen
to-night I can well believe. If you should chance to meet a ghost
looking, let us say, like those black villains, Harum and Scarum, or
whatever they call themselves--well, sir, two's better company than

I considered that bell but was loath to ring it for the reasons I have
given. Then I went outside the room and looked. As I had hoped might
be the case, there ran the wire on the face of the wall connected
along its length by other wires with the various rooms it passed.

I set to work and followed that wire. It was not an easy job; indeed
once or twice it reminded me of that story of the old Greek hero who
found his way through a labyrinth by means of a silken thread. I
forget whether it were a bull or a lady he was looking for, but with
care and perseverance he found one or the other, or it may have been

Down staircases and various passages I went with my eye glued upon the
wire, which occasionally got mixed up with other wires, till at length
it led me through a swing door covered with red baize into what
appeared to be a modern annexe to the castle. Here at last it
terminated on the spring of an alarming-looking and deep-throated bell
that hung immediately over a certain door.

On this door I knocked, hoping that it might be that of Mr. Savage and
praying earnestly that it did not enclose the chaste resting-place of
the cook or any other female. Too late, I mean after I had knocked, it
occurred to me that if so my position would be painful to a degree.
However in this particular Fortune stood my friend, which does not
always happen to the virtuous. For presently I heard a voice which I
recognized as that of Mr. Savage, asking, not without a certain quaver
in its tone,

"Who the devil is that?"

"Me," I replied, being flustered.

"'Me' won't do," said the voice. 'Me' might be Harum or it might be
Scarum, or it might be someone worse. Who's 'Me'?"

"Allan Quatermain, you idiot," I whispered through the keyhole.

"Anna who? Well, never mind. Go away, Hanna. I'll talk to you in the

Then I kicked the door, and at length, very cautiously, Mr. Savage
opened it.

"Good heavens, sir," he said, "what are you doing here, sir? Dressed
too, at this hour, and with the handle of a pistol sticking out of
your pocket--or is it--the head of a snake?" and he jumped back, a
strange and stately figure in a long white nightshirt which apparently
he wore over his underclothing.

I entered the room and shut the door, whereon he politely handed me a
chair, remarking,

"Is it ghosts, sir, or are you ill, or is it Harum and Scarum, of whom
I have been thinking all night? Very cold too, sir, being afraid to
pull up the bedclothes for fear lest there might be more reptiles in
them." He pointed to his dress-coat hanging on the back of another
chair with both the pockets turned inside out, adding tragically, "To
think, sir, that this new coat has been a nest of snakes, which I have
hated like poison from a child, and me almost a teetotaller!"

"Yes," I said impatiently, "it's Harum and Scarum as you call them.
Take me to Lord Ragnall's bedroom at once."

"Ah! sir, burgling, I suppose, or mayhap worse," he exclaimed as he
threw on some miscellaneous garments and seized a life-preserver which
hung upon a hook. "Now I'm ready, only I hope they have left their
snakes behind. I never could bear the sight of a snake, and they seem
to know it--the brutes."

In due course we reached Lord Ragnall's room, which Mr. Savage
entered, and in answer to a stifled inquiry exclaimed,

"Mr. Allan Quatermain to see you, my lord."

"What is it, Quatermain?" he asked, sitting up in bed and yawning.
"Have you had a nightmare?"

"Yes," I answered, and Savage having left us and shut the door, I told
him everything as it is written down.

"Great heavens!" he exclaimed when I had finished. "If it had not been
for you and your intuition and courage----"

"Never mind me," I interrupted. "The question is--what should be done
now? Are you going to try to arrest these men, or will you--hold your
tongue and merely cause them to be watched?"

"Really I don't know. Even if we can catch them the whole story would
sound so strange in a law-court, and all sorts of things might be

"Yes, Lord Ragnall, it would sound so strange that I beg you will come
at once to see the evidences of what I tell you, before rain or snow
obliterates them, bringing another witness with you. Lady Longden,

"Lady Longden! Why one might as well write to /The Times/. I have it!
There's Savage. He is faithful and can be silent."

So Savage was called in and, while Lord Ragnall dressed himself
hurriedly, told the outline of his story under pain of instant
dismissal if he breathed a word. Really to watch his face was as good
as a play. So astonished was he that all he could ejaculate was--

"The black-hearted villains! Well, they ain't friendly with snakes for

Then having made sure that Miss Holmes was still in her room, we went
down the twisting stair and through the side doorway, locking the door
after us. By now the dawn was breaking and there was enough light to
enable me in certain places where the snow that fell after the gale
remained, to show Lord Ragnall and Savage the impress of the little
bedroom slippers which Miss Holmes wore, and of my stockinged feet
following after.

In the plantation things were still easier, for every detail of the
movements of the four of us could be traced. Moreover, on the back
drive was the spoor of the horses and the marks of the wheels of the
carriage that had been brought for the purposes of the abduction. Also
my great good fortune, for this seemed to prove my theory, we found a
parcel wrapped in native linen that appeared to have fallen out of the
carriage when Harūt and Marūt made their hurried escape, as one of the
wheels had gone over it. It contained an Eastern woman's dress and
veil, intended, I suppose, to be used in disguising Miss Holmes, who
thence-forward would have appeared to be the wife or daughter of one
of the abductors.

Savage discovered this parcel, which he lifted only to drop it with a
yell, for underneath it lay a torpid snake, doubtless one of those
that had been used in the performance.

Of these discoveries and many other details, on our return to the
house, Lord Ragnall made full notes in a pocket-book, that when
completed were signed by all three of us.

There is not much more to tell, that is of this part of the story. The
matter was put into the hands of detectives who discovered that the
Easterns had driven to London, where all traces of the carriage which
conveyed them was lost. They, however, embarked upon a steamer called
the /Antelope/, together with two native women, who probably had been
provided to look after Miss Holmes, and sailed that very afternoon for
Egypt. Thither, of course, it was useless to follow them in those
days, even if it had been advisable to do so.

To return to Miss Holmes. She came down to breakfast looking very
charming but rather pale. Again I sat next to her and took some
opportunity to ask her how she had rested that night.

She replied, Very well and yet very ill, since, although she never
remembered sleeping more soundly in her life, she had experienced all
sorts of queer dreams of which she could remember nothing at all, a
circumstance that annoyed her much, as she was sure that they were
most interesting. Then she added,

"Do you know, Mr. Quatermain, I found a lot of mud on my dressing-gown
this morning, and my bedroom slippers were also a mass of mud and wet
through. How do you account for that? It is just as though I had been
walking about outside in my sleep, which is absurd, as I never did
such a thing in my life."

Not feeling equal to the invention of any convincing explanation of
these phenomena, I upset the marmalade pot on to the table in such a
way that some of it fell upon her dress, and then covered my retreat
with profuse apologies. Understanding my dilemma, for he had heard
something of this talk, Lord Ragnall came to my aid with a startling
statement of which I forget the purport, and thus that crisis passed.

Shortly after breakfast Scroope announced to Miss Manners that her
carriage was waiting, and we departed. Before I went, as it chanced, I
had a few private words with my host, with Miss Holmes, and with the
magnificent Mr. Savage. To the last, by the way, I offered a tip which
he refused, saying that after all we had gone through together he
could not allow "money to come between us," by which he meant, to pass
from my pocket to his. Lord Ragnall asked me for both my English and
my African addresses, which he noted in his pocket-book. Then he said,

"Really, Quatermain, I feel as though I had known you for years
instead of three days; if you will allow me I will add that I should
like to know a great deal more of you." (He was destined to do so,
poor fellow, though neither of us knew it at the time.) "If ever you
come to England again I hope you will make this house your

"And if ever you come to South Africa, Lord Ragnall, I hope you will
make my four-roomed shanty on the Berea at Durban your headquarters.
You will get a hearty welcome there and something to eat, but little

"There is nothing I should like better, Quatermain. Circumstances have
put me in a certain position in this country, still to tell you the
truth there is a great deal about the life of which I grow very tired.
But you see I am going to be married, and that I fear means an end of
travelling, since naturally my wife will wish to take her place in
society and the rest."

"Of course," I replied, "for it is not every young lady who has the
luck to become an English peeress with all the etceteras, is it? Still
I am not so sure but that Miss Holmes will take to travelling some
day, although I /am/ sure that she would do better to stay at home."

He looked at me curiously, then asked,

"You don't think there is anything really serious in all this
business, do you?"

"I don't know what to think," I answered, "except that you will do
well to keep a good eye upon your wife. What those Easterns tried to
do last night and, I think, years ago, they may try again soon, or
years hence, for evidently they are patient and determined men with
much to win. Also it is a curious coincidence that she should have
that mark upon her which appeals so strongly to Messrs. Harūt and
Marūt, and, to be brief, she is in some ways different from most young
women. As she said to me herself last night, Lord Ragnall, we are
surrounded by mysteries; mysteries of blood, of inherited spirit, of
this world generally in which it is probable that we all descended
from quite a few common ancestors. And beyond these are other
mysteries of the measureless universe to which we belong, that may
already be exercising their strong and secret influences upon us, as
perhaps, did we know it, they have done for millions of years in the
Infinite whence we came and whither we go."

I suppose I spoke somewhat solemnly, for he said,

"Do you know you frighten me a little, though I don't quite understand
what you mean." Then we parted.

With Miss Holmes my conversation was shorter. She remarked,

"It has been a great pleasure to me to meet you. I do not remember
anybody with whom I have found myself in so much sympathy--except one
of course. It is strange to think that when we meet again I shall be a
married woman."

"I do not suppose we shall ever meet again, Miss Holmes. Your life is
here, mine is in the wildest places of a wild land far away."

"Oh! yes, we shall," she answered. "I learned this and lots of other
things when I held my head in that smoke last night."

Then we also parted.

Lastly Mr. Savage arrived with my coat. "Goodbye, Mr. Quatermain," he
said. "If I forget everything else I shall never forget you and those
villains, Harum and Scarum and their snakes. I hope it won't be my lot
ever to clap eyes on them again, Mr. Quatermain, and yet somehow I
don't feel so sure of that."

"Nor do I," I replied, with a kind of inspiration, after which
followed the episode of the rejected tip.



Fully two years had gone by since I bade farewell to Lord Ragnall and
Miss Holmes, and when the curtain draws up again behold me seated on
the stoep of my little house at Durban, plunged in reflection and very
sad indeed. Why I was sad I will explain presently.

In that interval of time I had heard once or twice about Lord Ragnall.
Thus I received from Scroope a letter telling of his lordship's
marriage with Miss Holmes, which, it appeared, had been a very fine
affair indeed, quite one of the events of the London season. Two
Royalties attended the ceremony, a duke was the best man, and the
presents according to all accounts were superb and of great value,
including a priceless pearl necklace given by the bridegroom to the
bride. A cutting from a society paper which Scroope enclosed dwelt at
length upon the splendid appearance of the bridegroom and the sweet
loveliness of the bride. Also it described her dress in language which
was Greek to me. One sentence, however, interested me intensely.

It ran: "The bride occasioned some comment by wearing only one
ornament, although the Ragnall family diamonds, which have not seen
the light for many years, are known to be some of the finest in the
country. It was a necklace of what appeared to be large but rather
roughly polished rubies, to which hung a small effigy of an Egyptian
god also fashioned from a ruby. It must be added that although of an
unusual nature on such an occasion this jewel suited her dark beauty
well. Lady Ragnall's selection of it, however, from the many she
possesses was the cause of much speculation. When asked by a friend
why she had chosen it, she is reported to have said that it was to
bring her good fortune."

Now why did she wear the barbaric marriage gift of Harūt and Marūt in
preference to all the other gems at her disposal, I wondered. The
thing was so strange as to be almost uncanny.

The second piece of information concerning this pair reached me
through the medium of an old /Times/ newspaper which I received over a
year later. It was to the effect that a son and heir had been born to
Lord Ragnall and that both mother and child were doing well.

So there's the end to a very curious little story, thought I to

Well, during those two years many things befell me. First of all, in
company with my old friend Sir Stephen Somers, I made the expedition
to Pongoland in search of the wonderful orchid which he desired to add
to his collection. I have already written of that journey and our
extraordinary adventures, and need therefore allude to it no more
here, except to say that during the course of it I was sorely tempted
to travel to the territory north of the lake in which the Pongos
dwelt. Much did I desire to see whether Messrs. Harūt and Marūt would
in truth appear to conduct me to the land where the wonderful elephant
which was supposed to be animated by an evil spirit was waiting to be
killed by my rifle. However, I resisted the impulse, as indeed our
circumstances obliged me to do. In the end we returned safely to
Durban, and here I came to the conclusion that never again would I
risk my life on such mad expeditions.

Owing to circumstances which I have detailed elsewhere I was now in
possession of a considerable sum of cash, and this I determined to lay
out in such a fashion as to make me independent of hunting and trading
in the wilder regions of Africa. As usual when money is forthcoming,
an opportunity soon presented itself in the shape of a gold mine which
had been discovered on the borders of Zululand, one of the first that
was ever found in those districts. A Jew trader named Jacob brought it
to my notice and offered me a half share if I would put up the capital
necessary to work the mine. I made a journey of inspection and
convinced myself that it was indeed a wonderful proposition. I need
not enter into the particulars nor, to tell the truth, have I any
desire to do so, for the subject is still painful to me, further than
to say that this Jew and some friends of his panned out visible gold
before my eyes and then revealed to me the magnificent quartz reef
from which, as they demonstrated, it had been washed in the bygone
ages of the world. The news of our discovery spread like wildfire, and
as, whatever else I might be, everyone knew that I was honest, in the
end a small company was formed with Allan Quatermain, Esq., as the
chairman of the Bona Fide Gold Mine, Limited.

Oh! that company! Often to this day I dream of it when I have

Our capital was small, £10,000, of which the Jew, who was well named
Jacob, and his friends, took half (for nothing of course) as the
purchase price of their rights. I thought the proportion large and
said so, especially after I had ascertained that these rights had cost
them exactly three dozen of square-face gin, a broken-down wagon, four
cows past the bearing age and £5 in cash. However, when it was pointed
out to me that by their peculiar knowledge and genius they had located
and provided the value of a property of enormous potential worth,
moreover that this sum was to be paid to them in scrip which would
only be realizable when success was assured and not in money, after a
night of anxious consideration I gave way.

Personally, before I consented to accept the chairmanship, which
carried with it a salary of £100 a year (which I never got), I bought
and paid for in cash, shares to the value of £1,000 sterling. I
remember that Jacob and his friends seemed surprised at this act of
mine, as they had offered to give me five hundred of their shares for
nothing "in consideration of the guarantee of my name." These I
refused, saying that I would not ask others to invest in a venture in
which I had no actual money stake; whereon they accepted my decision,
not without enthusiasm. In the end the balance of £4,000 was
subscribed and we got to work. Work is a good name for it so far as I
was concerned, for never in all my days have I gone through so
harrowing a time.

We began by washing a certain patch of gravel and obtained results
which seemed really astonishing. So remarkable were they that on
publication the shares rose to 10s. premium. Jacob and Co. took
advantage of this opportunity to sell quite half of their bonus
holding to eager applicants, explaining to me that they did so not for
personal profit, which they scorned, but "to broaden the basis of the
undertaking by admitting fresh blood."

It was shortly after this boom that the gravel surrounding the rich
patch became very gravelly indeed, and it was determined that we
should buy a small battery and begin to crush the quartz from which
the gold was supposed to flow in a Pactolian stream. We negotiated for
that battery through a Cape Town firm of engineers--but why follow the
melancholy business in all its details? The shares began to decrease
in value. They shrank to their original price of £1, then to 15s.,
then to 10s. Jacob, he was managing director, explained to me that it
was necessary to "support the market," as he was already doing to an
enormous extent, and that I as chairman ought to take a "lead in this
good work" in order to show my faith in the concern.

I took a lead to the extent of another £500, which was all that I
could afford. I admit that it was a shock to such trust in human
nature as remained to me when I discovered subsequently that the 1,000
shares which I bought for my £500 had really been the property of
Jacob, although they appeared to be sold to me in various other names.

The crisis came at last, for before that battery was delivered our
available funds were exhausted, and no one would subscribe another
halfpenny. Debentures, it is true, had been issued and taken up to the
extent of about £1,000 out of the £5,000 offered, though who bought
them remained at the time a mystery to me. Ultimately a meeting was
called to consider the question of liquidating the company, and at
this meeting, after three sleepless nights, I occupied the chair.

When I entered the room, to my amazement I found that of the five
directors only one was present besides myself, an honest old retired
sea captain who had bought and paid for 300 shares. Jacob and the two
friends who represented his interests had, it appeared, taken ship
that morning for Cape Town, whither they were summoned to attend
various relatives who had been seized with illness.

It was a stormy meeting at first. I explained the position to the best
of my ability, and when I had finished was assailed with a number of
questions which I could not answer to the satisfaction of myself or of
anybody else. Then a gentleman, the owner of ten shares, who had
evidently been drinking, suggested in plain language that I had
cheated the shareholders by issuing false reports.

I jumped up in a fury and, although he was twice my size, asked him to
come and argue the question outside, whereon he promptly went away.
This incident excited a laugh, and then the whole truth came out. A
man with coloured blood in him stood up and told a story which was
subsequently proved to be true. Jacob had employed him to "salt" the
mine by mixing a heavy sprinkling of gold in the gravel we had first
washed (which the coloured man swore he did in innocence), and
subsequently had defrauded him of his wages. That was all. I sank back
in my chair overcome. Then some good fellow in the audience, who had
lost money himself in the affair and whom I scarcely knew, got up and
made a noble speech which went far to restore my belief in human

He said in effect that it was well known that I, Allan Quatermain,
after working like a horse in the interests of the shareholders, had
practically ruined myself over this enterprise, and that the real
thief was Jacob, who had made tracks for the Cape, taking with him a
large cash profit resulting from the sale of shares. Finally he
concluded by calling for "three cheers for our honest friend and
fellow sufferer, Mr. Allan Quatermain."

Strange to say the audience gave them very heartily indeed. I thanked
them with tears in my eyes, saying that I was glad to leave the room
as poor as I had ever been, but with a reputation which my conscience
as well as their kindness assured me was quite unblemished.

Thus the winding-up resolution was passed and that meeting came to an
end. After shaking hands with my deliverer from a most unpleasant
situation, I walked homewards with the lightest heart in the world. My
money was gone, it was true; also my over-confidence in others had led
me to make a fool of myself by accepting as fact, on what I believed
to be the evidence of my eyes, that which I had not sufficient expert
knowledge to verify. But my honour was saved, and as I have again and
again seen in the course of life, money is nothing when compared with
honour, a remark which Shakespeare made long ago, though like many
other truths this is one of which a full appreciation can only be
gained by personal experience.

Not very far from the place where our meeting had been held I passed a
side street then in embryo, for it had only one or two houses situated
in their gardens and a rather large and muddy sluit of water running
down one side at the edge of the footpath. Save for two people this
street was empty, but that pair attracted my attention. They were a
white man, in whom I recognized the stout and half-intoxicated
individual who had accused me of cheating the company and then
departed, and a withered old Hottentot who at that distance, nearly a
hundred yards away, much reminded me of a certain Hans.

This Hans, I must explain, was originally a servant of my father, who
was a missionary in the Cape Colony, and had been my companion in many
adventures. Thus in my youth he and I alone escaped when Dingaan
murdered Retief and his party of Boers,[*] and he had been one of my
party in our quest for the wonderful orchid, the record of which I
have written down in "The Holy Flower."

[*] See the book called "Marie."--Editor.

Hans had his weak points, among which must be counted his love of
liquor, but he was a gallant and resourceful old fellow as indeed he
had amply proved upon that orchid-seeking expedition. Moreover he
loved me with a love passing the love of women. Now, having acquired
some money in a way I need not stop to describe--for is it not written
elsewhere?--he was settled as a kind of little chief on a farm not
very far from Durban, where he lived in great honour because of the
fame of his deeds.

The white man and Hans, if Hans it was, were engaged in violent
altercation whereof snatches floated to me on the breeze, spoken in
the Dutch tongue.

"You dirty little Hottentot!" shouted the white man, waving a stick,
"I'll cut the liver out of you. What do you mean by nosing about after
me like a jackal?" And he struck at Hans, who jumped aside.

"Son of a fat white sow," screamed Hans in answer (for the moment I
heard his voice I knew that it was Hans), "did you dare to call the
Baas a thief? Yes, a thief, O Rooter in the mud, O Feeder on filth and
worms, O Hog of the gutter--the Baas, the clipping of whose nail is
worth more than you and all your family, he whose honour is as clear
as the sunlight and whose heart is cleaner than the white sand of the

"Yes, I did," roared the white man; "for he got my money in the gold

"Then, hog, why did you run away. Why did you not wait to tell him so
outside that house?"

"I'll teach you about running away, you little yellow dog," replied
the other, catching Hans a cut across the ribs.

"Oh! you want to see me run, do you?" said Hans, skipping back a few
yards with wonderful agility. "Then look!"

Thus speaking he lowered his head and charged like a buffalo. Fair in
the middle he caught that white man, causing him to double up, fly
backwards and land with a most resounding splash in the deepest part
of the muddy sluit. Here I may remark that, as his shins are the
weakest, a Hottentot's head is by far the hardest and most dangerous
part of him. Indeed it seems to partake of the nature of a cannon
ball, for, without more than temporary disturbance to its possessor, I
have seen a half-loaded wagon go over one of them on a muddy road.

Having delivered this home thrust Hans bolted round a corner and
disappeared, while I waited trembling to see what happened to his
adversary. To my relief nearly a minute later he crept out of the
sluit covered with mud and dripping with water and hobbled off slowly
down the street, his head so near his feet that he looked as though he
had been folded in two, and his hands pressed upon what I believe is
medically known as the diaphragm. Then I also went upon my way roaring
with laughter. Often I have heard Hottentots called the lowest of
mankind, but, reflected I, they can at any rate be good friends to
those who treat them well--a fact of which I was to have further proof
ere long.

By the time I reached my house and had filled my pipe and sat myself
down in the dilapidated cane chair on the veranda, that natural
reaction set in which so often follows rejoicing at the escape from a
great danger. It was true that no one believed I had cheated them over
that thrice-accursed gold mine, but how about other matters?

I mused upon the Bible narrative of Jacob and Esau with a new and very
poignant sympathy for Esau. I wondered what would become of my Jacob.
Jacob, I mean the original, prospered exceedingly as a result of his
deal in porridge, and, as thought I, probably would his artful
descendant who so appropriately bore his name. As a matter of fact I
do not know what became of him, but bearing his talents in mind I
think it probable that, like Van Koop, under some other patronymic he
has now been rewarded with a title by the British Government. At any
rate I had eaten the porridge in the shape of worthless but dearly
purchased shares, after labouring hard at the chase of the golden
calf, while brother Jacob had got my inheritance, or rather my money.
Probably he was now counting it over in sovereigns upon the ship and
sniggering as he thought of the shareholders' meeting with me in the
chair. Well, he was a thief and would run his road to whatever end is
appointed for thieves, so why should I bother my head more about him?
As I had kept my honour--let him take my savings.

But I had a son to support, and now what was I to do with scarcely
three hundred pounds, a good stock of guns and this little Durban
property left to me in the world? Commerce in all its shapes I
renounced once and for ever. It was too high--or too low--for me; so
it would seem that there remained to me only my old business of
professional hunting. Once again I must seek those adventures which I
had forsworn when my evil star shone so brightly over a gold mine.
What was it to be? Elephants, I supposed, since these are the only
creatures worth killing from a money point of view. But most of my old
haunts had been more or less shot out. The competition of younger
professionals, of wandering backveld Boers and even of poaching
natives who had obtained guns, was growing severe. If I went at all I
should have to travel farther afield.

Whilst I meditated thus, turning over the comparative advantages or
disadvantages of various possible hunting grounds in my mind, my
attention was caught by a kind of cough that seemed to proceed from
the farther side of a large gardenia bush. It was not a human cough,
but rather resembled that made by a certain small buck at night,
probably to signal to its mate, which of course it could not be as
there were no buck within several miles. Yet I knew it came from a
human throat, for had I not heard it before in many an hour of
difficulty and danger?

"Draw near, Hans," I said in Dutch, and instantly out of a clump of
aloes that grew in front of the pomegranate hedge, crept the withered
shape of the old Hottentot, as a big yellow snake might do. Why he
should choose this method of advance instead of that offered by the
garden path I did not know, but it was quite in accordance with his
secretive nature, inherited from a hundred generations of ancestors
who spent their lives avoiding the observation of murderous foes.

He squatted down in front of me, staring in a vacant way at the fierce
ball of the westering sun without blinking an eyelid, just as a
vulture does.

"You look to me as though you had been fighting, Hans," I said. "The
crown of your hat is knocked out; you are splashed with mud and there
is the mark of a stick upon your left side."

"Yes, Baas. You are right as usual, Baas. I had a quarrel with a man
about sixpence that he owed me, and knocked him over with my head,
forgetting to take my hat off first. Therefore it is spoiled, for
which I am sorry, as it was quite a new hat, not two years old. The
Baas gave it me. He bought it in a store at Utrecht when we were
coming back from Pongoland."

"Why do you lie to me?" I asked "You have been fighting a white man
and for more than sixpence. You knocked him into a sluit and the mud
splashed up over you."

"Yes, Baas, that is so. Your spirit speaks truly to you of the matter.
Yet it wanders a little from the path, since I fought the white man
for less than sixpence. I fought him for love, which is nothing at

"Then you are even a bigger fool than I took you for, Hans. What do
you want now?"

"I want to borrow a pound, Baas. The white man will take me before the
magistrate, and I shall be fined a pound, or fourteen days in the
/trunk/ (i.e. jail). It is true that the white man struck me first,
but the magistrate will not believe the word of a poor old Hottentot
against his, and I have no witness. He will say, 'Hans, you were drunk
again. Hans, you are a liar and deserve to be flogged, which you will
be next time. Pay a pound and ten shillings more, which is the price
of good white justice, or go to the /trunk/ for fourteen days and make
baskets there for the great Queen to use.' Baas, I have the price of
the justice which is ten shillings, but I want to borrow the pound for
the fine."

"Hans, I think that just now you are better able to lend me a pound
than I am to lend one to you. My bag is empty, Hans."

"Is it so, Baas? Well, it does not matter. If necessary I can make
baskets for the great white Queen to put her food in, for fourteen
days, or mats on which she will wipe her feet. The /trunk/ is not such
a bad place, Baas. It gives time to think of the white man's justice
and to thank the Great One in the Sky, because the little sins one did
not do have been found out and punished, while the big sins one did
do, such as--well, never mind, Baas--have not been found out at all.
Your reverend father, the Predikant, always taught me to have a
thankful heart, Baas, and when I remember that I have only been in the
/trunk/ for three months altogether who, if all were known, ought to
have been there for years, I remember his words, Baas."

"Why should you go to the /trunk/ at all, Hans, when you are rich and
can pay a fine, even if it were a hundred pounds?"

"A month or two ago it is true I was rich, Baas, but now I am poor. I
have nothing left except ten shillings."

"Hans," I said severely, "you have been gambling again; you have been
drinking again. You have sold your property and your cattle to pay
your gambling debts and to buy square-face gin."

"Yes, Baas, and for no good it seems; though it is not true that I
have been drinking. I sold the land and the cattle for £650, Baas, and
with the money I bought other things."

"What did you buy?" I said.

He fumbled first in one pocket of his coat and then in the other, and
ultimately produced a crumpled and dirty-looking piece of paper that
resembled a bank-note. I took and examined this document and next
minute nearly fainted. It certified that Hans was the proprietor of I
know not how many debentures or shares, I forget which they were, in
the Bona Fide Gold Mine, Limited, that same company of which I was the
unlucky chairman, in consideration for which he had paid a sum of over
six hundred and fifty pounds.

"Hans," I said feebly, "from whom did you buy this?"

"From the baas with the hooked nose, Baas. He who was named Jacob,
after the great man in the Bible of whom your father, the Predikant,
used to tell us, that one who was so slim and dressed himself up in a
goatskin and gave his brother mealie porridge when he was hungry,
after he had come in from shooting buck, Baas, and got his farm and
cattle, Baas, and then went to Heaven up a ladder, Baas."

"And who told you to buy them, Hans?"

"Sammy, Baas, he who was your cook when we went to Pongoland, he who
hid in the mealie-pit when the slavers burned Beza-Town and came out
half cooked like a fowl from the oven. The Baas Jacob stopped at
Sammy's hotel, Baas, and told him that unless he bought bits of paper
like this, of which he had plenty, you would be brought before the
magistrate and sent to the /trunk/, Baas. So Sammy bought some, Baas,
but not many for he had only a little money, and the Baas Jacob paid
him for all he ate and drank with other bits of paper. Then Sammy came
to me and showed me what it was my duty to do, reminding me that your
reverend father, the Predikant, had left you in my charge till one of
us dies, whether you were well or ill and whether you got better or
got worse--just like a white wife, Baas. So I sold the farm and the
cattle to a friend of the Baas Jacob's, at a very low price, Baas, and
that is all the story."

I heard and, to tell the honest truth, almost I wept, since the
thought of the sacrifice which this poor old Hottentot had made for my
sake on the instigation of a rogue utterly overwhelmed me.

"Hans," I asked recovering myself, "tell me what was that new name
which the Zulu captain Mavovo gave you before he died, I mean after
you had fired Beza-Town and caught Hassan and his slavers in their own

Hans, who had suddenly found something that interested him extremely
out at sea, perhaps because he did not wish to witness my grief,
turned round slowly and answered:

"Mavovo named me Light-in-Darkness, and by that name the Kafirs know
me now, Baas, though some of them call me Lord-of-the-Fire."

"Then Mavovo named you well, for indeed, Hans, you shine like a light
in the darkness of my heart. I whom you think wise am but a fool,
Hans, who has been tricked by a /vernuker/, a common cheat, and he has
tricked you and Sammy as well. But as he has shown me that man can be
very vile, you have shown me that he can be very noble; and, setting
the one against the other, my spirit that was in the dust rises up
once more like a withered flower after rain. Light-in-Darkness,
although if I had ten thousand pounds I could never pay you back--
since what you have given me is more than all the gold in the world
and all the land and all the cattle--yet with honour and with love I
will try to pay you," and I held out my hand to him.

He took it and pressed it against his wrinkled old forehead, then

"Talk no more of that, Baas, for it makes me sad, who am so happy. How
often have you forgiven me when I have done wrong? How often have you
not flogged me when I should have been flogged for being drunk and
other things--yes, even when once I stole some of your powder and sold
it to buy square-face gin, though it is true I knew it was bad powder,
not fit for you to use? Did I thank you then overmuch? Why therefore
should you thank me who have done but a little thing, not really to
help you but because, as you know, I love gambling, and was told that
this bit of paper would soon be worth much more than I gave for it. If
it had proved so, should I have given you that money? No, I should
have kept it myself and bought a bigger farm and more cattle."

"Hans," I said sternly, "if you lie so hard, you will certainly go to
hell, as the Predikant, my father, often told you."

"Not if I lie for you, Baas, or if I do it doesn't matter, except that
then we should be separated by the big kloof written of in the Book,
especially as there I should meet the Baas Jacob, as I very much want
to do for a reason of my own."

Not wishing to pursue this somewhat unchristian line of thought, I
inquired of him why he felt happy.

"Oh! Baas," he answered with a twinkle in his little black eyes,
"can't you guess why? Now you have very little money left and I have
none at all. Therefore it is plain that we must go somewhere to earn
money, and I am glad of that, Baas, for I am tired of sitting on that
farm out there and growing mealies and milking cows, especially as I
am too old to marry, Baas, as you are tired of looking for gold where
there isn't any and singing sad songs in that house of meeting yonder
like you did this afternoon. Oh! the Great Father in the skies knew
what He was about when He sent the Baas Jacob our way. He beat us for
our good, Baas, as He does always if we could only understand."

I reflected to myself that I had not often heard the doctrine of the
Church better or more concisely put, but I only said:

"That is true, Hans, and I thank you for the lesson, the second you
have taught me to-day. But where are we to go to, Hans? Remember, it
must be elephants."

He suggested some places; indeed he seemed to have come provided with
a list of them, and I sat silent making no comment. At length he
finished and squatted there before me, chewing a bit of tobacco I had
given him, and looking up at me interrogatively with his head on one
side, for all the world like a dilapidated and inquisitive bird.

"Hans," I said, "do you remember a story I told you when you came to
see me a year or more ago, about a tribe called the Kendah in whose
country there is said to be a great cemetery of elephants which travel
there to die from all the land about? A country that lies somewhere to
the north-east of the lake island on which the Pongo used to dwell?"

"Yes, Baas."

"And you said, I think, that you had never heard of such a people."

"No, Baas, I never said anything at all. I have heard a good deal
about them."

"Then why did you not tell me so before, you little idiot?" I asked

"What was the good, Baas? You were hunting gold then, not ivory. Why
should I make you unhappy, and waste my own breath by talking about
beautiful things which were far beyond the reach of either of us, far
as that sky?"

"Don't ask fool's questions but tell me what you know, Hans. Tell me
at once."

"This, Baas: When we were up at Beza-Town after we came back from
killing the gorilla-god, and the Baas Stephen your friend lay sick,
and there was nothing else to do, I talked with everyone I could find
worth talking to, and they were not many, Baas. But there was one very
old woman who was not of the Mazitu race and whose husband and
children were all dead, but whom the people in the town looked up to
and feared because she was wise and made medicines out of herbs, and
told fortunes. I used to go to see her. She was quite blind, Baas, and
fond of talking with me--which shows how wise she was. I told her all
about the Pongo gorilla-god, of which already she knew something. When
I had done she said that he was as nothing compared with a certain god
that she had seen in her youth, seven tens of years ago, when she
became marriageable. I asked her for that story, and she spoke it

"Far away to the north and east live a people called the Kendah, who
are ruled over by a sultan. They are a very great people and inhabit a
most fertile country. But all round their country the land is desolate
and manless, peopled only by game, for the reason that they will
suffer none to dwell there. That is why nobody knows anything about
them: he that comes across the wilderness into that land is killed and
never returns to tell of it.

"She told me also that she was born of this people, but fled because
their sultan wished to place her in his house of women, which she did
not desire. For a long while she wandered southwards, living on roots
and berries, till she came to desert land and at last, worn out, lay
down to die. Then she was found by some of the Mazitu who were on an
expedition seeking ostrich feathers for war-plumes. They gave her food
and, seeing that she was fair, brought her back to their country,
where one of them married her. But of her own land she uttered only
lying words to them because she feared that if she told the truth the
gods who guard its secrets would be avenged on her, though now when
she was near to death she dreaded them no more, since even the Kendah
gods cannot swim through the waters of death. That is all she said
about her journey because she had forgotten the rest."

"Bother her journey, Hans. What did she say about her god and the
Kendah people?"

"This, Baas: that the Kendah have not one god but two, and not one
ruler but two. They have a good god who is a child-fetish" (here I
started) "that speaks through the mouth of an oracle who is always a
woman. If that woman dies the god does not speak until they find
another woman bearing certain marks which show that she holds the
spirit of the god. Before the woman dies she always tells the priests
in what land they are to look for her who is to come after her; but
sometimes they cannot find her and then trouble falls because 'the
Child has lost its tongue,' and the people become the prey of the
other god that never dies."

"And what is that god, Hans?"

"That god, Baas, is an elephant" (here I started again), "a very bad
elephant to which human sacrifice is offered. I think, Baas, that it
is the devil wearing the shape of an elephant, at least that is what
she said. Now the sultan is a worshipper of the god that dwells in the
elephant Jana" (here I positively whistled) "and so are most of the
people, indeed all those among them who are black. For once far away
in the beginning the Kendah were two peoples, but the lighter-coloured
people who worshipped the Child came down from the north and conquered
the black people, bringing the Child with them, or so I understood
her, Baas, thousands and thousands of years ago when the world was
young. Since then they have flowed on side by side like two streams in
the same channel, never mixing, for each keeps its own colour. Only,
she said, that stream which comes from the north grows weaker and that
from the south more strong."

"Then why does not the strong swallow up the weak?"

"Because the weak are still the pure and the wise, Baas, or so the old
vrouw declared. Because they worship the good while the others worship
the devil, and as your father the Predikant used to say, Good is the
cock which always wins the fight at the last, Baas. Yes, when he seems
to be dead he gets up again and kicks the devil in the stomach and
stands on him and crows, Baas. Also these northern folk are mighty
magicians. Through their Child-fetish they give rain and fat seasons
and keep away sickness, whereas Jana gives only evil gifts that have
to do with cruelty and war and so forth. Lastly, the priests who rule
through the Child have the secrets of wealth and ancient knowledge,
whereas the sultan and his followers have only the might of the spear.
This was the song which the old woman sang to me, Baas."

"Why did you not tell me of these matters when we were at Beza-Town
and I could have talked with her myself, Hans?"

"For two reasons, Baas. The first was that I feared, if I told you,
you would wish to go on to find these people, whereas I was tired of
travelling and wanted to come to Natal to rest. The second was that on
the night when the old woman finished telling me her story, she was
taken sick and died, and therefore it would have been no use to bring
you to see her. So I saved it up in my head until it was wanted.
Moreover, Baas, all the Mazitu declared that old woman to be the
greatest of liars."

"She was not altogether a liar, Hans. Hear what I have learned," and I
told him of the magic of Harūt and Marūt and of the picture that I had
seemed to see of the elephant Jana and of the prayer that Harūt and
Marūt had made to me, to all of which he listened quite stolidly. It
is not easy to astonish a Hottentot's brain, which often draws no
accurate dividing-line between the possible and what the modern world
holds to be impossible.

"Yes, Baas," he said when I had finished, "then it seems that the old
woman was not such a liar after all. Baas, when shall we start after
that hoard of dead ivory, and which way will you go? By Kilwa or
through Zululand? It should be settled soon because of the seasons."

After this we talked together for a long while, for with pockets as
empty as mine were then, the problem seemed difficult, if not



That night Hans slept at my house, or rather outside of it in the
garden, or upon the stoep, saying that he feared arrest if he went to
the town, because of his quarrel with the white man. As it happened,
however, the other party concerned never stirred further in the
business, probably because he was too drunk to remember who had
knocked him into the sluit or whether he had gravitated thither by

On the following morning we renewed our discussion, debating in detail
every possible method of reaching the Kendah people by help of such
means as we could command. Like that of the previous night it proved
somewhat abortive. Obviously such a long and hazardous expedition
ought to be properly financed and--where was the money? At length I
came to the conclusion that if we went at all it would be best, in the
circumstances, for Hans and myself to start alone with a Scotch cart
drawn by oxen and driven by a couple of Zulu hunters, which we could
lade with ammunition and a few necessaries.

Thus lightly equipped we might work through Zululand and thence
northward to Beza-Town, the capital of the Mazitu, where we were sure
of a welcome. After that we must take our chance. It was probable that
we should never reach the district where these Kendah were supposed to
dwell, but at least I might be able to kill some elephants in the wild
country beyond Zululand.

While we were talking I heard the gun fired which announced the
arrival of the English mail, and stepping to the end of the garden,
saw the steamer lying at anchor outside the bar. Then I went indoors
to write a few business letters which, since I had become immersed in
the affairs of that unlucky gold mine, had grown to be almost a daily
task with me. I had got through several with many groanings, for none
were agreeable in their tenor, when Hans poked his head through the
window in a silent kind of a way as a big snake might do, and said:
"Baas, I think there are two baases out on the road there who are
looking for you. Very fine baases whom I don't know."

"Shareholders in the Bona Fide Gold Mine," thought I to myself, then
added as I prepared to leave through the back door: "If they come here
tell them I am not at home. Tell them I left early this morning for
the Congo River to look for the sources of the Nile."

"Yes, Baas," said Hans, collapsing on to the stoep.

I went out through the back door, sorrowing that I, Allan Quatermain,
should have reached a rung in the ladder of life whence I shrank from
looking any stranger in the face, for fear of what he might have to
say to me. Then suddenly my pride asserted itself. After all what was
there of which I should be ashamed? I would face these irate
shareholders as I had faced the others yesterday.

I walked round the little house to the front garden which was planted
with orange trees, and up to a big moonflower bush, I believe /datura/
is its right name, that grew near the pomegranate hedge which
separated my domain from the road. There a conversation was in
progress, if so it may be called.

"/Ikona/" (that is: "I don't know"), "/Inkoosi/" (i.e. "Chief"), said
some Kafir in a stupid drawl.

Thereon a voice that instantly struck me as familiar, answered:

"We want to know where the great hunter lives."

"/Ikona/," said the Kafir.

"Can't you remember his native name?" asked another voice which was
also familiar to me, for I never forget voices though I am unable to
place them at once.

"The great hunter, Here-come-a-zany," said the first voice
triumphantly, and instantly there flashed back upon my mind a vision
of the splendid drawing-room at Ragnall Castle and of an imposing
majordomo introducing into it two white-robed, Arab-looking men.

"Mr. Savage, by the Heavens!" I muttered. "What in the name of
goodness is he doing here?"

"There," said the second voice, "your black friend has bolted, and no
wonder, for who can be called by such a name? If you had done what I
told you, Savage, and hired a white guide, it would have saved us a
lot of trouble. Why will you always think that you know better than
anyone else?"

"Seemed an unnecessary expense, my lord, considering we are travelling
incog., my lord."

"How long shall we travel 'incog.' if you persist in calling me my
lord at the top of your voice, Savage? There is a house beyond those
trees; go in and ask where----"

By this time I had reached the gate which I opened, remarking quietly,

"How do you do, Lord Ragnall? How do you do, Mr. Savage? I thought
that I recognized your voices on the road and came to see if I was
right. Please walk in; that is, if it is I whom you wish to visit."

As I spoke I studied them both, and observed that while Savage looked
much the same, although slightly out of place in these strange
surroundings, the time that had passed since we met had changed Lord
Ragnall a good deal. He was still a magnificent-looking man, one of
those whom no one that had seen him would ever forget, but now his
handsome face was stamped with some new seal of suffering. I felt at
once that he had become acquainted with grief. The shadow in his dark
eyes and a certain worn expression about the mouth told me that this
was so.

"Yes, Quatermain," he said as he took my hand, "it is you whom I have
travelled seven thousand miles to visit, and I thank God that I have
been so fortunate as to find you. I feared lest you might be dead, or
perhaps far away in the centre of Africa where I should never be able
to track you down."

"A week later perhaps you would not have found me, Lord Ragnall," I
answered, "but as it happens misfortune has kept me here."

"And misfortune has brought me here, Quatermain."

Then before I had time to answer Savage came up and we went into the

"You are just in time for lunch," I said, "and as luck will have it
there is a good rock cod and a leg of oribé buck for you to eat. Boy,
set two more places."

"One more place, if you please, sir," said Savage. "I should prefer to
take my food afterwards."

"You will have to get over that in Africa," I muttered. Still I let
him have his way, with the result that presently the strange sight was
seen of the magnificent English majordomo standing behind my chair in
the little room and handing round the square-face as though it were
champagne. It was a spectacle that excited the greatest interest in my
primitive establishment and caused Hans with some native hangers-on to
gather at the window. However, Lord Ragnall took it as a matter of
course and I thought it better not to interfere.

When we had finished we went on to the stoep to smoke, leaving Savage
to eat his dinner, and I asked Lord Ragnall where his luggage was. He
replied that he had left it at the Customs. "Then," I said, "I will
send a native with Savage to arrange about getting it up here. If you
do not mind my rough accommodation there is a room for you, and your
man can pitch a tent in the garden."

After some demur he accepted with gratitude, and a little later Savage
and the native were sent off with a note to a man who hired out a

"Now," I said when the gate had shut behind them, "will you tell me
why you have come to Africa?"

"Disaster," he replied. "Disaster of the worst sort."

"Is your wife dead, Lord Ragnall?"

"I do not know. I almost hope that she is. At any rate she is lost to

An idea leapt to my mind to the effect that she might have run away
with somebody else, a thing which often happens in the world. But
fortunately I kept it to myself and only said,

"She was nearly lost once before, was she not?"

"Yes, when you saved her. Oh! if only you had been with us,
Quatermain, this would never have happened. Listen: About eighteen
months ago she had a son, a very beautiful child. She recovered well
from the business and we were as happy as two mortals could be, for we
loved each other, Quatermain, and God has blessed us in every way; we
were so happy that I remember her telling me that our great good
fortune made her feel afraid. One day last September when I was out
shooting, she drove in a little pony cart we had, with the nurse, and
the child but no man, to call on Mrs. Scroope who also had been
recently confined. She often went out thus, for the pony was an old
animal and quiet as a sheep.

"By some cursed trick of fate it chanced that when they were passing
through the little town which you may remember near Ragnall, they met
a travelling menagerie that was going to some new encampment. At the
head of the procession marched a large bull elephant, which I
discovered afterwards was an ill-tempered brute that had already
killed a man and should never have been allowed upon the roads. The
sight of the pony cart, or perhaps a red cloak which my wife was
wearing, as she always liked bright colours, for some unknown reason
seems to have infuriated this beast, which trumpeted. The pony
becoming frightened wheeled round and overturned the cart right in
front of the animal, but apparently without hurting anybody. Then"--
here he paused a moment and with an effort continued--"that devil in
beast's shape cocked its ears, stretched out its long trunk, dragged
the baby from the nurse's arms, whirled it round and threw it high
into the air, to fall crushed upon the kerb. It sniffed at the body of
the child, feeling it over with the tip of its trunk, as though to
make sure that it was dead. Next, once more it trumpeted triumphantly,
and without attempting to harm my wife or anybody else, walked quietly
past the broken cart and continued its journey, until outside the town
it was made fast and shot."

"What an awful story!" I said with a gasp.

"Yes, but there is worse to follow. My poor wife went off her head,
with the shock I suppose, for no physical injury could be found upon
her. She did not suffer in health or become violent, quite the reverse
indeed for her gentleness increased. She just went off her head. For
hours at a time she would sit silent and smiling, playing with the
stones of that red necklace which those conjurers gave her, or rather
counting them, as a nun might do with the beads of her rosary. At
times, however, she would talk, but always to the baby, as though it
lay before her or she were nursing it. Oh! Quatermain, it was pitiful,

"I did everything I could. She was seen by three of the greatest
brain-doctors in England, but none of them was able to help. The only
hope they gave was that the fit might pass off as suddenly as it had
come. They said too that a thorough change of scene would perhaps be
beneficial, and suggested Egypt; that was in October. I did not take
much to the idea, I don't know why, and personally should not have
acceded to it had it not been for a curious circumstance. The last
consultation took place in the big drawing-room at Ragnall. When it
was over my wife remained with her mother at one end of the room while
I and the doctors talked together at the other, as I thought quite out
of her earshot. Presently, however, she called to me, saying in a
perfectly clear and natural voice:

"'Yes, George, I will go to Egypt. I should like to go to Egypt.' Then
she went on playing with the necklace and talking to the imaginary

"Again on the following morning as I came into her room to kiss her,
she exclaimed,

"'When do we start for Egypt? Let it be soon.'

"With these sayings the doctors were very pleased, declaring that they
showed signs of a returning interest in life and begging me not to
thwart her wish.

"So I gave way and in the end we went to Egypt together with Lady
Longden, who insisted upon accompanying us although she is a wretched
sailor. At Cairo a large dahabeeyah that I had hired in advance,
manned by an excellent crew and a guard of four soldiers, was awaiting
us. In it we started up the Nile. For a month or more all went well;
also to my delight my wife seemed now and again to show signs of
returning intelligence. Thus she took some interest in the sculptures
on the walls of the temples, about which she had been very fond of
reading when in health. I remember that only a few days before the--
the catastrophe, she pointed out one of them to me, it was of Isis and
the infant Horus, saying, 'Look, George, the holy Mother and the holy
Child,' and then bowed to it reverently as she might have done to an
altar. At length after passing the First Cataract and the Island of
Philę we came to the temple of Abu Simbel, opposite to which our boat
was moored. On the following morning we explored the temple at
daybreak and saw the sun strike upon the four statues which sit at its
farther end, spending the rest of that day studying the colossal
figures of Rameses that are carved upon its face and watching some
cavalcades of Arabs mounted upon camels travelling along the banks of
the Nile.

"My wife was unusually quiet that afternoon. For hour after hour she
sat still upon the deck, gazing first at the mouth of the rock-hewn
temple and the mighty figures which guard it and then at the
surrounding desert. Only once did I hear her speak and then she said,
'Beautiful, beautiful! Now I am at home.' We dined and as there was no
moon, went to bed rather early after listening to the Sudanese singers
as they sang one of their weird chanties.

"My wife and her mother slept together in the state cabin of the
dahabeeyah, which was at the stern of the boat. My cabin, a small one,
was on one side of this, and that of the trained nurse on the other.
The crew and the guard were forward of the saloon. A gangway was fixed
from the side to the shore and over it a sentry stood, or was supposed
to stand. During the night a Khamsin wind began to blow, though
lightly as was to be expected at this season of the year. I did not
hear it for, as a matter of fact, I slept very soundly, as it appears
did everyone else upon the dahabeeyah, including the sentry as I

"The first thing I remember was the appearance of Lady Longden just at
daybreak at the doorway of my cabin and the frightened sound of her
voice asking if Luna, that is my wife, was with me. Then it transpired
that she had left her cabin clad in a fur cloak, evidently some time
before, as the bed in which she had been lying was quite cold.
Quatermain, we searched everywhere; we searched for four days, but
from that hour to this no trace whatever of her has been found."

"Have you any theory?" I asked.

"Yes, or at least all the experts whom we consulted have a theory. It
is that she slipped down the saloon in the dark, gained the deck and
thence fell or threw herself into the Nile, which of course would have
carried her body away. As you may have heard, the Nile is full of
bodies. I myself saw two of them during that journey. The Egyptian
police and others were so convinced that this was what had happened
that, notwithstanding the reward of a thousand pounds which I offered
for any valuable information, they could scarcely be persuaded to
continue the search."

"You said that a wind was blowing and I understand that the shores are
sandy, so I suppose that all footprints would have been filled in?"

He nodded and I went on. "What is your own belief? Do you think she
was drowned?"

He countered my query with another of:

"What do /you/ think?"

"I? Oh! although I have no right to say so, I don't think at all. I am
quite sure that she was /not/ drowned; that she is living at this


"As to that you had better inquire of our friends, Harūt and Marūt," I
answered dryly.

"What have you to go on, Quatermain? There is no clue."

"On the contrary I hold that there are a good many clues. The whole
English part of the story in which we were concerned, and the threats
those mysterious persons uttered are the first and greatest of these
clues. The second is the fact that your hiring of the dahabeeyah
regardless of expense was known a long time before your arrival in
Egypt, for I suppose you did so in your own name, which is not exactly
that of Smith or Brown. The third is your wife's sleep-walking
propensities, which would have made it quite easy for her to be drawn
ashore under some kind of mesmeric influence. The fourth is that you
had seen Arabs mounted on camels upon the banks of the Nile. The fifth
is the heavy sleep you say held everybody on board that particular
night, which suggests to me that your food may have been drugged. The
sixth is the apathy displayed by those employed in the search, which
suggests to me that some person or persons in authority may have been
bribed, as is common in the East, or perhaps frightened with threats
of bewitchment. The seventh is that a night was chosen when a wind
blew which would obliterate all spoor whether of men or of swiftly
travelling camels. These are enough to begin with, though doubtless if
I had time to think I could find others. You must remember too that
although the journey would be long, this country of the Kendah can
doubtless be reached from the Sudan by those who know the road, as
well as from southern or eastern Africa."

"Then you think that my wife has been kidnapped by those villains,
Harūt and Marūt?"

"Of course, though villains is a strong term to apply to them. They
might be quite honest men according to their peculiar lights, as
indeed I expect they are. Remember that they serve a god or a fetish,
or rather, as they believe, a god /in/ a fetish, who to them doubtless
is a very terrible master, especially when, as I understand, that god
is threatened by a rival god."

"Why do you say that, Quatermain?"

By way of answer I repeated to him the story which Hans said he had
heard from the old woman at Beza, the town of the Mazitu. Lord Ragnall
listened with the deepest interest, then said in an agitated voice:

"That is a very strange tale, but has it struck you, Quatermain, that
if your suppositions are correct, one of the most terrible
circumstances connected with my case is that our child should have
chanced to come to its dreadful death through the wickedness of an

"That curious coincidence has struck me most forcibly, Lord Ragnall.
At the same time I do not see how it can be set down as more than a
coincidence, since the elephant which slaughtered your child was
certainly not that called Jana. To suppose because there is a war
between an elephant-god and a child-god somewhere in the heart of
Africa, that therefore another elephant can be so influenced that it
kills a child in England, is to my mind out of all reason."

That is what I said to him, as I did not wish to introduce a new
horror into an affair that was already horrible enough. But,
recollecting that these priests, Harūt and Marūt, believed the mother
of this murdered infant to be none other than the oracle of their
worship (though how this chanced passed my comprehension), and
therefore the great enemy of the evil elephant-god, I confess that at
heart I felt afraid. If any powers of magic, black or white or both,
were mixed up with the matter as my experiences in England seemed to
suggest, who could say what might be their exact limits? As, however,
it has been demonstrated again and again by the learned that no such
thing as African magic exists, this line of thought appeared to be too
foolish to follow. So passing it by I asked Lord Ragnall to continue.

"For over a month," he went on, "I stopped in Egypt waiting till
emissaries who had been sent to the chiefs of various tribes in the
Sudan and elsewhere, returned with the news that nothing whatsoever
had been seen of a white woman travelling in the company of natives,
nor had they heard of any such woman being sold as a slave. Also
through the Khedive, on whom I was able to bring influence to bear by
help of the British Government, I caused many harems in Egypt to be
visited, entirely without result. After this, leaving the inquiry in
the hands of the British Consul and a firm of French lawyers, although
in truth all hope had gone, I returned to England whither I had
already sent Lady Longden, broken-hearted, for it occurred to me as
possible that my wife might have drifted or been taken thither. But
here, too, there was no trace of her or of anybody who could possibly
answer to her description. So at last I came to the conclusion that
her bones must lie somewhere at the bottom of the Nile, and gave way
to despair."

"Always a foolish thing to do," I remarked.

"You will say so indeed when you hear the end, Quatermain. My
bereavement and the sleeplessness which it caused prayed upon me so
much, for now that the child was dead my wife was everything to me,
that, I will tell you the truth, my brain became affected and like Job
I cursed God in my heart and determined to die. Indeed I should have
died by my own hand, had it not been for Savage. I had procured the
laudanum and loaded the pistol with which I proposed to shoot myself
immediately after it was swallowed so that there might be no mistake.
One night only a couple of months or so ago, Quatermain, I sat in my
study at Ragnall, with the doors locked as I thought, writing a few
final letters before I did the deed. The last of them was just
finished about twelve when hearing a noise, I looked up and saw Savage
standing before me. I asked him angrily how he came there (I suppose
he must have had another key to one of the other doors) and what he
wanted. Ignoring the first part of the question he replied:

"'My lord, I have been thinking over our trouble'--he was with us in
Egypt--'I have been thinking so much that it has got a hold of my
sleep. To-night as you said you did not want me any more and I was
tired, I went to bed early and had a dream. I dreamed that we were
once more in the shrubbery, as happened some years ago, and that the
little African gent who shot like a book, was showing us the traces of
those two black men, just as he did when they tried to steal her
ladyship. Then in my dream I seemed to go back to bed and that beastly
snake which we found lying under the parcel in the road seemed to
follow me. When I had got to sleep again, all in the dream, there it
was standing on its tail at the end of the bed, hissing till it woke
me. Then it spoke in good English and not in African as might have
been expected.

"'"Savage," it said, "get up and dress yourself and go at once and
tell his lordship to travel to Natal and find Mr. Allan Quatermain"
(you may remember that was the African gentleman's name, my lord,
which, with so many coming and going in this great house, I had quite
forgotten, until I had the dream). "Find Mr. Allan Quatermain," that
slimy reptile went on, opening and shutting its mouth for all the
world like a Christian making a speech, "for he will have something to
tell him as to that which has made a hole in his heart that is now
filled with the seven devils. Be quick, Savage, and don't stop to put
on your shirt or your tie"--I have not, my lord, as you may see. "He
is shut up in the study, but you know how to get into it. If he will
not listen to you let him look round the study and he will see
something which will tell him that this is a true dream."

"'Then the snake vanished, seeming to wriggle down the left bottom
bed-post, and I woke up in a cold sweat, my lord, and did what it had
told me.'

"Those were his very words, Quatermain, for I wrote them down
afterwards while they were fresh in my memory, and you see here they
are in my pocket-book.

"Well, I answered him, rather brusquely I am afraid, for a crazed man
who is about to leave the world under such circumstances does not show
at his best when disturbed almost in the very act, to the edge of
which long agony has brought him. I told him that all his dream of
snakes seemed ridiculous, which obviously it was, and was about to
send him away, when it occurred to me that the suggestion it conveyed
that I should put myself in communication with you was not ridiculous
in view of the part you had already played in the story."

"Very far from ridiculous," I interpolated.

"To tell the truth," went on Lord Ragnall, "I had already thought of
doing the same thing, but somehow beneath the pressure of my imminent
grief the idea was squeezed out of my mind, perhaps because you were
so far away and I did not know if I could find you even if I tried.
Pausing for a moment before I dismissed Savage, I rose from the desk
at which I was writing and began to walk up and down the room thinking
what I would do. I am not certain if you saw it when you were at
Ragnall, but it is a large room, fifty feet long or so though not very
broad. It has two fireplaces, in both of which fires were burning on
this night, and it was lit by four standing lamps besides that upon my
desk. Now between these fireplaces, in a kind of niche in the wall,
and a little in the shadow because none of the lamps was exactly
opposite to it, hung a portrait of my wife which I had caused to be
painted by a fashionable artist when first we became engaged."

"I remember it," I said. "Or rather, I remember its existence. I did
not see it because a curtain hung over the picture, which Savage told
me you did not wish to be looked at by anybody but yourself. At the
time I remarked to him, or rather to myself, that to veil the likeness
of a living woman in such a way seemed to me rather an ill-omened
thing to do, though why I should have thought it so I do not quite

"You are quite right, Quatermain. I had that foolish fancy, a lover's
freak, I suppose. When we married the curtain was removed although the
brass rod on which it hung was left by some oversight. On my return to
England after my loss, however, I found that I could not bear to look
upon this lifeless likeness of one who had been taken from me so
cruelly, and I caused it to be replaced. I did more. In order that it
might not be disturbed by some dusting housemaid, I myself made it
fast with three or four tin-tacks which I remember I drove through the
velvet stuff into the panelling, using a fireiron as a hammer. At the
time I thought it a good job although by accident I struck the nail of
the third finger of my left hand so hard that it came off. Look, it
has not quite finished growing again," and he showed the finger on
which the new nail was still in process of formation.

"Well, as I walked up and down the room some impulse caused me to look
towards the picture. To my astonishment I saw that it was no longer
veiled, although to the best of my belief the curtain had been drawn
over it as lately as that afternoon; indeed I could have sworn that
this was so. I called to Savage to bring the lamp that stood upon my
table, and by its light made an examination. The curtain was drawn
back, very tidily, being fastened in its place clear of the little
alcove by means of a thin brass chain. Also along one edge of it, that
which I had nailed to the panelling, the tin-tacks were still in their
places; that is, three of them were, the fourth I found afterwards
upon the floor.

"'She looks beautiful, doesn't she, my lord,' said Savage, 'and please
God so we shall still find her somewhere in the world.'

"I did not answer him, or even remark upon the withdrawal of the
curtain, as to which indeed I never made an inquiry. I suppose that it
was done by some zealous servant while I was pretending to eat my
dinner--there were one or two new ones in the house whose names and
appearance I did not know. What impressed itself upon my mind was that
the face which I had never expected to see again on the earth, even in
a picture, was once more given to my eyes, it mattered not how. This,
in my excited state, for laudanum waiting to be swallowed and a pistol
at full cock for firing do not induce calmness in a man already almost
mad, at any rate until they have fulfilled their offices, did in truth
appear to me to be something of the nature of a sign such as that
spoken of in Savage's idiotic dream, which I was to find if 'I looked
round the study.'

"'Savage,' I said, 'I don't think much of your dreams about snakes
that talk to you, but I do think that it might be well to see Mr.
Quatermain. To-day is Sunday and I believe that the African mail sails
on Friday. Go to town early to-morrow and book passages.'

"Also I told him to see various gunsmiths and bid them send down a
selection of rifles and other weapons for me to choose from, as I did
not know whither we might wander in Africa, and to make further
necessary arrangements. All of these things he did, and--here we are."

"Yes," I answered reflectively, "here you are. What is more, here is
your luggage of which there seems to be enough for a regiment," and I
pointed to a Scotch cart piled up with baggage and followed by a long
line of Kafirs carrying sundry packages upon their heads that,
marshalled by Savage, had halted at my gate.



That evening when the baggage had been disposed of and locked up in my
little stable and arrangements were made for the delivery of some
cases containing tinned foods, etc., which had proved too heavy for
the Scotch cart, Lord Ragnall and I continued our conversation. First,
however, we unpacked the guns and checked the ammunition, of which
there was a large supply, with more to follow.

A beautiful battery they were of all sorts from elephant guns down,
the most costly and best finished that money could buy at the time. It
made me shiver to think what the bill for them must have been, while
their appearance when they were put together and stood in a long line
against the wall of my sitting-room, moved old Hans to a kind of
ecstasy. For a long while he contemplated them, patting the stocks one
after the other and giving to each a name as though they were all
alive, then exclaimed:

"With such weapons as these the Baas could kill the devil himself.
Still, let the Baas bring Intombi with him"--a favourite old rifle of
mine and a mere toy in size, that had however done me good service in
the past, as those who have read what I have written in "Marie" and
"The Holy Flower" may remember. "For, Baas, after all, the wife of
one's youth often proves more to be trusted than the fine young ones a
man buys in his age. Also one knows all her faults, but who can say
how many there may be hidden up in new women however beautifully they
are tattooed?" and he pointed to the elaborate engraving upon the

I translated this speech to Lord Ragnall. It made him laugh, at which
I was glad for up till then I had not seen him even smile. I should
add that in addition to these sporting weapons there were no fewer
than fifty military rifles of the best make, they were large-bore
Sniders that had just then been put upon the market, and with them,
packed in tin cases, a great quantity of ammunition. Although the
regulations were not so strict then as they are now, I met with a
great deal of difficulty in getting all this armament through the
Customs. Lord Ragnall however had letters from the Colonial Office to
such authorities as ruled in Natal, and on our giving a joint
undertaking that they were for defensive purposes only in unexplored
territory and not for sale, they were allowed through. Fortunate did
it prove for us in after days that this matter was arranged.

That night before we went to bed I narrated to Lord Ragnall all the
history of our search for the Holy Flower, which he seemed to find
very entertaining. Also I told him of my adventures, to me far more
terrible, as chairman of the Bona Fide Gold Mine and of their
melancholy end.

"The lesson of which is," he remarked when I had finished, "that
because a man is master of one trade, it does not follow that he is
master of another. You are, I should judge, one of the finest shots in
the world, you are also a great hunter and explorer. But when it comes
to companies, Quatermain----! Still," he went on, "I ought to be
grateful to that Bona Fide Gold Mine, since I gather that had it not
been for it and for your rascally friend, Mr. Jacob, I should not have
found you here."

"No," I answered, "it is probable that you would not, as by this time
I might have been far in the interior where a man cannot be traced and
letters do not reach him."

Then he made a few pointed inquiries about the affairs of the mine,
noting my answers down in his pocket-book. I thought this odd but
concluded that he wished to verify my statements before entering into
a close companionship with me, since for aught he knew I might be the
largest liar in the world and a swindler to boot. So I said nothing,
even when I heard through a roundabout channel on the morrow that he
had sought an interview with the late secretary of the defunct

A few days later, for I may as well finish with this matter at once,
the astonishing object of these inquiries was made clear to me. One
morning I found upon my table a whole pile of correspondence, at the
sight of which I groaned, feeling sure that it must come from duns and
be connected with that infernal mine. Curiosity and a desire to face
the worst, however, led me to open the first letter which as it
happened proved to be from that very shareholder who had proposed a
vote of confidence in me at the winding-up meeting. By the time that
it was finished my eyes were swimming and really I felt quite faint.
It ran:

 "Honoured Sir,--I knew that I was putting my money on the right
  horse when I said the other day that you were one of the
  straightest that ever ran. Well, I have got the cheque sent me by
  the lawyer on your account, being payment in full for every
  farthing I invested in the Bona Fide Gold Mine, and I can only say
  that it is uncommonly useful, for that business had pretty well
  cleaned me out. God bless you, Mr. Quatermain."

I opened another letter, and another, and another. They were all to
the same effect. Bewildered I went on to the stoep, where I found Hans
with an epistle in his hand which he requested me to be good enough to
read. I read it. It was from a well-known firm of local lawyers and

 "On behalf of Allan Quatermain, Esq., we beg to enclose a draft for
  the sum of £650, being the value of the interest in the Bona Fide
  Gold Company, Limited (in liquidation), which stands in your name
  on the books of the company. Please sign enclosed receipt and
  return same to us."

Yes, and there was the draft for £650 sterling!

I explained the matter to Hans, or rather I translated the document,

"You see you have got your money back again. But Hans, I never sent
it; I don't know where it comes from."

"Is it money, Baas?" asked Hans, surveying the draft with suspicion.
"It looks very much like the other bit of paper for which I paid

Again I explained, reiterating that I knew nothing of the transaction.

"Well, Baas," he said, "if you did not send it someone did--perhaps
your father the reverend Predikant, who sees that you are in trouble
and wishes to wash your name white again. Meanwhile, Baas, please put
that bit of paper in your pocket-book and keep it for me, for
otherwise I might be tempted to buy square-face with it."

"No," I answered, "you can now buy your land back, or some other land,
and there will be no need for you to come with me to the country of
the Kendah."

Hans thought a moment and then very deliberately began to tear up the
draft; indeed I was only just in time to save it from destruction.

"If the Baas is going to turn me off because of this paper," he said,
"I will make it small and eat it."

"You silly old fool," I said as I possessed myself of the cheque.

Then the conversation was interrupted, for who should appear but
Sammy, my old cook, who began in his pompous language:

"The perfect rectitude of your conduct, Mr. Quatermain, moves me to
the deepest gratitude, though indeed I wish that I had put something
into the food of the knave Jacob who beguiled us all, that would have
caused him internal pangs of a severe if not of a dangerous order. My
holding in the gold mine was not extensive, but the unpaid bill of the
said Jacob and his friends----"

Here I cut him short and fled, since I saw yet another shareholder
galloping to the gate, and behind him two more in a spider. First I
took refuge in my room, my idea being to put away that pile of
letters. In so doing I observed that there was one still unopened.
Half mechanically I took it from the envelope and glanced at its
contents. They were word for word identical with those of that
addressed to "Mr. Hans, Hottentot," only my name was at the bottom of
it instead of that of Hans and the cheque was for £1,500, the amount I
had paid for the shares I held in the venture.

Feeling as though my brain were in a melting-pot, I departed from the
house into a patch of native bush that in those days still grew upon
the slope of the hill behind. Here I sat myself down, as I had often
done before when there was a knotty point to be considered, aimlessly
watching a lovely emerald cuckoo flashing, a jewel of light, from tree
to tree, while I turned all this fairy-godmother business over in my

Of course it soon became clear to me. Lord Ragnall in this case was
the little old lady with the wand, the touch of which could convert
worthless share certificates into bank-notes of their face value. I
remembered now that his wealth was said to be phenomenal and after all
the cash capital of the company was quite small. But the question was
--could I accept his bounty?

I returned to the house where the first person whom I met was Lord
Ragnall himself, just arrived from some interview about the fifty
Snider rifles, which were still in bond. I told him solemnly that I
wished to speak to him, whereon he remarked in a cheerful voice,

"Advance, friend, and all's well!"

I don't know that I need set out the details of the interview. He
waited till I had got through my halting speech of mingled gratitude
and expostulation, then remarked:

"My friend, if you will allow me to call you so, it is quite true that
I have done this because I wished to do it. But it is equally true
that to me it is a small thing--to be frank, scarcely a month's
income; what I have saved travelling on that ship to Natal would pay
for it all. Also I have weighed my own interest in the matter, for I
am anxious that you should start upon this hazardous journey of ours
up country with a mind absolutely free from self-reproach or any money
care, for thus you will be able to do me better service. Therefore I
beg that you will say no more of the episode. I have only one thing to
add, namely that I have myself bought up at par value a few of the
debentures. The price of them will pay the lawyers and the liquidation
fees; moreover they give me a status as a shareholder which will
enable me to sue Mr. Jacob for his fraud, to which business I have
already issued instructions. For please understand that I have not
paid off any shares still standing in his name or in those of his

Here I may add that nothing ever came of this action, for the lawyers
found themselves unable to serve any writ upon that elusive person,
Mr. Jacob, who by then had probably adopted the name of some other

"Please put it all down as a rich man's whim," he concluded.

"I can't call that a whim which has returned £1,500 odd to my pocket
that I had lost upon a gamble, Lord Ragnall."

"Do you remember, Quatermain, how you won £250 upon a gamble at my
place and what you did with it, which sum probably represented to you
twenty or fifty times what it would to me? Also if that argument does
not appeal to you, may I remark that I do not expect you to give me
your services as a professional hunter and guide for nothing."

"Ah!" I answered, fixing on this point and ignoring the rest, "now we
come to business. If I may look upon this amount as salary, a very
handsome salary by the way, paid in advance, you taking the risks of
my dying or becoming incapacitated before it is earned, I will say no
more of the matter. If not I must refuse to accept what is an unearned

"I confess, Quatermain, that I did not regard it in that light, though
I might have been willing to call it a retaining fee. However, do not
let us wrangle about money any more. We can always settle our accounts
when the bill is added up, if ever we reach so far. Now let us come to
more important details."

So we fell to discussing the scheme, route and details of our proposed
journey. Expenditure being practically no object, there were several
plans open to us. We might sail up the coast and go by Kilwa, as I had
done on the search for the Holy Flower, or we might retrace the line
of our retreat from the Mazitu country which ran through Zululand.
Again, we might advance by whatever road we selected with a small army
of drilled and disciplined retainers, trusting to force to break a way
through to the Kendah. Or we might go practically unaccompanied,
relying on our native wit and good fortune to attain our ends. Each of
these alternatives had so much to recommend it and yet presented so
many difficulties, that after long hours of discussion, for this talk
was renewed again and again, I found it quite impossible to decide
upon any one of them, especially as in the end Lord Ragnall always
left the choice with its heavy responsibilities to me.

At length in despair I opened the window and whistled twice on a
certain low note. A minute later Hans shuffled in, shaking the wet off
the new corduroy clothes which he had bought upon the strength of his
return to affluence, for it was raining outside, and squatted himself
down upon the floor at a little distance. In the shadow of the table
which cut off the light from the hanging lamp he looked, I remember,
exactly like an enormous and antique toad. I threw him a piece of
tobacco which he thrust into his corn-cob pipe and lit with a match.

"The Baas called me," he said when it was drawing to his satisfaction,
"what does Baas want of Hans?"

"Light in darkness!" I replied, playing on his native name, and
proceeded to set out the whole case to him.

He listened without a word, then asked for a small glass of gin, which
I gave him doubtfully. Having swallowed this at a gulp as though it
were water, he delivered himself briefly to this effect:

"I think the Baas will do well not to go to Kilwa, since it means
waiting for a ship, or hiring one; also there may be more slave-
traders there by now who will bear him no love because of a lesson he
taught them a while ago. On the other hand the road through Zululand
is open, though it be long, and there the name of Macumazana is one
well known. I think also that the Baas would do well not to take too
many men, who make marching slow, only a wagon or two and some drivers
which might be sent back when they can go no farther. From Zululand
messengers can be dispatched to the Mazitu, who love you, and Bausi or
whoever is king there to-day will order bearers to meet us on the
road, until which time we can hire other bearers in Zululand. The old
woman at Beza-Town told me, moreover, as you will remember, that the
Kendah are a very great people who live by themselves and will allow
none to enter their land, which is bordered by deserts. Therefore no
force that you could take with you and feed upon a road without water
would be strong enough to knock down their gates like an elephant, and
it seems better that you should try to creep through them like a wise
snake, although they appear to be shut in your face. Perhaps also they
will not be shut since did you not say that two of their great doctors
promised to meet you and guide you through them?"

"Yes," I interrupted, "I dare say it will be easier to get in than to
get out of Kendahland."

"Last of all, Baas, if you take many men armed with guns, the black
part of the Kendah people of whom I told you will perhaps think you
come to make war, whatever the white Kendah may say, and kill us all,
whereas if we be but a few perchance they will let us pass in peace. I
think that is all, Baas. Let the Baas and the Lord Igeza forgive me if
my words are foolish."

Here I should explain that "Igeza" was the name which the natives had
given to Lord Ragnall because of his appearance. The word means a
handsome person in the Zulu tongue. Savage they called "Bena," I don't
know why. "Bena" in Zulu means to push out the breast and it may be
that the name was a round-about allusion to the proud appearance of
the dignified Savage, or possibly it had some other recondite
signification. At any rate Lord Ragnall, Hans and myself knew the
splendid Savage thenceforward by the homely appellation of Beans. His
master said it suited him very well because he was so green.

"The advice seems wise, Hans. Go now. No, no more gin," I answered.

As a matter of fact careful consideration convinced us it was so wise
that we acted on it down to the last detail.

So it came about that one fine afternoon about a fortnight later, for
hurry as we would our preparations took a little time, we trekked for
Zululand over the sandy roads that ran from the outskirts of Durban.
Our baggage and stores were stowed in two half-tented wagons, very
good wagons since everything we had with us was the best that money
could buy, the after-part of which served us as sleeping-places at
night. Hans sat on the /voor-kisse/ or driving-seat of one of the
wagons; Lord Ragnall, Savage and I were mounted upon "salted" horses,
that is, horses which had recovered from and were therefore supposed
to be proof against the dreadful sickness, valuable and docile animals
which were trained to shooting.

At our start a little contretemps occurred. To my amazement I saw
Savage, who insisted upon continuing to wear his funereal upper
servant's cut-away coat, engaged with grim determination in mounting
his steed from the wrong side. He got into the saddle somehow, but
there was worse to follow. The horse, astonished at such treatment,
bolted a little way, Savage sawing at its mouth. Lord Ragnall and I
cantered after it past the wagons, fearing disaster. All of a sudden
it swerved violently and Savage flew into the air, landing heavily in
a sitting posture.

"Poor Beans!" ejaculated Lord Ragnall as we sped forward. "I expect
there is an end of his journeyings."

To our surprise, however, we saw him leap from the ground with the
most marvellous agility and begin to dance about slapping at his
posterior parts and shouting,

"Take it off! Kill it!"

A few seconds later we discovered the reason. The horse had shied at a
sleeping puff adder which was curled up in the sand of that little
frequented road, and on this puff adder Savage had descended with so
much force, for he weighed thirteen stone, that the creature was
squashed quite flat and never stirred again. This, however, he did not
notice in his agitation, being convinced indeed that it was hanging to
him behind like a bulldog.

"Snakes! my lord," he exclaimed, when at last after careful search we
demonstrated to him that the adder had died before it could come into

"I hate 'em, my lord, and they haunts" (he said 'aunts) "me. If ever I
get out of this I'll go and live in Ireland, my lord, where they say
there ain't none. But it isn't likely that I shall," he added
mournfully, "for the omen is horrid."

"On the contrary," I answered, "it is splendid, for you have killed
the snake and not the snake you. 'The dog it was that died,' Savage."

After this the Kafirs gave Savage a second very long name which meant
"He-who-sits-down-on-snakes-and-makes-them-flat." Having remounted him
on his horse, which was standing patiently a few yards away, at length
we got off. I lingered a minute behind the others to give some
directions to my old Griqua gardener, Jack, who snivelled at parting
with me, and to take a last look at my little home. Alack! I feared it
might be the last indeed, knowing as I did that this was a dangerous
enterprise upon which I found myself embarked, I who had vowed that I
would be done with danger.

With a lump in my throat I turned from the contemplation of that
peaceful dwelling and happy garden in which each tree and plant was
dear to me, and waving a good-bye to Jack, cantered on to where
Ragnall was waiting for me.

"I am afraid this is rather a sad hour for you, who are leaving your
little boy and your home," he said gently, "to face unknown perils."

"Not so sad as others I have passed," I answered, "and perils are my
daily bread in every sense of the word. Moreover, whatever it is for
me it is for you also."

"No, Quatermain. For me it is an hour of hope; a faint hope, I admit,
but the only one left, for the letters I got last night from Egypt and
England report that no clue whatsoever has been found, and indeed that
the search for any has been abandoned. Yes, I follow the last star
left in my sky and if it sets I hope that I may set also, at any rate
to this world. Therefore I am happier than I have been for months,
thanks to you," and he stretched out his hand, which I shook.

It was a token of friendship and mutual confidence which I am glad to
say nothing that happened afterwards ever disturbed for a moment.



Now I do not propose to describe all our journey to Kendahland, or at
any rate the first part thereof. It was interesting enough in its way
and we met with a few hunting adventures, also some others. But there
is so much to tell of what happened to us after we reached the place
that I have not the time, even if I had the inclination to set all
these matters down. Let it be sufficient, then, to say that although
owing to political events the country happened to be rather disturbed
at the time, we trekked through Zululand without any great difficulty.
For here my name was a power in the land and all parties united to
help me. Thence, too, I managed to dispatch three messengers, half-
bred border men, lean fellows and swift of foot, forward to the king
of the Mazitu, as Hans had suggested that I should do, advising him
that his old friends, Macumazana, Watcher-by-Night, and the yellow man
who was named Light-in-Darkness and Lord-of-the-Fire, were about to
visit him again.

As I knew we could not take the wagons beyond a certain point where
there was a river called the Luba, unfordable by anything on wheels, I
requested him, moreover, to send a hundred bearers with whatever
escort might be necessary, to meet us on the banks of that river at a
spot which was known to both of us. These words the messengers
promised to deliver for a fee of five head of cattle apiece, to be
paid on their return, or to their families if they died on the road,
which cattle we purchased and left in charge of a chief, who was their
kinsman. As it happened two of the poor fellows did die, one of them
of cold in a swamp through which they took a short cut, and the other
at the teeth of a hungry lion. The third, however, won through and
delivered the message.

After resting for a fortnight in the northern parts of Zululand, to
give time to our wayworn oxen to get some flesh on their bones in the
warm bushveld where grass was plentiful even in the dry season, we
trekked forward by a route known to Hans and myself. Indeed it was the
same which we had followed on our journey from Mazituland after our
expedition in search for the Holy Flower.

We took with us a small army of Zulu bearers. This, although they were
difficult to feed in a country where no corn could be bought, proved
fortunate in the end, since so many of our cattle died from tsetse
bite that we were obliged to abandon one of the wagons, which meant
that the goods it contained must be carried by men. At length we
reached the banks of the river, and camped there one night by three
tall peaks of rock which the natives called "The Three Doctors," where
I had instructed the messengers to tell the Mazitu to meet us. For
four days we remained here, since rains in the interior had made the
river quite impassable. Every morning I climbed the tallest of the
"Doctors" and with my glasses looked over its broad yellow flood,
searching the wide, bush-clad land beyond in the hope of discovering
the Mazitu advancing to meet us. Not a man was to be seen, however,
and on the fourth evening, as the river had now become fordable, we
determined that we would cross on the morrow, leaving the remaining
wagon, which it was impossible to drag over its rocky bottom, to be
taken back to Natal by our drivers.

Here a difficulty arose. No promise of reward would induce any of our
Zulu bearers even to wet their feet in the waters of this River Luba,
which for some reason that I could not extract from them they declared
to be /tagati/, that is, bewitched, to people of their blood. When I
pointed out that three Zulus had already undertaken to cross it, they
answered that those men were half-breeds, so that for them it was only
half bewitched, but they thought that even so one or more of them
would pay the penalty of death for this rash crime.

It chanced that this happened, for, as I have said, two of the poor
fellows did die, though not, I think, owing to the magical properties
of the waters of the Luba. This is how African superstitions are kept
alive. Sooner or later some saying of the sort fulfils itself and then
the instance is remembered and handed down for generations, while
other instances in which nothing out of the common has occurred are
not heeded, or are forgotten.

This decision on the part of those stupid Zulus put us in an awkward
fix, since it was impossible for us to carry over all our baggage and
ammunition without help. Therefore glad was I when before dawn on the
fifth morning the nocturnal Hans crept into the wagon, in the after
part of which Ragnall and I were sleeping, and informed us that he
heard men's voices on the farther side of the river, though how he
could hear anything above that roar of water passed my comprehension.

At the first break of dawn again we climbed the tallest of the
"Doctor" rocks and stared into the mist. At length it rolled away and
there on the farther side of the river I saw quite a hundred men who
by their dress and spears I knew to be Mazitu. They saw me also and
raising a cheer, dashed into the water, groups of them holding each
other round the middle to prevent their being swept away. Thereupon
our silly Zulus seized their spears and formed up upon the bank. I
slid down the steep side of the "Great Doctor" and ran forward,
calling out that these were friends who came.

"Friends or foes," answered their captain sullenly, "it is a pity that
we should walk so far and not have a fight with those Mazitu dogs."

Well, I drove them off to a distance, not knowing what might happen if
the two peoples met, and then went down to the bank. By now the Mazitu
were near, and to my delight at the head of them I perceived no other
than my old friend, their chief general, Babemba, a one-eyed man with
whom Hans and I had shared many adventures. Through the water he
plunged with great bounds and reaching the shore, greeted me literally
with rapture.

"O Macumazana," he said, "little did I hope that ever again I should
look upon your face. Welcome to you, a thousand welcomes, and to you
too, Light-in-Darkness, Lord-of-the-Fire, Cunning-one whose wit saved
us in the battle of the Gate. But where is Dogeetah, where is Wazeela,
and where are the Mother and the Child of the Flower?"

"Far away across the Black Water, Babemba," I answered. "But here are
two others in place of them," and I introduced him to Ragnall and
Savage by their native names of Igeza and Bena.

He contemplated them for a moment, then said:

"This," pointing to Ragnall, "is a great lord, but this," pointing to
Savage, who was much the better dressed of the two, "is a cock of the
ashpit arrayed in an eagle's feathers," a remark I did not translate,
but one which caused Hans to snigger vacuously.

While we breakfasted on food prepared by the "Cock of the Ashpit," who
amongst many other merits had that of being an excellent cook, I heard
all the news. Bausi the king was dead but had been succeeded by one of
his sons, also named Bausi, whom I remembered. Beza-Town had been
rebuilt after the great fire that destroyed the slavers, and much more
strongly fortified than before. Of the slavers themselves nothing more
had been seen, or of the Pongo either, though the Mazitu declared that
their ghosts, or those of their victims, still haunted the island in
the lake. That was all, except the ill tidings as to two of our
messengers which the third, who had returned with the Mazitu, reported
to us.

After breakfast I addressed and sent away our Zulus, each with a
handsome present from the trade goods, giving into their charge the
remaining wagon and our servants, none of whom, somewhat to my relief,
wished to accompany us farther. They sang their song of good-bye,
saluted and departed over the rise, still looking hungrily behind them
at the Mazitu, and we were very pleased to see the last of them
without bloodshed or trouble.

When we had watched the white tilt of the wagon vanish, we set to work
to get ourselves and our goods across the river. This we accomplished
safely, for the Mazitu worked for us like friends and not as do hired
men. On the farther bank, however, it took us two full days so to
divide up the loads that the bearers could carry them without being

At length all was arranged and we started. Of the month's trek that
followed there is nothing to tell, except that we completed it without
notable accidents and at last reached the new Beza-Town, which much
resembled the old, where we were accorded a great public reception.
Bausi II himself headed the procession which met us outside the south
gate on that very mound which we had occupied in the great fight,
where the bones of the gallant Mavovo and my other hunters lay buried.
Almost did it seem to me as though I could hear their deep voices
joining in the shouts of welcome.

That night, while the Mazitu feasted in our honour, we held an
/indaba/ in the big new guest house with Bausi II, a pleasant-faced
young man, and old Babemba. The king asked us how long we meant to
stay at Beza-Town, intimating his hope that the visit would be
prolonged. I replied, but a few days, as we were travelling far to the
north to find a people called the Kendah whom we wished to see, and
hoped that he would give us bearers to carry our goods as far as the
confines of their country. At the name of Kendah a look of
astonishment appeared upon their faces and Babemba said:

"Has madness seized you, Macumazana, that you would attempt this
thing? Oh surely you must be mad."

"You thought us mad, Babemba, when we crossed the lake to Rica Town,
yet we came back safely."

"True, Macumazana, but compared to the Kendah the Pongo were but as
the smallest star before the face of the sun."

"What do you know of them then?" I asked. "But stay--before you
answer, I will speak what I know," and I repeated what I had learned
from Hans, who confirmed my words, and from Harūt and Marūt, leaving
out, however, any mention of their dealings with Lady Ragnall.

"It is all true," said Babemba when I had finished, "for that old
woman of whom Light-in-the-Darkness speaks, was one of the wives of my
uncle and I knew her well. Hearken! These Kendah are a terrible nation
and countless in number and of all the people the fiercest. Their king
is called Simba, which means Lion. He who rules is always called
Simba, and has been so called for hundreds of years. He is of the
Black Kendah whose god is the elephant Jana, but as Light-in-Darkness
has said, there are also the White Kendah who are Arab men, the
priests and traders of the people. The Kendah will allow no stranger
within their doors; if one comes they kill him by torment, or blind
him and turn him out into the desert which surrounds their country,
there to die. These things the old woman who married my uncle told me,
as she told them to Light-in-Darkness, also I have heard them from
others, and what she did not tell me, that the White Kendah are great
breeders of the beasts called camels which they sell to the Arabs of
the north. Go not near them, for if you pass the desert the Black
Kendah will kill you; and if you escape these, then their king, Simba,
will kill you; and if you escape him, then their god Jana will kill
you; and if you escape him, then their white priests will kill you
with their magic. Oh! long before you look upon the faces of those
priests you will be dead many times over."

"Then why did they ask me to visit them, Babemba?"

"I know not, Macumazana, but perhaps because they wished to make an
offering of you to the god Jana, whom no spear can harm; no, nor even
your bullets that pierce a tree."

"I am willing to make trial of that matter," I answered confidently,
"and any way we must go to see these things for ourselves."

"Yes," echoed Ragnall, "we must certainly go," while even Savage, for
I had been translating to them all this while, nodded his head
although he looked as though he would much rather stay behind.

"Ask him if there are any snakes there, sir," he said, and foolishly
enough I put the question to give me time to think of other things.

"Yes, O Bena. Yes, O Cock of the Ashpit," replied Babemba. "My uncle's
Kendar wife told me that one of the guardians of the shrine of the
White Kendah is such a snake as was never seen elsewhere in the

"Then say to him, sir," said Savage, when I had translated almost
automatically, "that shrine ain't a church where /I/ shall go to say
my prayers."

Alas! poor Savage little knew the future and its gifts.

Then we came to the question of bearers. The end of it was that after
some hesitation Bausi II, because of his great affection for us,
promised to provide us with these upon our solemnly undertaking to
dismiss them at the borders of the desert, "so that they might escape
our doom," as he remarked cheerfully.

Four days later we started, accompanied by about one hundred and
twenty picked men under the command of old Babemba himself, who, he
explained, wished to be the last to see us alive in the world. This
was depressing, but other circumstances connected with our start were
calculated to weigh even more upon my spirit. Thus the night before we
left Hans arrived and asked me to "write a paper" for him. I inquired
what he wanted me to put in the paper. He replied that as he was going
to his death and had property, namely the £650 that had been left in a
bank to his credit, he desired to make a "white man's will" to be left
in the charge of Babemba. The only provision of the said will was that
I was to inherit his property, if I lived. If I died, which, he added,
"of course you must, Baas, like the rest of us," it was to be devoted
to furnishing poor black people in hospital with something comforting
to drink instead of the "cow's water" that was given to them there.
Needless to say I turned him out at once, and that testamentary
deposition remained unrecorded. Indeed it was unnecessary, since, as I
reminded him, on my advice he had already made a will before we left
Durban, a circumstance that he had quite forgotten.

The second event, which occurred about an hour before our departure,
was, that hearing a mighty wailing in the market-place where once Hans
and I had been tied to stakes to be shot to death with arrows, I went
out to see what was the matter. At the gateway I was greeted by the
sight of about a hundred old women plastered all over with ashes,
engaged in howling their loudest in a melancholy unison. Behind these
stood the entire population of Beza-Town, who chanted a kind of

"What the devil are they doing?" I asked of Hans.

"Singing our death-song, Baas," he replied stolidly, "as they say that
where we are going no one will take the trouble to do so, and it is
not right that great lords should die and the heavens above remain
uninformed that they are coming."

"That's cheerful," I remarked, and wheeling round, asked Ragnall
straight out if he wished to persevere in this business, for to tell
the truth my nerve was shaken.

"I must," he answered simply, "but there is no reason why you and Hans
should, or Savage either for the matter of that."

"Oh! I'm going where you go," I said, "and where I go Hans will go.
Savage must speak for himself."

This he did and to the same effect, being a very honest and faithful
man. It was the more to his credit since, as he informed me in
private, he did not enjoy African adventure and often dreamed at
nights of his comfortable room at Ragnall whence he superintended the
social activities of that great establishment.

So we departed and marched for the matter of a month or more through
every kind of country. After we had passed the head of the great lake
wherein lay the island, if it really was an island, where the Pongo
used to dwell (one clear morning through my glasses I discerned the
mountain top that marked the former residence of the Mother of the
Flower, and by contrast it made me feel quite homesick), we struck up
north, following a route known to Babemba and our guides. After this
we steered by the stars through a land with very few inhabitants,
timid and nondescript folk who dwelt in scattered villages and
scarcely understood the art of cultivating the soil, even in its most
primitive form.

A hundred miles or so farther on these villages ceased and
thenceforward we only encountered some nomads, little bushmen who
lived on game which they shot with poisoned arrows. Once they attacked
us and killed two of the Mazitu with those horrid arrows, against the
venom of which no remedy that we had in our medicine chest proved of
any avail. On this occasion Savage exhibited his courage if not his
discretion, for rushing out of our thorn fence, after missing a
bushmen with both barrels at a distance of five yards--he was, I
think, the worst shot I ever saw--he seized the little viper with his
hands and dragged him back to camp. How Savage escaped with his life I
do not know, for one poisoned arrow went through his hat and stuck in
his hair and another just grazed his leg without drawing blood.

This valorous deed was of great service to us, since we were able
through Hans, who knew something of the bushmen's language, to explain
to our prisoner that if we were shot at again he would be hung. This
information he contrived to shout, or rather to squeak and grunt, to
his amiable tribe, of which it appeared he was a kind of chief, with
the result that we were no more molested. Later, when we were clear of
the bushmen country, we let him depart, which he did with great

By degrees the land grew more and more barren and utterly devoid of
inhabitants, till at last it merged into desert. At the edge of this
desert which rolled away without apparent limit we came, however, to a
kind of oasis where there was a strong and beautiful spring of water
that formed a stream which soon lost itself in the surrounding sand.
As we could go no farther, for even if we had wished to do so, and
were able to find water there, the Mazitu refused to accompany us into
the desert, not knowing what else to do, we camped in the oasis and

As it happened, the place was a kind of hunter's paradise, since every
kind of game, large and small, came to the water to drink at night,
and in the daytime browsed upon the saltish grass that at this season
of the year grew plentifully upon the edge of the wilderness.

Amongst other creatures there were elephants in plenty that travelled
hither out of the bushlands we had passed, or sometimes emerged from
the desert itself, suggesting that beyond this waste there lay fertile
country. So numerous were these great beasts indeed that for my part I
hoped earnestly that it would prove impossible for us to continue our
journey, since I saw that in a few months I could collect an enormous
amount of ivory, enough to make me comparatively rich, if only I were
able to get it away. As it was we only killed a few of them, ten in
all to be accurate, that we might send back the tusks as presents to
Bausi II. To slaughter the poor animals uselessly was cruel,
especially as being unaccustomed to the sight of man, they were as
easy to approach as cows. Even Savage slew one--by carefully aiming at
another five paces to its left.

For the rest we lived on the fat of the land and, as meat was
necessary to us, had as much sport as we could desire among the
various antelope.

For fourteen days or so this went on, till at length we grew
thoroughly tired of the business, as did the Mazitu, who were so
gorged with flesh that they began to desire vegetable food. Twice we
rode as far into the desert as we dared, for our horses remained to us
and had grown fresh again after the rest, but only to return without
information. The place was just a vast wilderness strewn with brown
stones beautifully polished by the wind-driven sand of ages, and quite
devoid of water.

After our second trip, on which we suffered severely from thirst, we
held a consultation. Old Babemba said that he could keep his men no
longer, even for us, as they insisted upon returning home, and
inquired what we meant to do and why we sat here "like a stone." I
answered that we were waiting for some of the Kendah who had bid me to
shoot game hereabouts until they arrived to be our guides. He remarked
that the Kendah to the best of his belief lived in a country that was
still hundreds of miles away and that, as they did not know of our
presence, any communication across the desert being impossible, our
proceedings seemed to be foolish.

I retorted that I was not quite so sure of this, since the Kendah
seemed to have remarkable ways of acquiring information.

"Then, Macumazana, I fear that you will have to wait by yourselves
until you discover which of us is right," he said stolidly.

Turning to Ragnall, I asked him what he would do, pointing out that to
journey into the desert meant death, especially as we did not know
whither we were going, and that to return alone, without the stores
which we must abandon, through the country of the bushmen to
Mazituland, would also be a risky proceeding. However, it was for him
to decide.

Now he grew much perturbed. Taking me apart again he dwelt earnestly
upon his secret reasons for wishing to visit these Kendah, with which
of course I was already acquainted, as indeed was Savage.

"I desire to stay here," he ended.

"Which means that we must all stay, Ragnall, since Savage will not
desert you. Nor will Hans desert me although he thinks us mad. He
points out that I came to seek ivory and here about is ivory in plenty
for the trouble of taking."

"I might remain alone, Quatermain----" he began, but I looked at him
in such a way that he never finished the sentence.

Ultimately we came to a compromise. Babemba, on behalf of the Mazitu,
agreed to wait three more days. If nothing happened during that period
we on our part agreed to return with them to a stretch of well-watered
bush about fifty miles behind us, which we knew swarmed with
elephants, that by now were growing shy of approaching our oasis where
there was so much noise and shooting. There we would kill as much
ivory as we could carry, an operation in which they were willing to
assist for the fun of it, and then go back with them to Mazituland.

The three days went by and with every hour that passed my spirits
rose, as did those of Savage and Hans, while Lord Ragnall became more
and more depressed. The third afternoon was devoted to a jubilant
packing of loads, for in accordance with the terms of our bargain we
were to start backwards on our spoor at dawn upon the morrow. Most
happily did I lay myself down to sleep in my little bough shelter that
night, feeling that at last I was rid of an uncommonly awkward
adventure. If I thought that we could do any good by staying on, it
would have been another matter. But as I was certain that there was no
earthly chance of our finding among the Kendah--if ever we reached
them--the lady who had tumbled in the Nile in Egypt, well, I was glad
that Providence had been so good as to make it impossible for us to
commit suicide by thirst in a desert, or otherwise. For,
notwithstanding my former reasonings to the contrary, I was now
convinced that this was what had happened to poor Ragnall's wife.

That, however, was just what Providence had not done. In the middle of
the night, to be precise, at exactly two in the morning, I was
awakened by Hans, who slept at the back of my shanty, into which he
had crept through a hole in the faggots, exclaiming in a frightened

"Open your eyes and look, Baas. There are two /spooks/ waiting to see
you outside, Baas."

Very cautiously I lifted myself a little and stared out into the
moonlight. There, seated about five paces from the open end of the hut
were the "spooks" sure enough, two white-robed figures squatting
silent and immovable on the ground. At first I was frightened. Then I
bethought me of thieves and felt for my Colt pistol under the rug that
served me as a pillow. As I got hold of the handle, however, a deep
voice said:

"Is it your custom, O Macumazana, Watcher-by-Night, to receive guests
with bullets?"

Now thought I to myself, who is there in the world who could see a man
catch hold of the handle of a pistol in the recesses of a dark place
and under a blanket at night, except the owner of that voice which I
seemed to remember hearing in a certain drawing-room in England?

"Yes, Harūt," I answered with an unconcerned yawn, "when the guests
come in such a doubtful fashion and in the middle of the night. But as
you are here at last, will you be so good as to tell us why you have
kept us waiting all this time? Is that your way of fulfilling an

"O Lord Macumazana," answered Harūt, for of course it was he, in quite
a perturbed tone, "I offer to you our humble apologies. The truth is
that when we heard of your arrival at Beza-Town we started, or tried
to start, from hundreds of miles away to keep our tryst with you here
as we promised we would do. But we are mortal, Macumazana, and
accidents intervened. Thus, when we had ascertained the weight of your
baggage, camels had to be collected to carry it, which were grazing at
a distance. Also it was necessary to send forward to dig out a certain
well in the desert where they must drink. Hence the delay. Still, you
will admit that we have arrived in time, five, or at any rate four
hours before the rising of that sun which was to light you on your
homeward way."

"Yes, you have, O Prophets, or O Liars, whichever you may be," I
exclaimed with pardonable exasperation, for really their knowledge of
my private affairs, however obtained, was enough to anger a saint. "So
as you are here at last, come in and have a drink, for whether you are
men or devils, you must be cold out there in the damp."

In they came accordingly, and, not being Mohammedans, partook of a tot
of square-face from a bottle which I kept locked in a box to put Hans
beyond the reach of temptation.

"To your health, Harūt and Marūt," I said, drinking a little out of
the pannikin and giving the rest to Hans, who gulped the fiery liquor
down with a smack of his lips. For I will admit that I joined in this
unholy midnight potation to gain time for thought and to steady my

"To your health, O Lord Macumazana," the pair answered as they
swallowed their tots, which I had made pretty stiff, and set down
their pannikins in front of them with as much reverence as though
these had been holy vessels.

"Now," I said, throwing a blanket over my shoulders, for the air was
chilly, "now let us talk," and taking the lantern which Hans had
thoughtfully lighted, I held it up and contemplated them.

There they were, Harūt and Marūt without doubt, to all appearance
totally unchanged since some years before I had seen them at Ragnall
in England. "What are you doing here?" I asked in a kind of fiery
indignation inspired by my intense curiosity. "How did you get out of
England after you had tried to steal away the lady to whom you sent
the necklace? What did you do with that lady after you had beguiled
her from the boat at Abu-Simbel? In the name of your Holy Child, or of
Shaitan of the Mohammedans, or of Set of the Egyptians, answer me,
lest I should make an end of both of you, which I can do here without
any questions being asked," and I whipped out my pistol.

"Pardon us," said Harūt with a grave smile, "but if you were to do as
you say, Lord Macumazana, many questions would be asked which /you/
might find it hard to answer. So be pleased to put that death-dealer
back into its place, and to tell us before we reply to you, what you
know of Set of the Egyptians."

"As much or as little as you do," I replied.

Both bowed as though this information were of the most satisfactory
order. Then Harūt went on: "In reply to your requests, O Macumazana,
we left England by a steamboat and in due course after long
journeyings we reached our own country. We do not understand your
allusions to a place called Abu-Simbel on the Nile, whence, never
having been there, we have taken no lady. Indeed, we never meant to
take that lady to whom we sent a necklace in England. We only meant to
ask certain questions of her, as she had the gift of vision, when you
appeared and interrupted us. What should we want with white ladies,
who have already far too many of our own?"

"I don't know," I replied, "but I do know that you are the biggest
liars I ever met."

At these words, which some might have thought insulting, Harūt and
Marūt bowed again as though to acknowledge a great compliment. Then
Harūt said:

"Let us leave the question of ladies and come to matters that have to
do with men. You are here as we told you that you would be at a time
when you did not believe us, and we here to meet /you/, as we told you
that we would be. How we knew that you were coming and how we came do
not matter at all. Believe what you will. Are you ready to start with
us, O Lord Macumazana, that you may bring to its death the wicked
elephant Jana which ravages our land, and receive the great reward of
ivory? If so, your camel waits."

"One camel cannot carry four men," I answered, avoiding the question.

"In courage and skill you are more than many men, O Macumazana, yet in
body you are but one and not four."

"If you think that I am going with you alone, you are much mistaken,
Harūt and Marūt," I exclaimed. "Here with me is my servant without
whom I do not stir," and I pointed to Hans, whom they contemplated
gravely. "Also there is the Lord Ragnall, who in this land is named
Igeza, and his servant who here is named Bena, the man out of whom you
drew snakes in the room in England. They also must accompany us."

At this news the impassive countenances of Harūt and Marūt showed, I
thought, some signs of disturbance. They muttered together in an
unknown tongue. Then Harūt said:

"Our secret land is open to you alone, O Macumazana, for one purpose
only--to kill the elephant Jana, for which deed we promise you a great
reward. We do not wish to see the others there."

"Then you can kill your own elephant, Harūt and Marūt, for not one
step do I go with you. Why should I when there is as much ivory here
as I want, to be had for the shooting?"

"How if we take you, O Macumazana?"

"How if I kill you both, O Harūt and Marūt? Fools, here are many brave
men at my command, and if you or any with you want fighting it shall
be given you in plenty. Hans, bid the Mazitu stand to their arms and
summon Igeza and Bena."

"Stay, Lord," said Harūt, "and put down that weapon," for once more I
had produced the pistol. "We would not begin our fellowship by
shedding blood, though we are safer from you than you think. Your
companions shall accompany you to the land of the Kendah, but let them
know that they do so at their own risk. Learn that it is revealed to
us that if they go in there some of them will pass out again as
spirits but not as men."

"Do you mean that you will murder them?"

"No. We mean that yonder are some stronger than us or any men, who
will take their lives in sacrifice. Not yours, Macumazana, for that,
it is decreed, is safe, but those of two of the others, which two we
do not know."

"Indeed, Harūt and Marūt, and how am I to be sure that any of us are
safe, or that you do not but trick us to your country, there to kill
us with treachery and steal our goods?"

"Because we swear it by the oath that may not be broken; we swear it
by the Heavenly Child," both of them exclaimed solemnly, speaking with
one voice and bowing till their foreheads almost touched the ground.

I shrugged my shoulders and laughed a little.

"You do not believe us," went on Harūt, "who have not heard what
happens to those who break this oath. Come now and see something.
Within five paces of your hut is a tall ant-heap upon which doubtless
you have been accustomed to stand and overlook the desert." (This was
true, but how did they guess it, I wondered.) "Go climb that ant-heap
once more."

Perhaps it was rash, but my curiosity led me to accept this
invitation. Out I went, followed by Hans with a loaded double-
barrelled rifle, and scrambled up the ant-heap which, as it was twenty
feet high and there were no trees just here, commanded a very fine
view of the desert beyond.

"Look to the north," said Harūt from its foot.

I looked, and there in the bright moonlight five or six hundred yards
away, ranged rank by rank upon a slope of sand and along the crest of
the ridge beyond, I saw quite two hundred kneeling camels, and by each
camel a tall, white-robed figure who held in his hand a long lance to
the shaft of which, not far beneath the blade, was attached a little
flag. For a while I stared to make sure that I was not the victim of
an illusion or a mirage. Then when I had satisfied myself that these
were indeed men and camels I descended from the ant-heap.

"You will admit, Macumazana," said Harūt politely, "that if we had
meant you any ill, with such a force it would have been easy for us to
take a sleeping camp at night. But these men come here to be your
escort, not to kill or enslave you or yours. And, Macumazana, we have
sworn to you the oath that may not be broken. Now we go to our people.
In the morning, after you have eaten, we will return again unarmed and

Then like shadows they slipped away.



Ten minutes later the truth was known and every man in the camp was up
and armed. At first there were some signs of panic, but these with the
help of Babemba we managed to control, setting the men to make the
best preparations for defence that circumstances would allow, and thus
occupying their minds. For from the first we saw that, except for the
three of us who had horses, escape was impossible. That great camel
corps could catch us within a mile.

Leaving old Babemba in charge of his soldiers, we three white men and
Hans held a council at which I repeated every word that had passed
between Harūt and Marūt and myself, including their absolute denial of
their having had anything to do with the disappearance of Lady Ragnall
on the Nile.

"Now," I asked, "what is to be done? My fate is sealed, since for
purposes of their own, of which probably we know nothing, these people
intend to take me with them to their country, as indeed they are
justified in doing, since I have been fool enough to keep a kind of
assignation with them here. But they don't want anybody else.
Therefore there is nothing to prevent you Ragnall, and you Savage, and
you Hans, from returning with the Mazitu."

"Oh! Baas," said Hans, who could understand English well enough
although he seldom spoke it, "why are you always bothering me with
such /praatjes/?"--(that is, chatter). "Whatever you do I will do, and
I don't care what you do, except for your own sake, Baas. If I am
going to die, let me die; it doesn't at all matter how, since I must
go soon and make report to your reverend father, the Predikant. And
now, Baas, I have been awake all night, for I heard those camels
coming a long while before the two spook men appeared, and as I have
never heard camels before, could not make out what they were, for they
don't walk like giraffes. So I am going to sleep, Baas, there in the
sun. When you have settled things, you can wake me up and give me your
orders," and he suited the action to the word, for when I glanced at
him again he was, or appeared to be, slumbering, just like a dog at
its master's feet.

I looked at Ragnall in interrogation.

"I am going on," he said briefly.

"Despite the denial of these men of any complicity in your wife's
fate?" I asked. "If their words are true, what have you to gain by
this journey, Ragnall?"

"An interesting experience while it lasts; that is all. Like Hans
there, if what they say /is/ true, my future is a matter of complete
indifference to me. But I do not believe a word of what they say.
Something tells me that they know a great deal which they do not
choose to repeat--about my wife I mean. That is why they are so
anxious that I should not accompany you."

"You must judge for yourself," I answered doubtfully, "and I hope to
Heaven that you are judging right. Now, Savage, what have you decided?
Remember before you reply that these uncanny fellows declare that if
we four go, two of us will never return. It seems impossible that they
can read the future, still, without doubt, they /are/ most uncanny."

"Sir," said Savage, "I will take my chance. Before I left England his
lordship made a provision for my old mother and my widowed sister and
her children, and I have none other dependent upon me. Moreover, I
won't return alone with those Mazitu to become a barbarian, for how
could I find my way back to the coast without anyone to guide me? So
I'll go on and leave the rest to God."

"Which is just what we have all got to do," I remarked. "Well, as that
is settled, let us send for Babemba and tell him."

This we did accordingly. The old fellow received the news with more
resignation than I had anticipated. Fixing his one eye upon me, he

"Macumazana, these words are what I expected from you. Had any other
man spoken them I should have declared that he was quite mad. But I
remember that I said this when you determined to visit the Pongo, and
that you came back from their country safe and sound, having done
wonderful things there, and that it was the Pongo who suffered, not
you. So I believe it will be again, so far as you are concerned,
Macumazana, for I think that some devil goes with you who looks after
his own. For the others I do not know. They must settle the matter
with their own devils, or with those of the Kendah people. Now
farewell, Macumazana, for it comes to me that we shall meet no more.
Well, that happens to all at last, and it is good to have known you
who are so great in your own way. Often I shall think of you as you
will think of me, and hope that in a country beyond that of the Kendah
I may hear from your lips all that has befallen you on this and other
journeys. Now I go to withdraw my men before these white-robed Arabs
come on their strange beasts to seize you, lest they should take us
also and there should be a fight in which we, being the fewer, must
die. The loads are all in order ready to be laden on their strange
beasts. If they declare that the horses cannot cross the desert, leave
them loose and we will catch them and take them home with us, and
since they are male and female, breed young ones from them which shall
be yours when you send for them, or Bausi the king's if you never
send. Nay, I want no more presents who have the gun and the powder and
the bullets you gave me, and the tusks of ivory for Bausi the king,
and what is best of all, the memory of you and of your courage and
wisdom. May these and the gods you worship befriend you. From yonder
hill we will watch till we see that you have gone. Farewell," and
waiting for no answer, he departed with the tears running from his
solitary eye.

Ten minutes later the Mazitu bearers had also saluted us and gone,
leaving us seated in that deserted camp surrounded by our baggage, and
so far as I was concerned, feeling most lonely. Another ten minutes
went by which we occupied in packing our personal belongings. Then
Hans, who was now washing out the coffee kettle at a little distance,
looked up and said:

"Here come the spook-men, Baas, the whole regiment of them." We ran
and looked. It was true. Marshalled in orderly squadrons, the camels
with their riders were sweeping towards us, and a fine sight the
beasts made with their swaying necks and long, lurching gait. About
fifty yards away they halted just where the stream from our spring
entered the desert, and there proceeded to water the camels, twenty of
them at a time. Two men, however, in whom I recognized Harūt and
Marūt, walked forward and presently were standing before us, bowing

"Good morning, Lord," said Harūt to Ragnall in his broken English. "So
you come with Macumazana to call at our poor house, as we call at your
fine one in England. You think we got the beautiful lady you marry,
she we give old necklace. That is not so. No white lady ever in
Kendahland. We hear story from Macumazana and believe that lady
drowned in Nile, for you 'member she walk much in her sleep. We very
sorry for you, but gods know their business. They leave when they will
leave, and take when they will take. You find her again some day more
beautiful still and with her soul come back."

Here I looked at him sharply. I had told him nothing about Lady
Ragnall having lost her wits. How then did he know of the matter?
Still I thought it best to hold my peace. I think that Harūt saw he
had made some mistake, for leaving the subject of Lady Ragnall, he
went on:

"You very welcome, O Lord, but it right tell you this most dangerous
journey, since elephant Jana not like strangers, and," he continued
slowly, "think no elephant like your blood, and all elephants
brothers. What one hate rest hate everywhere in world. See it in your
face that you already suffer great hurt from elephant, you or someone
near you. Also some of Kendah very fierce people and love fighting,
and p'raps there war in the land while you there, and in war people
get killed."

"Very good, my friend," said Ragnall, "I am prepared to take my chance
of these things. Either we all go to your country together, as
Macumazana has explained to you, or none of us go."

"We understand. That is our bargain and we no break word," replied

Then he turned his benevolent gaze upon Savage, and said: "So you come
too, Mr. Bena. That your name here, eh? Well, you learn lot things in
Kendahland, about snakes and all rest."

Here the jovial-looking Marūt whispered something into the ear of his
companion, smiling all over his face and showing his white teeth as he
did so. "Oh!" went on Harūt, "my brother tells me you meet one snake
already, down in country called Natal, but sit on him so hard, that he
grow quite flat and no bite."

"Who told him that?" gasped Savage.

"Oh! forget. Think Macumazana. No? Then p'raps you tell him in sleep,
for people talk much in sleep, you know, and some other people got
good ears and hear long way. Or p'raps little joke Harūt. You 'member,
he first-rate conjurer. P'raps he send that snake. No trouble if know
how. Well, we show you much better snake Kendahland. But you no sit on
/him/, Mr. Bena."

To me, I know not why, there was something horrible in all this
jocosity, something that gave me the creeps as always does the sight
of a cat playing with a mouse. I felt even then that it foreshadowed
terrible things. How /could/ these men know the details of occurrences
at which they were not present and of which no one had told them? Did
that strange "tobacco" of theirs really give them some clairvoyant
power, I wondered, or had they other secret methods of obtaining news?
I glanced at poor Savage and perceived that he too felt as I did, for
he had turned quite pale beneath his tan. Even Hans was affected, for
he whispered to me in Dutch: "These are not men; these are devils,
Baas, and this journey of ours is one into hell."

Only Ragnall sat stern, silent, and apparently quite unmoved. Indeed
there was something almost sphinx-like about the set and expression of
his handsome face. Moreover, I felt sure that Harūt and Marūt
recognized the man's strength and determination and that he was one
with whom they must reckon seriously. Beneath all their smiles and
courtesies I could read this knowledge in their eyes; also that it was
causing them grave anxiety. It was as though they knew that here was
one against whom their power had no avail, whose fate was the master
of their fate. In a sense Harūt admitted this to me, for suddenly he
looked up and said in a changed voice and in Bantu:

"You are a good reader of hearts, O Macumazana, almost as good as I
am. But remember that there is One Who writes upon the book of the
heart, Who is the Lord of us who do but read, and that what He writes,
that will befall, strive as we may, for in His hands is the future."

"Quite so," I replied coolly, "and that is why I am going with you to
Kendahland and fear you not at all."

"So it is and so let it be," he answered. "And now, Lords, are you
ready to start? For long is the road and who knows what awaits us ere
we see its end?"

"Yes," I replied, "long is the road of life and who knows what awaits
us ere we see its end--and after?"

Three hours later I halted the splendid white riding-camel upon which
I was mounted, and looked back from the crest of a wave of the desert.
There far behind us on the horizon, by the help of my glasses, I could
make out the site of the camp we had left and even the tall ant-hill
whence I had gazed in the moonlight at our mysterious escort which
seemed to have sprung from the desert as though by magic.

This was the manner of our march: A mile or so ahead of us went a
picket of eight or ten men mounted on the swiftest beasts, doubtless
to give warning of any danger. Next, three or four hundred yards away,
followed a body of about fifty Kendah, travelling in a double line,
and behind these the baggage men, mounted like everyone else, and
leading behind them strings of camels laden with water, provisions,
tents of skin and all our goods, including the fifty rifles and the
ammunition that Ragnall had brought from England. Then came we three
white men and Hans, each of us riding as swift and fine a camel as
Africa can breed. On our right at a distance of about half a mile, and
also on our left, travelled other bodies of the Kendah of the same
numerical strength as that ahead, while the rear was brought up by the
remainder of the company who drove a number of spare camels.

Thus we journeyed in the centre of a square whence any escape would
have been impossible, for I forgot to say that our keepers Harūt and
Marūt rode exactly behind us, at such a distance that we could call to
them if we wished.

At first I found this method of travelling very tiring, as does
everyone who is quite unaccustomed to camel-back. Indeed the swing and
the jolt of the swift creature beneath me seemed to wrench my bones
asunder to such an extent that at the beginning I had once or twice to
be lifted from the saddle when, after hours of torture, at length we
camped for the night. Poor Savage suffered even more than I did, for
the motion reduced him to a kind of jelly. Ragnall, however, who I
think had ridden camels before, felt little inconvenience, and the
same may be said of Hans, who rode in all sorts of positions,
sometimes sideways like a lady, and at others kneeling on the saddle
like a monkey on a barrel-organ. Also, being very light and tough as
rimpis, the swaying motion did not seem to affect him.

By degrees all these troubles left us to such an extent that I could
cover my fifty miles a day, more or less, without even feeling tired.
Indeed I grew to like the life in that pure and sparkling desert air,
perhaps because it was so restful. Day after day we journeyed on
across the endless, sandy plain, watching the sun rise, watching it
grow high, watching it sink again. Night after night we ate our simple
food with appetite and slept beneath the glittering stars till the new
dawn broke in glory from the bosom of the immeasurable East.

We spoke but little during all this time. It was as though the silence
of the wilderness had got hold of us and sealed our lips. Or perhaps
each of us was occupied with his own thoughts. At any rate I know that
for my part I seemed to live in a kind of dreamland, thinking of the
past, reflecting much upon the innumerable problems of this passing
show called life, but not paying much heed to the future. What did the
future matter to me, who did not know whether I should have a share of
it even for another month, or week, or day, surrounded as I was by the
shadow of death? No, I troubled little as to any earthly future,
although I admit that in this oasis of calm I reflected upon that
state where past, present and future will all be one; also that those
reflections, which were in their essence a kind of unshaped prayer,
brought much calm to my spirit.

With the regiment of escort we had practically no communication; I
think that they had been forbidden to talk to us. They were a very
silent set of men, finely-made, capable persons, of an Arab type,
light rather than dark in colour, who seemed for the most part to
communicate with each other by signs or in low-muttered words.
Evidently they looked upon Harūt and Marūt with great veneration, for
any order which either of these brethren gave, if they were brethren,
was obeyed without dispute or delay. Thus, when I happened to mention
that I had lost a pocket-knife at one of our camping-places two days'
journey back, three of them, much against my wish, were ordered to
return to look for it, and did so, making no question. Eight days
later they rejoined us much exhausted and having lost a camel, but
with the knife, which they handed to me with a low bow; and I confess
that I felt ashamed to take the thing.

Nor did we exchange many further confidences with Harūt and Marūt. Up
to the time of our arrival at the boundaries of the Kendah country,
our only talk with them was of the incidents of travel, of where we
should camp, of how far it might be to the next water, for water-holes
or old wells existed in this desert, of such birds as we saw, and so
forth. As to other and more important matters a kind of truce seemed
to prevail. Still, I observed that they were always studying us, and
especially Lord Ragnall, who rode on day after day, self-absorbed and
staring straight in front of him as though he looked at something we
could not see.

Thus we covered hundreds of miles, not less than five hundred at the
least, reckoning our progress at only thirty miles a day, including
stoppages. For occasionally we stopped at the water-holes or small
oases, where the camels drank and rested. Indeed, these were so
conveniently arranged that I came to the conclusion that once there
must have been some established route running across these wastelands
to the south, of which the traditional knowledge remained with the
Kendah people. If so, it had not been used for generations, for save
those of one or two that had died on the outward march, we saw no
skeletons of camels or other beasts, or indeed any sign of man. The
place was an absolute wilderness where nothing lived except a few
small mammals at the oases and the birds that passed over it in the
air on their way to more fertile regions. Of these, by the way, I saw
many that are known both to Europe and Africa, especially ducks and
cranes; also storks that, for aught I can say, may have come from far-
off, homely Holland.

At last the character of the country began to change. Grass appeared
on its lower-lying stretches, then bushes, then occasional trees and
among the trees a few buck. Halting the caravan I crept out and shot
two of these buck with a right and left, a feat that caused our grave
escort to stare in a fashion which showed me that they had never seen
anything of the sort done before.

That night, while we were eating the venison with relish, since it was
the first fresh meat that we had tasted for many a day, I observed
that the disposition of our camp was different from its common form.
Thus it was smaller and placed on an eminence. Also the camels were
not allowed to graze where they would as usual, but were kept within a
limited area while their riders were arranged in groups outside of
them. Further, the stores were piled near our tents, in the centre,
with guards set over them. I asked Harūt and Marūt, who were sharing
our meal, the reason of these alterations.

"It is because we are on the borders of the Kendah country," answered
old Harūt. "Four days' more march will bring us there, Macumazana."

"Then why should you take precautions against your own people? Surely
they will welcome you."

"With spears perhaps. Macumazana, learn that the Kendah are not one
but two people. As you may have heard before, we are the White Kendah,
but there are also Black Kendah who outnumber us many times over,
though in the beginning we from the north conquered them, or so says
our history. The White Kendah have their own territory; but as there
is no other road, to reach it we must pass through that of the Black
Kendah, where it is always possible that we may be attacked,
especially as we bring strangers into the land."

"How is it then that the Black Kendah allow you to live at all, Harūt,
if they are so much the more numerous?"

"Because of fear, Macumazana. They fear our wisdom and the decrees of
the Heavenly Child spoken through the mouth of its oracle, which, if
it is offended, can bring a curse upon them. Still, if they find us
outside our borders they may kill us, if they can, as we may kill them
if we find them within our borders."

"Indeed, Harūt. Then it looks to me as though there were a war
breeding between you."

"A war is breeding, Macumazana, the last great war in which either the
White Kendah or the Black Kendah must perish. Or perhaps both will die
together. Maybe that is the real reason why we have asked you to be
our guest, Macumazana," and with their usual courteous bows, both of
them rose and departed before I could reply.

"You see how it stands," I said to Ragnall. "We have been brought here
to fight for our friends, Harūt, Marūt and Co., against their
rebellious subjects, or rather the king who reigns jointly with them."

"It looks like it," he replied quietly, "but doubtless we shall find
out the truth in time and meanwhile speculation is no good. Do you go
to bed, Quatermain, I will watch till midnight and then wake you."

That night passed in safety. Next day we marched before the dawn,
passing through country that grew continually better watered and more
fertile, though it was still open plain but sloping upwards ever more
steeply. On this plain I saw herds of antelopes and what in the
distance looked like cattle, but no human being. Before evening we
camped where there was good water and plenty of food for the camels.

While the camp was being set Harūt came and invited us to follow him
to the outposts, whence he said we should see a view. We walked with
him, a matter of not more than a quarter of a mile to the head of that
rise up which we had been travelling all day, and thence perceived one
of the most glorious prospects on which my eyes have fallen in all
great Africa. From where we stood the land sloped steeply for a matter
of ten or fifteen miles, till finally the fall ended in a vast plain
like to the bottom of a gigantic saucer, that I presume in some far
time of the world's history was once an enormous lake. A river ran
east and west across this plain and into it fell tributaries. Far
beyond this river the contours of the country rose again till, many,
many miles away, there appeared a solitary hill, tumulus-shaped, which
seemed to be covered with bush.

Beyond and surrounding this hill was more plain which with the aid of
my powerful glasses was, we could see, bordered at last by a range of
great mountains, looking like a blue line pencilled across the
northern distance. To the east and west the plain seemed to be
illimitable. Obviously its soil was of a most fertile character and
supported numbers of inhabitants, for everywhere we could see their
kraals or villages. Much of it to the west, however, was covered with
dense forest with, to all appearance, a clearing in its midst.

"Behold the land of the Kendah," said Harūt. "On this side of the
River Tava live the Black Kendah, on the farther side, the White

"And what is that hill?"

"That is the Holy Mount, the Home of the Heavenly Child, where no man
may set foot"--here he looked at us meaningly--"save the priests of
the Child."

"What happens to him if he does?" I asked.

"He dies, my Lord Macumazana."

"Then it is guarded, Harūt?"

"It is guarded, not with mortal weapons, Macumazana, but by the
spirits that watch over the Child."

As he would say no more on this interesting matter, I asked him as to
the numbers of the Kendah people, to which he replied that the Black
Kendah might number twenty thousand men of arm-bearing age, but the
White Kendah not more than two thousand.

"Then no wonder you want spirits to guard your Heavenly Child," I
remarked, "since the Black Kendah are your foes and with you warriors
are few."

At this moment our conversation was interrupted by the arrival of a
picket on a camel, who reported something to Harūt which appeared to
disturb him. I asked him what was the matter.

"That is the matter," he said, pointing to a man mounted on a rough
pony who just then appeared from behind some bushes about half a mile
away, galloping down the slope towards the plain. "He is one of the
scouts of Simba, King of the Black Kendah, and he goes to Simba's town
in yonder forest to make report of our arrival. Return to camp,
Macumazana, and eat, for we must march with the rising of the moon."

As soon as the moon rose we marched accordingly, although the camels,
many of which were much worn with the long journey, scarcely had been
given time to fill themselves and none to rest. All night we marched
down the long slope, only halting for half an hour before daylight to
eat something and rearrange the loads on the baggage beasts, which
now, I noticed, were guarded with extra care. When we were starting
again Marūt came to us and remarked with his usual smile, on behalf of
his brother Harūt, who was otherwise engaged, that it might be well if
we had our guns ready, since we were entering the land of the elephant
Jana and "who knew but that we might meet him?"

"Or his worshippers on two legs," I suggested, to which his only reply
was a nod.

So we got our repeating rifles, some of the first that were ever made,
serviceable but rather complicated weapons that fired five cartridges.
Hans, however, with my permission, armed himself with the little
Purdey piece that was named "Intombi," the singe-barrelled, muzzle-
loading gun which had done me so much service in earlier days, and
even on my last journey to Pongoland. He said that he was accustomed
to it and did not understand these new-fangled breechloaders, also
that it was "lucky." I consented as I did not think that it made much
difference with what kind of rifle Hans was provided. As a marksman he
had this peculiarity: up to a hundred yards or so he was an excellent
shot, but beyond that distance no good at all.

A quarter of an hour later, as the dawn was breaking, we passed
through a kind of /nek/ of rough stones bordering the flat land, and
emerged into a compact body on to the edge of the grassy plain. Here
the word was given to halt for a reason that became clear to me so
soon as I was out of the rocks. For there, marching rapidly, not half
a mile away, were some five hundred white-robed men. A large
proportion of these were mounted, the best being foot-soldiers, of
whom more were running up every minute, appearing out of bush that
grew upon the hill-side, apparently to dispute our passage. These
people, who were black-faced with fuzzy hair upon which they wore no
head-dress, all seemed to be armed with spears.

Presently from out of the mass of them two horsemen dashed forward,
one of whom bore a white flag in token that they came to parley. Our
advance guard allowed them to pass and they galloped on, dodging in
and out between the camels with wonderful skill till at length they
came to where we were with Harūt and Marūt, and pulling up their
horses so sharply that the animals almost sat down on their haunches,
saluted by raising their spears. They were very fine-looking fellows,
perfectly black in colour with a negroid cast of countenance and long
frizzled hair which hung down on to their shoulders. Their clothing
was light, consisting of hide riding breeches that resembled bathing
drawers, sandals, and an arrangement of triple chains which seemed to
be made of some silvery metal that hung from their necks across the
breast and back. Their arms consisted of a long lance similar to that
carried by the White Kendah, and a straight, cross-handled sword
suspended from a belt. This, as I ascertained afterwards, was the
regulation cavalry equipment among these people. The footmen carried a
shorter spear, a round leather shield, two throwing javelins or
assegais, and a curved knife with a horn handle.

"Greeting, Prophets of the Child!" cried one of them. "We are
messengers from the god Jana who speaks through the mouth of Simba the

"Say on, worshippers of the devil Jana. What word has Simba the King
for us?" answered Harūt.

"The word of war, Prophet. What do you beyond your southern boundary
of the Tava river in the territory of the Black Kendah, that was
sealed to them by pact after the battle of a hundred years ago? Is not
all the land to the north as far as the mountains and beyond the
mountains enough for you? Simba the King let you go out, hoping that
the desert would swallow you, but return you shall not."

"That we shall know presently," replied Harūt in a suave voice. "It
depends upon whether the Heavenly Child or the devil Jana is the more
powerful in the land. Still, as we would avoid bloodshed if we may, we
desire to explain to you, messengers of King Simba, that we are here
upon a peaceful errand. It was necessary that we should convey the
white lords to make an offering to the Child, and this was the only
road by which we could lead them to the Holy Mount, since they come
from the south. Through the forests and the swamps that lie to the
east and west camels cannot travel."

"And what is the offering that the white men would make to the Child,
Prophet? Oh! we know well, for like you we have our magic. The
offering that they must make is the blood of Jana our god, which you
have brought them here to kill with their strange weapons, as though
any weapon could prevail against Jana the god. Now, give to us these
white men that we may offer them to the god, and perchance Simba the
King will let you go through."

"Why?" asked Harūt, "seeing that you declare that the white men cannot
harm Jana, to whom indeed they wish no harm. To surrender them to you
that they may be torn to pieces by the devil Jana would be to break
the law of hospitality, for they are our guests. Now return to Simba
the King, and say to Simba that if he lifts a spear against us the
threefold curse of the Child shall fall upon him and upon you his
people: The curse of Heaven by storm or by drought. The curse of
famine. The curse of war. I the prophet have spoken. Depart."

Watching, I could see that this ultimatum delivered by Harūt in a most
impressive voice, and seconded as it was by the sudden and
simultaneous lifting of the spears of all our escort that were within
hearing, produced a considerable effect upon the messengers. Their
faces grew afraid and they shrank a little. Evidently the "threefold
curse of the Child" suggested calamities which they dreaded. Making no
answer, they wheeled their horses about and galloped back to the force
that was gathering below as swiftly as they had come.

"We must fight, my Lord Macumazana," said Harūt, "and if we would
live, conquer, as I know that we shall do."

Then he issued some orders, of which the result was that the caravan
adopted a wedge-shaped formation like to that of a great flock of
wildfowl on the wing. Harūt stationed himself almost at the apex of
the triangle. I with Hans and Marūt were about the centre of the line,
while Ragnall and Savage were placed opposite to us in the right line,
the whole width of the wedge being between us. The baggage camels and
their leaders occupied the middle space between the lines and were
followed by a small rear-guard.

At first we white men were inclined to protest at this separation, but
when Marūt explained to us that its object was to give confidence to
the two divisions of the force and also to minimize the risk of
destruction or capture of all three of us, of course we had nothing
more to say. So we just shook hands, and with as much assurance as we
could command wished each other well through the job.

Then we parted, poor Savage looking very limp indeed, for this was his
first experience of war. Ragnall, however, who came of an old fighting
stock, seemed to be happy as a king. I who had known so many battles,
was the reverse of happy, for inconveniently enough there flashed into
my mind at this juncture the dying words of the Zulu captain and seer,
Mavovo, which foretold that I too should fall far away in war; and I
wondered whether this were the occasion that had been present to his
foreseeing mind.

Only Hans seemed quite unconcerned. Indeed I noted that he took the
opportunity of the halt to fill and light his large corn-cob pipe, a
bit of bravado in the face of Providence for which I could have kicked
him had he not been perched in his usual monkey fashion on the top of
a very tall camel. The act, however, excited the admiration of the
Kendah, for I heard one of them call to the others:

"Look! He is not a monkey after all, but a man--more of a man than his

The arrangements were soon made. Within a quarter of an hour of the
departure of the messengers Harūt, after bowing thrice towards the
Holy Mountain, rose in his stirrups and shaking a long spear above his
head, shouted a single word:




The ride that followed was really quite exhilarating. The camels,
notwithstanding their long journey, seemed to have caught some of the
enthusiasm of the war-horse as described in the Book of Job; indeed I
had no idea that they could travel at such a rate. On we swung down
the slope, keeping excellent order, the forest of tall spears shining
and the little lancer-like pennons fluttering on the breeze in a very
gallant way. In silence we went save for the thudding of the hoofs of
the camels and an occasional squeal of anger as some rider drove his
lance handle into their ribs. Not until we actually joined battle did
a single man open his lips. Then, it is true, there went up one
simultaneous and mighty roar of:

"The Child! Death to Jana! The Child! The Child!"

But this happened a few minutes later.

As we drew near the enemy I saw that they had massed their footmen in
a dense body, six or eight lines thick. There they stood to receive
the impact of our charge, or rather they did not all stand, for the
first two ranks were kneeling with long spears stretched out in front
of them. I imagine that their appearance must have greatly resembled
that of the Greek phalanx, or that of the Swiss prepared to receive
cavalry in the Middle Ages. On either side of this formidable body,
which by now must have numbered four or five hundred men, and at a
distance perhaps of a quarter of a mile from them, were gathered the
horsemen of the Black Kendah, divided into two bodies of nearly equal
strength, say about a hundred horse in each body.

As we approached, our triangle curved a little, no doubt under the
direction of Harūt. A minute or so later I saw the reason. It was that
we might strike the foot-soldiers not full in front but at an angle.
It was an admirable manœuvre, for when presently we did strike, we
caught them swiftly on the flank and crumpled them up. My word! we
went through those fellows like a knife through butter; they had as
much chance against the rush of our camels as a brown-paper screen has
against a typhoon. Over they rolled in heaps while the White Kendah
spitted them with their lances.

"The Child is top dog! My money on the Child," reflected I in
irreverent ecstasy. But that exultation was premature, for those Black
Kendah were by no means all dead. Presently I saw that scores of them
had appeared among the camels, which they were engaged in stabbing, or
trying to stab, in the stomach with their spears. Also I had forgotten
the horsemen. As our charge slackened owing to the complication in
front, these arrived on our flanks like two thunderbolts. We faced
about and did our best to meet the onslaught, of which the net result
was that both our left and right lines were pierced through about
fifty yards behind the baggage camels. Luckily for us the very
impetuosity of the Black Kendah rush deprived it of most of the fruits
of victory, since the two squadrons, being unable to check their
horses, ended by charging into each other and becoming mixed in
inextricable confusion. Then, I do not know who gave the order, we
wheeled our camels in and fell upon them, a struggling, stationary
mass, with the result that many of them were speared, or overthrown
and trampled.

"I have said we, but that is not quite correct, at any rate so far as
Marūt, Hans, I and about fifteen camelmen were concerned. How it
happened I could not tell in that dust and confusion, but we were cut
off from the main body and presently found ourselves fighting
desperately in a group at which Black Kendah horsemen were charging
again and again. We made the best stand we could. By degrees the
bewildered camels sank under the repeated spear-thrusts of the enemy,
all except one, oddly enough that ridden by Hans, which by some
strange chance was never touched. The rest of us were thrown or
tumbled off the camels and continued the fight from behind their
struggling bodies.

That is where I came in. Up to this time I had not fired a single
shot, partly because I do not like missing, which it is so easy to do
from the back of a swaying camel, and still more for the reason that I
had not the slightest desire to kill any of these savage men unless I
was obliged to do so in self-defence. Now, however, the thing was
different, as I was fighting for my life. Leaning against my camel,
which was dying and beating its head upon the ground, groaning
horribly the while, I emptied the five cartridges of the repeater into
those Black Kendah, pausing between each shot to take aim, with the
result that presently five riderless horses were galloping loose about
the veld.

The effect was electrical, since our attackers had never seen anything
of the kind before. For a while they all drew off, which gave me time
to reload. Then they came on again and I repeated the process. For a
second time they retreated and after consultation which lasted for a
minute or more, made a third attack. Once more I saluted them to the
best of my ability, though on this occasion only three men and a horse
fell. The fifth shot was a clean miss because they came on in such a
scattered formation that I had to turn from side to side to fire.

Now at last the game was up, for the simple reason that I had no more
cartridges save two in my double-barrelled pistol. It may be asked
why. The answer is, want of foresight. Too many cartridges in one's
pocket are apt to chafe on camel-back and so is a belt full of them.
In those days also the engagements were few in which a man fired over
fifteen. I had forty or fifty more in a bag, which bag Savage with his
usual politeness had taken and hung upon his saddle without saying a
word to me. At the beginning of the action I found this out, but could
not then get them from him as he was separated from me. Hans, always
careless in small matters, was really to blame as he ought to have
seen that I had the cartridges, or at any rate to have carried them
himself. In short, it was one of those accidents that will happen.
There is nothing more to be said.

After a still longer consultation our enemies advanced on us for the
fourth time, but very slowly. Meanwhile I had been taking stock of the
position. The camel corps, or what was left of it, oblivious of our
plight which the dust of conflict had hidden from them, was travelling
on to the north, more or less victorious. That is to say, it had cut
its way through the Black Kendah and was escaping unpursued, huddled
up in a mob with the baggage animals safe in its centre. The Black
Kendah themselves were engaged in killing our wounded and succouring
their own; also in collecting the bodies of the dead. In short, quite
unintentionally, we were deserted. Probably, if anybody thought about
us at all in the turmoil of desperate battle, they concluded that we
were among the slain.

Marūt came up to me, unhurt, still smiling and waving a bloody spear.

"Lord Macumazana," he said, "the end is at hand. The Child has saved
the others, or most of them, but us it has abandoned. Now what will
you do? Kill yourself, or if that does not please you, suffer me to
kill you? Or shoot on until you must surrender?"

"I have nothing to shoot with any more," I answered. "But if we
surrender, what will happen to us?"

"We shall be taken to Simba's town and there sacrificed to the devil
Jana--I have not time to tell you how. Therefore I propose to kill

"Then I think you are foolish, Marūt, since once we are dead, we are
dead; but while we are alive it is always possible that we may escape
from Jana. If the worst comes to the worst I have a pistol with two
bullets in it, one for you and one for me."

"The wisdom of the Child is in you," he replied. "I shall surrender
with you, Macumazana, and take my chance."

Then he turned and explained things to his followers, who spoke
together for a moment. In the end these took a strange and, to my
mind, a very heroic decision. Waiting till the attacking Kendah were
quite close to us, with the exception of three men, who either because
they lacked courage or for some other reason, stayed with us, they
advanced humbly as though to make submission. A number of the Black
Kendah dismounted and ran up, I suppose to take them prisoners. The
men waited till these were all round them. Then with a yell of "The
Child!" they sprang forward, taking the enemy unawares and fighting
like demons, inflicted great loss upon them before they fell
themselves covered with wounds.

"Brave men indeed!" said Marūt approvingly. "Well, now they are all at
peace with the Child, where doubtless we shall find them ere long."

I nodded but answered nothing. To tell the truth, I was too much
engaged in nursing the remains of my own courage to enter into
conversation about that of other people.

This fierce and cunning stratagem of desperate men which had cost
their enemies so dear, seemed to infuriate the Black Kendah.

At us came the whole mob of them--we were but six now--roaring "Jana!
Jana!" and led by a grey-beard who, to judge from the number of silver
chains upon his breast and his other trappings, seemed to be a great
man among them. When they were about fifty yards away and I was
preparing for the worst, a shot rang out from above and behind me. At
the same instant Greybeard threw his arms wide and letting fall the
spear he held, pitched from his horse, evidently stone dead. I glanced
back and saw Hans, the corn-cob pipe still in his mouth and the little
rifle, "Intombi," still at his shoulder. He had fired from the back of
the camel, I think for the first time that day, and whether by chance
or through good marksmanship, I do not know, had killed this man.

His sudden and unexpected end seemed to fill the Black Kendah with
grief and dismay. Halting in their charge they gathered round him,
while a fierce-looking middle-aged man, also adorned with much
barbaric finery, dismounted to examine him.

"That is Simba the King," said Marūt, "and the slain one is his uncle,
Goru, the great general who brought him up from a babe."

"Then I wish I had another cartridge left for the nephew," I began and
stopped, for Hans was speaking to me.

"Good-bye, Baas," he said, "I must go, for I cannot load 'Intombi' on
the back of this beast. If you meet your reverend father the Predikant
before I do, tell him to make a nice place ready for me among the

Then before I could get out an answer, Hans dragged his camel round;
as I have said, it was quite uninjured. Urging it to a shambling
gallop with blows of the rifle stock, he departed at a great rate, not
towards the home of the Child but up the hill into a brake of giant
grass mingled with thorn trees that grew quite close at hand. Here
with startling suddenness both he and the camel vanished away.

If the Black Kendah saw him go, of which I am doubtful, for they all
seemed to be lost in consultation round their king and the dead
general, Goru, they made no attempt to follow him. Another possibility
is that they thought he was trying to lead them into some snare or

I do not know what they thought because I never heard them mention
Hans or the matter of his disappearance, if indeed they ever realized
that there was such a person. Curiously enough in the case of men who
had just shown themselves so brave, this last accident of the decease
of Goru coming on the top of all their other casualties, seemed to
take the courage out of them. It was as though they had come to the
conclusion that we with our guns were something more than mortal.

For several minutes they debated in evident hesitation. At last
from out of their array rode a single man, in whom I recognized one of
the envoys who had met us in the morning, carrying in his hand a white
flag as he had done before. Thereon I laid down my rifle in token that
I would not fire at him, which indeed I could not do having nothing to
fire. Seeing this he came to within a few yards and halting, addressed

"O second Prophet of the Child," he said, "these are the words of
Simba the King: Your god has been too strong for us to-day, though in
a day to come it may be otherwise. I thought I had you in a pit; that
you were the bucks and I the hunter. But, though with loss, you have
escaped out of the pit," and the speaker glanced towards our
retreating force which was now but a cloud of dust in the far
distance, "while I the hunter have been gored by your horns," and
again he glanced at the dead that were scattered about the plain. "The
noblest of the buck, the white bull of the herd," and he looked at me,
who in any other circumstances would have felt complimented, "and you,
O Prophet Marūt, and one or two others, besides those that I have
slain, are however still in the pit and your horn is a magic horn,"
here he pointed to my rifle, "which pierces from afar and kills dead
all by whom it is touched."

"So I caught those gentry well in the middle," thought I to myself,
"and with soft-nosed bullets!"

"Therefore I, Simba the King, make you an offer. Yield yourselves and
I swear that no spear shall be driven through your hearts and no knife
come near your throats. You shall only be taken to my town and there
be fed on the best and kept as prisoners, till once more there is
peace between the Black Kendah and the White. If you refuse, then I
will ring you round and perhaps in the dark rush on you and kill you
all. Or perhaps I will watch you from day to day till you, who have no
water, die of thirst in the heat of the sun. These are my words to
which nothing may be added and from which nothing shall be taken

Having finished this speech he rode back a few yards out of earshot,
and waited.

"What will you answer, Lord Macumazana?" asked Marūt.

I replied by another question. "Is there any chance of our being
rescued by your people?"

He shook his head. "None. What we have seen to-day is but a small part
of the army of the Black Kendah, one regiment of foot and one of
horse, that are always ready. By to-morrow thousands will be gathered,
many more than we can hope to deal with in the open and still less in
their strongholds, also Harūt will believe that we are dead. Unless
the Child saves us we shall be left to our fate."

"Then it seems that we are indeed in a pit, as that black brute of a
king puts it, Marūt, and if he does what he says and rushes us at
sundown, everyone of us will be killed. Also I am thirsty already and
there is nothing to drink. But will this king keep his word? There are
other ways of dying besides by steel."

"I think that he will keep his word, but as that messenger said, he
will not add to his word. Choose now, for see, they are beginning to
hedge us round."

"What do you say, men?" I asked of the three who had remained with us.

"We say, Lord, that we are in the hands of the Child, though we wish
now that we had died with our brothers," answered their spokesman

So after Marūt and I had consulted together for a little as to the
form of his reply, he beckoned to the messenger and said:

"We accept the offer of Simba, although it would be easy for this lord
to kill him now where he stands, namely, to yield ourselves as
prisoners on his oath that no harm shall come to us. For know that if
harm does come, the vengeance will be terrible. Now in proof of his
good faith, let Simba draw near and drink the cup of peace with us,
for we thirst."

"Not so," said the messenger, "for then that white lord might kill him
with his tube. Give me the tube and Simba shall come."

"Take it," I said magnanimously, handing him the rifle, which he
received in a very gingerly fashion. After all, I reflected, there is
nothing much more useless than a rifle without ammunition.

Off he went holding the weapon at arm's length, and presently Simba
himself, accompanied by some of his men, one of whom carried a skin of
water and another a large cup hollowed from an elephant's tusk, rode
up to us. This Simba was a fine and rather terrifying person with a
large moustache and a chin shaved except for a little tuft of hair
which he wore at its point like an Italian. His eyes were big and
dark, frank-looking, yet now and again with sinister expression in the
corners of them. He was not nearly so black as most of his followers;
probably in bygone generations his blood had been crossed with that of
the White Kendah. He wore his hair long without any head-dress, held
in place by a band of gold which I suppose represented a crown. On his
forehead was a large white scar, probably received in some battle.
Such was his appearance.

He looked at me with great curiosity, and I have often wondered since
what kind of an impression I produced upon him. My hat had fallen off,
or I had knocked it off when I fired my last cartridge into his
people, and forgotten to replace it, and my intractable hair, which
was longer than usual, had not been recently brushed. My worn Norfolk
jacket was dyed with blood from a wounded or dying man who had tumbled
against me in the scrimmage when the cavalry charged us, and my right
leg and boot were stained in a similar fashion from having rubbed
against my camel where a spear had entered it. Altogether I must have
appeared a most disreputable object.

Some indication of his opinion was given, however, in a remark, which
of course I pretended not to understand, that I overheard him make to
one of his officers:

"Truly," he said, "we must not always look to the strong for strength.
And yet this little white porcupine is strength itself, for see how
much damage he has wrought us. Also consider his eyes that appear to
pierce everything. Jana himself might fear those eyes. Well, time that
grinds the rocks will tell us all."

All of this I caught perfectly, my ears being very sharp, although he
thought that he spoke out of my hearing, for after spending a month in
their company I understood the Kendah dialect of Bantu very well.

Having delivered himself thus he rode nearer and said:

"You, Prophet Marūt, my enemy, have heard the terms of me, Simba the
King, and have accepted them. Therefore discuss them no more. What I
have promised I will keep. What I have given I give, neither greater
nor less by the weight of a hair."

"So be it, O King," answered Marūt with his usual smile, which nothing
ever seemed to disturb. "Only remember that if those terms are broken
either in the letter or in the spirit, especially the spirit" (that is
the best rendering I can give of his word), "the manifold curses of
the Child will fall upon you and yours. Yes, though you kill us all by
treachery, still those curses will fall."

"May Jana take the Child and all who worship it," exclaimed the king
with evident irritation.

"In the end, O King, Jana will take the Child and its followers--or
the Child will take Jana and his followers. Which of these things must
happen is known to the Child alone, and perchance to its prophets.
Meanwhile, for every one of those of the Child I think that three of
the followers of Jana, or more, lie dead upon this field. Also the
caravan is now out of your reach with two of the white lords and many
of such tubes which deal death, like that which we have surrendered to
you. Therefore because we are helpless, do not think that the Child is
helpless. Jana must have been asleep, O King, or you would have set
your trap better."

I thought that this coolly insolent speech would have produced some
outburst, but in fact it seemed to have an opposite effect. Making no
reply to it, Simba said almost humbly:

"I come to drink the cup of peace with you and the white lord, O
Prophet. Afterwards we can talk. Give me water, slave."

Then a man filled the great ivory cup with water from the skin he
carried. Simba took it and having sprinkled a little upon the ground,
I suppose as an offering, drank from the cup, doubtless to show that
it was not poisoned. Watching carefully, I made sure that he swallowed
what he drank by studying the motions of his throat. Then he handed
the cup with a bow to Marūt, who with a still deeper bow passed it to
me. Being absolutely parched I absorbed about a pint of it, and
feeling a new man, passed the horn to Marūt, who swallowed the rest.
Then it was filled again for our three White Kendah, the King first
tasting the water as before, after which Marūt and I had a second

When at length our thirst was satisfied, horses were brought to us,
serviceable and docile little beasts with sheepskins for saddles and
loops of hide for stirrups. On these we mounted and for the next three
hours rode across the plain, surrounded by a strong escort and with an
armed Black Kendah running on each side of our horses and holding in
his hand a thong attached to the ring of the bridle, no doubt to
prevent any attempt to escape.

Our road ran past but not through some villages whence we saw many
women and children staring at us, and through beautiful crops of
mealies and other sorts of grain that in this country were now just
ripening. The luxuriant appearance of these crops suggested that the
rains must have been plentiful and the season all that could be
desired. From some of the villages by the track arose a miserable
sound of wailing. Evidently their inhabitants had already heard that
certain of their menkind had fallen in that morning's fight.

At the end of the third hour we began to enter the great forest which
I had seen when first we looked down on Kendahland. It was filled with
splendid trees, most of them quite strange to me, but perhaps because
of the denseness of their overshadowing crowns there was comparatively
no undergrowth. The general effect of the place was very gloomy, since
little light could pass through the interlacing foliage of the tops of
those mighty trees.

Towards evening we came to a clearing in this forest, it may have been
four or five miles in diameter, but whether it was natural or
artificial I am not sure. I think, however, that it was probably the
former for two reasons: the hollow nature of the ground, which lay a
good many feet lower than the surrounding forest, and the wonderful
fertility of the soil, which suggested that it had once been deposited
upon an old lake bottom. Never did I see such crops as those that grew
upon that clearing; they were magnificent.

Wending our way along the road that ran through the tall corn, for
here every inch was cultivated, we came suddenly upon the capital of
the Black Kendah, which was known as Simba Town. It was a large place,
somewhat different from any other African settlement with which I am
acquainted, inasmuch as it was not only stockaded but completely
surrounded by a broad artificial moat filled with water from a stream
that ran through the centre of the town, over which moat there were
four timber bridges placed at the cardinal points of the compass.
These bridges were strong enough to bear horses or stock, but so made
that in the event of attack they could be destroyed in a few minutes.

Riding through the eastern gate, a stout timber structure on the
farther side of the corresponding bridge, where the king was received
with salutes by an armed guard, we entered one of the main streets of
the town which ran from north to south and from east to west. It was
broad and on either side of it were the dwellings of the inhabitants
set close together because the space within the stockade was limited.
These were not huts but square buildings of mud with flat roofs of
some kind of cement. Evidently they were built upon the model of
Oriental and North African houses of which some debased tradition
remained with these people. Thus a stairway or ladder ran from the
interior to the roof of each house, whereon its inhabitants were
accustomed, as I discovered afterwards, to sleep during a good part of
the year, also to eat in the cool of the day. Many of them were
gathered there now to watch us pass, men, women, and children, all
except the little ones decently clothed in long garments of various
colours, the women for the most part in white and the men in a kind of
bluish linen.

I saw at once that they had already heard of the fight and of the
considerable losses which their people had sustained, for their
reception of us prisoners was most unfriendly. Indeed the men shook
their fists at us, the women screamed out curses, while the children
stuck out their tongues in token of derision or defiance. Most of
these demonstrations, however, were directed at Marūt and his
followers, who only smiled indifferently. At me they stared in wonder
not unmixed with fear.

A quarter of a mile or so from the gate we came to an inner enclosure,
that answered to the South African cattle kraal, surrounded by a dry
ditch and a timber palisade outside of which was planted a green fence
of some shrub with long white thorns. Here we passed through more
gates, to find ourselves in an oval space, perhaps five acres in
extent. Evidently this served as a market ground, but all around it
were open sheds where hundreds of horses were stabled. No cattle
seemed to be kept there, except a few that with sheep and goats were
driven in every day for slaughter purposes at a shambles at the north
end, from the great stock kraals built beyond the forest to the south,
where they were safe from possible raiding by the White Kendah.

A tall reed fence cut off the southern end of this marketplace,
outside of which we were ordered to dismount. Passing through yet
another gate we found within the fence a large hut or house built on
the same model as the others in the town, which Marūt whispered to me
was that of the king. Behind it were smaller houses in which lived his
queen and women, good-looking females, who advanced to meet him with
obsequious bows. To the right and left were two more buildings of
about equal size, one of which was occupied by the royal guard and the
other was the guest-house whither we were conducted.

It proved to be a comfortable dwelling about thirty feet square but
containing only one room, with various huts behind it that served for
cooking and other purposes. In one of these the three camelmen were
placed. Immediately on our arrival food was brought to us, a lamb or
kid roasted whole upon a wooden platter, and some green mealie-cobs
boiled upon another platter; also water to drink and wash with in
earthenware jars of sun-dried clay.

I ate heartily, for I was starving. Then, as it was useless to attempt
precautions against murder, without any talk to my fellow prisoner,
for which we were both too tired, I threw myself down on a mattress
stuffed with corn husks in a corner of the hut, drew a skin rug over
me and, having commended myself to the protection of the Power above,
fell fast asleep.



The next thing I remember was feeling upon my face the sunlight that
poured through a window-place which was protected by immovable wooden
bars. For a while I lay still, reflecting as memory returned to me
upon all the events of the previous day and upon my present unhappy
position. Here I was a prisoner in the hands of a horde of fierce
savages who had every reason to hate me, for though this was done in
self-defence, had I not killed a number of their people against whom
personally I had no quarrel? It was true that their king had promised
me safety, but what reliance could be put upon the word of such a man?
Unless something occurred to save me, without doubt my days were
numbered. In this way or in that I should be murdered, which served me
right for ever entering upon such a business.

The only satisfactory point in the story was that, for the present at
any rate, Ragnall and Savage had escaped, though doubtless sooner or
later fate would overtake them also. I was sure that they had escaped,
since two of the camelmen with us had informed Marūt that they saw
them swept away surrounded by our people and quite unharmed. Now they
would be grieving over my death, since none survived who could tell
them of our capture, unless the Black Kendah chose to do so, which was
not likely. I wondered what course they would take when Ragnall found
that his quest was vain, as of course must happen. Try to get out of
the country, I suppose, as I prayed they might succeed in doing,
though this was most improbable.

Then there was Hans. He of course would attempt to retrace our road
across the desert, if he had got clear away. Having a good camel, a
rifle and some ammunition, it was just possible that he might win
through, as he never forgot a path which he had once travelled, though
probably in a week's time a few bones upon the desert would be all
that remained of him. Well, as he had suggested, perhaps we should
soon be talking the event over in some far sphere with my father--and
others. Poor old Hans!

I opened my eyes and looked about me. The first thing I noticed was
that my double-barrelled pistol, which I had placed at full cock
beside me before I went to sleep, was gone, also my large clasp-knife.
This discovery did not tend to raise my spirits, since I was now quite
weaponless. Then I observed Marūt seated on the floor of the hut
staring straight in front of him, and noted that at length even he had
ceased to smile, but that his lips were moving as though he were
engaged in prayer or meditation.

"Marūt," I said, "someone has been in this place while we were asleep
and stolen my pistol and knife."

"Yes, Lord," he answered, "and my knife also. I saw them come in the
middle of the night, two men who walked softly as cats, and searched

"Then why did you not wake me?"

"What would have been the use, Lord? If we had caught hold of the men,
they would have called out and we should have been murdered at once.
It was best to let them take the things, which after all are of no
good to us here."

"The pistol might have been of some good," I replied significantly.

"Yes," he said, nodding, "but at the worst death is easy to find."

"Do you think, Marūt, that we could manage to let Harūt and the others
know our plight? That smoke which I breathed in England, for instance,
seemed to show me far-off things--if we could get any of it."

"The smoke was nothing, Lord, but some harmless burning powder which
clouded your mind for a minute, and enabled you to see the thoughts
that were in /our/ minds. /We/ drew the pictures at which you looked.
Also here there is none."

"Oh!" I said, "the old trick of suggestion; just what I imagined. Then
there's an end of that, and as the others will think that we are dead
and we cannot communicate with them, we have no hope except in

"Or the Child," suggested Marūt gently.

"Look here!" I said with irritation. "After you have just told me that
your smoke vision was a mere conjurer's trick, how do you expect me to
believe in your blessed Child? Who is the Child? What is the Child,
and--this is more important--what can it do? As your throat is going
to be cut shortly you may as well tell me the truth."

"Lord Macumazana, I will. Who and what the Child is I cannot say
because I do not know. But it has been our god for thousands of years,
and we believe that our remote forefathers brought it with them when
they were driven out of Egypt at some time unknown. We have writings
concerning it done up in little rolls, but as we cannot read them they
are of no use to us. It has an hereditary priesthood, of which Harūt
my uncle, for he is my uncle, is the head. We believe that the Child
is God, or rather a symbol in which God dwells, and that it can save
us in this world and the next, for we hold that man is an immortal
spirit. We believe also that through its Oracle--a priestess who is
called Guardian of the Child--it can declare the future and bring
blessings or curses upon men, especially upon our enemies. When the
Oracle dies we are helpless since the Child has no 'mouth' and our
enemies prevail against us. This happened a long while ago, and the
last Oracle having declared before her death that her successor was to
be found in England, my uncle and I travelled thither disguised as
conjurers and made search for many years. We thought that we had found
the new Oracle in the lady who married the Lord Igeza, because of that
mark of the new moon upon her neck. After our return to Africa,
however, for as I have spoken of this matter I may as well tell you
all," here he stared me full in the eyes and spoke in a clear metallic
voice which somehow no longer convinced me, "we found that we had made
a mistake, for the real Oracle, a mere girl, was discovered among our
own people, and has now been for two years installed in her office.
Without doubt the last Guardian of the Child was wandering in her mind
when she told us that story before her death as to a woman in England,
a country of which she had heard through Arabs. That is all."

"Thank you," I replied, feeling that it would be useless to show any
suspicion of his story. "Now will you be so good as to tell me who and
what is the god, or the elephant Jana, whom you have brought me here
to kill? Is the elephant a god, or is the god an elephant? In either
case what has it to do with the Child?"

"Lord, Jana among us Kendah represents the evil in the world, as the
Child represents the good. Jana is he whom the Mohammedans call
Shaitan and the Christians call Satan, and our forefathers, the old
Egyptians, called Set."

"Ah!" thought I to myself, "now we have got it. Horus the Divine
Child, and Set the evil monster, with whom it strives everlastingly."

"Always," went on Marūt, "there has been war between the Child and
Jana, that is, between Good and Evil, and we know that in the end one
of them must conquer the other."

"The whole world has known that from the beginning," I interrupted.
"But who and what is this Jana?"

"Among the Black Kendah, Lord, Jana is an elephant, or at any rate his
symbol is an elephant, a very terrible beast to which sacrifices are
made, that kills all who do not worship him if he chances to meet
them. He lives farther on in the forest yonder, and the Black Kendah
make use of him in war, for the devil in him obeys their priests."

"Indeed, and is this elephant always the same?"

"I cannot tell you, but for many generations it has been the same, for
it is known by its size and by the fact that one of its tusks is
twisted downwards."

"Well," I remarked, "all this proves nothing, since elephants
certainly live for at least two hundred years, and perhaps much
longer. Also, after they become 'rogues' they acquire every kind of
wicked and unnatural habit, as to which I could tell you lots of
stories. Have you seen this elephant?"

"No, Macumazana," he answered with a shiver. "If I had seen it should
I have been alive to-day? Yet I fear I am fated to see it ere long,
not alone," and again he shivered, looking at me in a very suggestive

At this moment our conversation was interrupted by the arrival of two
Black Kendahs who brought us our breakfast of porridge and a boiled
fowl, and stood there while we ate it. For my part I was not sorry, as
I had learned all I wanted to know of the theological opinions and
practice of the land, and had come to the conclusion that the terrible
devil-god of the Black Kendah was merely a rogue elephant of unusual
size and ferocity, which under other circumstances it would have given
me the greatest pleasure to try to shoot.

When we had finished eating, that is soon, for neither of our
appetites was good that morning, we walked out of the house into the
surrounding compound and visited the camelmen in their hut. Here we
found them squatted on the ground looking very depressed indeed. When
I asked them what was the matter they replied, "Nothing," except that
they were men about to die and life was pleasant. Also they had wives
and children whom they would never see again.

Having tried to cheer them up to the best of my ability, which I fear
I did without conviction, for in my heart I agreed with their view of
the case, we returned to the guest-house and mounted the stair which
led to the flat roof. Hence we saw that some curious ceremony was in
progress in the centre of the market-place. At that distance we could
not make out the details, for I forgot to say that my glasses had been
stolen with the pistol and knife, probably because they were supposed
to be lethal weapons or instruments of magic.

A rough altar had been erected, on which a fire burned. Behind it the
king, Simba, was seated on a stool with various councillors about him.
In front of the altar was a stout wooden table, on which lay what
looked like the body of a goat or a sheep. A fantastically dressed
man, assisted by other men, appeared to be engaged in inspecting the
inside of this animal with, we gathered, unsatisfactory results, for
presently he raised his arms and uttered a loud wail. Then the
creature's viscera were removed from it and thrown upon the fire,
while the rest of the carcass was carried off.

I asked Marūt what he thought they were doing. He replied dejectedly:

"Consulting their Oracle; perhaps as to whether we should live or die,

Just then the priest in the strange, feathered attire approached the
king, carrying some small object in his hand. I wondered what it could
be, till the sound of a report reached my ears and I saw the man begin
to jump round upon one leg, holding the other with both his hands at
the knee and howling loudly.

"Ah!" I said, "that pistol was full cocked, and the bullet got him in
the foot."

Simba shouted out something, whereon a man picked up the pistol and
threw it into the fire, round which the others gathered to watch it

"You wait," I said to Marūt, and as I spoke the words the inevitable

Off went the other barrel of the pistol, which hopped out of the fire
with the recoil like a living thing. But as it happened one of the
assistant priests was standing in front of the mouth of that barrel,
and he also hopped once, but never again, for the heavy bullet struck
him somewhere in the body and killed him. Now there was consternation.
Everyone ran away, leaving the dead man lying on the ground. Simba led
the rout and the head-priest brought up the rear, skipping along upon
one leg.

Having observed these events, which filled me with an unholy joy, we
descended into the house again as there was nothing more to see, also
because it occurred to me that our presence on the roof, watching
their discomfiture, might irritate these savages. About ten minutes
later the gate of the fence round the guest-house was thrown open, and
through it came four men carrying on a stretcher the body of the
priest whom the bullet had killed, which they laid down in front of
our door. Then followed the king with an armed guard, and after him
the befeathered diviner with his foot bound up, who supported himself
upon the shoulders of two of his colleagues. This man, I now
perceived, wore a hideous mask, from which projected two tusks in
imitation of those of an elephant. Also there were others, as many as
the space would hold.

The king called to us to come out of the house, which, having no
choice, we did. One glance at him showed me that the man was frantic
with fear, or rage, or both.

"Look upon your work, magicians!" he said in a terrible voice,
pointing first to the dead priest, then to the diviner's wounded foot.

"It is no work of ours, King Simba," answered Marūt. "It is your own
work. You stole the magic weapon of the white lord and made it angry,
so that it has revenged itself upon you."

"It is true," said Simba, "that the tube has killed one of those who
took it away from you and wounded the other" (here was luck indeed).
"But it was you who ordered it to do so, magicians. Now, hark!
Yesterday I promised you safety, that no spear should pierce your
hearts and no knife come near your throats, and drank the cup of peace
with you. But you have broken the pact, working us more harm, and
therefore it no longer holds, since there are many other ways in which
men can die. Listen again! This is my decree. By your magic you have
taken away the life of one of my servants and hurt another of my
servants, destroying the middle toe of his left foot. If within three
days you do not give back the life to him who seems to be dead, and
give back the toe to him who seems to be hurt, as you well can do,
then you shall join those whom you have slain in the land of death,
how I will not tell you."

Now when I heard this amazing sentence I gasped within myself, but
thinking it better to keep up my rōle of understanding nothing of
their talk, I preserved an immovable countenance and left Marūt to
answer. This, to his credit be it recorded, he did with his customary
pleasant smile.

"O King," he said, "who can bring the dead back to life? Not even the
Child itself, at any rate in this world, for there is no way."

"Then, Prophet of the Child, you had better find a way, or, I repeat,
I send you to join them," he shouted, rolling his eyes.

"What did my brother, the great Prophet, promise to you but yesterday,
O King, if you harmed us?" asked Marūt. "Was it not that the three
great curses should fall upon your people? Learn now that if so much
as one of us is murdered by you, these things shall swiftly come to
pass. I, Marūt, who am also a Prophet of the Child, have said it."

Now Simba seemed to go quite mad, so mad that I thought all was over.
He waved his spear and danced about in front of us, till the silver
chains clanked upon his breast. He vituperated the Child and its
worshippers, who, he declared, had worked evil on the Black Kendah for
generations. He appealed to his god Jana to avenge these evils, "to
pierce the Child with his tusks, to tear it with his trunk, and to
trample it with his feet," all of which the wounded diviner ably
seconded through his horrid mask.

There we stood before him, I leaning against the wall of the house
with an air of studied nonchalance mingled with mild interest, at
least that is what I meant to do, and Marūt smiling sweetly and
staring at the heavens. Whilst I was wondering what exact portion of
my frame was destined to become acquainted with that spear, of a
sudden Simba gave it up. Turning to his followers, he bade them dig a
hole in the corner of our little enclosure and set the dead man in it,
"with his head out so that he may breathe," an order which they
promptly executed.

Then he issued a command that we should be well fed and tended, and
remarking that if the departed was not alive and healthy on the third
morning from that day, we should hear from him again, he and his
company stalked off, except those men who were occupied with the

Soon this was finished also. There sat the deceased buried to the neck
with his face looking towards the house, a most disagreeable sight.
Presently, however, matters were improved in this respect by one of
the sextons fetching a large earthenware pot and several smaller pots
full of food and water. The latter they set round the head, I suppose
for the sustenance of the body beneath, and then placed the big vessel
inverted over all, "to keep the sun off our sleeping brother," as I
heard one say to the other.

This pot looked innocent enough when all was done, like one of those
that gardeners in England put over forced rhubarb, no more. And yet,
such is the strength of the imagination, I think that on the whole I
should have preferred the object underneath naked and unadorned. For
instance, I have forgotten to say that the heads of those of the White
Kendah who had fallen in the fight had been set up on poles in front
of Simba's house. They were unpleasant to contemplate, but to my mind
not so unpleasant as that pot.

As a matter of fact, this precaution against injury from the sun to
the late diviner proved unnecessary, since by some strange chance from
that moment the sun ceased to shine. Quite suddenly clouds arose which
gradually covered the whole sky and the weather began to turn very
cold, unprecedentedly so, Marūt informed me, for the time of year,
which, it will be remembered, in this country was the season just
before harvest. Obviously the Black Kendah thought so also, since from
our seats on the roof, whither we had retreated to be as far as
possible from the pot, we saw them gathered in the market-place,
staring at the sky and talking to each other.

The day passed without any further event, except the arrival of our
meals, for which we had no great appetite. The night came, earlier
than usual because of the clouds, and we fell asleep, or rather into a
series of dozes. Once I thought that I heard someone stirring in the
huts behind us, but as it was followed by silence I took no more
notice. At length the light broke very slowly, for now the clouds were
denser than ever. Shivering with the cold, Marūt and I made a visit to
the camel-drivers, who were not allowed to enter our house. On going
into their hut we saw to our horror that only two of them remained,
seated stonily upon the floor. We asked where the third was. They
replied they did not know. In the middle of the night, they said, men
had crept in, who seized, bound and gagged him, then dragged him away.
As there was nothing to be said or done, we returned to breakfast
filled with horrid fears.

Nothing happened that day except that some priests arrived, lifted the
earthenware pot, examined their departed colleague, who by now had
become an unencouraging spectacle, removed old dishes of food,
arranged more about him, and went off. Also the clouds grew thicker
and thicker, and the air more and more chilly, till, had we been in
any northern latitude, I should have said that snow was pending. From
our perch on the roof-top I observed the population of Simba Town
discussing the weather with ever-increasing eagerness; also that the
people who were going out to work in the fields wore mats over their

Once more darkness came, and this night, notwithstanding the cold, we
spent wrapped in rugs, on the roof of the house. It had occurred to us
that kidnapping would be less easy there, as we could make some sort
of a fight at the head of the stairway, or, if the worst came to the
worst, dive from the parapet and break our necks. We kept watch turn
and turn about. During my watch about midnight I heard a noise going
on in the hut behind us; scuffling and a stifled cry which turned my
blood cold. About an hour later a fire was lighted in the centre of
the market-place where the sheep had been sacrificed, and by the flare
of it I could see people moving. But what they did I could not see,
which was perhaps as well.

Next morning only one of the camelmen was left. This remaining man was
now almost crazy with fear, and could give no clear account of what
had happened to his companion.

The poor fellow implored us to take him away to our house, as he
feared to be left alone with "the black devils." We tried to do so,
but armed guards appeared mysteriously and thrust him back into his
own hut.

This day was an exact repetition of the others. The same inspection of
the deceased and renewal of his food; the same cold, clouded sky, the
same agitated conferences in the market-place.

For the third time darkness fell upon us in that horrible place. Once
more we took refuge on the roof, but this night neither of us slept.
We were too cold, too physically miserable, and too filled with mental
apprehensions. All nature seemed to be big with impending disaster.
The sky appeared to be sinking down upon the earth. The moon was
hidden, yet a faint and lurid light shone now in one quarter of the
horizon, now in another. There was no wind, but the air moaned
audibly. It was as though the end of the world were near as, I
reflected, probably might be the case so far as we were concerned.
Never, perhaps, have I felt so spiritually terrified as I was during
the dreadful inaction of that night. Even if I had known that I was
going to be executed at dawn, I think that by comparison I should have
been light-hearted. But the worst part of the business was that I knew
nothing. I was like a man forced to walk through dense darkness among
precipices, quite unable to guess when my journey would end in space,
but enduring all the agonies of death at every step.

About midnight again we heard that scuffle and stifled cry in the hut
behind us.

"He's gone," I whispered to Marūt, wiping the cold sweat from my brow.

"Yes," answered Marūt, "and very soon we shall follow him,

I wished that his face were visible so that I could see if he still
smiled when he uttered those words.

An hour or so later the usual fire appeared in the marketplace, round
which the usual figures flitted dimly. The sight of them fascinated
me, although I did not want to look, fearing what I might see.
Luckily, however, we were too far off to discern anything at night.

While these unholy ceremonies were in progress the climax came, that
is so far as the weather was concerned. Of a sudden a great gale
sprang up, a gale of icy wind such as in Southern Africa sometimes
precedes a thunderstorm. It blew for half an hour or more, then
lulled. Now lightning flashed across the heavens, and by the glare of
it we perceived that all the population of Simba Town seemed to be
gathered in the market-place. At least there were some thousands of
them, talking, gesticulating, pointing at the sky.

A few minutes later there came a great crash of thunder, of which it
was impossible to locate the sound, for it rolled from everywhere.
Then suddenly something hard struck the roof by my side and rebounded,
to be followed next moment by a blow upon my shoulder which nearly
knocked me flat, although I was well protected by the skin rugs.

"Down the stair!" I called. "They are stoning us," and suited the
action to the word.

Ten seconds later we were both in the room, crouched in its farther
corner, for the stones or whatever they were seemed to be following
us. I struck a match, of which fortunately I had some, together with
my pipe and a good pocketful of tobacco--my only solace in those
days--and, as it burned up, saw first that blood was running down
Marūt's face, and secondly, that these stones were great lumps of ice,
some of them weighing several ounces, which hopped about the floor
like live things.

"Hailstorm!" remarked Marūt with his accustomed smile.

"Hell storm!" I replied, "for whoever saw hail like that before?"

Then the match burnt out and conversation came to an end for the
reason that we could no longer hear each other speak. The hail came
down with a perpetual, rattling roar, that in its sum was one of the
most terrible sounds to which I ever listened. And yet above it I
thought that I could catch another, still more terrible, the wail of
hundreds of people in agony. After the first few minutes I began to be
afraid that the roof would be battered in, or that the walls would
crumble beneath this perpetual fire of the musketry of heaven. But the
cement was good and the place well built.

So it came about that the house stood the tempest, which had it been
roofed with tiles or galvanized iron I am sure it would never have
done, since the lumps of ice must have shattered one and pierced the
other like paper. Indeed I have seen this happen in a bad hailstorm in
Natal which killed my best horse. But even that hail was as snowflakes
compared to this.

I suppose that this natural phenomenon continued for about twenty
minutes, not more, during ten of which it was at its worst. Then by
degrees it ceased, the sky cleared and the moon shone out beautifully.
We climbed to the roof again and looked. It was several inches deep in
jagged ice, while the market-place and all the country round appeared
in the bright moonlight to be buried beneath a veil of snow.

Very rapidly, as the normal temperature of that warm land reasserted
itself, this snow or rather hail melted, causing a flood of water
which, where there was any fall, began to rush away with a gurgling
sound. Also we heard other sounds, such as that from the galloping
hoofs of many of the horses which had broken loose from their wrecked
stables at the north end of the market-place, where in great number
they had been killed by the falling roofs or had kicked each other to
death, and a wild universal wail that rose from every quarter of the
big town, in which quantities of the worst-built houses had collapsed.
Further, lying here and there about the market-place we could see
scores of dark shapes that we knew to be those of men, women and
children, whom those sharp missiles hurled from heaven had caught
before they could escape and slain or wounded almost to death. For it
will be remembered that perhaps not fewer than two thousand people
were gathered on this market-place, attending the horrid midnight
sacrifice and discussing the unnatural weather when the storm burst
upon them suddenly as an avalanche.

"The Child is small, yet its strength is great. Behold the first
curse!" said Marūt solemnly.

I stared at him, but as he chose to believe that a very unusual
hailstorm was a visitation from heaven I did not think it worth while
arguing the point. Only I wondered if he really did believe this. Then
I remembered that such an event was said to have afflicted the old
Egyptians in the hour of their pride because they would not "let the
people go." Well, these blackguardedly Black Kendah were certainly
worse than the Egyptians can ever have been; also they would not let
/us/ go. It was not wonderful therefore that Marūt should be the
victim of phantasies on the matter.

Not until the following morning did we come to understand the full
extent of the calamity which had overtaken the Black Kendah. I think I
have said that their crops this year were magnificent and just
ripening to harvest. From our roof on previous days we could see a
great area of them stretching to the edge of the forest. When the sun
rose that morning this area had vanished, and the ground was covered
with a carpet of green pulp. Also the forest itself appeared suddenly
to have experienced the full effects of a northern winter. Not a leaf
was left upon the trees, which stood their pointing their naked boughs
to heaven.

No one who had not seen it could imagine the devastating fury of that
storm. For example, the head of the diviner who was buried in the
court-yard awaiting resurrection through our magic was, it may be
recalled, covered with a stout earthenware pot. Now that pot had
shattered into sherds and the head beneath was nothing but bits of
broken bone which it would have been impossible for the very best
magic to reconstruct to the likeness of a human being.

Calamity indeed stalked naked through the land.



No breakfast was brought to us that morning, probably for the reason
that there was none to bring. This did not matter, however, seeing
that plenty of food accumulated from supper and other meals stood in a
corner of the house practically untouched. So we ate what we could and
then paid our usual visit to the hut in which the camelmen had been
confined. I say had been, for now it was quite empty, the last poor
fellow having vanished away like his companions.

The sight of this vacuum filled me with a kind of fury.

"They have all been murdered!" I said to Marūt.

"No," he replied with gentle accuracy. "They have been sacrificed to
Jana. What we have seen on the market-place at night was the rite of
their sacrifice. Now it will be our turn, Lord Macumazana."

"Well," I exclaimed, "I hope these devils are satisfied with Jana's
answer to their accursed offerings, and if they try their fiendish
pranks on us----"

"Doubtless there will be another answer. But, Lord, the question is,
will that help us?"

Dumb with impotent rage I returned to the house, where presently the
remains of the reed gate opened. Through it appeared Simba the King,
the diviner with the injured foot walking upon crutches, and others of
whom the most were more or less wounded, presumably by the hailstones.
Then it was that in my wrath I put off the pretence of not
understanding their language and went for them before they could utter
a single word.

"Where are our servants, you murderers?" I asked, shaking my fist at
them. "Have you sacrificed them to your devil-god? If so, behold the
fruits of sacrifice!" and I swept my arm towards the country beyond.
"Where are your crops?" I went on. "Tell me on what you will live this
winter?" (At these words they quailed. In their imagination already
they saw famine stalking towards them.) "Why do you keep us here? Is
it that you wait for a worse thing to befall you? Why do you visit us
here now?" and I paused, gasping with indignation.

"We came to look whether you had brought back to life that doctor whom
you killed with your magic, white man," answered the king heavily.

I stepped to the corner of the court-yard and, drawing aside a mat
that I had thrown there, showed them what lay beneath.

"Look then," I said, "and be sure that if you do not let us go, as
yonder thing is, so shall all of you be before another moon has been
born and died. Such is the life we shall give to evil men like you."

Now they grew positively terrified.

"Lord," said Simba, for the first time addressing me by a title of
respect, "your magic is too strong for us. Great misfortune has fallen
upon our land. Hundreds of people are dead, killed by the ice-stones
that you have called down. Our harvest is ruined, and there is but
little corn left in the storepits now when we looked to gather the new
grain. Messengers come in from the outlying land telling us that
nearly all the sheep and goats and very many of the cattle are slain.
Soon we shall starve."

"As you deserve to starve," I answered. "Now--will you let us go?"

Simba stared at me doubtfully, then began to whisper into the ear of
the lamed diviner. I could not catch what they said, so I watched
their faces. That of the diviner whose head I was glad to see had been
cut by a hailstone so that both ends of him were now injured, told me
a good deal. His mask had been ugly, but now that it was off the
countenance beneath was far uglier. Of a negroid type, pendulous-
lipped, sensuous and loose-eyed, he was indeed a hideous fellow, yet
very cunning and cruel-looking, as men of his class are apt to be.
Humbled as he was for the moment, I felt sure that he was still
plotting evil against us, somewhat against the will of his master. The
issue showed that I was right. At length Simba spoke, saying:

"We had intended, Lord, to keep you and the priest of the Child here
as hostages against mischief that might be worked on us by the
followers of the Child, who have always been our bitter enemies and
done us much undeserved wrong, although on our part we have faithfully
kept the pact concluded in the days of our grandfathers. It seems,
however, that fate, or your magic, is too strong for us, and therefore
I have determined to let you go. To-night at sundown we will set you
on the road which leads to the ford of the River Tava, which divides
our territory from that of the White Kendah, and you may depart where
you will, since our wish is that never again may we see your ill-
omened faces."

At this intelligence my heart leapt in joy that was altogether
premature. But, preserving my indignant air, I exclaimed:

"To-night! Why to-night? Why not at once? It is hard for us to cross
unknown rivers in the dark."

"The water is low, Lord, and the ford easy. Moreover, if you started
now you would reach it in the dark; whereas if you start at sundown,
you will reach it in the morning. Lastly, we cannot conduct you hence
until we have buried our dead."

Then, without giving me time to answer, he turned and left the place,
followed by the others. Only at the gateway the diviner wheeled round
on his crutches and glared at us both, muttering something with his
thick lips; probably it was curses.

"At any rate they are going to set us free," I said to Marūt, not
without exultation, when they had all vanished.

"Yes, Lord," he replied, "but /where/ are they going to set us free?
The demon Jana lives in the forests and the swamps by the banks of the
Tava River, and it is said that he ravages at night."

I did not pursue the subject, but reflected to myself cheerfully that
this mystic rogue-elephant was a long way off and might be
circumvented, whereas that altar of sacrifice was extremely near and
very difficult to avoid.

Never did a thief with a rich booty in view, or a wooer having an
assignation with his lady, wait for sundown more eagerly than I did
that day. Hour after hour I sat upon the house-top, watching the Black
Kendah carrying off the dead killed by the hailstones and generally
trying to repair the damage done by the terrific tempest. Watching the
sun also as it climbed down the cloudless sky, and literally counting
the minutes till it should reach the horizon, although I knew well
that it would have been wiser after such a night to prepare for our
journey by lying down to sleep.

At length the great orb began to sink in majesty behind the tattered
western forest, and, punctual to the minute, Simba, with a mounted
escort of some twenty men and two led horses, appeared at our gate. As
our preparations, which consisted only of Marūt stuffing such food as
was available into the breast of his robe, were already made, we
walked out of that accursed guest-house and, at a sign from the king,
mounted the horses. Riding across the empty market-place and past the
spot where the rough stone altar still stood with charred bones
protruding from the ashes of its extinguished fire--were they those of
our friends the camel-drivers? I wondered--we entered the north street
of the town.

Here, standing at the doors of their houses, were many of the
inhabitants who had gathered to watch us pass. Never did I see hate
more savage than was written on those faces as they shook their fists
at us and muttered curses not loud but deep.

No wonder! for they were all ruined, poor folk, with nothing to look
forward to but starvation until long months hence the harvest came
again for those who would live to gather it. Also they were convinced
that we, the white magician and the prophet of their enemy the Child,
had brought this disaster on them. Had it not been for the escort I
believe they would have fallen on us and torn us to pieces.
Considering them I understood for the first time how disagreeable real
unpopularity /can be/. But when I saw the actual condition of the
fruitful gardens without in the waning daylight, I confess that I was
moved to some sympathy with their owners. It was appalling. Not a
handful of grain was there left to gather, for the corn had been not
only "laid" but literally cut to ribbons by the hail.

After running for some miles through the cultivated land the road
entered the forest. Here it was dark as pitch, so dark that I wondered
how our guides found their way. In that blackness dreadful
apprehensions seized me, for I became convinced that we had been
brought here to be murdered. Every minute I expected to feel a knife-
thrust in my back. I thought of digging my heels into the horse's
sides and trying to gallop off anywhere, but abandoned the idea, first
because I could not desert Marūt, of whom I had lost touch in the
gloom, and secondly because I was hemmed in by the escort. For the
same reason I did not try to slip from the horse and glide away into
the forest. There was nothing to be done save to go on and await the

It came at last some hours later. We were out of the forest now, and
there was the moon rising, past her full but still very bright. Her
light showed me that we were on a wild moorland, swampy, with
scattered trees growing here and there, across which what seemed to be
a game track ran down hill. That was all I could make out. Here the
escort halted, and Simba the King said in a sullen voice:

"Dismount and go your ways, evil spirits, for we travel no farther
across this place which is haunted. Follow the track and it will lead
you to a lake. Pass the lake and by morning you will come to the river
beyond which lies the country of your friends. May its waters swallow
you if you reach them. For learn, there is one who watches on this
road whom few care to meet."

As he finished speaking men sprang at us and, pulling us from the
horses, thrust us out of their company. Then they turned and in
another minute were lost in the darkness, leaving us alone.

"What now, friend Marūt?" I asked.

"Now, Lord, all we can do is to go forward, for if we stay here Simba
and his people will return and kill us at the daylight. One of them
said so to me."

"Then, 'come on, Macduff,'" I exclaimed, stepping out briskly, and
though he had never read Shakespeare, Marūt understood and followed.

"What did Simba mean about 'one on the road whom few care to meet'?" I
asked over my shoulder when we had done half a mile or so.

"I think he meant the elephant Jana," replied Marūt with a groan.

"Then I hope Jana isn't at home. Cheer up, Marūt. The chances are that
we shall never meet a single elephant in this big place."

"Yet many elephants have been here, Lord," and he pointed to the
ground. "It is said that they come to die by the waters of the lake
and this is one of the roads they follow on their death journey, a
road that no other living thing dare travel."

"Oh!" I exclaimed. "Then after all that was a true dream I had in the
house in England."

"Yes, Lord, because my brother Harūt once lost his way out hunting
when he was young and saw what his mind showed you in the dream, and
what we shall see presently, if we live to come so far."

I made no reply, both because what he said was either true or false,
which I should ascertain presently, and because I was engaged in
searching the ground with my eyes. He was right; many elephants had
travelled this path--one quite recently. I, a hunter of those brutes,
could not be deceived on this point. Once or twice also I thought that
I caught sight of the outline of some tall creature moving silently
through the scattered thorns a couple of hundred yards or so to our
right. It might have been an elephant or a giraffe, or perhaps nothing
but a shadow, so I said nothing. As I heard no noise I was inclined to
believe the latter explanation. In any case, what was the good of
speaking? Unarmed and solitary amidst unknown dangers, our position
was desperate, and as Marūt's nerve was already giving out, to
emphasize its horrors to him would be mere foolishness.

On we trudged for another two hours, during which time the only living
thing that I saw was a large owl which sailed round our heads as
though to look at us, and then flew away ahead.

This owl, Marūt informed me, was one of "Jana's spies" that kept him
advised of all that was passing in his territory. I muttered "Bosh"
and tramped on. Still I was glad that we saw no more of the owl, for
in certain circumstances such dark fears are catching.

We reached the top of a rise, and there beneath us lay the most
desolate scene that ever I have seen. At least it would have been the
most desolate if I did not chance to have looked on it before, in the
drawing-room of Ragnall Castle! There was no doubt about it. Below was
the black, melancholy lake, a large sheet of water surrounded by
reeds. Around, but at a considerable distance, appeared the tropical
forest. To the east of the lake stretched a stony plain. At the time I
could make out no more because of the uncertain light and the
distance, for we had still over a mile to go before we reached the
edge of the lake.

The aspect of the place filled me with tremblings, both because of its
utter uncanniness and because of the inexplicable truth that I had
seen it before. Most people will have experienced this kind of moral
shock when on going to some new land they recognize a locality as
being quite familiar to them in all its details. Or it may be the
rooms of a house hitherto unvisited by them. Or it may be a
conversation of which, when it begins, they already foreknow the
sequence and the end, because in some dim state, when or how who can
say, they have taken part in that talk with those same speakers. If
this be so even in cheerful surroundings and among our friends or
acquaintances, it is easy to imagine how much greater was the shock to
me, a traveller on such a journey and in such a night.

I shrank from approaching the shores of this lake, remembering that as
yet all the vision was not unrolled. I looked about me. If we went to
the left we should either strike the water, or if we followed its
edge, still bearing to the left, must ultimately reach the forest,
where probably we should be lost. I looked to the right. The ground
was strewn with boulders, among which grew thorns and rank grass,
impracticable for men on foot at night. I looked behind me, meditating
retreat, and there, some hundreds of yards away behind low, scrubby
mimosas mixed with aloe-like plants, I saw something brown toss up and
disappear again that might very well have been the trunk of an
elephant. Then, animated by the courage of despair and a desire to
know the worst, I began to descend the elephant track towards the lake
almost at a run.

Ten minutes or so more brought us to the eastern head of the lake,
where the reeds whispered in the breath of the night wind like things
alive. As I expected, it proved to be a bare, open space where nothing
seemed to grow. Yes, and all about me were the decaying remains of
elephants, hundreds of them, some with their bones covered in moss,
that may have lain here for generations, and others more newly dead.
They were all old beasts as I could tell by the tusks, whether male or
female. Indeed about me within a radius of a quarter of a mile lay
enough ivory to make a man very rich for life, since although
discoloured, much of it seemed to have kept quite sound, like human
teeth in a mummy case. The sight gave me a new zest for life. If only
I could manage to survive and carry off that ivory! I would. In this
way or in that I swore that I would! Who could possibly die with so
much ivory to be had for the taking? Not that old hunter, Allan

Then I forgot about the ivory, for there in front of me, just where it
should be, just as I had seen it in the dream-picture, was the bull
elephant dying, a thin and ancient brute that had lived its long life
to the last hour. It searched about as though to find a convenient
resting-place, and when this was discovered, stood over it, swaying to
and fro for a full minute. Then it lifted its trunk and trumpeted
shrilly thrice, singing its swan-song, after which it sank slowly to
its knees, its trunk outstretched and the points of its worn tusks
resting on the ground. Evidently it was dead.

I let my eyes travel on, and behold! about fifty yards beyond the dead
bull was a mound of hard rock. I watched it with gasping expectation
and--yes, on the top of the mound something slowly materialized.
Although I knew what it must be well enough, for a while I could not
see quite clearly because there were certain little clouds about and
one of them had floated over the face of the moon. It passed, and
before me, perhaps a hundred and forty paces away, outlined clearly
against the sky, I perceived the devilish elephant of my vision.

Oh! what a brute was that! In bulk and height it appeared to be half
as big again as any of its tribe which I had known in all my life's
experience. It was enormous, unearthly; a survivor perhaps of some
ancient species that lived before the Flood, or at least a very giant
of its kind. Its grey-black sides were scarred as though with
fighting. One of its huge tusks, much worn at the end, for evidently
it was very old, gleamed white in the moonlight. The other was broken
off about halfway down its length. When perfect it had been malformed,
for it curved downwards and not upwards, also rather out to the right.

There stood this mammoth, this leviathan, this /monstrum horrendum,
informe, ingens/, as I remember my old father used to call a certain
gigantic and misshapen bull that we had on the Station, flapping a
pair of ears that looked like the sides of a Kafir hut, and waving a
trunk as big as a weaver's beam--whatever a weaver's beam may be--an
appalling and a petrifying sight.

I squatted behind the skeleton of an elephant which happened to be
handy and well covered with moss and ferns and watched the beast,
fascinated, wishing that I had a large-bore rifle in my hand. What
became of Marūt I do not exactly know, but I think that he lay down on
the ground.

During the minute or so that followed I reflected a good deal, as we
do in times of emergency, often after a useless sort of a fashion. For
instance, I wondered why the brute appeared thus upon yonder mound,
and the thought suggested itself to me that it was summoned thither
from some neighbouring lair by the trumpet call of the dying elephant.
It occurred to me even that it was a kind of king of the elephants, to
which they felt bound to report themselves, as it were, in the hour of
their decease. Certainly what followed gave some credence to my
fantastical notion which, if there were anything in it, might account
for this great graveyard at that particular spot.

After standing for a while in the attitude that I have described,
testing the air with its trunk, Jana, for I will call him so, lumbered
down the mound and advanced straight to where the elephant that I had
thought to be dead was kneeling. As a matter of fact it was not quite
dead, for when Jana arrived it lifted its trunk and curled it round
that of Jana as though in affectionate greeting, then let it fall to
the ground again. Thereon Jana did what I had seen it do in my dream
or vision at Ragnall, namely, attacked it, knocking it over on to its
side, where it lay motionless; quite dead this time.

Now I remembered that the vision was not accurate after all, since in
it I had seen Jana destroy a woman and a child, who on the present
occasion were wanting. Since then I have thought that this was because
Harūt, clairvoyantly or telepathically, had conveyed to me, as indeed
Marūt declared, a scene which he had witnessed similar to that which I
was witnessing, but not identical in its incidents. Thus it happened,
perhaps, that while the act of the woman and the child was omitted, in
our case there was another act of the play to follow of which I had
received no inkling in my Ragnall experience. Indeed, if I had
received it, I should not have been there that night, for no
inducement on earth would have brought me to Kendahland.

This was the act. Jana, having prodded his dead brother to his
satisfaction, whether from viciousness or to put it out of pain, I
cannot say, stood over the carcass in an attitude of grief or pious
meditation. At this time, I should mention, the wind, which had been
rustling the hail-stripped reeds at the lake border, had died away
almost, but not completely; that is to say, only a very faint gust
blew now and again, which, with a hunter's instinct, I observed with
satisfaction drew /from/ the direction of Jana towards ourselves. This
I knew, because it struck on my forehead, which was wet with
perspiration, and cooled the skin.

Presently, however, by a cursed spite of fate, one of these gusts--a
very little one--came from some quarter behind us, for I felt it in my
back hair, that was as damp as the rest of me. Just then I was
glancing to my right, where it seemed to me that out of the corner of
my eye I had caught sight of something passing among the stones at a
distance of a hundred yards or so, possibly the shadow of a cloud or
another elephant. At the time I did not ascertain which it was, since
a faint rattle from Jana's trunk reconcentrated all my faculties on
him in a painfully vivid fashion.

I looked to see that all the contemplation had departed from his
attitude, now as alert as that of a fox-terrier which imagines he has
seen a rat. His vast ears were cocked, his huge bulk trembled, his
enormous trunk sniffed the air.

"Great Heavens!" thought I to myself, "he has winded us!" Then I took
such consolation as I could from the fact that the next gust once more
struck upon my forehead, for I hoped he would conclude that he had
made a mistake.

Not a bit of it! Jana as far too old a bird--or beast--to make any
mistake. He grunted, got himself going like a luggage train, and with
great deliberation walked towards us, smelling at the ground, smelling
at the air, smelling to the right, to the left, and even towards
heaven above, as though he expected that thence might fall upon him
vengeance for his many sins. A dozen times as he came did I cover him
with an imaginary rifle, marking the exact spots where I might have
hoped to send a bullet to his vitals, in a kind of automatic fashion,
for all my real brain was contemplating my own approaching end.

I wondered how it would happen. Would he drive that great tusk through
me, would he throw me into the air, or would he kneel upon my poor
little body, and avenge the deaths of his kin that had fallen at my
hands? Marūt was speaking in a rattling whisper:

"His priests have told Jana to kill us; we are about to die," he said.
"Before I die I want to say that the lady, the wife of the lord----"

"Silence!" I hissed. "He will hear you," for at that instant I took
not the slightest interest in any lady on the earth. Fiercely I glared
at Marūt and noted even then how pitiful was his countenance. There
was no smile there now. All its jovial roundness had vanished. It had
sunk in; it was blue and ghastly with large, protruding eyes, like to
that of a man who had been three days dead.

I was right--Jana /had/ heard. Low as the whisper was, through that
intense silence it had penetrated to his almost preternatural senses.
Forward he came at a run for twenty paces or more with his trunk held
straight out in front of him. Then he halted again, perhaps the length
of a cricket pitch away, and smelt as before.

The sight was too much for Marūt. He sprang up and ran for his life
towards the lake, purposing, I suppose, to take refuge in the water.
Oh! how he ran. After him went Jana like a railway engine--express
this time--trumpeting as he charged. Marūt reached the lake, which was
quite close, about ten yards ahead, and plunging into it with a bound,
began to swim.

Now, I thought, he may get away if the crocodiles don't have him, for
that devil will scarcely take to the water. But this was just where I
made a mistake, for with a mighty splash in went Jana too. Also he was
the better swimmer. Marūt soon saw this and swung round to the shore,
by which manœuvre he gained a little as he could turn quicker than

Back they came, Jana just behind Marūt, striking at him with his great
trunk. They landed, Marūt flew a few yards ahead doubling in and out
among the rocks like a hare and, to my horror, making for where I lay,
whether by accident or in a mad hope of obtaining protection, I do not

It may be asked why I had not taken the opportunity to run also in the
opposite direction. There are several answers. The first was that
there seemed to be nowhere to run; the second, that I felt sure, if I
did run, I should trip up over the skeletons of those elephants or the
stones; the third, that I did not think of it at once; the fourth,
that Jana had not yet seen me, and I had no craving to introduce
myself to him personally; and the fifth and greatest, that I was so
paralysed with fear that I did not feel as though I could lift myself
from the ground. Everything about me seemed to be dead, except my
powers of observation, which were painfully alive.

Of a sudden Marūt gave up. Less than a stone's throw from me he
wheeled round and, facing Jana, hurled at him some fearful and
concentrated curse, of which all that I could distinguish were the
words: "The Child!"

Oddly enough it seemed to have an effect upon the furious rogue, which
halted in its rush and, putting its four feet together, slid a few
paces nearer and stood still. It was just as though the beast had
understood the words and were considering them. If so, their effect
was to rouse him to perfect madness. He screamed terribly; he lashed
his sides with his trunk; his red and wicked eyes rolled; foam flew
from the cavern of his open mouth; he danced upon his great feet, a
sort of hideous Scottish reel. Then he charged!

I shut my eyes for a moment. When I opened them again it was to see
poor Marūt higher in the air than ever he flew before. I thought that
he would never come down, but he did at last with an awesome thud.
Jana went to him and very gently, now that he was dead, picked him up
in his trunk. I prayed that he might carry him away to some hiding-
place and leave me in peace. But not so. With slow and stately
strides, rocking the deceased Marūt up and down in his trunk, as a
nurse might rock a baby, he marched on to the very stone where I lay,
behind which I suppose he had seen or smelt me all the time.

For quite a long while, it seemed more than a century, he stood over
me, studying me as though I interested him very much, the water of the
lake trickling in a refreshing stream from his great ears on to my
back. Had it not been for that water I think I should have fainted,
but as it was I did the next best thing--pretended to be dead. Perhaps
this monster would scorn to touch a dead man. Watching out of the
corner of my eye, I saw him lift one vast paw that was the size of an
arm-chair and hold it over me.

Now good-bye to the world, thought I. Then the foot descended as a
steam-hammer does, but also as a steam-hammer sometimes does when used
to crack nuts, stopped as it touched my back, and presently came to
earth again alongside of me, perhaps because Jana thought the foothold
dangerous. At any rate, he took another and better way. Depositing the
remains of Marūt with the most tender care beside me, as though the
nurse were putting the child to bed, he unwound his yards of trunk and
began to feel me all over with its tip, commencing at the back of my
neck. Oh! the sensation of that clammy, wriggling tip upon my spinal

Down it went till it reached the seat of my trousers. There it
pinched, presumably to ascertain whether or no I were malingering, a
most agonizing pinch like to that of a pair of blacksmith's tongs. So
sharp was it that, although I did not stir, who was aware that the
slightest movement meant death, it tore a piece out of the stout cloth
of my breeches, to say nothing of a portion of the skin beneath. This
seemed to astonish the beast, for it lifted the tip of its trunk and
shifted its head, as though to examine the fragment by the light of
the moon.

Now indeed all was over, for when it saw blood upon that cloth----! I
put up one short, piteous prayer to Heaven to save me from this
terrible end, and lo, it was answered!

For just as Jana, the results of the inspection being unsatisfactory,
was cocking his ears and making ready to slay me, there rang out the
short, sharp report of a rifle fired within a few yards. Glancing up
at the instant, I saw blood spurt from the monster's left eye, where
evidently the bullet had found a home.

He felt at his eye with his trunk; then, uttering a scream of pain,
wheeled round and rushed away.



I suppose that I swooned for a minute or two. At any rate I remember a
long and very curious dream, such a dream as is evolved by a patient
under laughing gas, that is very clear and vivid at the time but
immediately afterwards slips from the mind's grasp as water does from
the clenched hand. It was something to the effect that all those
hundreds of skeleton elephants rose and marshalled themselves before
me, making obeisance to me by bending their bony knees, because, as I
quite understood, I was the only human being that had ever escaped
from Jana. Moreover, on the foremost elephant's skull Hans was perched
like a mahout, giving words of command, to their serried ranks and
explaining to them that it would be very convenient if they would
carry their tusks, for which they had no further use, and pile them in
a certain place--I forget where--that must be near a good road to
facilitate their subsequent transport to a land where they would be
made into billiard balls and the backs of ladies' hair-brushes. Next,
through the figments of that retreating dream, I heard the undoubted
voice of Hans himself, which of course I knew to be absurd as Hans was
lost and doubtless dead, saying:

"If you are alive, Baas, please wake up soon, as I have finished
reloading Intombi, and it is time to be going. I think I hit Jana in
the eye, but so big a beast will soon get over so little a thing as
that and look for us, and the bullet from Intombi is too small to kill
him, Baas, especially as it is not likely that either of us could hit
him in the other eye."

Now I sat up and stared. Yes, there was Hans himself looking just the
same as usual, only perhaps rather dirtier, engaged in setting a cap
on to the nipple of the little rifle Intombi.

"Hans," I said in a hollow voice, "why the devil are you here?"

"To save you from the devil, of course, Baas," he replied aptly. Then,
resting the gun against the stone, the old fellow knelt down by my
side and, throwing his arms around me, began to blubber over me,

"Just in time, Baas! Only just in time, for as usual Hans made a mess
of things and judged badly--I'll tell you afterwards. Still, just in
time, thanks be to your reverend father, the Predikant. Oh! if he had
delayed me for one more minute you would have been as flat as my nose,
Baas. Now come quickly. I've got the camel tied up there, and he can
carry two, being fat and strong after four days' rest with plenty to
eat. This place is haunted, Baas, and that king of the devils, Jana,
will be back after us presently, as soon as he has wiped the blood out
of his eye."

I didn't make any remark, having no taste for conversation just then,
but only looked at poor Marūt, who lay by me as though he was

"Oh, Baas," said Hans, "there is no need to trouble about him, for his
neck is broken and he's quite dead. Also it is as well," he added
cheerfully. "For, as your reverend father doubtless remembered, the
camel could never carry three. Moreover, if he stops here, perhaps
Jana will come back to play with him instead of following us."

Poor Marūt! This was his requiem as sung by Hans.

With a last glance at the unhappy man to whom I had grown attached in
a way during our time of joint captivity and trial, I took the arm of
the old Hottentot, or rather leant upon his shoulder, for at first I
felt too weak to walk by myself, and picked my path with him through
the stones and skeletons of elephants across the plateau eastwards,
that is, away from the lake. About two hundred yards from the scene of
our tragedy was a mound of rock similar to that on which Jana had
appeared, but much smaller, behind which we found the camel, kneeling
as a well-trained beast of the sort should do and tethered to a stone.

As we went, in brief but sufficient language Hans told me his story.
It seemed that after he had shot the Kendah general it came into his
cunning, foreseeing mind that he might be of more use to me free than
as a companion in captivity, or that if I were killed he might in that
case live to bring vengeance on my slayers. So he broke away, as has
been described, and hid till nightfall on the hill-side. Then by the
light of the moon he tracked us, avoiding the villages, and ultimately
found a place of shelter in a kind of cave in the forest near to Simba
Town, where no people lived. Here he fed the camel at night,
concealing it at dawn in the cave. The days he spent up a tall tree,
whence he could watch all that went on in the town beneath, living
meanwhile on some food which he carried in a bag tied to the saddle,
helped out by green mealies which he stole from a neighbouring field.

Thus he saw most of what passed in the town, including the desolation
wrought by the fearful tempest of hail, which, being in their cave,
both he and the camel escaped without harm. On the next evening from
his post of outlook up the tree, where he had now some difficulty in
hiding himself because the hail had stripped off all its leaves, he
saw Marūt and myself brought from the guest-house and taken away by
the escort. Descending and running to the cave, he saddled the camel
and started in pursuit, plunging into the forest and hiding there when
he perceived that the escort were leaving us.

Here he waited until they had gone by on their return journey. So
close did they pass to him that he could overhear their talk, which
told him they expected, or rather were sure, that we should be
destroyed by the elephant Jana, their devil god, to whom the camelmen
had been already sacrificed. After they had departed he remounted and
followed us. Here I asked him why he had not overtaken us before we
came to the cemetery of elephants, as I presumed he might have done,
since he stated that he was close in our rear. This indeed was the
case, for it was the head of the camel I saw behind the thorn trees
when I looked back, and not the trunk of an elephant as I had

At the time he would give me no direct answer, except that he grew
muddled as he had already suggested, and thought it best to keep in
the background and see what happened. Long afterwards, however, he
admitted to me that he acted on a presentiment.

"It seemed to me, Baas," he said, "that your reverend father was
telling me that I should do best to let you two go on and not show
myself, since if I did so we should all three be killed, as one of us
must walk whom the other two could not desert. Whereas if I left you
as you were, one of you would be killed and the other escape, and that
the one to be killed would not be /you/, Baas. All of which came about
as the Spirit spoke in my head, for Marūt was killed, who did not
matter, and--you know the rest, Baas."

To return to Hans' story. He saw us march down to the borders of the
lake, and, keeping to our right, took cover behind the knoll of rock,
whence he watched also all that followed. When Jana advanced to attack
us Hans crept forward in the hope, a very wild one, of crippling him
with the little Purdey rifle. Indeed, he was about to fire at the hind
leg when Marūt made his run for life and plunged into the lake. Then
he crawled on to lead me away to the camel, but when he was within a
few yards the chase returned our way and Marūt was killed.

From that moment he waited for an opportunity to shoot Jana in the
only spot where so soft a bullet would, as he knew, have the faintest
chance of injuring him vitally--namely, in the eye--for he was sure
that its penetration would not be sufficient to reach the vitals
through that thick hide and the mass of flesh behind. With an infinite
and wonderful patience he waited, knowing that my life or death hung
in the balance. While Jana held his foot over me, while he felt me
with his trunk, still Hans waited, balancing the arguments for and
against firing upon the scales of experience in his clever old mind,
and in the end coming to a right and wise conclusion.

At length his chance came, the brute exposed his eye, and by the light
of the clear moon Hans, always a very good shot at a distance when it
was not necessary to allow for trajectory and wind, let drive and
/hit/. The bullet did not get to the brain as he had hoped; it had not
strength for that, but it destroyed this left eye and gave Jana such
pain that for a while he forgot all about me and everything else
except escape.

Such was the Hottentot's tale as I picked it up from his laconic,
colourless, Dutch /patois/ sentences, then and afterwards; a very
wonderful tale I thought. But for him, his fidelity and his bushman's
cunning, where should I have found myself before that moon set?

We mounted the camel after I had paused a minute to take a pull from a
flask of brandy which remained in the saddlebags. Although he loved
strong drink so well Hans had saved it untouched on the mere chance
that it might some time be of service to me, his master. The monkey-
like Hottentot sat in front and directed the camel, while I
accommodated myself as best I could on the sheepskins behind. Luckily
they were thick and soft, for Jana's pinch was not exactly that of a

Off we went, picking our way carefully till we reached the elephant
track beyond the mound where Jana had appeared, which, in the light of
faith, we hoped would lead us to the River Tava. Here we made better
progress, but still could not go very fast because of the holes made
by the feet of Jana and his company. Soon we had left the cemetery
behind us, and lost sight of the lake which I devoutly trusted I might
never see again.

Now the track ran upwards from the hollow to a ridge two or three
miles away. We reached the crest of this ridge without accident,
except that on our road we met another aged elephant, a cow with very
poor tusks, travelling to its last resting place, or so I suppose. I
don't know which was the more frightened, the sick cow or the camel,
for camels hate elephants as horses hate camels until they get used to
them. The cow bolted to the right as quickly as it could, which was
not very fast, and the camel bolted to the left with such convulsive
bounds that we were nearly thrown off its back. However, being an
equable brute, it soon recovered its balance, and we got back to the
track beyond the cow.

From the top of the rise we saw that before us lay a sandy plain
lightly clothed in grass, and, to our joy, about ten miles away at the
foot of a very gentle slope, the moonlight gleamed upon the waters of
a broad river. It was not easy to make out, but it was there, we were
both sure it was there; we could not mistake the wavering, silver
flash. On we went for another quarter of a mile, when something caused
me to turn round on the sheepskin and look back.

Oh Heavens! At the very top of the rise, clearly outlined against the
sky, stood Jana himself with his trunk lifted. Next instant he
trumpeted, a furious, rattling challenge of rage and defiance.

"Allemagte! Baas," said Hans, "the old devil is coming to look for his
lost eye, and has seen us with that which remains. He has been
travelling on our spoor."

"Forward!" I answered, bringing my heels into the camel's ribs.

Then the race began. The camel was a very good camel, one of the real
running breed; also, as Hans said, it was comparatively fresh, and
may, moreover, have been aware that it was near to the plains where it
had been bred. Lastly, the going was now excellent, soft to its spongy
feet but not too deep in sand, nor were there any rocks over which it
could fall. It went off like the wind, making nothing of our united
weights which did not come to more than two hundred pounds, or a half
of what it could carry with ease, being perhaps urged to its top speed
by the knowledge that the elephant was behind. For mile after mile we
rushed down the plain. But we did not go alone, for Jana came after us
like a cruiser after a gunboat. Moreover, swiftly as we travelled, he
travelled just a little swifter, gaining say a few yards in every
hundred. For the last mile before we came to the river bank, half an
hour later perhaps, though it seemed to be a week, he was not more
than fifty paces to our rear. I glanced back at him, and in the light
of the moon, which was growing low, he bore a strange resemblance to a
mud cottage with broken chimneys (which were his ears flapping on each
side of him), and the yard pump projecting from the upper window.

"We shall beat him now, Hans," I said looking at the broad river which
was now close at hand.

"Yes, Baas," answered Hans doubtfully and in jerks. "This is very good
camel, Baas. He runs so fast that I have no inside left, I suppose
because he smells his wife over that river, to say nothing of death
behind him. But, Baas, I am not sure; that devil Jana is still faster
than the camel, and he wants to settle for his lost eye, which makes
him lively. Also I see stones ahead, which are bad for camels. Then
there is the river, and I don't know if camels can swim, but Jana can
as Marūt learned. Do you think, Baas, that you could manage to sting
him up with a bullet in his knee or that great trunk of his, just to
give him something to think about besides ourselves?"

Thus he prattled on, I believe to occupy my mind and his own, till at
length, growing impatient, I replied:

"Be silent, donkey. Can I shoot an elephant backwards over my shoulder
with a rifle meant for springbuck? Hit the camel! Hit it hard!"

Alas! Hans was right! There /were/ stones at the verge of the river,
which doubtless it had washed out in periods of past flood, and
presently we were among them. Now a camel, so good on sand that is its
native heath, is a worthless brute among stones, over which it slips
and flounders. But to Jana these appeared to offer little or no
obstacle. At any rate he came over them almost if not quite as fast as
before. By the time that we reached the brink of the water he was not
more than ten yards behind. I could even see the blood running down
from the socket of his ruined eye.

Moreover, at the sight of the foaming but shallow torrent, the camel,
a creature unaccustomed to water, pulled up in a mulish kind of way
and for a moment refused to stir. Luckily at this instant Jana let off
one of his archangel kind of trumpetings which started our beast
again, since it was more afraid of elephants than it was of water.

In we went and were presently floundering among the loose stones at
the bottom of the river, which was nowhere over four feet deep, with
Jana splashing after us not more than five yards behind. I twisted
myself round and fired at him with the rifle. Whether I hit him or no
I could not say, but he stopped for a few seconds, perhaps because he
remembered the effect of a similar explosion upon his eye, which gave
us a trifling start. Then he came on again in his steam-engine

When we were about in the middle of the river the inevitable happened.
The camel fell, pitching us over its head into the stream. Still
clinging to the rifle I picked myself up and began half to swim half
to wade towards the farther shore, catching hold of Hans with my free
hand. In a moment Jana was on to that camel. He gored it with his
tusks, he trampled it with his feet, he got it round the neck with his
trunk, dragging nearly the whole bulk of it out of the water. Then he
set to work to pound it down into the mud and stones at the bottom of
the river with such a persistent thoroughness, that he gave us time to
reach the other bank and climb up a stout tree which grew there, a
sloping, flat-topped kind of tree that was fortunately easy to ascend,
at least for a man. Here we sat gasping, perhaps about thirty feet
above the ground level, and waited.

Presently Jana, having finished with the camel, followed us, and
without any difficulty located us in that tree. He walked all round it
considering the situation. Then he wound his huge trunk about the bole
of the tree and, putting out his strength, tried to pull it over. It
was an anxious moment, but this particular child of the forest had not
grown there for some hundreds of years, withstanding all the shocks of
wind, weather and water, in order to be laid low by an elephant,
however enormous. It shook a little--no more. Abandoning this attempt
as futile, Jana next began to try to dig it up by driving his tusk
under its roots. Here, too, he failed because they grew among stones
which evidently jarred him.

Ceasing from these agricultural efforts with a deep rumble of rage, he
adopted yet a third expedient. Rearing his huge bulk into the air he
brought down his forefeet with all the tremendous weight of his great
body behind them on to the sloping trunk of the tree just below where
the branches sprang, perhaps twelve or thirteen feet above the ground.
The shock was so heavy that for a moment I thought the tree would be
uprooted or snapped in two. Thank Heaven! it held, but the vibration
was such that Hans and I were nearly shaken out of the upper branches,
like autumn apples from a bough. Indeed, I think I should have gone
had not the monkey-like Hans, who had toes to cling with as well as
fingers, gripped me by the collar.

Thrice did Jana repeat this manœuvre, and at the third onslaught I saw
to my horror that the roots were loosening. I heard some of them snap,
and a crack appeared in the ground not far from the bole. Fortunately
Jana never noted these symptoms, for abandoning a plan which he
considered unavailing, he stood for a while swaying his trunk and lost
in gentle thought.

"Hans," I whispered, "load the rifle quick! I can get him in the spine
or the other eye."

"Wet powder won't go off, Baas," groaned Hans. "The water got to it in
the river."

"No," I answered, "and it is all your fault for making me shoot at him
when I could take no aim."

"It would have been just the same, Baas, for the rifle went under
water also when we fell from the camel, and the cap would have been
damp, and perhaps the powder too. Also the shot made Jana stop for a

This was true, but it was maddening to be obliged to sit there with an
empty gun, when if I had but one charge, or even my pistol, I was sure
that I could have blinded or crippled this satanic pachyderm.

A few minutes later Jana played his last card. Coming quite close to
the trunk of the tree he reared himself up as before, but this time
stretched out his forelegs so that these and his body were supported
on the broad bole. Then he elongated his trunk and with it began to
break off boughs which grew between us and him.

"I don't think he can reach us," I said doubtfully to Hans, "that is,
unless he brings a stone to stand on."

"Oh! Baas, pray be silent," answered Hans, "or he will understand and
fetch one."

Although the idea seemed absurd, on the whole I thought it well to
take the hint, for who knew how much this experienced beast did or did
not understand? Then, as we could go no higher, we wriggled as far as
we dared along our boughs and waited.

Presently Jana, having finished his clearing operations, began to
lengthen his trunk to its full measure. Literally, it seemed to expand
like a telescope or an indiarubber ring. Out it came, foot after foot,
till its snapping tip was waving within a few inches of us, just short
of my foot and Han's head, or rather felt hat. One final stretch and
he reached the hat, which he removed with a flourish and thrust into
the red cavern of his mouth. As it appeared no more I suppose he ate
it. This loss of his hat moved Hans to fury. Hurling horrible curses
at Jana he drew his butcher's knife and made ready.

Once more the sinuous brown trunk elongated itself. Evidently Jana had
got a better hold with his hind legs this time, or perhaps had
actually wriggled himself a few inches up the tree. At any rate I saw
to my dismay that there was every prospect of my making a second
acquaintance with that snapping tip. The end of the trunk was lying
along my bough like a huge brown snake and creeping up, up, up.

"He'll get us," I muttered.

Hans said nothing but leaned forward a little, holding on with his
left hand. Next instant in the light of the rising sun I saw a knife
flash, saw also that the point of it had been driven through the lower
lip of Jana's trunk, pinning it to the bough like a butterfly to a

My word! what a commotion ensued! Up the trunk came a scream which
nearly blew me away. Then Jana, with a wriggling motion, tried to
unnail himself as gently as possible, for it was clear that the knife
point hurt him, but could not do so because Hans still held the handle
and had driven the blade deep into the wood. Lastly he dragged himself
downwards with such energy that something had to go, that something
being the skin and muscle of the lower lip, which was cut clean
through, leaving the knife erect in the bough.

Over he went backwards, a most imperial cropper. Then he picked
himself up, thrust the tip of his trunk into his mouth, sucked it as
one does a cut finger, and finally, roaring in defeated rage, fled
into the river, which he waded, and back upon his tracks towards his
own home. Yes, off he went, Hans screaming curses and demands that he
should restore his hat to him, and very seldom in all my life have I
seen a sight that I thought more beautiful than that of his whisking

"Now, Baas," chuckled Hans, "the old devil has got a sore nose as well
as a sore eye by which to remember us. And, Baas, I think we had
better be going before he has time to think and comes back with a long
stick to knock us out of this tree."

So we went, in double-quick time I can assure you, or at any rate as
fast as my stiff limbs and general condition would allow. Fortunately
we had now no doubt as to our direction, since standing up through the
mists of dawn with the sunbeams resting on its forest-clad crest, we
could clearly see the strange, tumulus-shaped hill which the White
Kendah called the Holy Mount, the Home of the Child. It appeared to be
about twenty miles away, but in reality was a good deal farther, for
when we had walked for several hours it seemed almost as distant as

In truth that was a dreadful trudge. Not only was I exhausted with all
the terrors I had passed and our long midnight flight, but the wound
where Jana had pinched out a portion of my frame, inflamed by the
riding, had now grown stiff and intolerably sore, so that every step
gave me pain which sometimes culminated in agony. Moreover, it was no
use giving in, foodless as we were, for Marūt had carried the
provisions, and with the chance of Jana returning to look us up. So I
stuck to it and said nothing.

For the first ten miles the country seemed uninhabited; doubtless it
was too near the borders of the Black Kendah to be popular as a place
of residence. After this we saw herds of cattle and a few camels,
apparently untended; perhaps their guards were hidden away in the long
grass. Then we came to some fields of mealies that were, I noticed,
quite untouched by the hailstorm, which, it would seem, had confined
its attentions to the land of the Black Kendah. Of these we ate
thankfully enough. A little farther on we perceived huts perched on an
inaccessible place in a kloof. Also their inhabitants perceived us,
for they ran away as though in a great fright.

Still we did not try to approach the huts, not knowing how we should
be received. After my sojourn in Simba Town I had become possessed of
a love of life in the open.

For another two hours I limped forward with pain and grief--by now I
was leaning on Hans' shoulder--up an endless, uncultivated rise
clothed with euphorbias and fern-like cycads. At length we reached its
top and found ourselves within a rifle shot of a fenced native
village. I suppose that its inhabitants had been warned of our coming
by runners from the huts I have mentioned. At any rate the moment we
appeared the men, to the number of thirty or more, poured out of the
south gate armed with spears and other weapons and proceeded to ring
us round and behave in a very threatening manner. I noticed at once
that, although most of them were comparatively light in colour, some
of these men partook of the negro characteristics of the Black Kendah
from whom we had escaped, to such an extent indeed that this blood was
clearly predominant in them. Still, it was also clear that they were
deadly foes of this people, for when I shouted out to them that we
were the friends of Harūt and those who worshipped the Child, they
yelled back that we were liars. No friends of the Child, they said,
came from the country of the Black Kendah, who worshipped the devil
Jana. I tried to explain that least of all men in the world did we
worship Jana, who had been hunting us for hours, but they would not

"You are spies of Simba's, the smell of Jana is upon you" (this may
have been true enough), they yelled, adding: "We will kill you, white-
faced goat. We will kill you, little yellow monkey, for none who are
not enemies come here from the land of the Black Kendah."

"Kill us then," I answered, "and bring the curse of the Child upon
you. Bring famine, bring hail, bring war!"

These words were, I think, well chosen; at any rate they induced a
pause in their murderous intentions. For a while they hesitated, all
talking together at once. At last the advocates of violence appeared
to get the upper hand, and once more a number of the men began to
dance about us, waving their spears and crying out that we must die
who came from the Black Kendah.

I sat down upon the ground, for I was so exhausted that at the time I
did not greatly care whether I died or lived, while Hans drew his
knife and stood over me, cursing them as he had cursed at Jana. By
slow degrees they drew nearer and nearer. I watched them with a kind
of idle curiosity, believing that the moment when they came within
actual spear-thrust would be our last, but, as I have said, not
greatly caring because of my mental and physical exhaustion.

I had already closed my eyes that I might not see the flash of the
falling steel, when an exclamation from Hans caused me to open them
again. Following the line of the knife with which he pointed, I
perceived a troop of men on camels emerging from the gates of the
village at full speed. In front of these, his white garments
fluttering on the wind, rode a bearded and dignified person in whom I
recognized Harūt, Harūt himself, waving a spear and shouting as he
came. Our assailants heard and saw him also, then flung down their
weapons as though in dismay either at his appearance or his words,
which I could not catch. Harūt guided his rushing camel straight at
the man who I presume was their leader, and struck at him with his
spear, as though in fury, wounding him in the shoulder and causing him
to fall to the ground. As he struck he called out:

"Dog! Would you harm the guests of the Child?"

Then I heard no more because I fainted away.



After this it seemed to me that I dreamed a long and very troubled
dream concerning all sorts of curious things which I cannot remember.
At last I opened my eyes and observed that I lay on a low bed raised
about three inches above the floor, in an Eastern-looking room, large
and cool. It had window-places in it but no windows, only grass mats
hung upon a rod which, I noted inconsequently, worked on a rough,
wooden hinge, or rather pin, that enabled the curtain to be turned
back against the wall.

Through one of these window-places I saw at a little distance the
slope of the forest-covered hill, which reminded me of something to do
with a child--for the life of me I could not remember what. As I lay
wondering over the matter I heard a shuffling step which I recognized,
and, turning, saw Hans twiddling a new hat made of straw in his

"Hans," I said, "where did you get that new hat?"

"They gave it me here, Baas," he answered. "The Baas will remember
that the devil Jana ate the other."

Then I did remember more or less, while Hans continued to twiddle the
hat. I begged him to put it on his head because it fidgeted me, and
then inquired where we were.

"In the Town of the Child, Baas, where they carried you after you had
seemed to die down yonder. A very nice town, where there is plenty to
eat, though, having been asleep for three days, you have had nothing
except a little milk and soup, which was poured down your throat with
a spoon whenever you seemed to half wake up for a while."

"I was tired and wanted a long rest, Hans, and now I feel hungry. Tell
me, are the lord and Bena here also, or were they killed after all?"

"Yes, Baas, they are safe enough, and so are all our goods. They were
both with Harūt when he saved us down by the village yonder, but you
went to sleep and did not see them. They have been nursing you ever
since, Baas."

Just then Savage himself entered, carrying some soup upon a wooden
tray and looking almost as smart as he used to do at Ragnall Castle.

"Good day, sir," he said in his best professional manner. "Very glad
to see you back with us, sir, and getting well, I trust, especially
after we had given you and Mr. Hans up as dead."

I thanked him and drank the soup, asking him to cook me something more
substantial as I was starving, which he departed to do. Then I sent
Hans to find Lord Ragnall, who it appeared was out walking in the
town. No sooner had they gone than Harūt entered looking more
dignified than ever and, bowing gravely, seated himself upon the mat
in the Eastern fashion.

"Some strong spirit must go with you, Lord Macumazana," he said, "that
you should live today, after we were sure that you had been slain."

"That's where you made a mistake. Your magic was not of much service
to you there, friend Harūt."

"Yet my magic, as you call it, though I have none, was of some service
after all, Macumazana. As it chanced I had no opportunity of breathing
in the wisdom of the Child for two days from the hour of our arrival
here, because I was hurt on the knee in the fight and so weary that I
could not travel up the mountain and seek light from the eyes of the
Child. On the third day, however, I went and the Oracle told me all.
Then I descended swiftly, gathered men and reached those fools in time
to keep you from harm. They have paid for what they did, Lord."

"I am sorry, Harūt, for they knew no better; and, Harūt, although I
saved myself, or rather Hans saved me, we have left your brother
behind, and with him the others."

"I know. Jana was too strong for them; you and your servant alone
could prevail against him."

"Not so, Harūt. He prevailed against us; all we could do was to injure
his eye and the tip of his trunk and escape from him."

"Which is more than any others have done for many generations, Lord.
But doubtless as the beginning was, so shall the end be. Jana, I
think, is near his death and through you."

"I don't know," I repeated. "Who and what is Jana?"

"Have I not told you that he is an evil spirit who inhabits the body
of a huge elephant?"

"Yes, and so did Marūt; but I think that he is just a huge elephant
with a very bad temper of his own. Still, whatever he is, he will take
some killing, and I don't want to meet him again by that horrible

"Then you will meet him elsewhere, Lord. For if you do not go to look
for Jana, Jana will come to look for you who have hurt him so sorely.
Remember that henceforth, wherever you go in all this land, it may
happen that you will meet Jana."

"Do you mean to say that the brute comes into the territory of the
White Kendah?"

"Yes, Macumazana, at times he comes, or a spirit wearing his shape
comes; I know not which. What I do know is that twice in my life I
myself have seen him upon the Holy Mount, though how he came or how he
went none can tell."

"Why was he wandering there, Harūt?"

"Who can say, Lord? Tell me why evil wanders through the world and I
will answer your question. Only I repeat--let those who have harmed
Jana beware of Jana."

"And let Jana beware of me if I can meet him with a decent gun in my
hand, for I have a score to settle with the beast. Now, Harūt, there
is another matter. Just before he was killed Marūt, your brother,
began to tell me something about the wife of the Lord Ragnall. I had
no time to listen to the end of his words, though I thought he said
that she was upon yonder Holy Mount. Did I hear aright?"

Instantly Harūt's face became like that of a stone idol, impenetrable,

"Either you misunderstood, Lord," he answered, "or my brother raved in
his fear. Wherever she may be, that beautiful lady is not upon the
Holy Mount, unless there is another Holy Mount in the Land of Death.
Moreover, Lord, as we are speaking of this matter, let me tell you the
forest upon that Mount must be trodden by none save the priest of the
Child. If others set foot there they die, for it is watched by a
guardian more terrible even than Jana, nor is he the only one. Ask me
nothing of that guardian, for I will not answer, and, above all, if
you or your comrades value life, let them not seek to look upon him."

Understanding that it was quite useless to pursue this subject farther
at the moment, I turned to another, remarking that the hailstorm which
had smitten the country of the Black Kendah was the worst that I had
ever experienced.

"Yes," answered Harūt, "so I have learned. That was the first of the
curses which the Child, through my mouth, promised to Simba and his
people if they molested us upon our road. The second, you will
remember, was famine, which for them is near at hand, seeing that they
have little corn in store and none left to gather, and that most of
their cattle are dead of the hail."

"If they have no corn while, as I noted, you have plenty which the
storm spared, will not they, who are many in number but near to
starving, attack you and take your corn, Harūt?"

"Certainly they will do so, Lord, and then will fall the third curse,
the curse of war. All this was foreseen long ago, Macumazana, and you
are here to help us in that war. Among your goods you have many guns
and much powder and lead. You shall teach our people how to use those
guns, that with them we may destroy the Black Kendah."

"I think not," I replied quietly. "I came here to kill a certain
elephant, and to receive payment for my service in ivory, not to fight
the Black Kendah, of whom I have already seen enough. Moreover, the
guns are not my property but that of the Lord Ragnall, who perhaps
will ask his own price for the use of them."

"And the Lord Ragnall, who came here against our will, is, as it
chances, our property and we may ask your own price for his life. Now,
farewell for a while, since you, who are still sick and weak, have
talked enough. Only before I go, as your friend and that of those with
you, I will add one word. If you would continue to look upon the sun,
let none of you try to set foot in the forest upon the Holy Mount.
Wander where you will upon its southern slopes, but strive not to pass
the wall of rock which rings the forest round."

Then he rose, bowed gravely and departed, leaving me full of

Shortly afterwards Savage and Hans returned, bringing me some meat
which the former had cooked in an admirable fashion. I ate of it
heartily, and just as they were carrying off the remains of the meal
Ragnall himself arrived. Our greeting was very warm, as might be
expected in the case of two comrades who never thought to speak to
each other again on this side of the grave. As I had supposed, he was
certain that Hans and I had been cut off and killed by the Black
Kendah, as, after we were missed, some of the camelmen asserted that
they had actually seen us fall. So he went on, or rather was carried
on by the rush of the camels, grieving, since, it being impossible to
attempt to recover our bodies or even to return, that was the only
thing to do, and in due course reached the Town of the Child without
further accident. Here they rested and mourned for us, till some days
later Harūt suddenly announced that we still lived, though how he knew
this they could not ascertain. Then they sallied out and found us, as
has been told, in great danger from the ignorant villagers who, until
we appeared, had not even heard of our existence.

I asked what they had done and what information they had obtained
since their arrival at this place. His answer was: Nothing and none
worth mentioning. The town appeared to be a small one of not much over
two thousand inhabitants, all of whom were engaged in agricultural
pursuits and in camel-breeding. The herds of camels, however, they
gathered, for the most part were kept at outlying settlements on the
farther side of the cone-shaped mountain. As they were unable to talk
the language the only person from whom they could gain knowledge was
Harūt, who spoke to them in his broken English and told them much what
he had told me, namely that the upper mountain was a sacred place that
might only be visited by the priests, since any uninitiated person who
set foot there came to a bad end. They had not seen any of these
priests in the town, where no form of worship appeared to be
practised, but they had observed men driving small numbers of sheep or
goats up the flanks of the mountain towards the forest.

Of what went on upon this mountain and who lived there they remained
in complete ignorance. It was a case of stalemate. Harūt would not
tell them anything nor could they learn anything for themselves. He
added in a depressed way that the whole business seemed very hopeless,
and that he had begun to doubt whether there was any tidings of his
lost wife to be gained among the Kendah, White or Black.

Now I repeated to him Marūt's dying words, of which most unhappily I
had never heard the end. These seemed to give him new life since they
showed that tidings there was of some sort, if only it could be
extracted. But how might this be done? How, how?

For a whole week things went on thus. During this time I recovered my
strength completely, except in one particular which reduced me to
helplessness. The place on my thigh where Jana had pinched out a bit
of the skin healed up well enough, but the inflammation struck inwards
to the nerve of my left leg, where once I had been injured by a lion,
with the result that whenever I tried to move I was tortured by pains
of a sciatic nature. So I was obliged to lie still and to content
myself with being carried on the bed into a little garden which
surrounded the mud-built and white-washed house that had been allotted
to us as a dwelling-place.

There I lay hour after hour, staring at the Holy Mount which began to
spring from the plain within a few hundred yards of the scattered
township. For a mile or so its slopes were bare except for grass on
which sheep and goats were grazed, and a few scattered trees. Studying
the place through glasses I observed that these slopes were crowned by
a vertical precipice of what looked like lava rock, which seemed to
surround the whole mountain and must have been quite a hundred feet
high. Beyond this precipice, which to all appearance was of an
unclimbable nature, began a dense forest of large trees, cedars I
thought, clothing it to the very top, that is so far as I could see.

One day when I was considering the place, Harūt entered the garden
suddenly and caught me in the act.

"The House of the god is beautiful," he said, "is it not?"

"Very," I answered, "and of a strange formation. But how do those who
dwell on it climb that precipice?"

"It cannot be climbed," he answered, "but there is a road which I am
about to travel who go to worship the Child. Yet I have told you,
Macumazana, that any strangers who seek to walk that road find death.
If they do not believe me, let them try," he added meaningly.

Then, after many inquiries about my health, he informed me that news
had reached him to the effect that the Black Kendah were mad at the
loss of their crops which the hail had destroyed and because of the
near prospect of starvation.

"Then soon they will be wishing to reap yours with spears," I said.

"That is so. Therefore, my Lord Macumazana, get well quickly that you
may be able to scare away these crows with guns, for in fourteen days
the harvest should begin upon our uplands. Farewell and have no fears,
for during my absence my people will feed and watch you and on the
third night I shall return again."

After Harūt's departure a deep depression fell upon all of us. Even
Hans was depressed, while Savage became like a man under sentence of
execution at a near but uncertain date. I tried to cheer him up and
asked him what was the matter.

"I don't know, Mr. Quatermain," he answered, "but the fact is this is
a 'ateful and un'oly 'ole" (in his agitation he quite lost grip of his
h's, which was always weak), "and I am sure that it is the last I
shall ever see, except one."

"Well, Savage," I said jokingly, "at any rate there don't seem to be
any snakes here."

"No, Mr. Quatermain. That is, I haven't met any, but they crawl about
me all night, and whenever I see that prophet man he talks of them to
me. Yes, he talks of them and nothing else with a sort of cold look in
his eyes that makes my back creep. I wish it was over, I do, who shall
never see old England again," and he went away, I think to hide his
very painful and evident emotion.

That evening Hans returned from an expedition on which I had sent him
with instructions to try to get round the mountain and report what was
on its other side. It had been a complete failure, as after he had
gone a few miles men appeared who ordered him back. They were so
threatening in their demeanour that had it not been for the little
rifle, Intombi, which he carried under pretence of shooting buck, a
weapon that they regarded with great awe, they would, he thought, have
killed him. He added that he had been quite unsuccessful in his
efforts to collect any news of value from man, woman or child, all of
whom, although very polite, appeared to have orders to tell him
nothing, concluding with the remark that he considered the White
Kendah bigger devils than the Black Kendah, inasmuch as they were more

Shortly after this abortive attempt we debated our position with
earnestness and came to a certain conclusion, of which I will speak in
its place.

If I remember right it was on this same night of our debate, after
Harūt's return from the mountain, that the first incident of interest
happened. There were two rooms in our house divided by a partition
which ran almost up to the roof. In the left-hand room slept Ragnall
and Savage, and in that to the right Hans and I. Just at the breaking
of dawn I was awakened by hearing some agitated conversation between
Savage and his master. A minute later they both entered my sleeping
place, and I saw in the faint light that Ragnall looked very disturbed
and Savage very frightened.

"What's the matter?" I asked.

"We have seen my wife," answered Ragnall.

I stared at him and he went on:

"Savage woke me by saying that there was someone in the room. I sat up
and looked and, as I live, Quatermain, standing gazing at me in such a
position that the light of dawn from the window-place fell upon her,
was my wife."

"How was she dressed?" I asked at once.

"In a kind of white robe cut rather low, with her hair loose hanging
to her waist, but carefully combed and held outspread by what appeared
to be a bent piece of ivory about a foot and a half long, to which it
was fastened by a thread of gold."

"Is that all?"

"No. Upon her breast was that necklace of red stones with the little
image hanging from its centre which those rascals gave her and she
always wore."

"Anything more?"

"Yes. In her arms she carried what looked like a veiled child. It was
so still that I think it must have been dead."

"Well. What happened?"

"I was so overcome I could not speak, and she stood gazing at me with
wide-opened eyes, looking more beautiful than I can tell you. She
never stirred, and her lips never moved--that I will swear. And yet
both of us heard her say, very low but quite clearly: 'The mountain,
George! Don't desert me. Seek me on the mountain, my dear, my

"Well, what next?"

"I sprang up and she was gone. That's all."

"Now tell me what /you/ saw and heard, Savage."

"What his lordship saw and heard, Mr. Quatermain, neither more nor
less. Except that I was awake, having had one of my bad dreams about
snakes, and saw her come through the door."

"Through the door! Was it open then?"

"No, sir, it was shut and bolted. She just came through it as if it
wasn't there. Then I called to his lordship after she had been looking
at him for half a minute or so, for I couldn't speak at first. There's
one more thing, or rather two. On her head was a little cap that
looked as though it had been made from the skin of a bird, with a gold
snake rising up in front, which snake was the first thing I caught
sight of, as of course it would be, sir. Also the dress she wore was
so thin that through it I could see her shape and the sandals on her
feet, which were fastened at the instep with studs of gold."

"I saw no feather cap or snake," said Ragnall.

"Then that's the oddest part of the whole business," I remarked. "Go
back to your room, both of you, and if you see anything more, call me.
I want to think things over."

They went, in a bewildered sort of fashion, and I called Hans and
spoke with him in a whisper, repeating to him the little that he had
not understood of our talk, for as I have said, although he never
spoke it, Hans knew a great deal of English.

"Now, Hans," I said to him, "what is the use of you? You are no better
than a fraud. You pretend to be the best watchdog in Africa, and yet a
woman comes into this house under your nose and in the grey of the
morning, and you do not see her. Where is your reputation, Hans?"

The old fellow grew almost speechless with indignation, then he
spluttered his answer:

"It was not a woman, Baas, but a spook. Who am I that I should be
expected to catch spooks as though they were thieves or rats? As it
happens I was wide awake half an hour before the dawn and lay with my
eyes fixed upon that door, which I bolted myself last night. It never
opened, Baas; moreover, since this talk began I have been to look at
it. During the night a spider has made its web from door-post to door-
post, and that web is unbroken. If you do not believe me, come and see
for yourself. Yet they say the woman came through the doorway and
therefore through the spider's web. Oh! Baas, what is the use of
wasting thought upon the ways of spooks which, like the wind, come and
go as they will, especially in this haunted land from which, as we
have all agreed, we should do well to get away."

I went and examined the door for myself, for by now my sciatica, or
whatever it may have been, was so much better that I could walk a
little. What Hans said was true. There was the spider's web with the
spider sitting in the middle. Also some of the threads of the web were
fixed from post to post, so that it was impossible that the door could
have been opened or, if opened, that anyone could have passed through
the doorway without breaking them. Therefore, unless the woman came
through one of the little window-places, which was almost incredible
as they were high above the ground, or dropped from the smoke-hole in
the roof, or had been shut into the place when the door was closed on
the previous night, I could not see how she had arrived there. And if
any one of these incredible suppositions was correct, then how did she
get out again with two men watching her?

There were only two solutions to the problem--namely, that the whole
occurrence was hallucination, or that, in fact, Ragnall and Savage had
seen something unnatural and uncanny. If the latter were correct I
only wished that I had shared the experience, as I have always longed
to see a ghost. A real, indisputable ghost would be a great support to
our doubting minds, that is if we /knew/ its owner to be dead.

But--this was another thought--if by any chance Lady Ragnall were
still alive and a prisoner upon that mountain, what they had seen was
no ghost, but a shadow or /simulacrum/ of a living person projected
consciously or unconsciously by that person for some unknown purpose.
What could the purpose be? As it chanced the answer was not difficult,
and to it the words she was reported to have uttered gave a cue. Only
a few hours ago, just before we turned in indeed, as I have said, we
had been discussing matters. What I have not said is that in the end
we arrived at the conclusion that our quest here was wild and useless
and that we should do well to try to escape from the place before we
became involved in a war of extermination between two branches of an
obscure tribe, one of which was quite and the other semi-savage.

Indeed, although Ragnall still hung back a little, it had been
arranged that I should try to purchase camels in exchange for guns,
unless I could get them for nothing which might be less suspicious,
and that we should attempt such an escape under cover of an expedition
to kill the elephant Jana.

Supposing such a vision to be possible, then might it not have come,
or been sent to deter us from this plan? It would seem so.

Thus reflecting I went to sleep worn out with useless wonderment, and
did not wake again till breakfast time. That morning, when we were
alone together, Ragnall said to me:

"I have been thinking over what happened, or seemed to happen last
night. I am not at all a superstitious man, or one given to vain
imaginings, but I am sure that Savage and I really did see and hear
the spirit or the shadow of my wife. Her body it could not have been
as you will admit, though how she could utter, or seem to utter,
audible speech without one is more than I can tell. Also I am sure
that she is captive upon yonder mountain and came to call me to rescue
her. Under these circumstances I feel that it is my duty, as well as
my desire, to give up any idea of leaving the country and try to find
out the truth."

"And how will you do that," I asked, "seeing that no one will tell us

"By going to see for myself."

"It is impossible, Ragnall. I am too lame at present to walk half a
mile, much less to climb precipices."

"I know, and that is one of the reasons why I did not suggest that you
should accompany me. The other is that there is no object in all of us
risking our lives. I wished to face the thing alone, but that good
fellow Savage says that he will go where I go, leaving you and Hans
here to make further attempts if we do not return. Our plan is to slip
out of the town during the night, wearing white dresses like the
Kendah, of which I have bought some for tobacco, and make the best of
our way up the slope by starlight that is very bright now. When dawn
comes we will try to find the road through that precipice, or over it,
and for the rest trust to Providence."

Dismayed at this intelligence, I did all I could to dissuade him from
such a mad venture, but quite without avail, for never did I know a
more determined or more fearless man than Lord Ragnall. He had made up
his mind and there was an end of the matter. Afterwards I talked with
Savage, pointing out to him all the perils involved in the attempt,
but likewise without avail. He was more depressed than usual,
apparently on the ground that "having seen the ghost of her ladyship"
he was sure he had not long to live. Still, he declared that where his
master went he would go, as he preferred to die with him rather than

So I was obliged to give in and with a melancholy heart to do what I
could to help in the simple preparations for this crazy undertaking,
realizing all the while that the only real help must come from above,
since in such a case man was powerless. I should add that after
consultation, Ragnall gave up the idea of adopting a Kendah disguise
which was certain to be discovered, also of starting at night when the
town was guarded.

That very afternoon they went, going out of the town quite openly on
the pretext of shooting partridges and small buck on the lower slopes
of the mountain, where both were numerous, as Harūt had informed us we
were quite at liberty to do. The farewell was somewhat sad, especially
with Savage, who gave me a letter he had written for his old mother in
England, requesting me to post it if ever again I came to a civilized

I did my best to put a better spirit in him but without avail. He only
wrung my hand warmly, said that it was a pleasure to have known such a
"real gentleman" as myself, and expressed a hope that I might get out
of this hell and live to a green old age amongst Christians. Then he
wiped away a tear with the cuff of his coat, touched his hat in the
orthodox fashion and departed. Their outfit, I should add, was very
simple: some food in bags, a flask of spirits, two double-barrelled
guns that would shoot either shot or ball, a bull's-eye lantern,
matches and their pistols.

Hans walked with them a little way and, leaving them outside the town,

"Why do you look so gloomy, Hans?" I asked.

"Because, Baas," he answered, twiddling his hat, "I had grown to be
fond of the white man, Bena, who was always very kind to me and did
not treat me like dirt as low-born whites are apt to do. Also he
cooked well, and now I shall have to do that work which I do not

"What do you mean, Hans? The man isn't dead, is he?"

"No, Baas, but soon he will be, for the shadow of death is in his

"Then how about Lord Ragnall?"

"I saw no shadow in his eyes; I think that he will live, Baas."

I tried to get some explanation of these dark sayings out of the
Hottentot, but he would add nothing to his words.

All the following night I lay awake filled with heavy fears which
deepened as the hours went on. Just before dawn we heard a knocking on
our door and Ragnall's voice whispering to us to open. Hans did so
while I lit a candle, of which we had a good supply. As it burned up
Ragnall entered, and from his face I saw at once that something
terrible had happened. He went to the jar where we kept our water and
drank three pannikin-fuls, one after the other. Then without waiting
to be asked, he said:

"Savage is dead," and paused a while as though some awful recollection
overcame him. "Listen," he went on presently. "We worked up the hill-
side without firing, although we saw plenty of partridges and one
buck, till just as twilight was closing in, we came to the cliff face.
Here we perceived a track that ran to the mouth of a narrow cave or
tunnel in the lava rock of the precipice, which looked quite
unclimbable. While we were wondering what to do, eight or ten white-
robed men appeared out of the shadows and seized us before we could
make any resistance. After talking together for a little they took
away our guns and pistols, with which some of them disappeared. Then
their leader, with many bows, indicated that we were at liberty to
proceed by pointing first to the mouth of the cave, and next to the
top of the precipice, saying something about '/ingane/,' which I
believe means a little child, does it not?"

I nodded, and he went on:

"After this they all departed down the hill, smiling in a fashion that
disturbed me. We stood for a while irresolute, until it became quite
dark. I asked Savage what he thought we had better do, expecting that
he would say 'Return to the town.' To my surprise, he answered:

"'Go on, of course, my lord. Don't let those brutes say that we white
men daren't walk a step without our guns. Indeed, in any case I mean
to go on, even if your lordship won't.'

"Whilst he spoke he took a bull's-eye lantern from his foodbag, which
had not been interfered with by the Kendah, and lit it. I stared at
him amazed, for the man seemed to be animated by some tremendous
purpose. Or rather it was as though a force from without had got hold
of his will and were pushing him on to an unknown end. Indeed his next
words showed that this was so, for he exclaimed:

"'There is something drawing me into that cave, my lord. It may be
death; I think it is death, but whatever it be, go I must. Perhaps you
would do well to stop outside till I have seen.'

"I stepped forward to catch hold of the man, who I thought had gone
mad, as perhaps was the case. Before I could lay my hands on him he
had run rapidly to the mouth of the cave. Of course I followed, but
when I reached its entrance the star of light thrown forward by the
bull's-eye lantern showed me that he was already about eight yards
down the tunnel. Then I heard a terrible hissing noise and Savage
exclaiming: 'Oh! my God!' twice over. As he spoke the lantern fell
from his hand, but did not go out, because, as you know, it is made to
burn in any position. I leapt forward and picked it from the ground,
and while I was doing so became aware that Savage was running still
farther into the depths of the cave. I lifted the lantern above my
head and looked.

"This was what I saw: About ten paces from me was Savage with his arms
outstretched and dancing--yes, dancing--first to the right and then to
the left, with a kind of horrible grace and to the tune of a hideous
hissing music. I held the lantern higher and perceived that beyond
him, lifted eight or nine feet into the air, nearly to the roof of the
tunnel in fact, was the head of the hugest snake of which I have ever
heard. It was as broad as the bottom of a wheelbarrow--were it cut off
I think it would fill a large wheelbarrow--while the neck upon which
it was supported was quite as thick as my middle, and the undulating
body behind it, which stretched far away into the darkness, was the
size of an eighteen-gallon cask and glittered green and grey, lined
and splashed with silver and with gold.

"It hissed and swayed its great head to the right, holding Savage with
cold eyes that yet seemed to be on fire, whereon he danced to the
right. It hissed again and swayed its head to the left, whereon he
danced to the left. Then suddenly it reared its head right to the top
of the cave and so remained for a few seconds, whereon Savage stood
still, bending a little forward, as though he were bowing to the
reptile. Next instant, like a flash it struck, for I saw its white
fangs bury themselves in the back of Savage, who with a kind of sigh
fell forward on to his face. Then there was a convulsion of those
shining folds, followed by a sound as of bones being ground up in a
steam-driven mortar.

"I staggered against the wall of the cave and shut my eyes for a
moment, for I felt faint. When I opened them again it was to see
something flat, misshapen, elongated like a reflection in a spoon,
something that had been Savage lying on the floor, and stretched out
over it the huge serpent studying me with its steely eyes. Then I ran;
I am not ashamed to say I ran out of that horrible hole and far into
the night."

"Small blame to you," I said, adding: "Hans, give me some square-face
neat." For I felt as queer as though I also had been in that cave with
its guardian.

"There is very little more to tell," went on Ragnall after I had drunk
the hollands. "I lost my way on the mountain-side and wandered for
many hours, till at last I blundered up against one of the outermost
houses of the town, after which things were easy. Perhaps I should add
that wherever I went on my way down the mountain it seemed to me that
I heard people laughing at me in an unnatural kind of voice. That's

After this we sat silent for a long while, till at length Hans said in
his unmoved tone:

"The light has come, Baas. Shall I blow out the candle, which it is a
pity to waste? Also, does the Baas wish me to cook the breakfast, now
that the snake devil is making his off Bena, as I hope to make mine
off him before all is done. Snakes are very good to eat, Baas, if you
know how to dress them in the Hottentot way."



A few hours later some of the White Kendah arrived at the house and
very politely delivered to us Ragnall's and poor Savage's guns and
pistols, which they said they had found lying in the grass on the
mountain-side, and with them the bull's-eye lantern that Ragnall had
thrown away in his flight; all of which articles I accepted without
comment. That evening also Harūt called and, after salutations, asked
where Bena was as he did not see him. Then my indignation broke out:

"Oh! white-bearded father of liars," I said, "you know well that he is
in the belly of the serpent which lives in the cave of the mountain."

"What, Lord!" exclaimed Harūt addressing Ragnall in his peculiar
English, "have you been for walk up to hole in hill? Suppose Bena want
see big snake. He always very fond of snake, you know, and they very
fond of him. You 'member how they come out of his pocket in your house
in England? Well, he know all about snake now."

"You villain!" exclaimed Ragnall, "you murderer! I have a mind to kill
you where you are."

"Why you choke me, Lord, because snake choke your man? Poor snake, he
only want dinner. If you go where lion live, lion kill you. If you go
where snake live, snake kill you. I tell you not to. You take no
notice. Now I tell you all--go if you wish, no one stop you. Perhaps
you kill snake, who knows? Only you no take gun there, please. That
not allowed. When you tired of this town, go see snake. Only, 'member
that not right way to House of Child. There another way which you
never find."

"Look here," said Ragnall, "what is the use of all this foolery? You
know very well why we are in your devilish country. It is because I
believe you have stolen my wife to make her the priestess of your evil
religion whatever it may be, and I want her back."

"All this great mistake," replied Harūt blandly. "We no steal
beautiful lady you marry because we find she not right priestess. Also
Macumazana here not to look for lady but to kill elephant Jana and get
pay in ivory like good business man. You, Lord, come with him as
friend though we no ask you, that all. Then you try find temple of our
god and snake which watch door kill your servant. Why we not kill
/you/, eh?"

"Because you are afraid to," answered Ragnall boldly. "Kill me if you
can and take the consequences. I am ready."

Harūt studied him not without admiration.

"You very brave man," he said, "and we no wish kill you and p'raps
after all everything come right in end. Only Child know about that.
Also you help us fight Black Kendah by and by. So, Lord, you quite
safe unless you big fool and go call on snake in cave. He very hungry
snake and soon want more dinner. You hear, Light-in-Darkness, Lord-of-
the-Fire," he added suddenly turning on Hans who was squatted near by
twiddling his hat with a face that for absolute impassiveness
resembled a deal board. "You hear, he very hungry snake, and you make
nice tea for him."

Hans rolled his little yellow eyes without even turning his head until
they rested on the stately countenance of Harūt, and answered in

"I hear, Liar-with-the-White-Beard, but what have I to do with this
matter? Jana is my enemy who would have killed Macumazana, my master,
not your dirty snake. What is the good of this snake of yours? If it
were any good, why does it not kill Jana whom you hate? And if it is
no good, why do you not take a stick and knock it on the head? If you
are afraid I will do so for you if you pay me. That for your snake,"
and very energetically he spat upon the floor.

"All right," said Harūt, still speaking in English, "you go kill
snake. Go when you like, no one say no. Then we give you new name.
Then we call you Lord-of-the-Snake."

As Hans, who now was engaged in lighting his corn-cob pipe, did not
deign to answer these remarks, Harūt turned to me and said:

"Lord Macumazana, your leg still bad, eh? Well, I bring you some
ointment what make it quite well; it holy ointment come from the
Child. We want you get well quick."

Then suddenly he broke into Bantu. "My Lord, war draws near. The Black
Kendah are gathering all their strength to attack us and we must have
your aid. I go down to the River Tava to see to certain matters, as to
the reaping of the outlying crops and other things. Within a week I
will be back; then we must talk again, for by that time, if you will
use the ointment that I have given you, you will be as well as ever
you were in your life. Rub it on your leg, and mix a piece as large as
a mealie grain in water and swallow it at night. It is not poison,
see," and taking the cover off a little earthenware pot which he
produced he scooped from it with his finger some of the contents,
which looked like lard, put it on his tongue and swallowed it.

Then he rose and departed with his usual bows.

Here I may state that I used Harūt's prescription with the most
excellent results. That night I took a dose in water, very nasty it
was, and rubbed my leg with the stuff, to find that next morning all
pain had left me and that, except for some local weakness, I was
practically quite well. I kept the rest of the salve for years, and it
proved a perfect specific in cases of sciatica and rheumatism. Now,
alas! it is all used and no recipe is available from which it can be
made up again.

The next few days passed uneventfully. As soon as I could walk I began
to go about the town, which was nothing but a scattered village much
resembling those to be seen on the eastern coasts of Africa. Nearly
all the men seemed to be away, making preparations for the harvest, I
suppose, and as the women shut themselves up in their houses after the
Oriental fashion, though the few that I saw about were unveiled and
rather good-looking, I did not gather any intelligence worth noting.

To tell the truth I cannot remember being in a more uninteresting
place than this little town with its extremely uncommunicative
population which, it seemed to me, lived under a shadow of fear that
prevented all gaiety. Even the children, of whom there were not many,
crept about in a depressed fashion and talked in a low voice. I never
saw any of them playing games or heard them shouting and laughing, as
young people do in most parts of the world. For the rest we were very
well looked after. Plenty of food was provided for us and every
thought taken for our comfort. Thus a strong and quiet pony was
brought for me to ride because of my lameness. I had only to go out of
the house and call and it arrived from somewhere, all ready saddled
and bridled, in charge of a lad who appeared to be dumb. At any rate
when I spoke to him he would not answer.

Mounted on this pony I took one or two rides along the southern slopes
of the mountain on the old pretext of shooting for the pot. Hans
accompanied me on these occasions, but was, I noted, very silent and
thoughtful, as though he were hunting something up and down his
tortuous intelligence. Once we got quite near to the mouth of the cave
or tunnel where poor Savage had met his horrid end. As we stood
studying it a white-robed man whose head was shaved, which made me
think he must be a priest, came up and asked me mockingly why we did
not go through the tunnel and see what lay beyond, adding, almost in
the words of Harūt himself, that none would attempt to interfere with
us as the road was open to any who could travel it. By way of answer I
only smiled and put him a few questions about a very beautiful breed
of goats with long silky hair, some of which he seemed to be engaged
in herding. He replied that these goats were sacred, being the food of
"one who dwelt in the Mountain who only ate when the moon changed."

When I inquired who this person was he said with his unpleasant smile
that I had better go through the tunnel and see for myself, an
invitation which I did not accept.

That evening Harūt appeared unexpectedly, looking very grave and
troubled. He was in a great hurry and only stayed long enough to
congratulate me upon the excellent effects of his ointment, since "no
man could fight Jana on one leg."

I asked him when the fight with Jana was to come off. He replied:

"Lord, I go up to the Mountain to attend the Feast of the First-
fruits, which is held at sunrise on the day of the new moon. After the
offering the Oracle will speak and we shall learn when there will be
war with Jana, and perchance other things."

"May we not attend this feast, Harūt, who are weary of doing nothing

"Certainly," he answered with his grave bow. "That is, if you come
unarmed; for to appear before the Child with arms is death. You know
the road; it runs through yonder cave and the forest beyond the cave.
Take it when you will, Lord."

"Then if we can pass the cave we shall be welcome at the feast?"

"You will be very welcome. None shall hurt you there, going or
returning. I swear it by the Child. Oh! Macumazana," he added, smiling
a little, "why do you talk folly, who know well that one lives in
yonder cave whom none may look upon and love, as Bena learned not long
ago? You are thinking that perhaps you might kill this Dweller in the
cave with your weapons. Put away that dream, seeing that henceforth
those who watch you have orders to see that none of you leave this
house carrying so much as a knife. Indeed, unless you promise me that
this shall be so you will not be suffered to set foot outside its
garden until I return again. Now do you promise?"

I thought a while and, drawing the two others aside out of hearing,
asked them their opinion.

Ragnall was at first unwilling to give any such promise, but Hans

"Baas, it is better to go free and unhurt without guns and knives than
to become a prisoner once, as you were among the Black Kendah. Often
there is but a short step between the prison and the grave."

Both Ragnall and I acknowledged the force of this argument and in the
end we gave the promise, speaking one by one.

"It is enough," said Harūt; "moreover, know, Lord, that among us White
Kendah he who breaks an oath is put across the River Tava unarmed to
make report thereof to Jana, Father of Lies. Now farewell. If we do
not meet at the Feast of the First-fruits on the day of the new moon,
whither once more I invite you, we can talk together here after I have
heard the voice of the Oracle."

Then he mounted a camel which awaited him outside the gate and
departed with an escort of twelve men, also riding camels.

"There is some other road up that mountain, Quatermain," said Ragnall.
"A camel could sooner pass through the eye of a needle than through
that dreadful cave, even if it were empty."

"Probably," I answered, "but as we don't know where it is and I dare
say it lies miles from here, we need not trouble our heads on the
matter. The cave is /our/ only road, which means that there is /no/

That evening at supper we discovered that Hans was missing; also that
he had got possession of my keys and broken into a box containing
liquor, for there it stood open in the cooking-hut with the keys in
the lock.

"He has gone on the drink," I said to Ragnall, "and upon my soul I
don't wonder at it; for sixpence I would follow his example."

Then we went to bed. Next morning we breakfasted rather late, since
when one has nothing to do there is no object in getting up early. As
I was preparing to go to the cook-house to boil some eggs, to our
astonishment Hans appeared with a kettle of coffee.

"Hans," I said, "you are a thief."

"Yes, Baas," answered Hans.

"You have been at the gin box and taking that poison."

"Yes, Baas, I have been taking poison. Also I took a walk and all is
right now. The Baas must not be angry, for it is very dull doing
nothing here. Will the Baases eat porridge as well as eggs?"

As it was no use scolding him I said that we would. Moreover, there
was something about his manner which made me suspicious, for really he
did not look like a person who has just been very drunk.

After we had finished breakfast he came and squatted down before me.
Having lit his pipe he asked suddenly:

"Would the Baases like to walk through that cave to-night? If so,
there will be no trouble."

"What do you mean?" I asked, suspecting that he was still drunk.

"I mean, Baas, that the Dweller-in-the-cave is fast asleep."

"How do you know that, Hans?"

"Because I am the nurse who put him to sleep, Baas, though he kicked
and cried a great deal. He is asleep; he will wake no more. Baas, I
have killed the Father of Serpents."

"Hans," I said, "now I am sure that you are still drunk, although you
do not show it outside."

"Hans," added Ragnall, to whom I had translated as much of this as he
did not understand, "it is too early in the day to tell good stories.
How could you possibly have killed that serpent without a gun--for you
took none with you--or with it either for that matter?"

"Will the Baases come and take a walk through the cave?" asked Hans
with a snigger.

"Not till I am quite sure that you are sober," I replied; then,
remembering certain other events in this worthy's career, added;
"Hans, if you do not tell us the story at once I will beat you."

"There isn't much story, Baas," replied Hans between long sucks at his
pipe, which had nearly gone out, "because the thing was so easy. The
Baas is very clever and so is the Lord Baas, why then can they never
see the stones that lie under their noses? It is because their eyes
are always fixed upon the mountains between this world and the next.
But the poor Hottentot, who looks at the ground to be sure that he
does not stumble, ah! he sees the stones. Now, Baas, did you not hear
that man in a night shirt with his head shaved say that those goats
were food for One who dwelt in the mountain?"

"I did. What of it, Hans?"

"Who would be the One who dwelt in the mountain except the Father of
Snakes in the cave, Baas? Ah, now for the first time you see the stone
that lay at your feet all the while. And, Baas, did not the bald man
add that this One in the mountain was only fed at new and full moon,
and is not to-morrow the day of new moon, and therefore would he not
be very hungry on the day before new moon, that is, last night?"

"No doubt, Hans; but how can you kill a snake by feeding it?"

"Oh! Baas, you may eat things that make you ill, and so can a snake.
Now you will guess the rest, so I had better go to wash the dishes."

"Whether I guess or do not guess," I replied sagely, the latter being
the right hypothesis, "the dishes can wait, Hans, since the Lord there
has not guessed; so continue."

"Very well, Baas. In one of those boxes are some pounds of stuff
which, when mixed with water, is used for preserving skins and

"You mean the arsenic crystals," I said with a flash of inspiration.

"I don't know what you call them, Baas. At first I thought they were
hard sugar and stole some once, when the real sugar was left behind,
to put into the coffee--without telling the Baas, because it was my
fault that the sugar was left behind."

"Great Heavens!" I ejaculated, "then why aren't we all dead?"

"Because at the last moment, Baas, I thought I would make sure, so I
put some of the hard sugar into hot milk and, when it had melted, I
gave it to that yellow dog which once bit me in the leg, the one that
came from Beza-Town, Baas, that I told you had run away. He was a very
greedy dog, Baas, and drank up the milk at once. Then he gave a howl,
twisted about, foamed at the mouth and died and I buried him at once.
After that I threw some more of the large sugar mixed with mealies to
the fowls that we brought with us for cooking. Two cocks and a hen
swallowed them by mistake for the corn. Presently they fell on their
backs, kicked a little and died. Some of the Mazitu, who were great
thieves, stole those dead fowls, Baas. After this, Baas, I thought it
best not to use that sugar in the coffee, and later on Bena told me
that it was deadly poison. Well, Baas, it came into my mind that if I
could make that great snake swallow enough of this poison, he, too,
might die.

"So I stole your keys, as I often do, Baas, when I want anything,
because you leave them lying about everywhere, and to deceive you
first opened one of the boxes that are full of square-face and brandy
and left it open, for I wished you to think that I had just gone to
get drunk like anybody else. Then I opened another box and got out two
one-pound tins of the sugar which kills dogs and fowls. Half a pound
of it I melted in boiling water with some real sugar to make the stuff
sweet, and put it into a bottle. The rest I tied with string in twelve
little packets in the soft paper which is in one of the boxes, and put
them in my pocket. Then I went up the hill, Baas, to the place where I
saw those goats are kraaled at night behind a reed fence. As I had
hoped, no one was watching them because there are no tigers so near
this town, and man does not steal the goats that are sacred. I went
into the kraal and found a fat young ewe which had a kid. I dragged it
out and, taking it behind some stones, I made its leg fast with a bit
of cord and poured this stuff out of the bottle all over its skin,
rubbing it in well. Then I tied the twelve packets of hard poison-
sugar everywhere about its body, making them very fast deep in the
long hair so that they could not tumble or rub off.

"After this I untied the goat, led it near to the mouth of the cave
and held it there for a time while it kept on bleating for its kid.
Next I took it almost up to the cave, wondering how I should drive it
in, for I did not wish to enter there myself, Baas. As it happened I
need not have troubled about that. When the goat was within five yards
of the cave, it stopped bleating, stood still and shivered. Then it
began to go forward with little jumps, as though it did not want to
go, yet must do so. Also, Baas, I felt as though /I/ wished to go with
it. So I lay down and put my heels against a rock, leaving go of the

"For now, Baas, I did not care where that goat went so long as I could
keep out of the hole where dwelt the Father of Serpents that had eaten
Bena. But it was all right, Baas; the goat knew what it had to do and
did it, jumping straight into the cave. As it entered it turned its
head and looked at me. I could see its eyes in the starlight, and,
Baas, they were dreadful. I think it knew what was coming and did not
like it at all. And yet it had to walk on because it could not help
it. Just like a man going to the devil, Baas!

"Holding on to the stone I peered after it, for I had heard something
stirring in the cave making a soft noise like a white lady's dress
upon the floor. There in the blackness I saw two little sparks of
fire, which were the eyes of the serpent, Baas. Then I heard a sound
of hissing like four big kettles boiling all at once, and a little
bleat from the goat. After this there was a noise as of men wrestling,
followed by another noise as of bones breaking, and lastly, yet
another sucking noise as of a pump that won't draw up the water. Then
everything grew nice and quiet and I went some way off, sat down a
little to one side of the cave, and waited to see if anything

"It must have been nearly an hour later that something did begin to
happen, Baas. It was as though sacks filled with chaff were being
beaten against stone walls there in the cave. Ah! thought I to myself,
your stomach is beginning to ache, Eater-up-of-Bena, and, as that goat
had little horns on its head--to which I tied two of the bags of the
poison, Baas--and, like all snakes, no doubt you have spikes in your
throat pointing downwards, you won't be able to get it up again. Then
--I expect this was after the poison-sugar had begun to melt nicely in
the serpent's stomach, Baas--there was a noise as though a whole
company of girls were dancing a war-dance in the cave to a music of

"And then--oh! then, Baas, of a sudden that Father of Serpents came
out. I tell you, Baas, that when I saw him in the bright starlight my
hair stood up upon my head, for never has there been such another
snake in the whole world. Those that live in trees and eat bucks in
Zululand, of whose skins men make waistcoats and slippers, are but
babies compared to this one. He came out, yard after yard of him. He
wriggled about, he stood upon his tail with his head where the top of
a tree might be, he made himself into a ring, he bit at stones and at
his own stomach, while I hid behind my rock praying to your reverend
father that he might not see me. Then at last he rushed away down the
hill, faster than any horse could gallop.

"Now I hoped that he had gone for good and thought of going myself.
Still I feared to do so lest I should meet him somewhere, so I made up
my mind to wait till daylight. It was as well, Baas, for about half an
hour later he came back again. Only now he could not jump, he could
only crawl. Never in my life did I see a snake look so sick, Baas.
Into the cave he went and lay there hissing. By degrees the hissing
grew very faint, till at length they died away altogether. I waited
another half-hour, Baas, and then I grew so curious that I thought
that I would go to look in the cave.

"I lit the little lantern I had with me and, holding it in one hand
and my stick in the other, I crept into the hole. Before I had crawled
ten paces I saw something white stretched along the ground. It was the
belly of the great snake, Baas, which lay upon its back quite dead.

"I know that it was dead, for I lit three wax matches, setting them to
burn upon its tail and it never stirred, as any live snake will do
when it feels fire. Then I came home, Baas, feeling very proud because
I had outwitted that great-grandfather of all snakes who killed Bena
my friend, and had made the way clear for us to walk through the cave.

"That is all the story, Baas. Now I must go to wash those dishes," and
without waiting for any comment off he went, leaving us marvelling at
his wit, resource and courage.

"What next?" I asked presently.

"Nothing till to-night," answered Ragnall with determination, "when I
am going to look at the snake which the noble Hans has killed and
whatever lies beyond the cave, as you will remember Harūt invited us
to do unmolested, if we could."

"Do you think Harūt will keep his word, Ragnall?"

"On the whole, yes, and if he doesn't I don't care. Anything is better
than sitting here in this suspense."

"I agree as to Harūt, because we are too valuable to be killed just
now, if for no other reason; also as to the suspense, which is
unendurable. Therefore I will walk with you to look at that snake,
Ragnall, and so no doubt will Hans. The exercise will do my leg good."

"Do you think it wise?" he asked doubtfully; "in your case, I mean."

"I think it most unwise that we should separate any more. We had
better stand or fall altogether; further, we do not seem to have any
luck apart."



That evening shortly after sundown the three of us started boldly from
our house wearing over our clothes the Kendah dresses which Ragnall
had bought, and carrying nothing save sticks in our hands, some food
and the lantern in our pockets. On the outskirts of the town we were
met by certain Kendah, one of whom I knew, for I had often ridden by
his side on our march across the desert.

"Have any of you arms upon you, Lord Macumazana?" he asked, looking
curiously at us and our white robes.

"None," I answered. "Search us if you will."

"Your word is sufficient," he replied with the grave courtesy of his
people. "If you are unarmed we have orders to let you go where you
wish however you may be dressed. Yet, Lord," he whispered to me, "I
pray you do not enter the cave, since One lives there who strikes and
does not miss, One whose kiss is death. I pray it for your own sakes,
also for ours who need you."

"We shall not wake him who sleeps in the cave," I answered
enigmatically, as we departed rejoicing, for now we had learned that
the Kendah did not yet know of the death of the serpent.

An hour's walk up the hill, guided by Hans, brought us to the mouth of
the tunnel. To tell the truth I could have wished it had been longer,
for as we drew near all sorts of doubts assailed me. What if Hans
really had been drinking and invented this story to account for his
absence? What if the snake had recovered from a merely temporary
indisposition? What if it had a wife and family living in that cave,
every one of them thirsting for vengeance?

Well, it was too late to hesitate now, but secretly I hoped that one
of the others would prefer to lead the way. We reached the place and
listened. It was silent as a tomb. Then that brave fellow Hans lit the
lantern and said:

"Do you stop here, Baases, while I go to look. If you hear anything
happen to me, you will have time to run away," words that made me feel
somewhat ashamed of myself.

However, knowing that he was quick as a weasel and silent as a cat, we
let him go. A minute or two later suddenly he reappeared out of the
darkness, for he had turned the metal shield over the bull's-eye of
the lantern, and even in that light I could see that he was grinning.

"It is all right, Baas," he said. "The Father of Serpents has really
gone to that land whither he sent Bena, where no doubt he is now
roasting in the fires of hell, and I don't see any others. Come and
look at him."

So in we went and there, true enough, upon the floor of the cave lay
the huge reptile stone dead and already much swollen. I don't know how
long it was, for part of its body was twisted into coils, so I will
only say that it was by far the most enormous snake that I have ever
seen. It is true that I have heard of such reptiles in different parts
of Africa, but hitherto I had always put them down as fabulous
creatures transformed into and worshipped as local gods. Also this
particular specimen was, I presume, of a new variety, since, according
to Ragnall, it both struck like the cobra or the adder, and crushed
like the boa-constrictor. It is possible, however, that he was
mistaken on this point; I do not know, since I had no time, or indeed
inclination, to examine its head for the poison fangs, and when next I
passed that way it was gone.

I shall never forget the stench of that cave. It was horrible, which
is not to be wondered at seeing that probably this creature had dwelt
there for centuries, since these large snakes are said to be as long
lived as tortoises, and, being sacred, of course it had never lacked
for food. Everywhere lay piles of cast bones, amongst one of which I
noticed fragments of a human skull, perhaps that of poor Savage. Also
the projecting rocks in the place were covered with great pieces of
snake skin, doubtless rubbed off by the reptile when once a year it
changed its coat.

For a while we gazed at the loathsome and still glittering creature,
then pushed on fearful lest we should stumble upon more of its kind. I
suppose that it must have been solitary, a kind of serpent rogue, as
Jana was an elephant rogue, for we met none and, if the information
which I obtained afterwards may be believed, there was no species at
all resembling it in the country. What its origin may have been I
never learned. All the Kendah could or would say about it was that it
had lived in this hole from the beginning and that Black Kendah
prisoners, or malefactors, were sometimes given to it to kill, as
White Kendah prisoners were given to Jana.

The cave itself proved to be not very long, perhaps one hundred and
fifty feet, no more. It was not an artificial but a natural hollow in
the lava rock, which I suppose had once been blown through it by an
outburst of steam. Towards the farther end it narrowed so much that I
began to fear there might be no exit. In this I was mistaken, however,
for at its termination we found a hole just large enough for a man to
walk in upright and so difficult to climb through that it became clear
to us that certainly this was not the path by which the White Kendah
approached their sanctuary.

Scrambling out of this aperture with thankfulness, we found ourselves
upon the slope of a kind of huge ditch of lava which ran first
downwards for about eighty paces, then up again to the base of the
great cone of the inner mountain which was covered with dense forest.

I presume that the whole formation of this peculiar hill was the
result of a violent volcanic action in the early ages of the earth.
But as I do not understand such matters I will not dilate upon them
further than to say that, although comparatively small, it bore a
certain resemblance to other extinct volcanoes which I had met with in
different parts of Africa.

We climbed down to the bottom of the ditch that from its general
appearance might have been dug out by some giant race as a protection
to their stronghold, and up its farther side to where the forest began
on deep and fertile soil. Why there should have been rich earth here
and none in the ditch is more than we could guess, but perhaps the
presence of springs of water in this part of the mount may have been a
cause. At any rate it was so.

The trees in this forest were huge and of a variety of cedar, but did
not grow closely together; also there was practically no undergrowth,
perhaps for the reason that their dense, spreading tops shut out the
light. As I saw afterwards both trunks and boughs were clothed with
long grey moss, which even at midday gave the place a very ghostly
appearance. The darkness beneath those trees was intense, literally we
could not see an inch before our faces. Yet rather than stand still we
struggled on, Hans leading the way, for his instincts were quicker
than ours. The steep rise of the ground beneath our feet told us that
we were going uphill, as we wished to do, and from time to time I
consulted a pocket compass I carried by the light of a match, knowing
from previous observations that the top of the Holy Mount lay due

Thus for hour after hour we crept up and on, occasionally butting into
the trunk of a tree or stumbling over a fallen bough, but meeting with
no other adventures or obstacles of a physical kind. Of moral, or
rather mental, obstacles there were many, since to all of us the
atmosphere of this forest was as that of a haunted house. It may have
been the embracing darkness, or the sough of the night wind amongst
the boughs and mosses, or the sense of the imminent dangers that we
had passed and that still awaited us. Or it may have been unknown
horrors connected with this place of which some spiritual essence
still survived, for without doubt localities preserve such influences,
which can be felt by the sensitive among living things, especially in
favouring conditions of fear and gloom. At any rate I never
experienced more subtle and yet more penetrating terrors than I did
upon that night, and afterwards Ragnall confessed to me that my case
was his own. Black as it was I thought that I saw apparitions, among
them glaring eyes and that of the elephant Jana standing in front of
me with his trunk raised against the bole of a cedar. I could have
sworn that I saw him, nor was I reassured when Hans whispered to me
below his breath, for here we did not seem to dare to raise our

"Look, Baas. Is it Jana glowing like hot iron who stands yonder?"

"Don't be a fool," I answered. "How can Jana be here and, if he were
here, how could we see him in the night?" But as I said the words I
remembered Harūt had told us that Jana had been met with on the Holy
Mount "in the spirit or in the flesh." However this may be, next
instant he was gone and we beheld him or his shadow no more. Also we
thought that from time to time we heard voices speaking all around us,
now here, now there and now in the tree tops above our heads, though
what they said we could not catch or understand.

Thus the long night wore away. Our progress was very slow, but guided
by occasional glimpses at the compass we never stopped but twice, once
when we found ourselves apparently surrounded by tree boles and fallen
boughs, and once when we got into swampy ground. Then we took the risk
of lighting the lantern, and by its aid picked our way through these
difficult places. By degrees the trees grew fewer so that we could see
the stars between their tops. This was a help to us as I knew that one
of them, which I had carefully noted, shone at this season of the year
directly over the cone of the mountain, and we were enabled to steer

It must have been not more than half an hour before the dawn that
Hans, who was leading--we were pushing our way through thick bushes at
the time--halted hurriedly, saying:

"Stop, Baas, we are on the edge of a cliff. When I thrust my stick
forward it stands on nothing."

Needless to say we pulled up dead and so remained without stirring an
inch, for who could say what might be beyond us? Ragnall wished to
examine the ground with the lantern. I was about to consent, though
doubtfully, when suddenly I heard voices murmuring and through the
screen of bushes saw lights moving at a little distance, forty feet or
more below us. Then we gave up all idea of making further use of the
lantern and crouched still as mice in our bushes, waiting for the

It came at last. In the east appeared a faint pearly flush that by
degrees spread itself over the whole arch of the sky and was welcomed
by the barking of monkeys and the call of birds in the depths of the
dew-steeped forest. Next a ray from the unrisen sun, a single spear of
light shot suddenly across the sky, and as it appeared, from the
darkness below us arose a sound of chanting, very low and sweet to
hear. It died away and for a little while there was silence broken
only by a rustling sound like to that of people taking their seats in
a dark theatre. Then a woman began to sing in a beautiful, contralto
voice, but in what language I do not know, for I could not catch the
words, if these were words and not only musical notes.

I felt Ragnall trembling beside me and in a whisper asked him what was
the matter. He answered, also in a whisper:

"I believe that is my wife's voice."

"If so, I beg you to control yourself," I replied.

Now the skies began to flame and the light to pour itself into a misty
hollow beneath us like streams of many-coloured gems into a bowl,
driving away the shadows. By degrees these vanished; by degrees we saw
everything. Beneath us was an amphitheatre, on the southern wall of
which we were seated, though it was not a wall but a lava cliff
between forty and fifty feet high which served as a wall. The
amphitheatre itself, however, almost exactly resembled those of the
ancients which I had seen in pictures and Ragnall had visited in
Italy, Greece, and Southern France. It was oval in shape and not very
large, perhaps the flat space at the bottom may have covered something
over an acre, but all round this oval ran tiers of seats cut in the
lava of the crater. For without doubt this was the crater of an
extinct volcano.

Moreover, in what I will call the arena, stood a temple that in its
main outlines, although small, exactly resembled those still to be
seen in Egypt. There was the gateway or pylon; there the open outer
court with columns round it supporting roofed cloisters, which, as we
ascertained afterwards, were used as dwelling-places by the priests.
There beyond and connected with the first by a short passage was a
second rather smaller court, also open to the sky, and beyond this
again, built like all the rest of the temple of lava blocks, a roofed
erection measuring about twelve feet square, which I guessed at once
must be the sanctuary.

This temple was, as I have said, small, but extremely well
proportioned, every detail of it being in the most excellent taste
though unornamented by sculpture or painting. I have to add that in
front of the sanctuary door stood a large block of lava, which I
concluded was an altar, and in front of this a stone seat and a basin,
also of stone, supported upon a very low tripod. Further, behind the
sanctuary was a square house with window-places.

At the moment of our first sight of this place the courts were empty,
but on the benches of the amphitheatre were seated about three hundred
persons, male and female, the men to the north and the women to the
south. They were all clad in pure white robes, the heads of the men
being shaved and those of the women veiled, but leaving the face
exposed. Lastly, there were two roadways into the amphitheatre, one
running east and one west through tunnels hollowed in the encircling
rock of the crater, both of which roads were closed at the mouths of
the tunnels by massive wooden double doors, seventeen or eighteen feet
in height. From these roadways and their doors we learned two things.
First, that the cave where had lived the Father of Serpents was, as I
had suspected, not the real approach to the shrine of the Child, but
only a blind; and, secondly, that the ceremony we were about to
witness was secret and might only be attended by the priestly class or
families of this strange tribe.

Scarcely was it full daylight when from the cells of the cloisters
round the outer court issued twelve priests headed by Harūt himself,
who looked very dignified in his white garment, each of whom carried
on a wooden platter ears of different kinds of corn. Then from the
cells of the southern cloister issued twelve women, or rather girls,
for all were young and very comely, who ranged themselves alongside of
the men. These also carried wooden platters, and on them blooming

At a sign they struck up a religious chant and began to walk forward
through the passage that led from the first court to the second.
Arriving in front of the altar they halted and one by one, first a
priest and then a priestess, set down the platters of offerings,
piling them above each other into a cone. Next the priests and the
priestesses ranged themselves in lines on either side of the altar,
and Harūt took a platter of corn and a platter of flowers in his
hands. These he held first towards that quarter of the sky in which
swam the invisible new moon, secondly towards the rising sun, and
thirdly towards the doors of the sanctuary, making genuflexions and
uttering some chanted prayer, the words of which we could not hear.

A pause followed, that was succeeded by a sudden outburst of song
wherein all the audience took part. It was a very sonorous and
beautiful song or hymn in some language which I did not understand,
divided into four verses, the end of each verse being marked by the
bowing of every one of those many singers towards the east, towards
the west, and finally towards the altar.

Another pause till suddenly the doors of the sanctuary were thrown
wide and from between them issued--the goddess Isis of the Egyptians
as I have seen her in pictures! She was wrapped in closely clinging
draperies of material so thin that the whiteness of her body could be
seen beneath. Her hair was outspread before her, and she wore a head-
dress or bonnet of glittering feathers from the front of which rose a
little golden snake. In her arms she bore what at that distance seemed
to be a naked child. With her came two women, walking a little behind
her and supporting her arms, who also wore feather bonnets but without
the golden snake, and were clad in tight-fitting, transparent

"My God!" whispered Ragnall, "it is my wife!"

"Then be silent and thank Him that she is alive and well," I answered.

The goddess Isis, or the English lady--in that excitement I did not
reck which--stood still while the priests and priestesses and all the
audience, who, gathered on the upper benches of the amphitheatre,
could see her above the wall of the inner court, raised a thrice-
repeated and triumphant cry of welcome. Then Harūt and the first
priestess lifted respectively an ear of corn and a flower from the two
topmost platters and held these first to the lips of the child in her
arms and secondly to her lips.

This ceremony concluded, the two attendant women led her round the
altar to the stone chair, upon which she seated herself. Next fire was
kindled in the bowl on the tripod in front of the chair, how I could
not see; but perhaps it was already smouldering there. At any rate it
burnt up in a thin blue flame, on to which Harūt and the head
priestess threw something that caused the flame to turn to smoke. Then
Isis, for I prefer to call her so while describing this ceremony, was
caused to bend her head forward, so that it was enveloped in the smoke
exactly as she and I had done some years before in the drawing-room at
Ragnall Castle. Presently the smoke died away and the two attendants
with the feathered head-dresses straightened her in the chair where
she sat still holding the babe against her breast as she might have
done to nurse it, but with her head bent forward like that of a person
in a swoon.

Now Harūt stepped forward and appeared to speak to the goddess at some
length, then fell back again and waited, till in the midst of an
intense silence she rose from her seat and, fixing her wide eyes on
the heavens, spoke in her turn, for although we heard nothing of what
she said, in that clear, morning light we could see her lips moving.
For some minutes she spoke, then sat down again upon the chair and
remained motionless, staring straight in front of her. Harūt advanced
again, this time to the front of the altar, and, taking his stand upon
a kind of stone step, addressed the priests and priestesses and all
the encircling audience in a voice so loud and clear that I could
distinguish and understand every word he said.

"The Guardian of the heavenly Child, the Nurse decreed, the appointed
Nurturer, She who is the shadow of her that bore the Child, She who in
her day bears the symbol of the Child and is consecrated to its
service from of old, She whose heart is filled with the wisdom of the
Child and who utters the decrees of Heaven, has spoken. Hearken now to
the voice of the Oracle uttered in answer to the questions of me,
Harūt, the head priest of the Eternal Child during my life-days. Thus
says the Oracle, the Guardian, the Nurturer, marked like all who went
before her with the holy mark of the new moon. She on whom the spirit,
flitting from generation to generation, has alighted for a while. 'O
people of the White Kendah, worshippers of the Child in this land and
descendants of those who for thousands of years worshipped the Child
in a more ancient land until the barbarians drove it thence with the
remnant that remained. War is upon you, O people of the White Kendah.
Jana the evil one; he whose other name is Set, he whose other name is
Satan, he who for this while lives in the shape of an elephant, he who
is worshipped by the thousands whom once you conquered, and whom still
you bridle by my might, comes up against you. The Darkness wars
against the Daylight, the Evil wars against the Good. My curse has
fallen upon the people of Jana, my hail has smitten them, their corn
and their cattle; they have no food to eat. But they are still strong
for war and there is food in your land. They come to take your corn;
Jana comes to trample your god. The Evil comes to destroy the Good,
the Night to Devour the Day. It is the last of many battles. How shall
you conquer, O People of the Child? Not by your own strength, for you
are few in number and Jana is very strong. Not by the strength of the
Child, for the Child grows weak and old, the days of its dominion are
almost done, and its worship is almost outworn. Here alone that
worship lingers, but new gods, who are still the old gods, press on to
take its place and to lead it to its rest.'

"How then shall you conquer that, when the Child has departed to its
own place, a remnant of you may still remain? In one way only--so says
the Guardian, the Nurturer of the Child speaking with the voice of the
Child; by the help of those whom you have summoned to your aid from
far. There were four of them, but one you have suffered to be slain in
the maw of the Watcher in the cave. It was an evil deed, O sons and
daughters of the Child, for as the Watcher is now dead, so ere long
many of you who planned this deed must die who, had it not been for
that man's blood, would have lived on a while. Why did you do this
thing? That you might keep a secret, the secret of the theft of a
woman, that you might continue to act a lie which falls upon your head
like a stone from heaven.

"Thus saith the Child: 'Lift no hand against the three who remain, and
what they shall ask, that give, for thus alone shall some of you be
saved from Jana and those who serve him, even though the Guardian and
the Child be taken away and the Child itself returned to its own
place.' These are the words of the Oracle uttered at the Feast of the
First-fruits, the words that cannot be changed and mayhap its last."

Harūt ceased, and there was silence while this portentous message sank
into the minds of his audience. At length they seemed to understand
its ominous nature and from them all there arose a universal,
simultaneous groan. As it died away the two attendants dressed as
goddesses assisted the personification of the Lady Isis to rise from
her seat and, opening the robes upon her breast, pointed to something
beneath her throat, doubtless that birthmark shaped like the new moon
which made her so sacred in their eyes since she who bore it and she
alone could fill her holy office.

All the audience and with them the priests and priestesses bowed
before her. She lifted the symbol of the Child, holding it high above
her head, whereon once more they bowed with the deepest veneration.
Then still holding the effigy aloft, she turned and with her two
attendants passed into the sanctuary and doubtless thence by a covered
way into the house beyond. At any rate we saw her no more.

As soon as she was gone the congregation, if I may call it so, leaving
their seats, swarmed down into the outer court of the temple through
its eastern gate, which was now opened. Here the priests proceeded to
distribute among them the offerings taken from the altar, giving a
grain of corn to each of the men to eat and a flower to each of the
women, which flower she kissed and hid in the bosom of her robe.
Evidently it was a kind of sacrament.

Ragnall lifted himself a little upon his hands and knees, and I saw
that his eyes glowed and his face was very pale.

"What are you going to do?" I asked.

"Demand that those people give me back my wife, whom they have stolen.
Don't try to stop me, Quatermain, I mean what I say."

"But, but," I stammered, "they never will and we are but three unarmed

Hans lifted up his little yellow face between us.

"Baas," he hissed, "I have a thought. The Lord Baas wishes to get the
lady dressed like a bird as to her head and like one for burial as to
her body, who is, he says, his wife. But for us to take her from among
so many is impossible. Now what did that old witch-doctor Harūt
declare just now? He declared, speaking for his fetish, that by our
help alone the White Kendah can resist the hosts of the Black Kendah
and that no harm must be done to us if the White Kendah would continue
to live. So it seems, Baas, that we have something to sell which the
White Kendah must buy, namely our help against the Black Kendah, for
if we will not fight for them, they believe that they cannot conquer
their enemies and kill the devil Jana. Well now, supposing that the
Baas says that our price is the white woman dressed like a bird, to be
delivered over to us when we have defeated the Black Kendah and killed
Jana--after which they will have no more use for her. And supposing
that the Baas says that if they refuse to pay that price we will burn
all our powder and cartridges so that the rifles are no use? Is there
not a path to walk on here?"

"Perhaps," I answered. "Something of the sort was working in my mind
but I had no time to think it out."

Turning, I explained the idea to Ragnall, adding:

"I pray you not to be rash. If you are, not only may we be killed,
which does not so much matter, but it is very probable that even if
they spare us they will put an end to your wife rather than suffer one
whom they look upon as holy and who is necessary to their faith in its
last struggle to be separated from her charge of the Child."

This was a fortunate argument of mine and one which went home.

"To lose her now would be more than I could bear," he muttered.

"Then will you promise to let me try to manage this affair and not to
interfere with me and show violence?"

He hesitated a moment and answered:

"Yes, I promise, for you two are cleverer than I am and--I cannot
trust my judgment."

"Good," I said, assuming an air of confidence which I did not feel.
"Now we will go down to call upon Harūt and his friends. I want to
have a closer look at that temple."

So behind our screen of bushes we wriggled back a little distance till
we knew that the slope of the ground would hide us when we stood up.
Then as quickly as we could we made our way eastwards for something
over a quarter of a mile and after this turned to the north. As I
expected, beyond the ring of the crater we found ourselves on the
rising, tree-clad bosom of the mountain and, threading our path
through the cedars, came presently to that track or roadway which led
to the eastern gate of the amphitheatre. This road we followed unseen
until presently the gateway appeared before us. We walked through it
without attracting any attention, perhaps because all the people were
either talking together, or praying, or perhaps because like
themselves we were wrapped in white robes. At the mouth of the tunnel
we stopped and I called out in a loud voice:

"The white lords and their servant have come to visit Harūt, as he
invited them to do. Bring us, we pray you, into the presence of

Everyone wheeled round and stared at us standing there in the shadow
of the gateway tunnel, for the sun behind us was still low. My word,
how they did stare! A voice cried:

"Kill them! Kill these strangers who desecrate our temple."

"What!" I answered. "Would you kill those to whom your high-priest has
given safe-conduct; those moreover by whose help alone, as your Oracle
has just declared, you can hope to slay Jana and destroy his hosts?"

"How do they know that?" shouted another voice. "They are magicians!"

"Yes," I remarked, "all magic does not dwell in the hearts of the
White Kendah. If you doubt it, go to look at the Watcher in the Cave
whom your Oracle told you is dead. You will find that it did not lie."

As I spoke a man rushed through the gates, his white rob streaming on
the wind, shouting as he emerged from the tunnel:

"O Priests and Priestesses of the Child, the ancient serpent is dead.
I whose office it is to feed the serpent on the day of the new moon
have found him dead in his house."

"You hear," I interpolated calmly. "The Father of Snakes is dead. If
you want to know how, I will tell you. We looked on it and it died."

They might have answered that poor Savage also looked on it with the
result that /he/ died, but luckily it did not occur to them to do so.
On the contrary, they just stood still and stared at us like a flock
of startled sheep.

Presently the sheep parted and the shepherd in the shape of Harūt
appeared looking, I reflected, the very picture of Abraham softened by
a touch of the melancholia of Job, that is, as I have always imagined
those patriarchs. He bowed to us with his usual Oriental courtesy, and
we bowed back to him. Hans' bow, I may explain, was of the most
peculiar nature, more like a /skulpat/, as the Boers call a land-
tortoise, drawing its wrinkled head into its shell and putting it out
again than anything else. Then Harūt remarked in his peculiar English,
which I suppose the White Kendah took for some tongue known only to

"So you get here, eh? Why you get here, how the devil you get here,

"We got here because you asked us to do so if we could," I answered,
"and we thought it rude not to accept your invitation. For the rest,
we came through a cave where you kept a tame snake, an ugly-looking
reptile but very harmless to those who know how to deal with snakes
and are not afraid of them as poor Bena was. If you can spare the skin
I should like to have it to make myself a robe."

Harūt looked at me with evident respect, muttering:

"Oh, Macumazana, you what you English call cool, quite cool! Is that

"No," I answered. "Although you did not happen to notice us, we have
been present at your church service, and heard and seen everything.
For instance, we saw the wife of the lord here whom you stole away in
Egypt, her that, being a liar, Harūt, you swore you never stole. Also
we heard her words after you had made her drunk with your tobacco

Now for once in his life Harūt was, in sporting parlance, knocked out.
He looked at us, then turning quite pale, lifted his eyes to heaven
and rocked upon his feet as though he were about to fall.

"How you do it? How you do it, eh?" he queried in a weak voice.

"Never you mind how we did it, my friend," I answered loftily. "What
we want to know is when you are going to hand over that lady to her

"Not possible," he answered, recovering some of his tone. "First we
kill you, first we kill her, she Nurse of the Child. While Child
there, she stop there till she die."

"See here," broke in Ragnall. "Either you give me my wife or someone
else will die. You will die, Harūt. I am a stronger man than you are
and unless you promise to give me my wife I will kill you now with
this stick and my hands. Do not move or call out if you want to live."

"Lord," answered the old man with some dignity, "I know you can kill
me, and if you kill me, I think I say thank you who no wish to live in
so much trouble. But what good that, since in one minute then you die
too, all of you, and lady she stop here till Black Kendah king take
her to wife or she too die?"

"Let us talk," I broke in, treading warningly upon Ragnall's foot. "We
have heard your Oracle and we know that you believe its words. It is
said that we alone can help you to conquer the Black Kendah. If you
will not promise what we ask, we will not help you. We will burn our
powder and melt our lead, so that the guns we have cannot speak with
Jana and with Simba, and after that we will do other things that I
need not tell you. But if you promise what we ask, then we will fight
for you against Jana and Simba and teach your men to use the fifty
rifles which we have here with us, and by our help you shall conquer.
Do you understand?"

He nodded and stroking his long beard, asked:

"What you want us promise, eh?"

"We want you to promise that after Jana is dead and the Black Kendah
are driven away, you will give up to us unharmed that lady whom you
have stolen. Also that you will bring her and us safely out of your
country by the roads you know, and meanwhile that you will let this
lord see his wife."

"Not last, no," replied Harūt, "that not possible. That bring us all
to grave. Also no good, 'cause her mind empty. For rest, you come to
other place, sit down and eat while I talk with priests. Be afraid
nothing; you quite safe."

"Why should we be afraid? It is you who should be afraid, you who
stole the lady and brought Bena to his death. Do you not remember the
words of your own Oracle, Harūt?"

"Yes, I know words, but how /you/ know them /that/ I not know," he

Then he issued some orders, as a result of which a guard formed itself
about us and conducted us through the crowd and along the passage to
the second court of the temple, which was now empty. Here the guard
left us but remained at the mouth of the passage, keeping watch.
Presently women brought us food and drink, of which Hans and I partook
heartily though Ragnall, who was so near to his lost wife and yet so
far away, could eat but little. Mingled joy because after these months
of arduous search he found her yet alive, and fear lest she should
again be taken from him for ever, deprived him of all appetite.

While we ate, priests to the number of about a dozen, who I suppose
had been summoned by Harūt, were admitted by the guard and, gathering
out of earshot of us between the altar and the sanctuary, entered on
an earnest discussion with him. Watching their faces I could see that
there was a strong difference of opinion between them, about half
taking one view on the matter of which they disputed, and half
another. At length Harūt made some proposition to which they all
agreed. Then the door of the sanctuary was opened with a strange sort
of key which one of the priests produced, showing a dark interior in
which gleamed a white object, I suppose the statue of the Child. Harūt
and two others entered, the door being closed behind them. About five
minutes later they appeared again and others, who listened earnestly
and after renewed consultation signified assent by holding up the
right hand. Now one of the priests walked to where we were and,
bowing, begged us to advance to the altar. This we did, and were stood
in a line in front of it, Hans being set in the middle place, while
the priests ranged themselves on either side. Next Harūt, having once
more opened the door of the sanctuary, took his stand a little to the
right of it and addressed us, not in English but in his own language,
pausing at the end of each sentence that I might translate to Ragnall.

"Lords Macumazana and Igeza, and yellow man who is named Light-in-
Darkness," he said, "we, the head priests of the Child, speaking on
behalf of the White Kendah people with full authority so to do, have
taken counsel together and of the wisdom of the Child as to the
demands which you make of us. Those demands are: First, that after you
have killed Jana and defeated the Black Kendah we should give over to
you the white lady who was born in a far land to fill the office of
Guardian of the Child, as is shown by the mark of the new moon upon
her breast, but who, because for the second time we could not take
her, became the wife of you, the Lord Igeza. Secondly, that we should
conduct you and her safely out of our land to some place whence you
can return to your own country. Both of these things we will do,
because we know from of old that if once Jana is dead we shall have no
cause to fear the Black Kendah any more, since we believe that then
they will leave their home and go elsewhere, and therefore that we
shall no longer need an Oracle to declare to us in what way Heaven
will protect us from Jana and from them. Or if another Oracle should
become necessary to us, doubtless in due season she will be found.
Also we admit that we stole away this lady because we must, although
she was the wife of one of you. But if we swear this, you on your part
must also swear that you will stay with us till the end of the war,
making our cause your cause and, if need be, giving your lives for us
in battle. You must swear further that none of you will attempt to see
or to take hence that lady who is named Guardian of the Child until we
hand her over to you unharmed. If you will not swear these things,
then since no blood may be shed in this holy place, here we will ring
you round until you die of hunger and of thirst, or if you escape from
this temple, then we will fall upon you and put you to death and fight
our own battle with Jana as best we may."

"And if we make these promises how are we to know that you will keep
yours?" I interrupted.

"Because the oath that we shall give you will be the oath of the Child
that may not be broken."

"Then give it," I said, for although I did not altogether like the
security, obviously it was the best to be had.

So very solemnly they laid their right hands upon the altar and "in
the presence of the Child and the name of the Child and of all the
White Kendah people," repeated after Harūt a most solemn oath of which
I have already given the substance. It called down on their heads a
very dreadful doom in this world and the next, should it be broken
either in the spirit or the letter; the said oath, however, to be only
binding if we, on our part, swore to observe their terms and kept our
engagement also in the spirit and the letter.

Then they asked us to fulfil our share of the pact and very
considerately drew out of hearing while we discussed the matter;
Harūt, the only one of them who understood a word of English, retiring
behind the sanctuary. At first I had difficulties with Ragnall, who
was most unwilling to bind himself in any way. In the end, on my
pointing out that nothing less than our lives were involved and
probably that of his wife as well, also that no other course was open
to us, he gave way, to my great relief.

Hans announced himself ready to swear anything, adding blandly that
words mattered nothing, as afterwards we could do whatever seemed best
in our own interests, whereon I read him a short moral lecture on the
heinousness of perjury, which did not seem to impress him very much.

This matter settled, we called back the priests and informed them of
our decision. Harūt demanded that we should affirm it "by the Child,"
which we declined to do, saying that it was our custom to swear only
in the name of our own God. Being a liberal-minded man who had
travelled, Harūt gave way on the point. So I swore first to the effect
that I would fight for the White Kendah to the finish in consideration
of the promises that they had made to us. I added that I would not
attempt either to see or to interfere with the lady here known as the
Guardian of the Child until the war was over or even to bring our
existence to her knowledge, ending up, "so help me God," as I had done
several times when giving evidence in a court of law.

Next Ragnall with a great effort repeated my oath in English, Harūt
listening carefully to every word and once or twice asking me to
explain the exact meaning of some of them.

Lastly Hans, who seemed very bored with the whole affair, swore, also
repeating the words after me and finishing on his own account with "so
help me the reverend Predikant, the Baas's father," a form that he
utterly declined to vary although it involved more explanations. When
pressed, indeed, he showed considerable ingenuity by pointing out to
the priests that to his mind my poor father stood in exactly the same
relation to the Power above us as their Oracle did to the Child. He
offered generously, however, to throw in the spirits of his
grandfather and grandmother and some extraordinary divinity they
worshipped, I think it was a hare, as an additional guarantee of good
faith. This proposal the priests accepted gravely, whereon Hans
whispered into my ear in Dutch:

"Those fools do not remember that when pressed by dogs the hare often
doubles on its own spoor, and that your reverend father will be very
pleased if I can play them the same trick with the white lady that
they played with the Lord Igeza."

I only looked at him in reply, since the morality of Hans was past
argument. It might perhaps be summed up in one sentence: To get the
better of his neighbour in his master's service, honestly if possible;
if not, by any means that came to his hand down to that of murder. At
the bottom of his dark and mysterious heart Hans worshipped only one
god, named Love, not of woman or child, but of my humble self. His
principles were those of a rather sly but very high-class and
exclusive dog, neither better nor worse. Still, when all is said and
done, there are lower creatures in the world than high-class dogs. At
least so the masters whom they adore are apt to think, especially if
their watchfulness and courage have often saved them from death or



The ceremonies were over and the priests, with the exception of Harūt
and two who remained to attend upon him, vanished, probably to inform
the male and female hierophants of their result, and through these the
whole people of the White Kendah. Old Harūt stared at us for a little
while, then said in English, which he always liked to talk when
Ragnall was present, perhaps for the sake of practice:

"What you like do now, eh? P'r'aps wish fly back to Town of Child, for
suppose this how you come. If so, please take me with you, because
that save long ride."

"Oh! no," I answered. "We walked here through that hole where lived
the Father of Snakes who died of fear when he saw us, and just mixed
with the rest of you in the court of the temple."

"Good lie," said Harūt admiringly, "very first-class lie! Wonder how
you kill great snake, which we all think never die, for he live there
hundred, hundred years; our people find him there when first they come
to this country, and make him kind of god. Well, he nasty beast and
best dead. I say, you like see Child? If so, come, for you our
brothers now, only please take off hat and not speak.

I intimated that we should "like see Child," and led by Harūt we
entered the little sanctuary which was barely large enough to hold all
of us. In a niche of the end wall stood the sacred effigy which
Ragnall and I examined with a kind of reverent interest. It proved to
be the statue of an infant about two feet high, cut, I imagine, from
the base of a single but very large elephant's tusk, so ancient that
the yellowish ivory had become rotten and was covered with a multitude
of tiny fissures. Indeed, for its appearance I made up my mind that
several thousands of years must have passed since the beast died from
which this ivory was taken, especially as it had, I presume, always
been carefully preserved under cover.

The workmanship of the object was excellent, that of a fine artist
who, I should think, had taken some living infant for his model,
perhaps a child of the Pharaoh of the day. Here I may say at once that
there could be no doubt of its Egyptian origin, since on one side of
the head was a single lock of hair, while the fourth finger of the
right hand was held before the lips as though to enjoin silence. Both
of these peculiarities, it will be remembered, are characteristic of
the infant Horus, the child of Osiris and Isis, as portrayed in
bronzes and temple carvings. So at least Ragnall, who recently had
studied many such effigies in Egypt, informed me later. There was
nothing else in the place except an ancient, string-seated chair of
ebony, adorned with inlaid ivory patterns; an effigy of a snake in
porcelain, showing that serpent worship was in some way mixed up with
their religion; and two rolls of papyrus, at least that is what they
looked like, which were laid in the niche with the statue. These
rolls, to my disappointment, Harūt refused to allow us to examine or
even to touch.

After we had left the sanctuary I asked Harūt when this figure was
brought to their land. He replied that it came when they came, at what
date he could not tell us as it was so long ago, and that with it came
the worship and the ceremonies of their religion.

In answer to further questions he added that this figure, which seemed
to be of ivory, contained the spirits which ruled the sun and the
moon, and through them the world. This, said Ragnall, was just a piece
of Egyptian theology, preserved down to our own times in a remote
corner of Africa, doubtless by descendants of dwellers on the Nile who
had been driven thence in some national catastrophe, and brought away
with them their faith and one of the effigies of their gods. Perhaps
they fled at the time of the Persian invasion by Cambyses.

After we had emerged from this deeply interesting shrine, which was
locked behind us, Harūt led us, not through the passage connecting it
with the stone house that we knew was occupied by Ragnall's wife in
her capacity as Guardian of the Child, or a latter-day personification
of Isis, Lady of the Moon, at which house he cast many longing
glances, but back through the two courts and the pylon to the gateway
of the temple. Here on the road by which we had entered the place, a
fact which we did not mention to him, he paused and addressed us.

"Lords," he said, "now you and the People of the White Kendah are one;
your ends are their ends, your fate is their fate, their secrets are
your secrets. You, Lord Igeza, work for a reward, namely the person of
that lady whom we took from you on the Nile."

"How did you do that?" interrupted Ragnall when I had interpreted.

"Lord, we watched you. We knew when you came to Egypt; we followed you
in Egypt, whither we had journeyed on our road to England once more to
seek our Oracles, till the day of our opportunity dawned. Then at
night we called her and she obeyed the call, as she must do whose mind
we have taken away--ask me not how--and brought her to dwell with us,
she who is marked from her birth with the holy sign and wears upon her
breast certain charmed stones and a symbol that for thousands of years
have adorned the body of the Child and those of its Oracles. Do you
remember a company of Arabs whom you saw riding on the banks of the
Great River on the day before the night when she was lost to you? We
were with that company and on our camels we bore her thence, happy and
unharmed to this our land, as I trust, when all is done, we shall bear
her back again and you with her."

"I trust so also, for you have wrought me a great wrong," said Ragnall
briefly, "perhaps a greater wrong than I know at present, for how came
it that my boy was killed by an elephant?"

"Ask that question of Jana and not of me," Harūt answered darkly. Then
he went on: "You also, Lord Macumazana, work for a reward, the
countless store of ivory which your eyes have beheld lying in the
burial place of elephants beyond the Tava River. When you have slain
Jana who watches the store, and defeated the Black Kendah who serve
him, it is yours and we will give you camels to bear it, or some of
it, for all cannot be carried, to the sea where it can be taken away
in ships. As for the yellow man, I think that he seeks no reward who
soon will inherit all things."

"The old witch-doctor means that I am going to die," remarked Hans
expectorating reflectively. "Well, Baas, I am quite ready, if only
Jana and certain others die first. Indeed I grow too old to fight and
travel as I used to do, and therefore shall be glad to pass to some
land where I become young again."

"Stuff and rubbish!" I exclaimed, then turned and listened to Harūt
who, not understanding our Dutch conversation, was speaking once more.

"Lords," he said, "these paths which run east and west are the real
approach to the mountain top and the temple, not that which, as I
suppose, led you through the cave of the old serpent. The road to the
west, which wanders round the base of the hill to a pass in those
distant mountains and thence across the deserts to the north, is so
easy to stop that by it we need fear no attack. With this eastern road
the case is, however, different, as I shall now show you, if you will
ride with me."

Then he gave some orders to two attendant priests who departed at a
run and presently reappeared at the head of a small train of camels
which had been hidden, I know not where. We mounted and, following the
road across a flat piece of ground, found that not more than half a
mile away was another precipitous ridge of rock which had presumably
once formed the lip of an outer crater. This ridge, however, was
broken away for a width of two or three hundred yards, perhaps by some
outrush of lava, the road running through the centre of the gap on
which schanzes had been built here and there for purposes of defence.
Looking at these I saw that they were very old and inefficient and
asked when they had been erected. Harūt replied about a century before
when the last war took place with the Black Kendah, who had been
finally driven off at this spot, for then the White Kendah were more
numerous than at present.

"So Simba knows this road?" I said.

"Yes, Lord, and Jana knows it also, for he fought in that war and
still at times visits us here and kills any whom he may meet. Only to
the temple he has never dared to come."

Now I wondered whether we had really seen Jana in the forest on the
previous night, but coming to the conclusion that it was useless to
investigate the matter, made no inquiries, especially as these would
have revealed to Harūt the route by which we approached the temple.
Only I pointed out to him that proper defences should be put up here
without delay, that is if they meant to make a stronghold of the

"We do, Lord," he answered, "since we are not strong enough to attack
the Black Kendah in their own country or to meet them in pitched
battle on the plain. Here and in no other place must be fought the
last fight between Jana and the Child. Therefore it will be your task
to build walls cunningly, so that when they come we may defeat Jana
and the hosts of the Black Kendah."

"Do you mean that this elephant will accompany Simba and his soldiers,

"Without doubt, Lord, since he has always done so from the beginning.
Jana is tame to the king and certain priests of the Black Kendah,
whose forefathers have fed him for generations, and will obey their
orders. Also he can think for himself, being an evil spirit and

"His left eye and the tip of his trunk are not invulnerable," I
remarked, "though from what I saw of him I should say there is no
doubt about his being able to think for himself. Well, I am glad the
brute is coming as I have an account to settle with him."

"As he, Lord, who does not forget, has an account to settle with you
and your servant, Light-in-Darkness," commented Harūt in an unpleasant
and suggestive tone.

Then after we had taken a few measurements and Ragnall, who
understands such matters, had drawn a rough sketch of the place in his
pocket-book to serve as data for our proposed scheme of
fortifications, we pursued our journey back to the town, where we had
left all our stores and there were many things to be arranged. It
proved to be quite a long ride, down the eastern slope of the mountain
which was easy to negotiate, although like the rest of this strange
hill it was covered with dense cedar forests that also seemed to me to
have defensive possibilities. Reaching its foot at length we were
obliged to make a detour by certain winding paths to avoid ground that
was too rough for the camels, so that in the end we did not come to
our own house in the Town of the Child till about midday.

Glad enough were we to reach it, since all three of us were tired out
with our terrible night journey and the anxious emotions that we had
undergone. Indeed, after we had eaten we lay down and I rejoiced to
see that, notwithstanding the state of mental excitement into which
the discovery of his wife had plunged him, Ragnall was the first of us
to fall asleep.

About five o'clock we were awakened by a messenger from Harūt, who
requested our attendance on important business at a kind of meeting-
house which stood at a little distance on an open place where the
White Kendah bartered produce. Here we found Harūt and about twenty of
the headmen seated in the shade of a thatched roof, while behind them,
at a respectful distance, stood quite a hundred of the White Kendah.
Most of these, however, were women and children, for as I have said
the greater part of the male population was absent from the town
because of the commencement of the harvest.

We were conducted to chairs, or rather stools of honour, and when we
two had seated ourselves, Hans taking his stand behind us, Harūt rose
and informed us that an embassy had arrived from the Black Kendah
which was about to be admitted.

Presently they came, five of them, great, truculent-looking fellows of
a surprising blackness, unarmed, for they had not been allowed to
bring their weapons in to the town, but adorned with the usual silver
chains across their breasts to show their rank, and other savage
finery. In the man who was their leader I recognized one of those
messengers who had accosted us when first we entered their territory
on our way from the south, before that fight in which I was taken
prisoner. Stepping forward and addressing himself to Harūt, he said:

"A while ago, O Prophet of the Child, I, the messenger of the god
Jana, speaking through the mouth of Simba the King, gave to you and
your brother Marūt a certain warning to which you did not listen. Now
Jana has Marūt, and again I come to warn you, Harūt."

"If I remember right," interrupted Harūt blandly, "I think that on
that occasion two of you delivered the message and that the Child
marked one of you upon the brow. If Jana has my brother, say, where is

"We warned you," went on the messenger, "and you cursed us in the name
of the Child."

"Yes," interrupted Harūt again, "we cursed you with three curses. The
first was the curse of Heaven by storm or drought, which has fallen
upon you. The second was the curse of famine, which is falling upon
you; and the third was the curse of war, which is yet to fall on you."

"It is of war that we come to speak," replied the messenger,
diplomatically avoiding the other two topics which perhaps he found it
awkward to discuss.

"That is foolish of you," replied the bland Harūt, "seeing that the
other day you matched yourselves against us with but small success.
Many of you were killed but only a very few of us, and the white lord
whom you took captive escaped out of your hands and from the tusks of
Jana who, I think, now lacks an eye. If he is a god, how comes it that
he lacks an eye and could not kill an unarmed white man?"

"Let Jana answer for himself, as he will do ere long, O Harūt.
Meanwhile, these are the words of Jana spoken through the mouth of
Simba the King: The Child has destroyed my harvest and therefore I
demand this of the people of the Child--that they give me three-
fourths of their harvest, reaping the same and delivering it on the
south bank of the River Tava. That they give me the two white lords to
be sacrificed to me. That they give the white lady who is Guardian of
the Child to be a wife of Simba the King, and with her a hundred
virgins of your people. That the image of the Child be brought to the
god Jana in the presence of his priests and Simba the King. These are
the demands of Jana spoken through the mouth of Simba the King."

Watching, I saw a thrill of horror shake the forms of Harūt and of all
those with him as the full meaning of these, to them, most impious
requests sank into their minds. But he only asked very quietly:

"And if we refuse the demands, what then?"

"Then," shouted the messenger insolently, "then Jana declares war upon
you, the last war of all, war till every one of your men be dead and
the Child you worship is burnt to grey ashes with fire. War till your
women are taken as slaves and the corn which you refuse is stored in
our grain pits and your land is a waste and your name forgotten.
Already the hosts of Jana are gathered and the trumpet of Jana calls
them to the fight. To-morrow or the next day they advance upon you,
and ere the moon is full not one of you will be left to look upon

Harūt rose, and walking from under the shed, turned his back upon the
envoys and stared at the distant line of great mountains which stood
out far away against the sky. Out of curiosity I followed him and
observed that these mountains were no longer visible. Where they had
been was nothing but a line of black and heavy cloud. After looking
for a while he returned and addressing the envoys, said quite

"If you will be advised by me, friends, you will ride hard for the
river. There is such rain upon the mountains as I have never seen
before, and you will be fortunate if you cross it before the flood
comes down, the greatest flood that has happened in our day."

This intelligence seemed to disturb the messengers, for they too
stepped out of the shed and stared at the mountains, muttering to each
other something that I could not understand. Then they returned and
with a fine appearance of indifference demanded an immediate answer to
their challenge.

"Can you not guess it?" answered Harūt. Then changing his tone he drew
himself to his full height and thundered out at them: "Get you back to
your evil spirit of a god that hides in the shape of a beast of the
forest and to his slave who calls himself a king, and say to them:
'Thus speaks the Child to his rebellious servants, the Black Kendah
dogs: Swim my river when you can, which will not be yet, and come up
against me when you will; for whenever you come I shall be ready for
you. You are already dead, O Jana. You are already dead, O Simba the
slave. You are scattered and lost, O dogs of the Black Kendah, and the
home of such of you as remain shall be far away in a barren land,
where you must dig deep for water and live upon the wild game because
there little corn will grow.' Now begone, and swiftly, lest you stop
here for ever."

So they turned and went, leaving me full of admiration for the
histrionic powers of Harūt.

I must add, however, that being without doubt a keen observer of the
weather conditions of the neighbourhood, he was quite right about the
rain upon the mountains, which by the way never extended to the
territory of the People of the Child. As we heard afterwards, the
flood came down just as the envoys reached the river; indeed, one of
them was drowned in attempting its crossing, and for fourteen days
after this it remained impassable to an army.

That very evening we began our preparations to meet an attack which
was now inevitable. Putting aside the supposed rival powers of the
tribal divinities worshipped under the names of the Child and Jana,
which, while they added a kind of Homeric interest to the contest,
could, we felt, scarcely affect an issue that must be decided with
cold steel and other mortal weapons, the position of the White Kendah
was serious indeed. As I think I have said, in all they did not number
more than about two thousand men between the ages of twenty and fifty-
five, or, including lads between fourteen and twenty and old men still
able-bodied between fifty-five and seventy, say two thousand seven
hundred capable of some sort of martial service. To these might be
added something under two thousand women, since among this dwindling
folk, oddly enough, from causes that I never ascertained, the males
out-numbered the females, which accounted for their marriage customs
that were, by comparison with those of most African peoples,
monogamous. At any rate only the rich among them had more than one
wife, while the poor or otherwise ineligible often had none at all,
since inter-marriage with other races and above all with the Black
Kendah dwelling beyond the river was so strictly taboo that it was
punishable with death or expulsion.

Against this little band the Black Kendah could bring up twenty
thousand men, besides boys and aged persons who with the women would
probably be left to defend their own country, that is, not less than
ten to one. Moreover, all of these enemies would be fighting with the
courage of despair, since quite three-fourths of their crops with many
of their cattle and sheep had been destroyed by the terrific hail-
burst that I have described. Therefore, since no other corn was
available in the surrounding land, where they dwelt alone encircled by
deserts, either they must capture that of the White Kendah, or suffer
terribly from starvation until a year later when another harvest

The only points I could see in favour of the People of the Child were
that they would fight on the vantage ground of their mountain
stronghold, a formidable position if properly defended. Also they
would have the benefit of the skill and knowledge of Ragnall and
myself. Lastly, the enemy must face our rifles. Neither the White nor
the Black Kendah, I should say, possessed any guns, except a few
antiquated flintlock weapons that the former had captured from some
nomadic tribe and kept as curiosities. Why this was the case I do not
know, since undoubtedly at times the White Kendah traded in camels and
corn with Arabs who wandered as far as the Sudan, or Egypt, nomadic
tribes to whom even then firearms were known, although perhaps rarely
used by them. But so it was, possibly because of some old law or
prejudice which forbade their introduction into the country, or mayhap
of the difficulty of procuring powder and lead, or for the reason that
they had none to teach them the use of such new-fangled weapons.

Now it will be remembered that, on the chance of their proving useful,
Ragnall, in addition to our own sporting rifles, had brought with him
to Africa fifty Snider rifles with an ample supply of ammunition, the
same that I had trouble in passing through the Customs at Durban, all
of which had arrived safely at the Town of the Child. Clearly our
first duty was to make the best possible use of this invaluable store.
To that end I asked Harūt to select seventy-five of the boldest and
most intelligent young men among his people, and to hand them over to
me and Hans for instruction in musketry. We had only fifty rifles but
I drilled seventy-five men, or fifty per cent. more, that some might
be ready to replace any who fell.

From dawn to dark each day Hans and I worked at trying to convert
these Kendah into sharpshooters. It was no easy task with men, however
willing, who till then had never held a gun, especially as I must be
very sparing of the ammunition necessary to practice, of which of
course our supply was limited. Still we taught them how to take cover,
how to fire and to cease from firing at a word of command, also to
hold the rifles low and waste no shot. To make marksmen of them was
more than I could hope to do under the circumstances.

With the exception of these men nearly the entire male population were
working day and night to get in the harvest. This proved a very
difficult business, both because some of the crops were scarcely fit
and because all the grain had to be carried on camels to be stored in
and at the back of the second court of the temple, the only place
where it was likely to be safe. Indeed in the end a great deal was
left unreaped. Then the herds of cattle and breeding camels which
grazed on the farther sides of the Holy Mount must be brought into
places of safety, glens in the forest on its slope, and forage stacked
to feed them. Also it was necessary to provide scouts to keep watch
along the river.

Lastly, the fortifications in the mountain pass required unceasing
labour and attention. This was the task of Ragnall, who fortunately in
his youth, before he succeeded unexpectedly to the title, was for some
years an officer in the Royal Engineers and therefore thoroughly
understood that business. Indeed he understood it rather too well,
since the result of his somewhat complicated and scientific scheme of
defence was a little confusing to the simple native mind. However,
with the assistance of all the priests and of all the women and
children who were not engaged in provisioning the Mount, he built wall
after wall and redoubt after redoubt, if that is the right word, to
say nothing of the shelter trenches he dug and many pitfalls,
furnished at the bottom with sharp stakes, which he hollowed out
wherever the soil could be easily moved, to discomfit a charging

Indeed, when I saw the amount of work he had concluded in ten days,
which was not until I joined him on the mountain, I was quite

About this time a dispute arose as to whether we should attempt to
prevent the Black Kendah from crossing the river which was now running
down, a plan that some of the elders favoured. At last the controversy
was referred to me as head general and I decided against anything of
the sort. It seemed to me that our force was too small, and that if I
took the rifle-men a great deal of ammunition might be expended with
poor result. Also in the event of any reverse or when we were finally
driven back, which must happen, there might be difficulty about
remounting the camels, our only means of escape from the horsemen who
would possibly gallop us down. Moreover the Tava had several fords,
any one of which might be selected by the enemy. So it was arranged
that we should make our first and last stand upon the Holy Mount.

On the fourteenth night from new moon our swift camel-scouts who were
posted in relays between the Tava and the Mount reported that the
Black Kendah were gathered in thousands upon the farther side of the
river, where they were engaged in celebrating magical ceremonies. On
the fifteenth night the scouts reported that they were crossing the
river, about five thousand horsemen and fifteen thousand foot
soldiers, and that at the head of them marched the huge god-elephant
Jana, on which rode Simba the King and a lame priest (evidently my
friend whose foot had been injured by the pistol), who acted as a
mahout. This part of the story I confess I did not believe, since it
seemed to me impossible that anyone could ride upon that mad rogue,
Jana. Yet, as subsequent events showed, it was in fact true. I suppose
that in certain hands the beast became tame. Or perhaps it was

Two nights later, for the Black Kendah advanced but slowly, spreading
themselves over the country in order to collect such crops as had not
been gathered through lack of time or because they were still unripe,
we saw flames and smoke arising from the Town of the Child beneath us,
which they had fired. Now we knew that the time of trial had come and
until near midnight men, women and children worked feverishly
finishing or trying to finish the fortifications and making every
preparation in our power.

Our position was that we held a very strong post, that is, strong
against an enemy unprovided with big guns or even firearms, which, as
all other possible approaches had been blocked, was only assailable by
direct frontal attack from the east. In the pass we had three main
lines of defence, one arranged behind the other and separated by
distances of a few hundred yards. Our last refuge was furnished by the
walls of the temple itself, in the rear of which were camped the whole
White Kendah tribe, save a few hundred who were employed in watching
the herds of camels and stock in almost inaccessible positions on the
northern slopes of the Mount.

There were perhaps five thousand people of both sexes and every age
gathered in this camp, which was so well provided with food and water
that it could have stood a siege of several months. If, however, our
defences should be carried there was no possibility of escape, since
we learned from our scouts that the Black Kendah, who by tradition and
through spies were well acquainted with every feature of the country,
had detached a party of several thousand men to watch the western road
and the slopes of the mountain, in case we should try to break out by
that route. The only one remaining, that which ran through the cave of
the serpent, we had taken the precaution of blocking up with great
stones, lest through it our flank should be turned.

In short, we were rats in a trap and where we were there we must
either conquer or die--unless indeed we chose to surrender, which for
most of us would mean a fate worse than death.



I had made my last round of the little corps that I facetiously named
"The Sharpshooters," though to tell the truth at shooting they were
anything but sharp, and seen that each man was in his place behind a
wall with a reserve man squatted at the rear of every pair of them,
waiting to take his rifle if either of these should fall. Also I had
made sure that all of them had twenty rounds of ammunition in their
skin pouches. More I would not serve out, fearing lest in excitement
or in panic they might fire away to the last cartridge uselessly, as
before now even disciplined white troops have been known to do.
Therefore I had arranged that certain old men of standing who could be
trusted should wait in a place of comparative safety behind the line,
carrying all our reserve ammunition, which amounted, allowing for what
had been expended in practice, to nearly sixty rounds per rifle. This
they were instructed to deliver from their wallets to the firing line
in small lots when they saw that it was necessary and not before.

It was, I admit, an arrangement apt to miscarry in the heat of
desperate battle, but I could think of none better, since it was
absolutely necessary that no shot should be wasted.

After a few words of exhortation and caution to the natives who acted
as sergeants to the corps, I returned to a bough shelter that had been
built for us behind a rock to get a few hours' sleep, if that were
possible, before the fight began.

Here I found Ragnall, who had just come in from his inspection. This
was of a much more extensive nature than my own, since it involved
going round some furlongs of the rough walls and trenches that he had
prepared with so much thought and care, and seeing that the various
companies of the White Kendah were ready to play their part in the
defence of them.

He was tired and rather excited, too much so to sleep at once. So we
talked a little while, first about the prospects of the morrow's
battle, as to which we were, to say the least of it, dubious, and
afterwards of other things. I asked him if during his stay in this
place, while I was below at the town or later, he had heard or seen
anything of his wife.

"Nothing," he answered. "These priests never speak of her, and if they
did Harūt is the only one of them that I can really understand.
Moreover, I have kept my word strictly and, even when I had occasion
to see to the blocking of the western road, made a circuit on the
mountain-top in order to avoid the neighbourhood of that house where I
suppose she lives Oh! Quatermain, my friend, my case is a hard one, as
you would think if the woman you loved with your whole heart were shut
up within a few hundred yards of you and no communication with her
possible after all this time of separation and agony. What makes it
worse is, as I gathered from what Harūt said the other day, that she
is still out of her mind."

"That has some consolations," I replied, "since the mindless do not
suffer. But if such is the case, how do you account for what you and
poor Savage saw that night in the Town of the Child? It was not
altogether a phantasy, for the dress you described was the same we saw
her wearing at the Feast of the First-fruits."

"I don't know what to make of it, Quatermain, except that many strange
things happen in the world which we mock at as insults to our limited
intelligence because we cannot understand them." (Very soon I was to
have another proof of this remark.) "But what are you driving at? You
are keeping something back."

"Only this, Ragnall. If your wife were utterly mad I cannot conceive
how it came about that she searched you out and spoke to you even in a
vision--for the thing was not an individual dream since both you and
Savage saw her. Nor did she actually visit you in the flesh, as the
door never opened and the spider's web across it was not broken. So it
comes to this: either some part of her is not mad but can still
exercise sufficient will to project itself upon your senses, or she is
dead and her disembodied spirit did this thing. Now we know that she
is not dead, for we have seen her and Harūt has confessed as much.
Therefore I maintain that, whatever may be her temporary state, she
must still be fundamentally of a reasonable mind, as she is of a
natural body. For instance, she may only be hypnotized, in which case
the spell will break one day."

"Thank you for that thought, old fellow. It never occurred to me and
it gives me new hope. Now listen! If I should come to grief in this
business, which is very likely, and you should survive, you will do
your best to get her home; will you not? Here is a codicil to my will
which I drew up after that night of dream, duly witnessed by Savage
and Hans. It leaves to you whatever sums may be necessary in this
connexion and something over for yourself. Take it, it is best in your
keeping, especially as if you should be killed it has no value."

"Of course I will do my best," I answered as I put away the paper in
my pocket. "And now don't let us take any more thought of being
killed, which may prevent us from getting the sleep we want. I don't
mean to be killed if I can help it. I mean to give those beggars, the
Black Kendah, such a doing as they never had before, and then start
for the coast with you and Lady Ragnall, as, God willing, we shall do.
Good night."

After this I slept like a top for some hours, as I believe Ragnall did
also. When I awoke, which happened suddenly and completely, the first
thing that I saw was Hans seated at the entrance to my little shelter
smoking his corn-cob pipe, and nursing the single-barrelled rifle,
Intombi, on his knee. I asked him what the time was, to which he
replied that it lacked two hours to dawn. Then I asked him why he had
not been sleeping. He replied that he had been asleep and dreamed a
dream. Idly enough I inquired what dream, to which he replied:

"Rather a strange one, Baas, for a man who is about to go into battle.
I dreamed that I was in a large place that was full of quiet. It was
light there, but I could not see any sun or moon, and the air was very
soft and tasted like food and drink, so much so, Baas, that if anyone
had offered me a cup quite full of the best 'Cape smoke' I should have
told him to take it away. Then, Baas, suddenly I saw your reverend
father, the Predikant, standing beside me and looking just as he used
to look, only younger and stronger and very happy, and so of course
knew at once that I was dead and in hell. Only I wondered where the
fire that does not go out might be, for I could not see it. Presently
your reverend father said to me: 'Good day, Hans. So you have come
here at last. Now tell me, how has it gone with my son, the Baas
Allan? Have you looked after him as I told you to do?'

"I answered: 'I have looked after him as well as I could, O reverend
sir. Little enough have I done; still, not once or twice or three
times only have I offered up my life for him as was my duty, and yet
we both have lived.' And that I might be sure he heard the best of me,
as was but natural, I told him the times, Baas, making a big story out
of small things, although all the while I could see that he knew
exactly just where I began to lie and just where I stopped from lying.
Still he did not scold me, Baas; indeed, when I had finished, he said:

"'Well done, O good and faithful servant,' words that I think I have
heard him use before when he was alive, Baas, and used to preach to us
for such a long time on Sunday afternoons. Then he asked: 'And how
goes it with Baas Allan, my son, now, Hans?' to which I replied:

"'The Baas Allan is going to fight a very great battle in which he may
well fall, and if I could feel sorry here, which I can't, I should
weep, O reverend sir, because I have died before that battle began and
therefore cannot stand at his side in the battle and be killed for him
as a servant should for his master!'

"'You will stand at his side in the battle,' said your [missing line
in printed version--JB] do as it is fitting that you should. And
afterwards, Hans, you will make report to me of how the battle went
and of what honour my son has won therein. Moreover, know this, Hans,
that though while you live in the world you seem to see many other
things, they are but dreams, since in all the world there is but one
real thing, and its name is Love, which if it be but strong enough,
the stars themselves must obey, for it is the king of every one of
them, and all who dwell in them worship it day and night under many
names for ever and for ever, Amen.'

"What he meant by that I am sure I don't know, Baas, seeing that I
have never thought much of women, at least not for many years since my
last old vrouw went and drank herself to death after lying in her
sleep on the baby which I loved much better than I did her, Baas.

"Well, before I could ask him, or about hell either, he was gone like
a whiff of smoke from a rifle mouth in a strong wind."

Hans paused, puffed at his pipe, spat upon the ground in his usual
reflective way and asked:

"Is the Baas tired of the dream or would he like to hear the rest?"

"I should like to hear the rest," I said in a low voice, for I was
strangely moved.

"Well, Baas, while I was standing in that place which was so full of
quiet, turning my hat in my hands and wondering what work they would
set me to there among the devils, I looked up. There I saw coming
towards me two very beautiful women, Baas, who had their arms round
each other's necks. They were dressed in white, with the little hard
things that are found in shells hanging about them, and bright stones
in their hair. And as they came, Baas, wherever they set a foot
flowers sprang up, very pretty flowers, so that all their path across
the quiet place was marked with flowers. Birds too sang as they
passed, at least I think they were birds though I could not see them."

"What were they like, Hans?" I whispered.

"One of them, Baas, the taller I did not know. But the other I knew
well enough; it was she whose name is holy, not to be mentioned. Yet I
must mention that name; it was the Missie Marie herself as last we saw
her alive many, many years ago, only grown a hundred times more

[*] See the book called /Marie/ by H. Rider Haggard.

Now I groaned, and Hans went on:

"The two White Ones came up to me, and stood looking at me with eyes
that were more soft than those of bucks. Then the Missie Marie said to
the other: 'This is Hans of whom I have so often told you, O Star.'"

Here I groaned again, for how did this Hottentot know that name, or
rather its sweet rendering?

"Then she who was called Star asked, 'How goes it with one who is the
heart of all three of us, O Hans?' Yes, Baas, those Shining Ones
joined /me/, the dirty little Hottentot in my old clothes and smelling
of tobacco, with themselves when they spoke of you, for I knew they
were speaking of you, Baas, which made me think I must be drunk, even
there in the quiet place. So I told them all that I had told your
reverend father, and a very great deal more, for they seemed never to
be tired of listening. And once, when I mentioned that sometimes,
while pretending to be asleep, I had heard you praying aloud at night
for the Missie Marie who died for you, and for another who had been
your wife whose name I did not remember but who had also died, they
both cried a little, Baas. Their tears shone like crystals and smelt
like that stuff in a little glass tube which Harūt said that he
brought from some far land when he put a drop or two on your
handkerchief, after you were faint from the pain in your leg at the
house yonder. Or perhaps it was the flowers that smelt, for where the
tears fell there sprang up white lilies shaped like two babes' hands
held together in prayer."

Hearing this, I hid my face in my hands lest Hans should see human
tears unscented with attar of roses, and bade him continue.

"Baas, the White One who was called Star, asked me of your son, the
young Baas Harry, and I told her that when last I had seen him he was
strong and well and would make a bigger man than you were, whereat she
sighed and shook her head. Then the Missie Marie said: 'Tell the Baas,
Hans, that I also have a child which he will see one day, but it is
not a son.'

"After this they, too, said something about Love, but what it was I
cannot remember, since even as I repeat this dream to you it is
beginning to slip away from me fast as a swallow skimming the water.
Their last words, however, I do remember. They were: 'Say to the Baas
that we who never met in life, but who here are as twin sisters, wait
and count the years and count the months and count the days and count
the hours and count the minutes and count the seconds until once more
he shall hear our voices calling to him across the night.' That's what
they say, Baas. Then they were gone and only the flowers remained to
show that they had been standing there.

"Now I set off to bring you the message and travelled a very long way
at a great rate; if Jana himself had been after me I could not have
gone more fast. At last I got out of that quiet place and among
mountains where there were dark kloofs, and there in the kloofs I
heard Zulu impis singing their war-song; yes, they sang the /ingoma/
or something very like it. Now suddenly in the pass of the mountains
along which I sped, there appeared before me a very beautiful woman
whose skin shone like the best copper coffee kettle after I have
polished it, Baas. She was dressed in a leopard-like moocha and wore
on her shoulders a fur kaross, and about her neck a circlet of blue
beads, and from her hair there rose one crane's feather tall as a
walking-stick, and in her hand she held a little spear. No flowers
sprang beneath her feet when she walked towards me and no birds sang,
only the air was filled with the sound of a royal salute which rolled
among the mountains like the roar of thunder, and her eyes flashed
like summer lightning."

Now I let my hands fall and stared at him, for well I knew what was

"'Stand, yellow man!' she said, 'and give me the royal salute.'

"So I gave her the /Bayéte/, though who she might be I did not know,
since I did not think it wise to stay to ask her if it were hers of
right, although I should have liked to do so. Then she said: 'The Old
Man on the plain yonder and those two pale White Ones have talked to
you of their love for your master, the Lord Macumazana. I tell you,
little Yellow Dog, that they do not know what love can be. There is
more love for him in my eyes alone than they have in all that makes
them fair. Say it to the Lord Macumazana that, as I know well, he goes
down to battle and that the Lady Mameena will be with him in the
battle as, though he saw her not, she has been with him in other
battles, and will be with him till the River of Time has run over the
edge of the world and is lost beyond the sun. Let him remember this
when Jana rushes on and death is very near to him to-day, and let him
look--for then perchance he shall see me. Begone now, Yellow Dog, to
the heels of your master, and play your part well in the battle, for
of what you do or leave undone you shall give account to me. Say that
Mameena sends her greetings to the Lord Macumazana and that she adds
this, that when the Old Man and the White ones told you that Love is
the secret blood of the worlds which makes them to be they did not
lie. Love reigns and I, Mameena, am its priestess, and the heart of
Macumazana is my holy house.'

"Then, Baas, I tumbled off a precipice and woke up here; and, Baas, as
we may not light a fire I have kept some coffee hot for you buried in
warm ashes," and without another word he went to fetch that coffee,
leaving me shaken and amazed.

For what kind of a dream was it which revealed to an old Hottentot all
these mysteries and hidden things about persons whom he had never seen
and of whom I had never spoken to him? My father and my wife Marie
might be explained, for with these he had been mixed up, but how about
Stella and above all Mameena, although of course it was possible that
he had heard of the latter, who made some stir in her time? But to hit
her off as he had done in all her pride, splendour, and dominion of

Well, that was his story which, perhaps fortunately, I lacked time to
analyse or brood upon, since there was much in it calculated to
unnerve a man just entering the crisis of a desperate fray. Indeed a
minute or so later, as I was swallowing the last of the coffee,
messengers arrived about some business, I forget what, sent by Ragnall
I think, who had risen before I woke. I turned to give the pannikin to
Hans, but he had vanished in his snake-like fashion, so I threw it
down upon the ground and devoted my mind to the question raised in
Ragnall's message.

Next minute scouts came in who had been watching the camp of the Black
Kendah all night.

These were sleeping not more than half a mile away, in an open place
on the slope of the hill with pickets thrown out round them, intending
to advance upon us, it was said, as soon as the sun rose, since
because of their number they feared lest to march at night should
throw them into confusion and, in case of their falling into an
ambush, bring about a disaster. Such at least was the story of two
spies whom our people had captured.

There had been some question as to whether we should not attempt a
night attack upon their camp, of which I was rather in favour. After
full debate, however, the idea had been abandoned, owing to the
fewness of our numbers, the dislike which the White Kendah shared with
the Black of attempting to operate in the dark, and the well chosen
position of our enemy, whom it would be impossible to rush before we
were discovered by their outposts. What I hoped in my heart was that
they might try to rush us, notwithstanding the story of the two
captured spies, and in the gloom, after the moon had sunk low and
before the dawn came, become entangled in our pitfalls and outlying
entrenchments, where we should be able to destroy a great number of
them. Only on the previous afternoon that cunning old fellow, Hans,
had pointed out to me how advantageous such an event would be to our
cause and, while agreeing with him, I suggested that probably the
Black Kendah knew this as well as we did, as the prisoners had told

Yet that very thing happened, and through Hans himself. Thus: Old
Harūt had come to me just one hour before the dawn to inform me that
all our people were awake and at their stations, and to make some last
arrangements as to the course of the defence, also about our final
concentration behind the last line of walls and in the first court of
the temple, if we should be driven from the outer entrenchments. He
was telling me that the Oracle of the Child had uttered words at the
ceremony that night which he and all the priests considered were of
the most favourable import, news to which I listened with some
impatience, feeling as I did that this business had passed out of the
range of the Child and its Oracle. As he spoke, suddenly through the
silence that precedes the dawn, there floated to our ears the
unmistakable sound of a rifle. Yes, a rifle shot, half a mile or so
away, followed by the roaring murmur of a great camp unexpectedly
alarmed at night.

"Who can have fired that?" I asked. "The Black Kendah have no guns."

He replied that he did not know, unless some of my fifty men had left
their posts.

While we were investigating the matter, scouts rushed in with the
intelligence that the Black Kendah, thinking apparently that they were
being attacked, had broken camp and were advancing towards us. We
passed a warning all down the lines and stood to arms. Five minutes
later, as I stood listening to that approaching roar, filled with
every kind of fear and melancholy foreboding such as the hour and the
occasion might well have evoked, through the gloom, which was dense,
the moon being hidden behind the hill, I thought I caught sight of
something running towards me like a crouching man. I lifted my rifle
to fire but, reflecting that it might be no more than a hyena and
fearing to provoke a fusilade from my half-trained company, did not do

Next instant I was glad indeed, for immediately on the other side of
the wall behind which I was standing I heard a well-known voice gasp

"Don't shoot, Baas, it is I."

"What have you been doing, Hans?" I said as he scrambled over the wall
to my side, limping a little as I fancied.

"Baas," he puffed, "I have been paying the Black Kendah a visit. I
crept down between their stupid outposts, who are as blind in the dark
as a bat in daytime, hoping to find Jana and put a bullet into his leg
or trunk. I didn't find him, Baas, although I heard him. But one of
their captains stood up in front of a watchfire, giving a good shot.
My bullet found /him/, Baas, for he tumbled back into the fire making
the sparks fly this way and that. Then I ran and, as you see, got here
quite safely."

"Why did you play that fool's trick?" I asked, "seeing that it ought
to have cost you your life?"

"I shall die just when I have to die, not before, Baas," he replied in
the intervals of reloading the little rifle. "Also it was the trick of
a wise man, not of a fool, seeing that it has made the Black Kendah
think that we were attacking them and caused them to hurry on to
attack /us/ in the dark over ground that they do not know. Listen to
them coming!"

As he spoke a roar of sound told us that the great charge had swept
round a turn there was in the pass and was heading towards us up the
straight. Ivory horns brayed, captains shouted orders, the very
mountains shook beneath the beating of thousands of feet of men and
horses, while in one great yell that echoed from the cliffs and
forests went up the battle-cry of "/Jana! Jana!/"--a mixed tumult of
noise which contrasted very strangely with the utter silence in our

"They will be among the pitfalls presently," sniggered Hans, shifting
his weight nervously from one leg on to the other. "Hark! they are
going into them."

It was true. Screams of fear and pain told me that the front ranks had
begun to fall, horse and foot together, into the cunningly devised
snares of which with so much labour we had dug many, concealing them
with earth spread over thin wickerwork, or rather interlaced boughs.
Into them went the forerunners, to be pierced by the sharp, fire-
hardened stakes set at the bottom of each pit. Vainly did those who
were near enough to understand their danger call to the ranks behind
to stop. They could not or would not comprehend, and had no room to
extend their front. Forward surged the human torrent, thrusting all in
front of it to death by wounds or suffocation in those deadly holes,
till one by one they were filled level with the ground by struggling
men and horses, over whom the army still rushed on.

How many perished there I do not know, but after the battle was over
we found scarcely a pit that was not crowded to the brim with dead.
Truly this device of Ragnall's, for if I had conceived the idea, which
was unfamiliar to the Kendah, it was he who had carried it out in so
masterly a fashion, had served us well.

Still the enemy surged on, since the pits were only large enough to
hold a tithe of them, till at length, horsemen and footmen mixed up
together in inextricable confusion, their mighty mass became faintly
visible quite close to us, a blacker blot upon the gloom.

Then my turn came. When they were not more than fifty yards away from
the first wall, I shouted an order to my riflemen to fire, aiming low,
and set the example by loosing both barrels of an elephant gun at the
thickest of the mob. At that distance even the most inexperienced
shots could not miss such a mark, especially as those bullets that
went high struck among the oncoming troops behind, or caught the
horsemen lifted above their fellows. Indeed, of the first few rounds I
do not think that one was wasted, while often single balls killed or
injured several men.

The result was instantaneous. The Black Kendah who, be it remembered,
were totally unaccustomed to the effects of rifle fire and imagined
that we only possessed two or three guns in all, stopped their advance
as though paralyzed. For a few seconds there was silence, except for
the intermittent crackle of the rifles as my men loaded and fired.
Next came the cries of the smitten men and horses that were falling
everywhere, and then--the unmistakable sound of a stampede.

"They have gone. That was too warm for them, Baas," chuckled Hans

"Yes," I answered, when I had at length succeeded in stopping the
firing, "but I expect they will come back with the light. Still, that
trick of yours has cost them dear, Hans."

By degrees the dawn began to break. It was, I remember, a particularly
beautiful dawn, resembling a gigantic and vivid rose opening in the
east, or a cup of brightness from which many coloured wines were
poured all athwart the firmament. Very peaceful also, for not a breath
of wind was stirring. But what a scene the first rays of the sun
revealed upon that narrow stretch of pass in front of us. Everywhere
the pitfalls and trenches were filled with still surging heaps of men
and horses, while all about lay dead and wounded men, the red harvest
of our rifle fire. It was dreadful to contrast the heavenly peace
above and the hellish horror beneath.

We took count and found that up to this moment we had not lost a
single man, one only having been slightly wounded by a thrown spear.
As is common among semi-savages, this fact filled the White Kendah
with an undue exultation. Thinking that as the beginning was so the
end must be, they cheered and shouted, shaking each other's hands,
then fell to eating the food which the women brought them with
appetite, chattering incessantly, although as a general rule they were
a very silent people. Even the grave Harūt, who arrived full of
congratulations, seemed as high-spirited as a boy, till I reminded him
that the real battle had not yet commenced.

The Black Kendah had fallen into a trap and lost some of their number,
that was all, which was fortunate for us but could scarcely affect the
issue of the struggle, since they had many thousands left. Ragnall,
who had come up from his lines, agreed with me. As he said, these
people were fighting for life as well as honour, seeing that most of
the corn which they needed for their sustenance was stored in great
heaps either in or to the rear of the temple behind us. Therefore they
must come on until they won or were destroyed. How with our small
force could we hope to destroy this multitude? That was the problem
which weighed upon our hearts.

About a quarter of an hour later two spies that we had set upon the
top of the precipitous cliffs, whence they had a good view of the pass
beyond the bend, came scrambling down the rocks like monkeys by a
route that was known to them. These boys, for they were no more,
reported that the Black Kendah were reforming their army beyond the
bend of the pass, and that the cavalry were dismounting and sending
their horses to the rear, evidently because they found them useless in
such a place. A little later solitary men appeared from behind the
bend, carrying bundles of long sticks to each of which was attached a
piece of white cloth, a proceeding that excited my curiosity.

Soon its object became apparent. Swiftly these men, of whom in the end
there may have been thirty or forty, ran to and fro, testing the
ground with spears in search for pitfalls. I think they only found a
very few that had not been broken into, but in front of these and also
of those that were already full of men and horses they set up the
flags as a warning that they should be avoided in the advance. Also
they removed a number of their wounded.

We had great difficulty in restraining the White Kendah from rushing
out to attack them, which of course would only have led us into a trap
in our turn, since they would have fled and conducted their pursuers
into the arms of the enemy. Nor would I allow my riflemen to fire, as
the result must have been many misses and a great waste of ammunition
which ere long would be badly wanted. I, however, did shoot two or
three, then gave it up as the remainder took no notice whatever.

When they had thoroughly explored the ground they retired until, a
little later, the Black Kendah army began to appear, marching in
serried regiments and excellent order round the bend, till perhaps
eight or ten thousand of them were visible, a very fierce and awe-
inspiring /impi/. Their front ranks halted between three and four
hundred yards away, which I thought farther off than it was advisable
to open fire on them with Snider rifles held by unskilled troops. Then
came a pause, which at length was broken by the blowing of horns and a
sound of exultant shouting beyond the turn of the pass.

Now from round this turn appeared the strangest sight that I think my
eyes had ever seen. Yes, there came the huge elephant, Jana, at a
slow, shambling trot. On his back and head were two men in whom, with
my glasses, I recognized the lame priest whom I already knew too well
and Simba, the king of the Black Kendah, himself, gorgeously
apparelled and waving a long spear, seated in a kind of wooden chair.
Round the brute's neck were a number of bright metal chains, twelve in
all, and each of these chains was held by a spearman who ran
alongside, six on one side and six on the other. Lastly, ingeniously
fastened to the end of his trunk were three other chains to which were
attached spiked knobs of metal.

On he came as docilely as any Indian elephant used for carrying teak
logs, passing through the centre of the host up a wide lane which had
been left, I suppose for his convenience, and intelligently avoiding
the pitfalls filled with dead. I thought that he would stop among the
first ranks. But not so. Slackening his pace to a walk he marched
forwards towards our fortifications. Now, of course, I saw my chance
and made sure that my double-barrelled elephant rifle was ready and
that Hans held a second rifle, also double-barrelled and of similar
calibre, full-cocked in such a position that I could snatch it from
him in a moment.

"I am going to kill that elephant," I said. "Let no one else fire.
Stand still and you shall see the god Jana die."

Still the enormous beast floundered forward; up to that moment I had
never realized how truly huge it was, not even when it stood over me
in the moonlight about to crush me with its foot. Of this I am sure,
that none to equal it ever lived in Africa, at least in any times of
which I have knowledge.

"Fire, Baas," whispered Hans, "it is near enough."

But like the Frenchman and the cock pheasant, I determined to wait
until it stopped, wishing to finish it with a single ball, if only for
the prestige of the thing.

At length it did stop and, opening its cavern of a mouth, lifted its
great trunk and trumpeted, while Simba, standing up in his chair,
began to shout out some command to us to surrender to the god Jana,
"the Invincible, the Invulnerable."

"I will show you if you are invulnerable, my boy," said I to myself,
glancing round to make sure that Hans had the second rifle ready and
catching sight of Ragnall and Harūt and all the White Kendah standing
up in their trenches, breathlessly awaiting the end, as were the Black
Kendah a few hundred yards away. Never could there have been a fairer
shot and one more certain to result in a fatal wound. The brute's head
was up and its mouth was open. All I had to do was to send a hard-
tipped bullet crashing through the palate to the brain behind. It was
so easy that I would have made a bet that I could have finished him
with one hand tied behind me.

I lifted the heavy rifle. I got the sights dead on to a certain spot
at the back of that red cave. I pressed the trigger; the charge boomed
--and nothing happened! I heard no bullet strike and Jana did not even
take the trouble to close his mouth.

An exclamation of "O-oh!" went up from the watchers. Before it had
died away the second bullet followed the first, with the same result
or rather lack of result, and another louder "O-oh!" arose. Then Jana
tranquilly shut his mouth, having finished trumpeting, and as though
to give me a still better target, turned broadside on and stood quite

With an inward curse I snatched the second rifle and aiming behind the
ear at a spot which long experience told me covered the heart let
drive again, first one barrel and then the other.

Jana never stirred. No bullet thudded. No mark of blood appeared upon
his hide. The horrible thought overcame me that I, Allan Quatermain, I
the famous shot, the renowned elephant-hunter, had four times missed
this haystack of a brute from a distance of forty yards. So great was
my shame that I think I almost fainted. Through a kind of mist I heard
various ejaculations:

"Great Heavens!" said Ragnall.

"/Allemagte!/" remarked Hans.

"The Child help us!" muttered Harūt.

All the rest of them stared at me as though I were a freak or a
lunatic. Then somebody laughed nervously, and immediately everybody
began to laugh. Even the distant army of the Black Kendah became
convulsed with roars of unholy merriment and I, Allan Quatermain, was
the centre of all this mockery, till I felt as though I were going
mad. Suddenly the laughter ceased and once more Simba the King began
to roar out something about "Jana the Invincible and Invulnerable," to
which the White Kendah replied with cries of "Magic" and "Bewitched!

"Yes," yelled Simba, "no bullet can touch Jana the god, not even those
of the white lord who was brought from far to kill him."

Hans leaped on to the top of the wall, where he danced up and down
like an intoxicated monkey, and screamed:

"Then where is Jana's left eye? Did not my bullet put it out like a
lamp? If Jana is invulnerable, why did my bullet put out his left

Hans ceased from dancing on the wall and steadying himself, lifted the
little rifle Intombi, shouting:

"Let us see whether after all this beast is a god or an elephant."

Then he touched the trigger, and simultaneously with the report, I
heard the bullet clap and saw blood appear on Jana's hide just by the
very spot over the heart at which I had aimed without result. Of
course, the soft ball driven from a small-bore rifle with a light
charge of powder was far too weak to penetrate to the vitals. Probably
it did not do much more than pierce through the skin and an inch or
two of flesh behind it.

Still, its effects upon this "invulnerable" god were of a marked
order. He whipped round; he lifted his trunk and screamed with rage
and pain. Then off he lumbered back towards his own people, at such a
pace that the attendants who held the chains on either side of him
were thrown over and forced to leave go of him, while the king and the
priest upon his back could only retain their seats by clinging to the
chair and the rope about his neck.

The result was satisfactory so far as the dispelling of magical
illusions went, but it left me in a worse position than before, since
it now became evident that what had protected Jana from my bullets was
nothing more supernatural than my own lack of skill. Oh! never in my
life did I drink of such a cup of humiliation as it was my lot to
drain to the dregs in this most unhappy hour. Almost did I hope that I
might be killed at once.

And yet, and yet, how was it possible that with all my skill I should
have missed this towering mountain of flesh four times in succession.
The question is one to which I have never discovered any answer,
especially as Hans hit it easily enough, which at the time I wished
heartily he had not done, since his success only served to emphasize
my miserable failure. Fortunately, just then a diversion occurred
which freed my unhappy self from further public attention. With a
shout and a roar the great army of the Black Kendah woke into life.

The advance had begun.



On they came, slowly and steadily, preceded by a cloud of skirmishers
--a thousand or more of these--who kept as open an order as the narrow
ground would allow and carried, each of them, a bundle of throwing
spears arranged in loops or sockets at the back of the shield. When
these men were about a hundred yards away we opened fire and killed a
great number of them, also some of the marshalled troops behind. But
this did not stop them in the least, for what could fifty rifles do
against a horde of brave barbarians who, it seemed, had no fear of
death? Presently their spears were falling among us and a few
casualties began to occur, not many, because of the protecting wall,
but still some. Again and again we loaded and fired, sweeping away
those in front of us, but always others came to take their places.
Finally at some word of command these light skirmishers vanished,
except whose who were dead or wounded, taking shelter behind the
advancing regiments which now were within fifty yards of us.

Then, after a momentary pause another command was shouted out and the
first regiment charged in three solid ranks. We fired a volley point
blank into them and, as it was hopeless for fifty men to withstand
such an onslaught, bolted during the temporary confusion that ensued,
taking refuge, as it had been arranged that we should do, at a point
of vantage farther down the line of fortifications, whence we
maintained our galling fire.

Now it was that the main body of the White Kendah came into action
under the leadership of Ragnall and Harūt. The enemy scrambled over
the first wall, which we had just vacated, to find themselves in a
network of other walls held by our spearmen in a narrow place where
numbers gave no great advantage.

Here the fighting was terrible and the loss of the attackers great,
for always as they carried one entrenchment they found another a few
yards in front of them, out of which the defenders could only be
driven at much cost of life.

Two hours or more the battle went on thus. In spite of the desperate
resistance which we offered, the multitude of the Black Kendah, who I
must say fought magnificently, stormed wall after wall, leaving
hundreds of dead and wounded to mark their difficult progress.
Meanwhile I and my riflemen rained bullets on them from certain
positions which we had selected beforehand, until at length our
ammunition began to run low.

At half-past eight in the morning we were driven back over the open
ground to our last entrenchment, a very strong one just outside of the
eastern gate of the temple which, it will be remembered, was set in a
tunnel pierced through the natural lava rock. Thrice did the Black
Kendah come on and thrice we beat them off, till the ditch in front of
the wall was almost full of fallen. As fast as they climbed to the top
of it the White Kendah thrust them through with their long spears, or
we shot them with our rifles, the nature of the ground being such that
only a direct frontal attack was possible.

In the end they drew back sullenly, having, as we hoped, given up the
assault. As it turned out, this was not so. They were only resting and
waiting for the arrival of their reserve. It came up shouting and
singing a war-song, two thousand strong or more, and presently once
more they charged like a flood of water. We beat them back. They
reformed and charged a second time and we beat them back.

Then they took another counsel. Standing among the dead and dying at
the base of the wall, which was built of loose stones and earth, where
we could not easily get at them because of the showers of spears which
were rained at anyone who showed himself, they began to undermine it,
levering out the bottom stones with stakes and battering them with

In five minutes a breach appeared, through which they poured
tumultuously. It was hopeless to withstand that onslaught of so vast a
number. Fighting desperately, we were driven down the tunnel and
through the doors that were opened to us, into the first court of the
temple. By furious efforts we managed to close these doors and block
them with stones and earth. But this did not avail us long, for,
bringing brushwood and dry grass, they built a fire against them that
soon caught the thick cedar wood of which they were made.

While they burned we consulted together. Further retreat seemed
impossible, since the second court of the temple, save for a narrow
passage, was filled with corn which allowed no room for fighting,
while behind it were gathered all the women and children, more than
two thousand of them. Here, or nowhere, we must make our stand and
conquer or die. Up to this time, compared with what which we had
inflicted upon the Black Kendah, of whom a couple of thousand or more
had fallen, our loss was comparatively slight, say two hundred killed
and as many more wounded. Most of such of the latter as could not walk
we had managed to carry into the first court of the temple, laying
them close against the cloister walls, whence they watched us in a
grisly ring.

This left us about sixteen hundred able-bodied men or many more than
we could employ with effect in that narrow place. Therefore we
determined to act upon a plan which we had already designed in case
such an emergency as ours should arise. About three hundred and fifty
of the best men were to remain to defend the temple till all were
slain. The rest, to the number of over a thousand, were to withdraw
through the second court and the gates beyond to the camp of the women
and children. These they were to conduct by secret paths that were
known to them to where the camels were kraaled, and mounting as many
as possible of them on the camels to fly whither they could. Our hope
was that the victorious Black Kendah would be too exhausted to follow
them across the plain to the distant mountains. It was a dreadful
determination, but we had no choice.

"What of my wife?" Ragnall asked hoarsely.

"While the temple stands she must remain in the temple," replied
Harūt. "But when all is lost, if I have fallen, do you, White Lord, go
to the sanctuary with those who remain and take her and the Ivory
Child and flee after the others. Only I lay this charge on you under
pain of the curse of Heaven, that you do not suffer the Ivory Child to
fall into the hands of the Black Kendah. First must you burn it with
fire or grind it to dust with stones. Moreover, I give this command to
all in case of the priests in charge of it should fail me, that they
set flame to the brushwood that is built up with the stacks of corn,
so that, after all, those of our enemies who escape may die of

Instantly and without murmuring, for never did I see more perfect
discipline than that which prevailed among these poor people, the
orders given by Harūt, who in addition to his office as head priest
was a kind of president of what was in fact a republic, were put in
the way of execution. Company by company the men appointed to escort
the women and children departed through the gateway of the second
court, each company turning in the gateway to salute us who remained,
by raising their spears, till all were gone. Then we, the three
hundred and fifty who were left, marshalled ourselves as the Greeks
may have done in the Pass of Thermopylę.

First stood I and my riflemen, to whom all the remaining ammunition
was served out; it amounted to eight rounds per man. Then, ranged
across the court in four lines, came the spearmen armed with lances
and swords under the immediate command of Harūt. Behind these, near
the gate of the second court so that at the last they might attempt
the rescue of the priestess, were fifty picked men, captained by
Ragnall, who, I forgot to say, was wounded in two places, though not
badly, having received a spear thrust in the left shoulder and a sword
cut to the left thigh during his desperate defence of the

By the time that all was ready and every man had been given to drink
from the great jars of water which stood along the walls, the massive
wooden doors began to burn through, though this did not happen for
quite half an hour after the enemy had begun to attempt to fire them.
They fell at length beneath the battering of poles, leaving only the
mound of earth and stones which we had piled up in the gateway after
the closing of the doors. This the Black Kendah, who had raked out the
burning embers, set themselves to dig away with hands and sticks and
spears, a task that was made very difficult to them by about a score
of our people who stabbed at them with their long lances or dashed
them down with stones, killing and disabling many. But always the dead
and wounded were dragged off while others took their places, so that
at last the gateway was practically cleared. Then I called back the
spearmen who passed into the ranks behind us, and made ready to play
my part.

I had not long to wait. With a rush and a roar a great company of the
Black Kendah charged the gateway. Just as they began to emerge into
the court I gave the word to fire, sending fifty Snider bullets
tearing into them from a distance of a few yards. They fell in a heap;
they fell like corn before the scythe, not a man won through. Quickly
we reloaded and waited for the next rush. In due course it came and
the dreadful scene repeated itself. Now the gateway and the tunnel
beyond were so choked with fallen men that the enemy must drag these
out before they could charge any more. It was done under the fire of
myself, Hans and a few picked shots--somehow it was done.

Once more they charged, and once more were mown down. So it went on
till our last cartridge was spent, for never did I see more
magnificent courage than was shown by those Black Kendah in the face
of terrific loss. Then my people threw aside their useless rifles and
arming themselves with spears and swords fell back to rest, leaving
Harūt and his company to take their place. For half an hour or more
raged that awful struggle, since the spot being so narrow, charge as
they would, the Black Kendah could not win through the spears of
despairing warriors defending their lives and the sanctuary of their
god. Nor, the encircling cliffs being so sheer, could they get round
any other way.

At length the enemy drew back as though defeated, giving us time to
drag aside our dead and wounded and drink more water, for the heat in
the place was now overwhelming. We hoped against hope that they had
given up the attack. But this was far from the case; they were but
making a new plan.

Suddenly in the gateway there appeared the huge bulk of the elephant
Jana, rushing forward at speed and being urged on by men who pricked
it with spears behind. It swept through the defenders as though they
were but dry grass, battering those in front of it with its great
trunk from which swung the iron balls that crushed all on whom they
fell, and paying no more heed to the lance thrusts than it might have
done to the bites of gnats. On it came, trumpeting and trampling, and
after it in a flood flowed the Black Kendah, upon whom our spearmen
flung themselves from either side.

At the time I, followed by Hans, was just returning from speaking with
Ragnall at the gate of the second court. A little before I had retired
exhausted from the fierce and fearful fighting, whereon he took my
place and repelled several of the Black Kendah charges, including the
last. In this fray he received a further injury, a knock on the head
from a stick or stone which stunned him for a few minutes, whereon
some of our people had carried him off and set him on the ground with
his back against one of the pillars of the second gate. Being told
that he was hurt I ran to see what was the matter. Finding to my joy
that it was nothing very serious, I was hurrying to the front again
when I looked up and saw that devil Jana charging straight towards me,
the throng of armed men parting on each side of him, as rough water
does before the leaping prow of a storm-driven ship.

To tell the truth, although I was never fond of unnecessary risks, I
rejoiced at the sight. Not even all the excitement of that hideous and
prolonged battle had obliterated from my mind the burning sense of
shame at the exhibition which I had made of myself by missing this
beast with four barrels at forty yards.

Now, thought I to myself with a kind of exultant thrill, now, Jana, I
will wipe out both my disgrace and you. This time there shall be no
mistake, or if there is, let it be my last.

On thundered Jana, whirling the iron balls among the soldiers, who
fled to right and left leaving a clear path between me and him. To
make quite sure of things, for I was trembling a little with fatigue
and somewhat sick from the continuous sight of bloodshed, I knelt down
upon my right knee, using the other as a prop for my left elbow, and
since I could not make certain of a head shot because of the continual
whirling of the huge trunk, got the sight of my big-game rifle dead on
to the beast where the throat joins the chest. I hoped that the heavy
conical bullet would either pierce through to the spine or cut one of
the large arteries in the neck, or at least that the tremendous shock
of its impact would bring him down.

At about twenty paces I fired and hit--not Jana but the lame priest
who was fulfilling the office of mahout, perched upon his shoulders
many feet above the point at which I had aimed. Yes! I hit him in the
head, which was shattered like an eggshell, so that he fell lifeless
to the ground.

In perfect desperation again I aimed, and fired when Jana was not more
than thirty feet away. This time the bullet must have gone wide to the
left, for I saw a chip fly from the end of the animal's broken and
deformed tusk, which stuck out in that direction several feet clear of
its side.

Then I gave up all hope. There was no time to gain my feet and escape;
indeed I did not wish to do so, who felt that there are some failures
which can only be absolved by death. I just knelt there, waiting for
the end.

In an instant the giant creature was almost over me. I remember
looking up at it and thinking in a queer sort of a way--perhaps it was
some ancestral memory--that I was a little ape-like child about to be
slain by a primordial elephant, thrice as big as any that now inhabit
the earth. Then something appeared to happen which I only repeat to
show how at such moments absurd and impossible things seem real to us.

The reader may remember the strange dream which Hans had related to me
that morning.

One incident of this phantasy was that he had met the spirit of the
Zulu lady Mameena, whom I knew in bygone years, and that she bade him
tell me she would be with me in the battle and that I was to look for
her when death drew near to me and "Jana thundered on," for then
perchance I should see her.

Well, no doubt in some lightning flash of thought the memory of these
words occurred to me at this juncture, with the ridiculous result that
my subjective intelligence, if that is the right term, actually
created the scene which they described. As clearly, or perhaps more
clearly than ever I saw anything else in my life, I appeared to behold
the beautiful Mameena in her fur cloak and her blue beads, standing
between Jana and myself with her arms folded upon her breast and
looking exactly as she did in the tremendous moment of her death
before King Panda. I even noted how the faint breeze stirred a loose
end of her outspread hair and how the sunlight caught a particular
point of a copper bangle on her upper arm.

So she stood, or rather seemed to stand, quite still; and as it
happened, at that moment the giant Jana, either because something had
frightened him, or perhaps owing to the shock of my bullet striking on
his tusk having jarred the brain, suddenly pulled up, sliding along a
little with all his four feet together, till I thought he was going to
sit down like a performing elephant. Then it appeared to me as though
Mameena turned round very slowly, bent towards me, whispering
something which I could not hear although her lips moved, looked at me
sweetly with those wonderful eyes of hers and vanished away.

A fraction of a second later all this vision had gone and something
that was no vision took its place. Jana had recovered himself and was
at me again with open mouth and lifted trunk. I heard a Dutch curse
and saw a little yellow form; saw Hans, for it was he, thrust the
barrels of my second elephant rifle almost into that red cave of a
mouth, which however they could not reach, and fire, first one barrel,
then the other.

Another moment, and the mighty trunk had wrapped itself about Hans and
hurled him through the air to fall on to his head and arms thirty or
forty feet away.

Jana staggered as though he too were about to fall; recovered himself,
swerved to the right, perhaps to follow Hans, stumbled on a few paces,
missing me altogether, then again came to a standstill. I wriggled
myself round and, seated on the pavement of the court, watched what
followed, and glad am I that I was able to do so, for never shall I
behold such another scene.

First I saw Ragnall run up with a rifle and fire two barrels at the
brute's head, of which he took no notice whatsoever. Then I saw his
wife, who in this land was known as the Guardian of the Child, issuing
from the portals of the second court, dressed in her goddess robes,
wearing the cap of bird's feathers, attended by the two priestesses
also dressed as goddesses, as we had seen her on the morning of
sacrifice, and holding in front of her the statue of the Ivory Child.

On she came quite quietly, her wide, empty eyes fixed upon Jana. As
she advanced the monster seemed to grow uneasy. Turning his head, he
lifted his trunk and thrust it along his back until it gripped the
ankle of the King Simba, who all this while was seated there in his
chair making no movement.

With a slow, steady pull he dragged Simba from the chair so that he
fell upon the ground near his left foreleg. Next very composedly he
wound his trunk about the body of the helpless man, whose horrified
eyes I can see to this day, and began to whirl him round and round in
the air, gently at first but with a motion that grew ever more rapid,
until the bright chains on the victim's breast flashed in the sunlight
like a silver wheel. Then he hurled him to the ground, where the poor
king lay a mere shattered pulp that had been human.

Now the priestess was standing in front of the beast-god, apparently
quite without fear, though her two attendants had fallen back. Ragnall
sprang forward as though to drag her away, but a dozen men leapt on to
him and held him fast, either to save his life or for some secret
reason of their own which I never learned.

Jana looked down at her and she looked up at Jana. Then he screamed
furiously and, shooting out his trunk, snatched the Ivory Child from
her hands, whirled it round as he had whirled Simba, and at last
dashed it to the stone pavement as he had dashed Simba, so that its
substance, grown brittle on the passage of the ages, shattered into
ten thousand fragments.

At this sight a great groan went up from the men of the White Kendah,
the women dressed as goddesses shrieked and tore their robes, and
Harūt, who stood near, fell down in a fit or faint.

Once more Jana screamed. Then slowly he knelt down, beat his trunk and
the clattering metal balls upon the ground thrice, as though he were
making obeisance to the beautiful priestess who stood before him,
shivered throughout his mighty bulk, and rolled over--dead!

The fighting ceased. The Black Kendah, who all this while had been
pressing into the court of the temple, saw and stood stupefied. It was
as though in the presence of events to them so pregnant and terrible
men could no longer lift their swords in war.

A voice called: "The god is dead! The king is dead! Jana has slain
Simba and has himself been slain! Shattered is the Child; spilt is the
blood of Jana! Fly, People of the Black Kendah; fly, for the gods are
dead and your land is a land of ghosts!"

From every side was this wail echoed: "Fly, People of the Black
Kendah, for the gods are dead!"

They turned; they sped away like shadows, carrying their wounded with
them, nor did any attempt to stay them. Thirty minutes later, save for
some desperately hurt or dying men, not one of them was left in the
temple or the pass beyond. They had all gone, leaving none but the
dead behind them.

The fight was finished! The fight that had seemed lost was won!

I dragged myself from the ground. As I gained my tottering feet, for
now that all was over I felt as if I were made of running water, I saw
the men who held Ragnall loose their grip of him. He sprang to where
his wife was and stood before her as though confused, much as Jana had
stood, Jana against whose head he rested, his left hand holding to the
brute's gigantic tusk, for I think that he also was weak with toil,
terror, loss of blood and emotion.

"Luna," he gasped, "Luna!"

Leaning on the shoulder of a Kendah man, I drew nearer to see what
passed between them, for my curiosity overcame my faintness. For quite
a long while she stared at him, till suddenly her eyes began to
change. It was as though a soul were arising in their emptiness as the
moon arises in the quiet evening sky, giving them light and life. At
length she spoke in a slow, hesitating voice, the tones of which I
remembered well enough, saying:

"Oh! George, that dreadful brute," and she pointed to the dead
elephant, "has killed our baby. Look at it! Look at it! We must be
everything to each other now, dear, as we were before it came--unless
God sends us another."

Then she burst into a flood of weeping and fell into his arms, after
which I turned away. So, to their honour be it said, did the Kendah,
leaving the pair alone behind the bulk of dead Jana.

Here I may state two things: first, that Lady Ragnall, whose bodily
health had remained perfect throughout, entirely recovered her reason
from that moment. It was as though on the shattering of the Ivory
Child some spell had been lifted off her. What this spell may have
been I am quite unable to explain, but I presume that in a dim and
unknown way she connected this effigy with her own lost infant and
that while she held and tended it her intellect remained in abeyance.
If so, she must also have connected its destruction with the death of
her own child which, strangely enough, it will be remembered, was
likewise killed by an elephant. The first death that occurred in her
presence took away her reason, the second seeming death, which also
occurred in her presence, brought it back again!

Secondly, from the moment of the destruction of her boy in the streets
of the English country town to that of the shattering of the Ivory
Child in Central Africa her memory was an utter blank, with one
exception. This exception was a dream which a few days later she
narrated to Ragnall in my presence. That dream was that she had seen
him and Savage sleeping together in a native house one night. In view
of a certain incident recorded in this history I leave the reader to
draw his own conclusions as to this curious incident. I have none to
offer, or if I have I prefer to keep them to myself.

Leaving Ragnall and his wife, I staggered off to look for Hans and
found him lying senseless near the north wall of the temple. Evidently
he was beyond human help, for Jana seemed to have crushed most of his
ribs in his iron trunk. We carried him to one of the priest's cells
and there I watched him till the end, which came at sundown.

Before he died he became quite conscious and talked with me a good

"Don't grieve about missing Jana, Baas," he said, "for it wasn't you
who missed him but some devil that turned your bullets. You see, Baas,
he was bewitched against you white men. When you look at him closely
you will find that the Lord Igeza missed him also" (strange as it may
seem, this proved to be the case), "and when you managed to hit the
tip of his tusk with the last ball the magic was wearing off him,
that's all. But, Baas, those Black Kendah wizards forgot to bewitch
him against the little yellow man, of whom they took no account. So I
hit him sure enough every time I fired at him, and I hope he liked the
taste of my bullets in that great mouth of his. He knew who had sent
them there very well. That's why he left you alone and made for me, as
I had hoped he would. Oh! Baas, I die happy, quite happy since I have
killed Jana and he caught me and not you, me who was nearly finished
anyhow. For, Baas, though I didn't say anything about it, a thrown
spear struck my groin when I went down among the Black Kendah this
morning. It was only a small cut, which bled little, but as the
fighting went on something gave way and my inside began to come
through it, though I tied it up with a bit of cloth, which of course
means death in a day or two." (Subsequent examination showed me that
Hans's story of this wound was perfectly true. He could not have lived
for very long.)

"Baas," he went on after a pause, "no doubt I shall meet that Zulu
lady Mameena to-night. Tell me, is she really entitled to the royal
salute? Because if not, when I am as much a spook as she is I will not
give it to her again. She never gave me my titles, which are good ones
in their way, so why should I give her the /Bayéte/, unless it is hers
by right of blood, although I am only a little 'yellow dog' as she
chose to call me?"

As this ridiculous point seemed to weigh upon his mind I told him that
Mameena was not even of royal blood and in nowise entitled to the
salute of kings.

"Ah!" he said with a feeble grin, "then now I shall know how to deal
with her, especially as she cannot pretend that I did not play my part
in the battle, as she bade me do. Did you see anything of her when
Jana charged, Baas, because I thought I did?"

"I seemed to see something, but no doubt it was only a fancy."

"A fancy? Explain to me, Baas, where truths end and fancies begin and
whether what we think are fancies are not sometimes the real truths.
Once or twice I have thought so of late, Baas."

I could not answer this riddle, so instead I gave him some water which
he asked for, and he continued:

"Baas, have you any messages for the two Shining ones, for her whose
name is holy and her sister, and for the child of her whose name is
holy, the Missie Marie, and for your reverend father, the Predikant?
If so, tell it quickly before my head grows too empty to hold the

I will confess, however foolish it may seem, that I gave him certain
messages, but what they were I shall not write down. Let them remain
secret between me and him. Yes, between me and him and perhaps those
to whom they were to be delivered. For after all, in his own words,
who can know exactly where fancies end and truth begin, and whether at
times fancies are not the veritable truths in this universal mystery
of which the individual life of each of us is so small a part?

Hans repeated what I had spoken to him word for word, as a native
does, repeated it twice over, after which he said he knew it by heart
and remained silent for a long while. Then he asked me to lift him up
in the doorway of the cell so that he might look at the sun setting
for the last time, "for, Baas," he added, "I think I am going far
beyond the sun."

He stared at it for a while, remarking that from the look of the sky
there should be fine weather coming, "which will be good for your
journey towards the Black Water, Baas, with all that ivory to carry."

I answered that perhaps I should never get the ivory from the
graveyard of the elephants, as the Black Kendah might prevent this.

"No, no, Baas," he replied, "now that Jana is dead the Black Kendah
will go away. I know it, I know it!"

Then he wandered for a space, speaking of sundry adventures we had
shared together, till quite before the last indeed, when his mind
returned to him.

"Baas," he said, "did not the captain Mavovo name me Light-in-
Darkness, and is not that my name? When you too enter the Darkness,
look for that Light; it will be shining very close to you."

He only spoke once more. His words were:

"Baas, I understand now what your reverend father, the Predikant,
meant when he spoke to me about Love last night. It had nothing to do
with women, Baas, at least not much. It was something a great deal
bigger, Baas, something as big as what I feel for you!"

Then Hans died with a smile on his wrinkled face.

I wept!



There is not much more to write of this expedition, or if that
statement be not strictly true, not much more that I wish to write,
though I have no doubt that Ragnall, if he had a mind that way, could
make a good and valuable book concerning many matters on which,
confining myself to the history of our adventure, I have scarcely
touched. All the affinities between this Central African Worship of
the Heavenly Child and its Guardian and that of Horus and Isis in
Egypt from which it was undoubtedly descended, for instance. Also the
part which the great serpent played therein, as it may be seen playing
a part in every tomb upon the Nile, and indeed plays a part in our own
and other religions. Further, our journey across the desert to the Red
Sea was very interesting, but I am tired of describing journeys--and
of making them.

The truth is that after the death of Hans, like to Queen Sheba when
she had surveyed the wonders of Solomon's court, there was no more
spirit in me. For quite a long while I did not seem to care at all
what happened to me or to anybody else. We buried him in a place of
honour, exactly where he shot Jana before the gateway of the second
court, and when the earth was thrown over his little yellow face I
felt as though half my past had departed with him into that hole. Poor
drunken old Hans, where in the world shall I find such another man as
you were? Where in the world shall I find so much love as filled the
cup of that strange heart of yours?

I dare say it is a form of selfishness, but what every man desires is
something that cares for him /alone/, which is just why we are so fond
of dogs. Now Hans was a dog with a human brain and he cared for me
alone. Often our vanity makes us think that this has happened to some
of us in the instance of one or more women. But honest and quiet
reflection may well cause us to doubt the truth of such supposings.
The woman who as we believed adored us solely has probably in the
course of her career adored others, or at any rate other things.

To take but one instance, that of Mameena, the Zulu lady whom Hans
thought he saw in the Shades. She, I believe, did me the honour to be
very fond of me, but I am convinced that she was fonder still of her
ambition. Now Hans never cared for any living creature, or for any
human hope or object, as he cared for me. There was no man or woman
whom he would not have cheated, or even murdered for my sake. There
was no earthly advantage, down to that of life itself, that he would
not, and in the end did not forgo for my sake; witness the case of his
little fortune which he invested in my rotten gold mine and thought
nothing of losing--for my sake.

That is love /in excelsis/, and the man who has succeeded in inspiring
it in any creature, even in a low, bibulous, old Hottentot, may feel
proud indeed. At least I am proud and as the years go by the pride
increases, as the hope grows that somewhere in the quiet of that great
plain which he saw in his dream, I may find the light of Hans's love
burning like a beacon in the darkness, as he promised I should do, and
that it may guide and warm my shivering, new-born soul before I dare
the adventure of the Infinite.

Meanwhile, since the sublime and the ridiculous are so very near akin,
I often wonder how he and Mameena settled that question of her right
to the royal salute. Perhaps I shall learn one day--indeed already I
have had a hint of it. If so, even in the blaze of a new and universal
Truth, I am certain that their stories will differ wildly.

Hans was quite right about the Black Kendah. They cleared out,
probably in search of food, where I do not know and I do not care,
though whether this were a temporary or permanent move on their part
remains, and so far as I am concerned is likely to remain, veiled in
obscurity. They were great blackguards, though extraordinarily fine
soldiers, and what became of them is a matter of complete indifference
to me. One thing is certain, however, a very large percentage of them
never migrated at all, for something over three thousand of their
bodies did our people have to bury in the pass and about the temple, a
purpose for which all the pits and trenches we had dug came in very
useful. Our loss, by the way, was five hundred and three, including
those who died of wounds. It was a great fight and, except for those
who perished in the pitfalls during the first rush, all practically
hand to hand.

Jana we interred where he fell because we could not move him, within a
few feet of the body of his slayer Hans. I have always regretted that
I did not take the exact measurements of this brute, as I believe the
record elephant of the world, but I had no time to do so and no rule
or tape at hand. I only saw him for a minute on the following morning,
just as he was being tumbled into a huge hole, together with the
remains of his master, Simba the King. I found, however, that the sole
wounds upon him, save some cuts and scratches from spears, were those
inflicted by Hans--namely, the loss of one eye, the puncture through
the skin over the heart made when he shot at him for the second time
with the little rifle Intombi, and two neat holes at the back of the
mouth through which the bullets from the elephant gun had driven
upwards to the base of the brain, causing his death from hęmorrhage on
that organ.

I asked the White Kendah to give me his two enormous tusks,
unequalled, I suppose, in size and weight in Africa, although one was
deformed and broken. But they refused. These, I presume, they wished
to keep, together with the chains off his breast and trunk, as
mementoes of their victory over the god of their foes. At any rate
they hewed the former out with axes and removed the latter before
tumbling the carcass into the grave. From the worn-down state of the
teeth I concluded that this beast must have been extraordinarily old,
how old it is impossible to say.

That is all I have to tell of Jana. May he rest in peace, which
certainly he will not do if Hans dwells anywhere in his neighbourhood,
in the region which the old boy used to call that of the "fires that
do not go out." Because of my horrible failure in connection with this
beast, the very memory of which humiliates me, I do not like to think
of it more than I can help.

For the rest the White Kendah kept faith with us in every particular.
In a curious and semi-religious ceremony, at which I was not present,
Lady Ragnall was absolved from her high office of Guardian or Nurse to
a god whereof the symbol no longer existed, though I believe that the
priests collected the tiny fragments of ivory, or as many of them as
could be found, and preserved them in a jar in the sanctuary. After
this had been done women stripped the Nurse of her hallowed robes, of
the ancient origin of which, by the way, I believe that none of them,
except perhaps Harūt, had any idea, any more than they knew that the
Child represented the Egyptian Horus and his lady Guardian the moon-
goddess Isis. Then, dressed in some native garments, she was handed
over to Ragnall and thenceforth treated as a stranger-guest, like
ourselves, being allowed, however, to live with her husband in the
same house that she had occupied during all the period of her strange
captivity. Here they abode together, lost in the mutual bliss of this
wonderful reunion to which they had attained through so much bodily
and spiritual darkness and misery, until a month or so later we
started upon our journey across the mountains and the great desert
that lay beyond them.

Only once did I find any real opportunity of private conversation with
Lady Ragnall.

This happened after her husband had recovered from the hurts he
received in the battle, on an occasion when he was obliged to separate
from her for a day in order to attend to some matter in the Town of
the Child. I think it had to do with the rifles used in the battle,
which he had presented to the White Kendah. So, leaving me to look
after her, he went, unwillingly enough, who seemed to hate losing
sight of his wife even for an hour.

I took her for a walk in the wood, to that very point indeed on the
lip of the crater whence we had watched her play her part as priestess
at the Feast of the First-fruits. After we had stood there a while we
went down among the great cedars, trying to retrace the last part of
our march through the darkness of that anxious night, whereof now for
the first time I told her all the story.

Growing tired of scrambling among the fallen boughs, at length Lady
Ragnall sat down and said:

"Do you know, Mr. Quatermain, these are the first words we have really
had since that party at Ragnall before I was married, when, as you may
have forgotten, you took me in to dinner."

I replied that there was nothing I recollected much more clearly,
which was both true and the right thing to say, or so I supposed.

"Well," she said slowly, "you see that after all there was something
in those fancies of mine which at the time you thought would best be
dealt with by a doctor--about Africa and the rest, I mean."

"Yes, Lady Ragnall, though of course we should always remember that
coincidence accounts for many things. In any case they are done with

"Not quite, Mr. Quatermain, even as you mean, since we have still a
long way to go. Also in another sense I believe that they are but

"I do not understand, Lady Ragnall."

"Nor do I, but listen. You know that of anything which happened during
those months I have no memory at all, except of that one dream when I
seemed to see George and Savage in the hut. I remember my baby being
killed by that horrible circus elephant, just as the Ivory Child was
killed or rather destroyed by Jana, which I suppose is another of your
coincidences, Mr. Quatermain. After that I remember nothing until I
woke up and saw George standing in front of me covered with blood, and
you, and Jana dead, and the rest."

"Because during that time your mind was gone, Lady Ragnall."

"Yes, but where had it gone? I tell you, Mr. Quatermain, that although
I remember nothing of what was passing about me then, I do remember a
great deal of what seemed to be passing either long ago or in some
time to come, though I have said nothing of it to George, as I hope
you will not either. It might upset him."

"What do you remember?" I asked.

"That's the trouble; I can't tell you. What was once very clear to me
has for the most part become vague and formless. When my mind tries to
grasp it, it slips away. It was another life to this, quite a
different life; and there was a great story in it of which I think
what we have been going through is either a sequel or a prologue. I
see, or saw, cities and temples with people moving about them, George
and you among them, also that old priest, Harūt. You will laugh, but
my recollection is that you stood in some relationship to me, either
that of father or brother."

"Or perhaps a cousin," I suggested.

"Or perhaps a cousin," she repeated, smiling, "or a great friend; at
any rate something very intimate. As for George, I don't know what he
was, or Harūt either. But the odd thing is that little yellow man,
Hans, whom I only saw once living for a few minutes that I can
remember, comes more clearly back to my mind than any of you. He was a
dwarf, much stouter than when I saw him the other day, but very like.
I recall him curiously dressed with feathers and holding an ivory rod,
seated upon a stool at the feet of a great personage--a king, I think.
The king asked him questions, and everyone listened to his answers.
That is all, except that the scenes seemed to be flooded with

"Which is more than this place is. I think we had better be moving,
Lady Ragnall, or you will catch a chill under these damp cedars."

I said this because I did not wish to pursue the conversation. I
considered it too exciting under all her circumstances, especially as
I perceived that mystical look gathering on her face and in her
beautiful eyes, which I remembered noting before she was married.

She read my thoughts and answered with a laugh:

"Yes, it is damp; but you know I am very strong and damp will not hurt
me. For the rest you need not be afraid, Mr. Quatermain. I did not
lose my mind. It was taken from me by some power and sent to live
elsewhere. Now it has been given back and I do not think it will be
taken again in that way."

"Of course it won't," I exclaimed confidently. "Whoever dreamed of
such a thing?"

"/You/ did," she answered, looking me in the eyes. "Now before we go I
want to say one more thing. Harūt and the head priestess have made me
a present. They have given me a box full of that herb they called
tobacco, but of which I have discovered the real name is Taduki. It is
the same that they burned in the bowl when you and I saw visions at
Ragnall Castle, which visions, Mr. Quatermain, by another of your
coincidences, have since been translated into facts."

"I know. We saw you breathe that smoke again as priestess when you
uttered the prophecy as Oracle of the Child at the Feast of the First-
fruits. But what are you going to do with this stuff, Lady Ragnall? I
think you have had enough of visions just at present."

"So do I, though to tell you the truth I like them. I am going to keep
it and do nothing--as yet. Still, I want you always to remember one
thing--don't laugh at me"--here again she looked me in the eyes--"that
there is a time coming, some way off I think, when I and you--no one
else, Mr. Quatermain--will breathe that smoke again together and see
strange things."

"No, no!" I replied, "I have given up tobacco of the Kendah variety;
it is too strong for me."

"Yes, yes!" she said, "for something that is stronger than the Kendah
tobacco will make you do it--when I wish."

"Did Harūt tell you that, Lady Ragnall?"

"I don't know," she answered confusedly. "I think the Ivory Child told
me; it used to talk to me often. You know that Child isn't really
destroyed. Like my reason that seemed to be lost, it has only gone
backwards or forwards where you and I shall see it again. You and I
and no others--unless it be the little yellow man. I repeat that I do
not know when that will be. Perhaps it is written in those rolls of
papyrus, which they have given me also, because they said they
belonged to me who am 'the first priestess and the last.' They told
me, however, or perhaps," she added, passing her hand across her
forehead, "it was the Child who told me, that I was not to attempt to
read them or have them read, until after a great change in my life.
What the change will be I do not know."

"And had better not inquire, Lady Ragnall, since in this world most
changes are for the worse."

"I agree, and shall not inquire. Now I have spoken to you like this
because I felt that I must do so. Also I want to thank you for all you
have done for me and George. Probably we shall not talk in such a way
again; as I am situated the opportunity will be lacking, even if the
wish is present. So once more I thank you from my heart. Until we meet
again--I mean really meet--good-bye," and she held her right hand to
me in such a fashion that I knew she meant me to kiss it.

This I did very reverently and we walked back to the temple almost in

That month of rest, or rather the last three weeks of it, since for
the first few days after the battle I was quite prostrate, I occupied
in various ways, amongst others in a journey with Harūt to Simba Town.
This we made after our spies had assured us that the Black Kendah were
really gone somewhere to the south-west, in which direction fertile
and unoccupied lands were said to exist about three hundred miles
away. It was with very strange feelings that I retraced our road and
looked once more upon that wind-bent tree still scored with the marks
of Jana's huge tusk, in the boughs of which Hans and I had taken
refuge from the monster's fury. Crossing the river, quite low now, I
travelled up the slope down which we raced for our lives and came to
the melancholy lake and the cemetery of dead elephants.

Here all was unchanged. There was the little mount worn by his feet,
on which Jana was wont to stand. There were the rocks behind which I
had tried to hide, and near to them some crushed human bones which I
knew to be those of the unfortunate Marūt. These we buried with due
reverence on the spot where he had fallen, I meanwhile thanking God
that my own bones were not being interred at their side, as but for
Hans would have been the case--if they were ever interred at all. All
about lay the skeletons of dead elephants, and from among these we
collected as much of the best ivory as we could carry, namely about
fifty camel loads. Of course there was much more, but a great deal of
the stuff had been exposed for so long to sun and weather that it was
almost worthless.

Having sent this ivory back to the Town of the Child, which was being
rebuilt after a fashion, we went on to Simba Town through the forest,
dispatching pickets ahead of us to search and make sure that it was
empty. Empty it was indeed; never did I see such a place of

The Black Kendah had left it just as it stood, except for a pile of
corpses which lay around and over the altar in the market-place, where
the three poor camelmen were sacrificed to Jana, doubtless those of
wounded men who had died during or after the retreat. The doors of the
houses stood open, many domestic articles, such as great jars
resembling that which had been set over the head of the dead man whom
we were commanded to restore life, and other furniture lay about
because they could not be carried away. So did a great quantity of
spears and various weapons of war, whose owners being killed would
never want them again. Except a few starved dogs and jackals no living
creature remained in the town. It was in its own way as waste and even
more impressive than the graveyard of elephants by the lonely lake.

"The curse of the Child worked well," said Harūt to me grimly. "First,
the storm; the hunger; then the battle; and now the misery of flight
and ruin."

"It seems so," I answered. "Yet that curse, like others, came back to
roost, for if Jana is dead and his people fled, where are the Child
and many of its people? What will you do without your god, Harūt?"

"Repent us of our sins and wait till the Heavens send us another, as
doubtless they will in their own season," he replied very sadly.

I wonder whether they ever did and, if so, what form that new divinity
put on.

I slept, or rather did not sleep, that night in the same guest-house
in which Marūt and I had been imprisoned during our dreadful days of
fear, reconstructing in my mind every event connected with them. Once
more I saw the fires of sacrifice flaring upon the altar and heard the
roar of the dancing hail that proclaimed the ruin of the Black Kendah
as loudly as the trumpet of a destroying angel. Very glad was I when
the morning came at length and, having looked my last upon Simba Town,
I crossed the moats and set out homewards through the forest whereof
the stripped boughs also spoke of death, though in the spring these
would grow green again.

Ten days later we started from the Holy Mount, a caravan of about a
hundred camels, of which fifty were laden with the ivory and the rest
ridden by our escort under the command of Harūt and our three selves.
But there was an evil fate upon this ivory, as on everything else that
had to do with Jana. Some weeks later in the desert a great sandstorm
overtook us in which we barely escaped with our lives. At the height
of the storm the ivory-laden camels broke loose, flying before it.
Probably they fell and were buried beneath the sand; at any rate of
the fifty we only recovered ten.

Ragnall wished to pay me the value of the remaining loads, which ran
into thousands of pounds, but I would not take the money, saying it
was outside our bargain. Sometimes since then I have thought that I
was foolish, especially when on glancing at that codicil to his will
in after days, the same which he had given me before the battle, I
found that he had set me down for a legacy of £10,000. But in such
matters every man must follow his own instinct.

The White Kendah, an unemotional people especially now when they were
mourning for their lost god and their dead, watched us go without any
demonstration of affection, or even of farewell. Only those
priestesses who had attended upon the person of Lady Ragnall while she
played a divine part among them wept when they parted from her, and
uttered prayers that they might meet her again "in the presence of the

The pass through the great mountains proved hard to climb, as the
foothold for the camels was bad. But we managed it at last, most of
the way on foot, pausing a little while on their crest to look our
last for ever at the land which we had left, where the Mount of the
Child was still dimly visible. Then we descended their farther slope
and entered the northern desert.

Day after day and week after week we travelled across that endless
desert by a way known to Harūt on which water could be found, the only
living things in all its vastness, meeting with no accidents save that
of the sandstorm in which the ivory was lost. I was much alone during
that time, since Harūt spoke little and Ragnall and his wife were
wrapped up in each other.

At length, months later, we struck a little port on the Red Sea, of
which I forget the Arab name, a place as hot as the infernal regions.
Shortly afterwards, by great good luck, two trading vessels put in for
water, one bound for Aden, in which I embarked en route for Natal, and
the other for the port of Suez, whence Ragnall and his wife could
travel overland to Alexandria.

Our parting was so hurried at the last, as is often the way after long
fellowship, that beyond mutual thanks and good wishes we said little
to one another. I can see them now standing with their arms about each
other watching me disappear. Concerning their future there is so much
to tell that of it I shall say nothing; at any rate here and now,
except that Lady Ragnall was right. We did not part for the last time.

As I shook old Harūt's hand in farewell he told me that he was going
on to Egypt, and I asked him why.

"Perchance to look for another god, Lord Macumazana," he answered
gravely, "whom now there is no Jana to destroy. We may speak of that
matter if we should meet again."

Such are some of the things that I remember about this journey, but to
tell truth I paid little attention to them and many others.

For oh! my heart was sore because of Hans.