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Allan Quatermain by H. Rider Haggard

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Typed by Ng E-Ching, Singapore

I inscribe this book of adventure to my son ARTHUR JOHN RIDER
HAGGARD in the hope that in days to come he, and many other
boys whom I shall never know, may, in the acts and thoughts of
Allan Quatermain and his companions, as herein recorded,
find something to help him and them to reach to what, with Sir
Henry Curtis, I hold to be the highest rank whereto we can
attain -- the state and dignity of English gentlemen.

CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION
I THE CONSUL'S YARN
II THE BLACK HAND
III THE MISSION STATION
IV ALPHONSE AND HIS ANNETTE
V UMSLOPOGAAS MAKES A PROMISE
VI THE NIGHT WEARS ON
VII A SLAUGHTER GRIM AND GREAT
VIII ALPHONSE EXPLAINS
IX INTO THE UNKNOWN
X THE ROSE OF FIRE
XI THE FROWNING CITY
XII THE SISTER QUEENS
XIII ABOUT THE ZU-VENDI PEOPLE
XIV THE FLOWER TEMPLE
XV SORAIS' SONG
XVI BEFORE THE STATUE
XVII THE STORM BREAKS
XVIII WAR! RED WAR!
XIX A STRANGE WEDDING
XX THE BATTLE OF THE PASS
XXI AWAY! AWAY!
XXII HOW UMSLOPOGAAS HELD THE STAIR
XXIII I HAVE SPOKEN

INTRODUCTION

December 23

'I have just buried my boy, my poor handsome boy of whom I was
so proud, and my heart is broken. It is very hard having only
one son to lose him thus, but God's will be done. Who am I that
I should complain? The great wheel of Fate rolls on like a Juggernaut,
and crushes us all in turn, some soon, some late -- it does not
matter when, in the end, it crushes us all. We do not prostrate
ourselves before it like the poor Indians; we fly hither and
thither -- we cry for mercy; but it is of no use, the black Fate
thunders on and in its season reduces us to powder.

'Poor Harry to go so soon! just when his life was opening to
him. He was doing so well at the hospital, he had passed his
last examination with honours, and I was proud of them, much
prouder than he was, I think. And then he must needs go to that
smallpox hospital. He wrote to me that he was not afraid of
smallpox and wanted to gain the experience; and now the disease
has killed him, and I, old and grey and withered, am left to
mourn over him, without a chick or child to comfort me. I might
have saved him, too -- I have money enough for both of us, and
much more than enough -- King Solomon's Mines provided me with
that; but I said, "No, let the boy earn his living, let him labour
that he may enjoy rest." But the rest has come to him before
the labour. Oh, my boy, my boy!

'I am like the man in the Bible who laid up much goods and builded
barns -- goods for my boy and barns for him to store them in;
and now his soul has been required of him, and I am left desolate.
I would that it had been my soul and not my boy's!

'We buried him this afternoon under the shadow of the grey and
ancient tower of the church of this village where my house is.
It was a dreary December afternoon, and the sky was heavy with
snow, but not much was falling. The coffin was put down by the
grave, and a few big flakes lit upon it. They looked very white
upon the black cloth! There was a little hitch about getting
the coffin down into the grave -- the necessary ropes had been
forgotten: so we drew back from it, and waited in silence watching
the big flakes fall gently one by one like heavenly benedictions,
and melt in tears on Harry's pall. But that was not all. A
robin redbreast came as bold as could be and lit upon the coffin
and began to sing. And then I am afraid that I broke down, and
so did Sir Henry Curtis, strong man though he is; and as for
Captain Good, I saw him turn away too; even in my own distress
I could not help noticing it.'

The above, signed 'Allan Quatermain', is an extract from my diary
written two years and more ago. I copy it down here because
it seems to me that it is the fittest beginning to the history
that I am about to write, if it please God to spare me to finish
it. If not, well it does not matter. That extract was penned
seven thousand miles or so from the spot where I now lie painfully
and slowly writing this, with a pretty girl standing by my side
fanning the flies from my august countenance. Harry is there
and I am here, and yet somehow I cannot help feeling that I am
not far off Harry.

When I was in England I used to live in a very fine house --
at least I call it a fine house, speaking comparatively, and
judging from the standard of the houses I have been accustomed
to all my life in Africa -- not five hundred yards from the old
church where Harry is asleep, and thither I went after the funeral
and ate some food; for it is no good starving even if one has
just buried all one's earthly hopes. But I could not eat much,
and soon I took to walking, or rather limping -- being permanently
lame from the bite of a lion -- up and down, up and down the
oak-panelled vestibule; for there is a vestibule in my house
in England. On all the four walls of this vestibule were placed
pairs of horns -- about a hundred pairs altogether, all of which
I had shot myself. They are beautiful specimens, as I never
keep any horns which are not in every way perfect, unless it
may be now and again on account of the associations connected
with them. In the centre of the room, however, over the wide
fireplace, there was a clear space left on which I had fixed
up all my rifles. Some of them I have had for forty years, old
muzzle-loaders that nobody would look at nowadays. One was an
elephant gun with strips of rimpi, or green hide, lashed round
the stock and locks, such as used to be owned by the Dutchmen
-- a 'roer' they call it. That gun, the Boer I bought it from
many years ago told me, had been used by his father at the battle
of the Blood River, just after Dingaan swept into Natal and slaughtered
six hundred men, women, and children, so that the Boers named
the place where they died 'Weenen', or the 'Place of Weeping';
and so it is called to this day, and always will be called.
And many an elephant have I shot with that old gun. She always
took a handful of black powder and a three-ounce ball, and kicked
like the very deuce.

Well, up and down I walked, staring at the guns and the horns
which the guns had brought low; and as I did so there rose up
in me a great craving: -- I would go away from this place where
I lived idly and at ease, back again to the wild land where I
had spent my life, where I met my dear wife and poor Harry was
born, and so many things, good, bad, and indifferent, had happened
to me. The thirst for the wilderness was on me; I could tolerate
this place no more; I would go and die as I had lived, among
the wild game and the savages. Yes, as I walked, I began to
long to see the moonlight gleaming silvery white over the wide
veldt and mysterious sea of bush, and watch the lines of game
travelling down the ridges to the water. The ruling passion
is strong in death, they say, and my heart was dead that night.
But, independently of my trouble, no man who has for forty years
lived the life I have, can with impunity go coop himself in this
prim English country, with its trim hedgerows and cultivated
fields, its stiff formal manners, and its well-dressed crowds.
He begins to long -- ah, how he longs! -- for the keen breath
of the desert air; he dreams of the sight of Zulu impis breaking
on their foes like surf upon the rocks, and his heart rises up
in rebellion against the strict limits of the civilized life.

Ah! this civilization, what does it all come to? For forty years
and more I lived among savages, and studied them and their ways;
and now for several years I have lived here in England, and have
in my own stupid manner done my best to learn the ways of the
children of light; and what have I found? A great gulf fixed?
No, only a very little one, that a plain man's thought may spring
across. I say that as the savage is, so is the white man, only
the latter is more inventive, and possesses the faculty of combination;
save and except also that the savage, as I have known him, is
to a large extent free from the greed of money, which eats like
a cancer into the heart of the white man. It is a depressing
conclusion, but in all essentials the savage and the child of
civilization are identical. I dare say that the highly civilized
lady reading this will smile at an old fool of a hunter's simplicity
when she thinks of her black bead-bedecked sister; and so will
the superfine cultured idler scientifically eating a dinner at
his club, the cost of which would keep a starving family for
a week. And yet, my dear young lady, what are those pretty things
round your own neck? -- they have a strong family resemblance,
especially when you wear that _very_ low dress, to the savage woman's
beads. Your habit of turning round and round to the sound of
horns and tom-toms, your fondness for pigments and powders, the
way in which you love to subjugate yourself to the rich warrior
who has captured you in marriage, and the quickness with which
your taste in feathered head-dresses varies -- all these things
suggest touches of kinship; and you remember that in the fundamental
principles of your nature you are quite identical. As for you,
sir, who also laugh, let some man come and strike you in the
face whilst you are enjoying that marvellous-looking dish, and
we shall soon see how much of the savage there is in _you_.

There, I might go on for ever, but what is the good? Civilization
is only savagery silver-gilt. A vainglory is it, and like a
northern light, comes but to fade and leave the sky more dark.
Out of the soil of barbarism it has grown like a tree, and,
as I believe, into the soil like a tree it will once more, sooner
or later, fall again, as the Egyptian civilization fell, as the
Hellenic civilization fell, and as the Roman civilization and
many others of which the world has now lost count, fell also.
Do not let me, however, be understood as decrying our modern
institutions, representing as they do the gathered experience
of humanity applied for the good of all. Of course they have
great advantages -- hospitals for instance; but then, remember,
we breed the sickly people who fill them. In a savage land they
do not exist. Besides, the question will arise: How many of
these blessings are due to Christianity as distinct from civilization?
And so the balance sways and the story runs -- here a gain,
there a loss, and Nature's great average struck across the two,
whereof the sum total forms one of the factors in that mighty
equation in which the result will equal the unknown quantity
of her purpose.

I make no apology for this digression, especially as this is
an introduction which all young people and those who never like
to think (and it is a bad habit) will naturally skip. It seems
to me very desirable that we should sometimes try to understand
the limitations of our nature, so that we may not be carried
away by the pride of knowledge. Man's cleverness is almost indefinite,
and stretches like an elastic band, but human nature is like
an iron ring. You can go round and round it, you can polish
it highly, you can even flatten it a little on one side, whereby
you will make it bulge out the other, but you will _never_, while
the world endures and man is man, increase its total circumference.
It is the one fixed unchangeable thing -- fixed as the stars,
more enduring than the mountains, as unalterable as the way of
the Eternal. Human nature is God's kaleidoscope, and the little
bits of coloured glass which represent our passions, hopes, fears,
joys, aspirations towards good and evil and what not, are turned
in His mighty hand as surely and as certainly as it turns the
stars, and continually fall into new patterns and combinations.
But the composing elements remain the same, nor will there be
one more bit of coloured glass nor one less for ever and ever.

This being so, supposing for the sake of argument we divide ourselves
into twenty parts, nineteen savage and one civilized, we must
look to the nineteen savage portions of our nature, if we would
really understand ourselves, and not to the twentieth, which,
though so insignificant in reality, is spread all over the other
nineteen, making them appear quite different from what they really
are, as the blacking does a boot, or the veneer a table. It
is on the nineteen rough serviceable savage portions that we
fall back on emergencies, not on the polished but unsubstantial
twentieth. Civilization should wipe away our tears, and yet
we weep and cannot be comforted. Warfare is abhorrent to her,
and yet we strike out for hearth and home, for honour and fair
fame, and can glory in the blow. And so on, through everything.

So, when the heart is stricken, and the head is humbled in the
dust, civilization fails us utterly. Back, back, we creep, and
lay us like little children on the great breast of Nature, she
that perchance may soothe us and make us forget, or at least
rid remembrance of its sting. Who has not in his great grief
felt a longing to look upon the outward features of the universal
Mother; to lie on the mountains and watch the clouds drive across
the sky and hear the rollers break in thunder on the shore, to
let his poor struggling life mingle for a while in her life;
to feel the slow beat of her eternal heart, and to forget his
woes, and let his identity be swallowed in the vast imperceptibly
moving energy of her of whom we are, from whom we came, and with
whom we shall again be mingled, who gave us birth, and will in
a day to come give us our burial also.

And so in my trouble, as I walked up and down the oak-panelled
vestibule of my house there in Yorkshire, I longed once more
to throw myself into the arms of Nature. Not the Nature which
you know, the Nature that waves in well-kept woods and smiles
out in corn-fields, but Nature as she was in the age when creation
was complete, undefiled as yet by any human sinks of sweltering
humanity. I would go again where the wild game was, back to
the land whereof none know the history, back to the savages,
whom I love, although some of them are almost as merciless as
Political Economy. There, perhaps, I should be able to learn
to think of poor Harry lying in the churchyard, without feeling
as though my heart would break in two.

And now there is an end of this egotistical talk, and there shall
be no more of it. But if you whose eyes may perchance one day
fall upon my written thoughts have got so far as this, I ask
you to persevere, since what I have to tell you is not without
its interest, and it has never been told before, nor will again.

CHAPTER I
THE CONSUL'S YARN

A week had passed since the funeral of my poor boy Harry, and
one evening I was in my room walking up and down and thinking,
when there was a ring at the outer door. Going down the steps
I opened it myself, and in came my old friends Sir Henry Curtis
and Captain John Good, RN. They entered the vestibule and sat
themselves down before the wide hearth, where, I remember, a
particularly good fire of logs was burning.

'It is very kind of you to come round,' I said by way of making
a remark; 'it must have been heavy walking in the snow.'

They said nothing, but Sir Henry slowly filled his pipe and lit
it with a burning ember. As he leant forward to do so the fire
got hold of a gassy bit of pine and flared up brightly, throwing
the whole scene into strong relief, and I thought, What a splendid-looking
man he is! Calm, powerful face, clear-cut features, large grey
eyes, yellow beard and hair -- altogether a magnificent specimen
of the higher type of humanity. Nor did his form belie his face.
I have never seen wider shoulders or a deeper chest. Indeed,
Sir Henry's girth is so great that, though he is six feet two
high, he does not strike one as a tall man. As I looked at him
I could not help thinking what a curious contrast my little dried-up
self presented to his grand face and form. Imagine to yourself
a small, withered, yellow-faced man of sixty-three, with thin
hands, large brown eyes, a head of grizzled hair cut short and
standing up like a half-worn scrubbing-brush -- total weight
in my clothes, nine stone six -- and you will get a very fair
idea of Allan Quatermain, commonly called Hunter Quatermain,
or by the natives 'Macumazahn' -- Anglic/CHAR: e grave/, he who
keeps a bright look-out at night, or, in vulgar English, a sharp
fellow who is not to be taken in.

Then there was Good, who is not like either of us, being short,
dark, stout -- _very_ stout -- with twinkling black eyes, in one
of which an eyeglass is everlastingly fixed. I say stout, but
it is a mild term; I regret to state that of late years Good
has been running to fat in a most disgraceful way. Sir Henry
tells him that it comes from idleness and over-feeding, and
Good does not like it at all, though he cannot deny it.

We sat for a while, and then I got a match and lit the lamp that
stood ready on the table, for the half-light began to grow dreary,
as it is apt to do when one has a short week ago buried the hope
of one's life. Next, I opened a cupboard in the wainscoting
and got a bottle of whisky and some tumblers and water. I always
like to do these things for myself: it is irritating to me to
have somebody continually at my elbow, as though I were an
eighteen-month-old baby. All this while Curtis and Good had
been silent, feeling, I suppose, that they had nothing to say
that could do me any good, and content to give me the comfort
of their presence and unspoken sympathy; for it was only their
second visit since the funeral. And it is, by the way, from
the _presence_ of others that we really derive support in our dark
hours of grief, and not from their talk, which often only serves
to irritate us. Before a bad storm the game always herd together,
but they cease their calling.

They sat and smoked and drank whisky and water, and I stood by
the fire also smoking and looking at them.

At last I spoke. 'Old friends,' I said, 'how long is it since
we got back from Kukuanaland?'

'Three years,' said Good. 'Why do you ask?'

'I ask because I think that I have had a long enough spell of
civilization. I am going back to the veldt.'

Sir Henry laid his head back in his arm-chair and laughed one
of his deep laughs. 'How very odd,' he said, 'eh, Good?'

Good beamed at me mysteriously through his eyeglass and murmured,
'Yes, odd -- very odd.'

'I don't quite understand,' said I, looking from one to the other,
for I dislike mysteries.

'Don't you, old fellow?' said Sir Henry; 'then I will explain.
As Good and I were walking up here we had a talk.'

'If Good was there you probably did,' I put in sarcastically,
for Good is a great hand at talking. 'And what may it have been about?'

'What do you think?' asked Sir Henry.

I shook my head. It was not likely that I should know what Good
might be talking about. He talks about so many things.

'Well, it was about a little plan that I have formed -- namely,
that if you were willing we should pack up our traps and go off
to Africa on another expedition.'

I fairly jumped at his words. 'You don't say so!' I said.

'Yes I do, though, and so does Good; don't you, Good?'

'Rather,' said that gentleman.

'Listen, old fellow,' went on Sir Henry, with considerable animation
of manner. 'I'm tired of it too, dead-tired of doing nothing
more except play the squire in a country that is sick of squires.
For a year or more I have been getting as restless as an old
elephant who scents danger. I am always dreaming of Kukuanaland
and Gagool and King Solomon's Mines. I can assure you I have
become the victim of an almost unaccountable craving. I am sick
of shooting pheasants and partridges, and want to have a go at
some large game again. There, you know the feeling -- when one
has once tasted brandy and water, milk becomes insipid to the
palate. That year we spent together up in Kukuanaland seems
to me worth all the other years of my life put together. I dare
say that I am a fool for my pains, but I can't help it; I long
to go, and, what is more, I mean to go.' He paused, and then
went on again. 'And, after all, why should I not go? I have
no wife or parent, no chick or child to keep me. If anything
happens to me the baronetcy will go to my brother George and
his boy, as it would ultimately do in any case. I am of no importance
to any one.'

'Ah!' I said, 'I thought you would come to that sooner or later.
And now, Good, what is your reason for wanting to trek; have
you got one?'

'I have,' said Good, solemnly. 'I never do anything without
a reason; and it isn't a lady -- at least, if it is, it's several.'

I looked at him again. Good is so overpoweringly frivolous.
'What is it?' I said.

'Well, if you really want to know, though I'd rather not speak
of a delicate and strictly personal matter, I'll tell you: I'm
getting too fat.'

'Shut up, Good!' said Sir Henry. 'And now, Quatermain, tell
us, where do you propose going to?'

I lit my pipe, which had gone out, before answering.

'Have you people ever heard of Mt Kenia?' I asked.

'Don't know the place,' said Good.

'Did you ever hear of the Island of Lamu?' I asked again.

'No. Stop, though -- isn't it a place about 300 miles north of Zanzibar?'

'Yes. Now listen. What I have to propose is this. That we
go to Lamu and thence make our way about 250 miles inland to
Mt Kenia; from Mt Kenia on inland to Mt Lekakisera, another 200
miles, or thereabouts, beyond which no white man has to the best
of my belief ever been; and then, if we get so far, right on
into the unknown interior. What do you say to that, my hearties?'

'It's a big order,' said Sir Henry, reflectively.

'You are right,' I answered, 'it is; but I take it that we are
all three of us in search of a big order. We want a change of
scene, and we are likely to get one -- a thorough change. All
my life I have longed to visit those parts, and I mean to do
it before I die. My poor boy's death has broken the last link
between me and civilization, and I'm off to my native wilds.
And now I'll tell you another thing, and that is, that for years
and years I have heard rumours of a great white race which is
supposed to have its home somewhere up in this direction, and
I have a mind to see if there is any truth in them. If you fellows
like to come, well and good; if not, I'll go alone.'

'I'm your man, though I don't believe in your white race,' said
Sir Henry Curtis, rising and placing his arm upon my shoulder.

'Ditto,' remarked Good. 'I'll go into training at once. By
all means let's go to Mt Kenia and the other place with an
unpronounceable name, and look for a white race that does not exist.
It's all one to me.'

'When do you propose to start?' asked Sir Henry.

'This day month,' I answered, 'by the British India steamboat;
and don't you be so certain that things have no existence because
you do not happen to have heard of them. Remember King Solomon's mines!'

Some fourteen weeks or so had passed since the date of this conversation,
and this history goes on its way in very different surroundings.

After much deliberation and inquiry we came to the conclusion
that our best starting-point for Mt Kenia would be from the neighbourhood
of the mouth of the Tana River, and not from Mombassa, a place
over 100 miles nearer Zanzibar. This conclusion we arrived at
from information given to us by a German trader whom we met upon
the steamer at Aden. I think that he was the dirtiest German
I ever knew; but he was a good fellow, and gave us a great deal
of valuable information. 'Lamu,' said he, 'you goes to Lamu
-- oh ze beautiful place!' and he turned up his fat face and
beamed with mild rapture. 'One year and a half I live there
and never change my shirt -- never at all.'

And so it came to pass that on arriving at the island we disembarked
with all our goods and chattels, and, not knowing where to go,
marched boldly up to the house of Her Majesty's Consul, where
we were most hospitably received.

Lamu is a very curious place, but the things which stand out
most clearly in my memory in connection with it are its exceeding
dirtiness and its smells. These last are simply awful. Just
below the Consulate is the beach, or rather a mud bank that is
called a beach. It is left quite bare at low tide, and serves
as a repository for all the filth, offal, and refuse of the town.
Here it is, too, that the women come to bury coconuts in the
mud, leaving them there till the outer husk is quite rotten,
when they dig them up again and use the fibres to make mats with,
and for various other purposes. As this process has been going
on for generations, the condition of the shore can be better
imagined than described. I have smelt many evil odours in the
course of my life, but the concentrated essence of stench which
arose from that beach at Lamu as we sat in the moonlit night
-- not under, but _on_ our friend the Consul's hospitable roof
-- and sniffed it, makes the remembrance of them very poor and
faint. No wonder people get fever at Lamu. And yet the place
was not without a certain quaintness and charm of its own, though
possibly -- indeed probably -- it was one which would quickly
pall.

'Well, where are you gentlemen steering for?' asked our friend
the hospitable Consul, as we smoked our pipes after dinner.

'We propose to go to Mt Kenia and then on to Mt Lekakisera,'
answered Sir Henry. 'Quatermain has got hold of some yarn about
there being a white race up in the unknown territories beyond.'

The Consul looked interested, and answered that he had heard
something of that, too.

'What have you heard?' I asked.

'Oh, not much. All I know about it is that a year or so ago
I got a letter from Mackenzie, the Scotch missionary, whose station,
"The Highlands", is placed at the highest navigable point of
the Tana River, in which he said something about it.'

'Have you the letter?' I asked.

'No, I destroyed it; but I remember that he said that a man had
arrived at his station who declared that two months' journey
beyond Mt Lekakisera, which no white man has yet visited -- at
least, so far as I know -- he found a lake called Laga, and that
then he went off to the north-east, a month's journey, over desert
and thorn veldt and great mountains, till he came to a country
where the people are white and live in stone houses. Here he
was hospitably entertained for a while, till at last the priests
of the country set it about that he was a devil, and the people
drove him away, and he journeyed for eight months and reached
Mackenzie's place, as I heard, dying. That's all I know; and
if you ask me, I believe that it is a lie; but if you want to
find out more about it, you had better go up the Tana to Mackenzie's
place and ask him for information.'

Sir Henry and I looked at each other. Here was something tangible.

'I think that we will go to Mr Mackenzie's,' I said.

'Well,' answered the Consul, 'that is your best way, but I warn
you that you are likely to have a rough journey, for I hear that
the Masai are about, and, as you know, they are not pleasant
customers. Your best plan will be to choose a few picked men
for personal servants and hunters, and to hire bearers from village
to village. It will give you an infinity of trouble, but perhaps
on the whole it will prove a cheaper and more advantageous course
than engaging a caravan, and you will be less liable to desertion.'

Fortunately there were at Lamu at this time a part of Wakwafi
Askari (soldiers). The Wakwafi, who are a cross between the
Masai and the Wataveta, are a fine manly race, possessing many
of the good qualities of the Zulu, and a great capacity for civilization.
They are also great hunters. As it happened, these particular
men had recently been on a long trip with an Englishman named
Jutson, who had started from Mombasa, a port about 150 miles
below Lamu, and journeyed right rough Kilimanjaro, one of the
highest known mountains in Africa. Poor fellow, he had died
of fever when on his return journey, and within a day's march
of Mombasa. It does seem hard that he should have gone off thus
when within a few hours of safety, and after having survived
so many perils, but so it was. His hunters buried him, and then
came on to Lamu in a dhow. Our friend the Consul suggested to
us that we had better try and hire these men, and accordingly
on the following morning we started to interview the party,
accompanied by an interpreter.

In due course we found them in a mud hut on the outskirts of
the town. Three of the men were sitting outside the hut, and
fine frank-looking fellows they were, having a more or less civilized
appearance. To them we cautiously opened the object of our visit,
at first with very scant success. They declared that they could
not entertain any such idea, that they were worn and weary with
long travelling, and that their hearts were sore at the loss
of their master. They meant to go back to their homes and rest
awhile. This did not sound very promising, so by way of effecting
a diversion I asked where the remainder of them were. I was
told there were six, and I saw but three. One of the men said
they slept in the hut, and were yet resting after their labours
-- 'sleep weighed down their eyelids, and sorrow made their hearts
as lead: it was best to sleep, for with sleep came forgetfulness.
But the men should be awakened.'

Presently they came out of the hut, yawning -- the first two
men being evidently of the same race and style as those already
before us; but the appearance of the third and last nearly made
me jump out of my skin. He was a very tall, broad man, quite
six foot three, I should say, but gaunt, with lean, wiry-looking
limbs. My first glance at him told me that he was no Wakwafi:
he was a pure bred Zulu. He came out with his thin aristocratic-looking
hand placed before his face to hide a yawn, so I could only see
that he was a 'Keshla' or ringed man {Endnote 1}, and that he
had a great three-cornered hole in his forehead. In another
second he removed his hand, revealing a powerful-looking Zulu
face, with a humorous mouth, a short woolly beard, tinged with
grey, and a pair of brown eyes keen as a hawk's. I knew my man
at once, although I had not seen him for twelve years. 'How
do you do, Umslopogaas?' I said quietly in Zulu.

The tall man (who among his own people was commonly known as
the 'Woodpecker', and also as the 'Slaughterer') started, and
almost let the long-handled battleaxe he held in his hand fall
in his astonishment. Next second he had recognized me, and was
saluting me in an outburst of sonorous language which made his
companions the Wakwafi stare.

'Koos' (chief), he began, 'Koos-y-Pagete! Koos-y-umcool! (Chief
from of old -- mighty chief) Koos! Baba! (father) Macumazahn,
old hunter, slayer of elephants, eater up of lions, clever one!
watchful one! brave one! quick one! whose shot never misses,
who strikes straight home, who grasps a hand and holds it to
the death (i.e. is a true friend) Koos! Baba! Wise is the voice
of our people that says, "Mountain never meets with mountain,
but at daybreak or at even man shall meet again with man." Behold!
a messenger came up from Natal, "Macumazahn is dead!" cried he.
"The land knows Macumazahn no more." That is years ago. And
now, behold, now in this strange place of stinks I find Macumazahn,
my friend. There is no room for doubt. The brush of the old
jackal has gone a little grey; but is not his eye as keen, and
are not his teeth as sharp? Ha! ha! Macumazahn, mindest thou
how thou didst plant the ball in the eye of the charging buffalo
-- mindest thou --'

I had let him run on thus because I saw that his enthusiasm was
producing a marked effect upon the minds of the five Wakwafi,
who appeared to understand something of his talk; but now I thought
it time to put a stop to it, for there is nothing that I hate
so much as this Zulu system of extravagant praising -- 'bongering'
as they call it. 'Silence!' I said. 'Has all thy noisy talk
been stopped up since last I saw thee that it breaks out thus,
and sweeps us away? What doest thou here with these men -- thou
whom I left a chief in Zululand? How is it that thou art far
from thine own place, and gathered together with strangers?'

Umslopogaas leant himself upon the head of his long battleaxe
(which was nothing else but a pole-axe, with a beautiful handle
of rhinoceros horn), and his grim face grew sad.

'My Father,' he answered, 'I have a word to tell thee, but I
cannot speak it before these low people (umfagozana),' and he
glanced at the Wakwafi Askari; 'it is for thine own ear. My
Father, this will I say,' and here his face grew stern again,
'a woman betrayed me to the death, and covered my name with shame
-- ay, my own wife, a round-faced girl, betrayed me; but I escaped
from death; ay, I broke from the very hands of those who came
to slay me. I struck but three blows with this mine axe Inkosikaas
-- surely my Father will remember it -- one to the right, one
to the left, and one in front, and yet I left three men dead.
And then I fled, and, as my Father knows, even now that I am
old my feet are as the feet of the Sassaby {Endnote 2}, and there
breathes not the man who, by running, can touch me again when
once I have bounded from his side. On I sped, and after me came
the messengers of death, and their voice was as the voice of
dogs that hunt. From my own kraal I flew, and, as I passed,
she who had betrayed me was drawing water from the spring. I
fleeted by her like the shadow of Death, and as I went I smote
with mine axe, and lo! her head fell: it fell into the water
pan. Then I fled north. Day after day I journeyed on; for three
moons I journeyed, resting not, stopping not, but running on
towards forgetfulness, till I met the party of the white hunter
who is now dead, and am come hither with his servants. And nought
have I brought with me. I who was high-born, ay, of the blood
of Chaka, the great king -- a chief, and a captain of the regiment
of the Nkomabakosi -- am a wanderer in strange places, a man
without a kraal. Nought have I brought save this mine axe; of
all my belongings this remains alone. They have divided my cattle;
they have taken my wives; and my children know my face no more.
Yet with this axe' -- and he swung the formidable weapon round
his head, making the air hiss as he clove it -- 'will I cut another
path to fortune. I have spoken.'

I shook my head at him. 'Umslopogaas,' I said, 'I know thee
from of old. Ever ambitious, ever plotting to be great, I fear
me that thou hast overreached thyself at last. Years ago, when
thou wouldst have plotted against Cetywayo, son of Panda, I warned
thee, and thou didst listen. But now, when I was not by thee
to stay thy hand, thou hast dug a pit for thine own feet to fall
in. Is it not so? But what is done is done. Who can make the
dead tree green, or gaze again upon last year's light? Who can
recall the spoken word, or bring back the spirit of the fallen?
That which Time swallows comes not up again. Let it be forgotten!

'And now, behold, Umslopogaas, I know thee for a great warrior
and a brave man, faithful to the death. Even in Zululand, where
all the men are brave, they called thee the "Slaughterer", and
at night told stories round the fire of thy strength and deeds.
Hear me now. Thou seest this great man, my friend' -- and I
pointed to Sir Henry; 'he also is a warrior as great as thou,
and, strong as thou art, he could throw thee over his shoulder.
Incubu is his name. And thou seest this one also; him with
the round stomach, the shining eye, and the pleasant face. Bougwan
(glass eye) is his name, and a good man is he and a true, being
of a curious tribe who pass their life upon the water, and live
in floating kraals.

'Now, we three whom thou seest would travel inland, past Dongo
Egere, the great white mountain (Mt Kenia), and far into the
unknown beyond. We know not what we shall find there; we go
to hunt and seek adventures, and new places, being tired of sitting
still, with the same old things around us. Wilt thou come with
us? To thee shall be given command of all our servants; but
what shall befall thee, that I know not. Once before we three
journeyed thus, in search of adventure, and we took with us a
man such as thou -- one Umbopa; and, behold, we left him the
king of a great country, with twenty Impis (regiments), each
of 3,000 plumed warriors, waiting on his word. How it shall
go with thee, I know not; mayhap death awaits thee and us.
Wilt thou throw thyself to Fortune and come, or fearest thou,
Umslopogaas?'

The great man smiled. 'Thou art not altogether right, Macumazahn,'
he said; 'I have plotted in my time, but it was not ambition
that led me to my fall; but, shame on me that I should have to
say it, a fair woman's face. Let it pass. So we are going to
see something like the old times again, Macumazahn, when we fought
and hunted in Zululand? Ay, I will come. Come life, come death,
what care I, so that the blows fall fast and the blood runs red?
I grow old, I grow old, and I have not fought enough! And yet
am I a warrior among warriors; see my scars' -- and he pointed
to countless cicatrices, stabs and cuts, that marked the skin
of his chest and legs and arms. 'See the hole in my head; the
brains gushed out therefrom, yet did I slay him who smote, and
live. Knowest thou how many men I have slain, in fair hand-to-hand
combat, Macumazahn? See, here is the tale of them' -- and he
pointed to long rows of notches cut in the rhinoceros-horn handle
of his axe. 'Number them, Macumazahn -- one hundred and three
-- and I have never counted but those whom I have ripped open
{Endnote 3}, nor have I reckoned those whom another man had struck.'

'Be silent,' I said, for I saw that he was getting the blood-fever
on him; 'be silent; well art thou called the "Slaughterer".
We would not hear of thy deeds of blood. Remember, if thou comest
with us, we fight not save in self-defence. Listen, we need
servants. These men,' and I pointed to the Wakwafi, who had
retired a little way during our 'indaba' (talk), 'say they will not come.'

'Will not come!' shouted Umslopogaas; 'where is the dog who says
he will not come when my Father orders? Here, thou' -- and with
a single bound he sprang upon the Wakwafi with whom I had first
spoken, and, seizing him by the arm, dragged him towards us.
'Thou dog!' he said, giving the terrified man a shake, 'didst
thou say that thou wouldst not go with my Father? Say it once
more and I will choke thee' -- and his long fingers closed round
his throat as he said it -- 'thee, and those with thee. Hast
thou forgotten how I served thy brother?'

'Nay, we will come with the white man,' gasped the man.

'White man!' went on Umslopogaas, in simulated fury, which a
very little provocation would have made real enough; 'of whom
speakest thou, insolent dog?'

'Nay, we will go with the great chief.'

'So!' said Umslopogaas, in a quiet voice, as he suddenly released
his hold, so that the man fell backward. 'I thought you would.'

'That man Umslopogaas seems to have a curious moral ascendency
over his companions,' Good afterwards remarked thoughtfully.

CHAPTER II
THE BLACK HAND

In due course we left Lamu, and ten days afterwards we found
ourselves at a spot called Charra, on the Tana River, having
gone through many adventures which need not be recorded here.
Amongst other things we visited a ruined city, of which there
are many on this coast, and which must once, to judge from their
extent and the numerous remains of mosques and stone houses,
have been very populous places. These ruined cities are immeasurably
ancient, having, I believe, been places of wealth and importance
as far back as the Old Testament times, when they were centres
of trade with India and elsewhere. But their glory has departed
now -- the slave trade has finished them -- and where wealthy
merchants from all parts of the then civilized world stood and
bargained in the crowded market-places, the lion holds his court
at night, and instead of the chattering of slaves and the eager
voices of the bidders, his awful note goes echoing down the ruined
corridors. At this particular place we discovered on a mound,
covered up with rank growth and rubbish, two of the most beautiful
stone doorways that it is possible to conceive. The carving
on them was simply exquisite, and I only regret that we had no
means of getting them away. No doubt they had once been the
entrances to a palace, of which, however, no traces were now
to be seen, though probably its ruins lay under the rising mound.

Gone! quite gone! the way that everything must go. Like the
nobles and the ladies who lived within their gates, these cities
have had their day, and now they are as Babylon and Nineveh,
and as London and Paris will one day be. Nothing may endure.
That is the inexorable law. Men and women, empires and cities,
thrones, principalities, and powers, mountains, rivers, and unfathomed
seas, worlds, spaces, and universes, all have their day, and
all must go. In this ruined and forgotten place the moralist
may behold a symbol of the universal destiny. For this system
of ours allows no room for standing still -- nothing can loiter
on the road and check the progress of things upwards towards
Life, or the rush of things downwards towards Death. The stern
policeman Fate moves us and them on, on, uphill and downhill
and across the level; there is no resting-place for the weary
feet, till at last the abyss swallows us, and from the shores
of the Transitory we are hurled into the sea of the Eternal.

At Charra we had a violent quarrel with the headman of the bearers
we had hired to go as far as this, and who now wished to extort
large extra payment from us. In the result he threatened to
set the Masai -- about whom more anon -- on to us. That night
he, with all our hired bearers, ran away, stealing most of the
goods which had been entrusted to them to carry. Luckily, however,
they had not happened to steal our rifles, ammunition, and personal
effects; not because of any delicacy of feeling on their part,
but owing to the fact that they chanced to be in the charge of
the five Wakwafis. After that, it was clear to us that we had
had enough of caravans and of bearers. Indeed, we had not much
left for a caravan to carry. And yet, how were we to get on?

It was Good who solved the question. 'Here is water,' he said,
pointing to the Tana River; 'and yesterday I saw a party of natives
hunting hippopotami in canoes. I understand that Mr Mackenzie's
mission station is on the Tana River. Why not get into canoes
and paddle up to it?'

This brilliant suggestion was, needless to say, received with
acclamation; and I instantly set to work to buy suitable canoes
from the surrounding natives. I succeeded after a delay of three
days in obtaining two large ones, each hollowed out of a single
log of some light wood, and capable of holding six people and
baggage. For these two canoes we had to pay nearly all our
remaining cloth, and also many other articles.

On the day following our purchase of the two canoes we effected
a start. In the first canoe were Good, Sir Henry, and three
of our Wakwafi followers; in the second myself, Umslopogaas,
and the other two Wakwafis. As our course lay upstream, we had
to keep four paddles at work in each canoe, which meant that
the whole lot of us, except Good, had to row away like galley-slaves;
and very exhausting work it was. I say, except Good, for, of
course, the moment that Good got into a boat his foot was on
his native heath, and he took command of the party. And certainly
he worked us. On shore Good is a gentle, mild-mannered man,
and given to jocosity; but, as we found to our cost, Good in
a boat was a perfect demon. To begin with, he knew all about
it, and we didn't. On all nautical subjects, from the torpedo
fittings of a man-of-war down to the best way of handling the
paddle of an African canoe, he was a perfect mine of information,
which, to say the least of it, we were not. Also his ideas of
discipline were of the sternest, and, in short, he came the royal
naval officer over us pretty considerably, and paid us out amply
for all the chaff we were wont to treat him to on land; but,
on the other hand, I am bound to say that he managed the boats admirably.

After the first day Good succeeded, with the help of some cloth
and a couple of poles, in rigging up a sail in each canoe, which
lightened our labours not a little. But the current ran very
strong against us, and at the best we were not able to make more
than twenty miles a day. Our plan was to start at dawn, and
paddle along till about half-past ten, by which time the sun
got too hot to allow of further exertion. Then we moored our
canoes to the bank, and ate our frugal meal; after which we ate
or otherwise amused ourselves till about three o'clock, when
we again started, and rowed till within an hour of sundown, when
we called a halt for the night. On landing in the evening, Good
would at once set to work, with the help of the Askari, to build
a little 'scherm', or small enclosure, fenced with thorn bushes,
and to light a fire. I, with Sir Henry and Umslopogaas, would
go out to shoot something for the pot. Generally this was an
easy task, for all sorts of game abounded on the banks of the
Tana. One night Sir Henry shot a young cow-giraffe, of which
the marrow-bones were excellent; on another I got a couple of
waterbuck right and left; and once, to his own intense satisfaction,
Umslopogaas (who, like most Zulus, was a vile shot with a rifle)
managed to kill a fine fat eland with a Martini I had lent him.
Sometimes we varied our food by shooting some guinea-fowl, or
bush-bustard (paau) -- both of which were numerous -- with a
shot-gun, or by catching a supply of beautiful yellow fish, with
which the waters of the Tana swarmed, and which form, I believe,
one of the chief food-supplies of the crocodiles.

Three days after our start an ominous incident occurred. We
were just drawing in to the bank to make our camp as usual for
the night, when we caught sight of a figure standing on a little
knoll not forty yards away, and intensely watching our approach.
One glance was sufficient -- although I was personally unacquainted
with the tribe -- to tell me that he was a Masai Elmoran, or
young warrior. Indeed, had I had any doubts, they would have
quickly been dispelled by the terrified ejaculation of '_Masai_!'
that burst simultaneously from the lips of our Wakwafi followers,
who are, as I think I have said, themselves bastard Masai.

And what a figure he presented as he stood there in his savage
war-gear! Accustomed as I have been to savages all my life,
I do not think that I have ever before seen anything quite so
ferocious or awe-inspiring. To begin with, the man was enormously
tall, quite as tall as Umslopogaas, I should say, and beautifully,
though somewhat slightly, shaped; but with the face of a devil.
In his right hand he held a spear about five and a half feet
long, the blade being two and a half feet in length, by nearly
three inches in width, and having an iron spike at the end of
the handle that measured more than a foot. On his left arm was
a large and well-made elliptical shield of buffalo hide, on which
were painted strange heraldic-looking devices. On his shoulders
was a huge cape of hawk's feathers, and round his neck was a
'naibere', or strip of cotton, about seventeen feet long, by
one and a half broad, with a stripe of colour running down the
middle of it. The tanned goatskin robe, which formed his ordinary
attire in times of peace, was tied lightly round his waist, so
as to serve the purposes of a belt, and through it were stuck,
on the right and left sides respectively, his short pear-shaped
sime, or sword, which is made of a single piece of steel, and
carried in a wooden sheath, and an enormous knobkerrie. But
perhaps the most remarkable feature of his attire consisted of
a headdress of ostrich-feathers, which was fixed on the chin,
and passed in front of the ears to the forehead, and, being shaped
like an ellipse, completely framed the face, so that the diabolical
countenance appeared to project from a sort of feather fire-screen.
Round the ankles he wore black fringes of hair, and, projecting
from the upper portion of the calves, to which they were attached,
were long spurs like spikes, from which flowed down tufts of
the beautiful black and waving hair of the Colobus monkey. Such
was the elaborate array of the Masai Elmoran who stood watching
the approach of our two canoes, but it is one which, to be appreciated,
must be seen; only those who see it do not often live to describe
it. Of course I could not make out all these details of his
full dress on the occasion of this my first introduction, being,
indeed, amply taken up with the consideration of the general
effect, but I had plenty of subsequent opportunities of becoming
acquainted with the items that went to make it up.

Whilst we were hesitating what to do, the Masai warrior drew
himself up in a dignified fashion, shook his huge spear at us,
and, turning, vanished on the further side of the slope.

'Hulloa!' holloaed Sir Henry from the other boat; 'our friend
the caravan leader has been as good as his word, and set the
Masai after us. Do you think it will be safe to go ashore?'

I did not think it would be at all safe; but, on the other hand,
we had no means of cooking in the canoes, and nothing that we
could eat raw, so it was difficult to know what to do. At last
Umslopogaas simplified matters by volunteering to go and reconnoitre,
which he did, creeping off into the bush like a snake, while
we hung off in the stream waiting for him. In half an hour he
returned, and told us that there was not a Masai to be seen anywhere
about, but that he had discovered a spot where they had recently
been encamped, and that from various indications he judged that
they must have moved on an hour or so before; the man we saw
having, no doubt, been left to report upon our movements.

Thereupon we landed; and, having posted a sentry, proceeded to
cook and eat our evening meal. This done, we took the situation
into our serious consideration. Of course, it was possible that
the apparition of the Masai warrior had nothing to do with us,
that he was merely one of a band bent upon some marauding and
murdering expedition against another tribe. But when we recalled
the threat of the caravan leader, and reflected on the ominous
way in which the warrior had shaken his spear at us, this did
not appear very probable. On the contrary, what did seem probable
was that the part was after us and awaiting a favourable opportunity
to attack us. This being so, there were two things that we could
do -- one of which was to go on, and the other to go back. The
latter idea was, however, rejected at once, it being obvious
that we should encounter as many dangers in retreat as in advance;
and, besides, we had made up our minds to journey onwards at
any price. Under these circumstances, however, we did not consider
it safe to sleep ashore, so we got into our canoes, and, paddling
out into the middle of the stream, which was not very wide here,
managed to anchor them by means of big stones fastened to ropes
made of coconut-fibre, of which there were several fathoms in
each canoe.

Here the mosquitoes nearly ate us up alive, and this, combined
with anxiety as to our position, effectually prevented me from
sleeping as the others were doing, notwithstanding the attacks
of the aforesaid Tana mosquitoes. And so I lay awake, smoking
and reflecting on many things, but, being of a practical turn
of mind, chiefly on how we were to give those Masai villains
the slip. It was a beautiful moonlight night, and, notwithstanding
the mosquitoes, and the great risk we were running from fever
from sleeping in such a spot, and forgetting that I had the cramp
very badly in my right leg from squatting in a constrained position
in the canoe, and that the Wakwafi who was sleeping beside me
smelt horribly, I really began to enjoy myself. The moonbeams
played upon the surface of the running water that speeded unceasingly
past us towards the sea, like men's lives towards the grave,
till it glittered like a wide sheet of silver, that is in the
open where the trees threw no shadows. Near the banks, however,
it was very dark, and the night wind sighed sadly in the reeds.
To our left, on the further side of the river, was a little
sandy bay which was clear of trees, and here I could make out
the forms of numerous antelopes advancing to the water, till
suddenly there came an ominous roar, whereupon they all made
off hurriedly. Then after a pause I caught sight of the massive
form of His Majesty the Lion, coming down to drink his fill after
meat. Presently he moved on, then came a crashing of the reeds
about fifty yards above us, and a few minutes later a huge black
mass rose out of the water, about twenty yards from me, and snorted.
It was the head of a hippopotamus. Down it went without a sound,
only to rise again within five yards of where I sat. This was
decidedly too near to be comfortable, more especially as the
hippopotamus was evidently animated by intense curiosity to know
what on earth our canoes were. He opened his great mouth, to
yawn, I suppose, and gave me an excellent view of his ivories;
and I could not help reflecting how easily he could crunch up
our frail canoe with a single bite. Indeed, I had half a mind
to give him a ball from my eight-bore, but on reflection determined
to let him alone unless he actually charged the boat. Presently
he sank again as noiselessly as before, and I saw no more of
him. Just then, on looking towards the bank on our right, I
fancied that I caught sight of a dark figure flitting between
the tree trunks. I have very keen sight, and I was almost sure
that I saw something, but whether it was bird, beast, or man
I could not say. At the moment, however, a dark cloud passed
over the moon, and I saw no more of it. Just then, too, although
all the other sounds of the forest had ceased, a species of horned
owl with which I was well acquainted began to hoot with great
persistency. After that, save for the rustling of trees and
reeds when the wind caught them, there was complete silence.

But somehow, in the most unaccountable way, I had suddenly become
nervous. There was no particular reason why I should be, beyond
the ordinary reasons which surround the Central African traveller,
and yet I undoubtedly was. If there is one thing more than another
of which I have the most complete and entire scorn and disbelief,
it is of presentiments, and yet here I was all of a sudden filled
with and possessed by a most undoubted presentiment of approaching
evil. I would not give way to it, however, although I felt the
cold perspiration stand out upon my forehead. I would not arouse
the others. Worse and worse I grew, my pulse fluttered like
a dying man's, my nerves thrilled with the horrible sense of
impotent terror which anybody who is subject to nightmare will
be familiar with, but still my will triumphed over my fears,
and I lay quiet (for I was half sitting, half lying, in the bow
of the canoe), only turning my face so as to command a view of
Umslopogaas and the two Wakwafi who were sleeping alongside of
and beyond me.

In the distance I heard a hippopotamus splash faintly, then the
owl hooted again in a kind of unnatural screaming note {Endnote 4},
and the wind began to moan plaintively through the trees,
making a heart-chilling music. Above was the black bosom of
the cloud, and beneath me swept the black flood of the water,
and I felt as though I and Death were utterly alone between them.
It was very desolate.

Suddenly my blood seemed to freeze in my veins, and my heart
to stand still. Was it fancy, or were we moving? I turned my
eyes to look for the other canoe which should be alongside of
us. I could not see it, but instead I saw a lean and clutching
black hand lifting itself above the gunwale of the little boat.
Surely it was a nightmare! At the same instant a dim but
devilish-looking face appeared to rise out of the water, and
then came a lurch of the canoe, the quick flash of a knife, and
an awful yell from the Wakwafi who was sleeping by my side (the
same poor fellow whose odour had been annoying me), and something
warm spurted into my face. In an instant the spell was broken;
I knew that it was no nightmare, but that we were attacked by
swimming Masai. Snatching at the first weapon that came to hand,
which happened to be Umslopogaas' battleaxe, I struck with all
my force in the direction in which I had seen the flash of the
knife. The blow fell upon a man's arm, and, catching it against
the thick wooden gunwale of the canoe, completely severed it
from the body just above the wrist. As for its owner, he uttered
no sound or cry. Like a ghost he came, and like a ghost he went,
leaving behind him a bloody hand still gripping a great knife,
or rather a short sword, that was buried in the heart of our
poor servant.

Instantly there arose a hubbub and confusion, and I fancied,
rightly or wrongly, that I made out several dark heads gliding
away towards the right-hand bank, whither we were rapidly drifting,
for the rope by which we were moored had been severed with a
knife. As soon as I had realized this fact, I also realized
that the scheme had been to cut the boat loose so that it should
drift on to the right bank (as it would have done with the natural
swing of the current), where no doubt a party of Masai were waiting
to dig their shovel-headed spears into us. Seizing one paddle
myself, I told Umslopogaas to take another (for the remaining
Askari was too frightened and bewildered to be of any use), and
together we rowed vigorously out towards the middle of the stream;
and not an instant too soon, for in another minute we should
have been aground, and then there would have been an end of us.

As soon as we were well out, we set to work to paddle the canoe
upstream again to where the other was moored; and very hard and
dangerous work it was in the dark, and with nothing but the notes
of Good's stentorian shouts, which he kept firing off at intervals
like a fog-horn, to guide us. But at last we fetched up, and
were thankful to find that they had not been molested at all.
No doubt the owner of the same hand that severed our rope should
have severed theirs also, but was led away from his purpose by
an irresistible inclination to murder when he got the chance,
which, while it cost us a man and him his hand, undoubtedly saved
all the rest of us from massacre. Had it not been for that ghastly
apparition over the side of the boat -- an apparition that I
shall never forget till my dying hour -- the canoe would undoubtedly
have drifted ashore before I realized what had happened, and
this history would never have been written by me.

CHAPTER III
THE MISSION STATION

We made the remains of our rope fast to the other canoe, and
sat waiting for the dawn and congratulating ourselves upon our
merciful escape, which really seemed to result more from the
special favour of Providence than from our own care or prowess.
At last it came, and I have not often been more grateful to
see the light, though so far as my canoe was concerned it revealed
a ghastly sight. There in the bottom of the little boat lay
the unfortunate Askari, the sime, or sword, in his bosom, and
the severed hand gripping the handle. I could not bear the sight,
so hauling up the stone which had served as an anchor to the
other canoe, we made it fast to the murdered man and dropped
him overboard, and down he went to the bottom, leaving nothing
but a train of bubbles behind him. Alas! when our time comes,
most of us like him leave nothing but bubbles behind, to show
that we have been, and the bubbles soon burst. The hand of his
murderer we threw into the stream, where it slowly sank. The
sword, of which the handle was ivory, inlaid with gold (evidently
Arab work), I kept and used as a hunting-knife, and very useful
it proved.

Then, a man having been transferred to my canoe, we once more
started on in very low spirits and not feeling at all comfortable
as to the future, but fondly hoping to arrive at the 'Highlands'
station by night. To make matters worse, within an hour of sunrise
it came on to rain in torrents, wetting us to the skin, and even
necessitating the occasional baling of the canoes, and as the
rain beat down the wind we could not use the sails, and had to
get along as best as we could with our paddles.

At eleven o'clock we halted on an open piece of ground on the
left bank of the river, and, the rain abating a little, managed
to make a fire and catch and broil some fish. We did not dare
to wander about to search for game. At two o'clock we got off
again, taking a supply of broiled fish with us, and shortly afterwards
the rain came on harder than ever. Also the river began to get
exceedingly difficult to navigate on account of the numerous
rocks, reaches of shallow water, and the increased force of the
current; so that it soon became clear to us that we should not
reach the Rev. Mackenzie's hospitable roof that night -- a prospect
that did not tend to enliven us. Toil as we would, we could
not make more than an average of a mile an hour, and at five
o'clock in the afternoon (by which time we were all utterly worn
out) we reckoned that we were still quite ten miles below the
station. This being so, we set to work to make the best arrangements
we could for the night. After our recent experience, we simply
did not dare to land, more especially as the banks of the Tana
were clothed with dense bush that would have given cover to five
thousand Masai, and at first I thought that we were going to
have another night of it in the canoes. Fortunately, however,
we espied a little rocky islet, not more than fifteen miles of
so square, situated nearly in the middle of the river. For this
we paddled, and, making fast the canoes, landed and made ourselves
as comfortable as circumstances would permit, which was very
uncomfortable indeed. As for the weather, it continued to be
simply vile, the rain coming down in sheets till we were chilled
to the marrow, and utterly preventing us from lighting a fire.
There was, however, one consoling circumstance about this rain;
our Askari declared that nothing would induce the Masai to make
an attack in it, as they intensely disliked moving about in the
wet, perhaps, as Good suggested, because they hate the idea of
washing. We ate some insipid and sodden cold fish -- that is,
with the exception of Umslopogaas, who, like most Zulus, cannot
bear fish -- and took a pull of brandy, of which we fortunately
had a few bottles left, and then began what, with one exception
-- when we same three white men nearly perished of cold on the
snow of Sheba's Breast in the course of our journey to Kukuanaland
-- was, I think, the most trying night I ever experienced. It
seemed absolutely endless, and once or twice I feared that two
of the Askari would have died of the wet, cold, and exposure.
Indeed, had it not been for timely doses of brandy I am sure
that they would have died, for no African people can stand much
exposure, which first paralyses and then kills them. I could
see that even that iron old warrior Umslopogaas felt it keenly;
though, in strange contrast to the Wakwafis, who groaned and
bemoaned their fate unceasingly, he never uttered a single complaint.
To make matters worse, about one in the morning we again heard
the owl's ominous hooting, and had at once to prepare ourselves
for another attack; though, if it had been attempted, I do not
think that we could have offered a very effective resistance.
But either the owl was a real one this time, or else the Masai
were themselves too miserable to think of offensive operations,
which, indeed, they rarely, if ever, undertake in bush veldt.
At any rate, we saw nothing of them.

At last the dawn came gliding across the water, wrapped in wreaths
of ghostly mist, and, with the daylight, the rain ceased; and
then, out came the glorious sun, sucking up the mists and warming
the chill air. Benumbed, and utterly exhausted, we dragged ourselves
to our feet, and went and stood in the bright rays, and were
thankful for them. I can quite understand how it is that primitive
people become sun worshippers, especially if their conditions
of life render them liable to exposure.

In half an hour more we were once again making fair progress
with the help of a good wind. Our spirits had returned with
the sunshine, and we were ready to laugh at difficulties and
dangers that had been almost crushing on the previous day.

And so we went on cheerily till about eleven o'clock. Just as
we were thinking of halting as usual, to rest and try to shoot
something to eat, a sudden bend in the river brought us in sight
of a substantial-looking European house with a veranda round
it, splendidly situated upon a hill, and surrounded by a high
stone wall with a ditch on the outer side. Right against and
overshadowing the house was an enormous pine, the tope of which
we had seen through a glass for the last two days, but of course
without knowing that it marked the site of the mission station.
I was the first to see the house, and could not restrain myself
from giving a hearty cheer, in which the others, including the
natives, joined lustily. There was no thought of halting now.
On we laboured, for, unfortunately, though the house seemed
quite near, it was still a long way off by river, until at last,
by one o'clock, we found ourselves at the bottom of the slope
on which the building stood. Running the canoes to the bank,
we disembarked, and were just hauling them up on to the shore,
when we perceived three figures, dressed in ordinary English-looking
clothes, hurrying down through a grove of trees to meet us.

'A gentleman, a lady, and a little girl,' ejaculated Good, after
surveying the trio through his eyeglass, 'walking in a civilized
fashion, through a civilized garden, to meet us in this place.
Hang me, if this isn't the most curious thing we have seen yet!'

Good was right: it certainly did seem odd and out of place --
more like a scene out of a dream or an Italian opera than a real
tangible fact; and the sense of unreality was not lessened when
we heard ourselves addressed in good broad Scotch, which, however,
I cannot reproduce.

'How do you do, sirs,' said Mr Mackenzie, a grey-haired, angular
man, with a kindly face and red cheeks; 'I hope I see you very
well. My natives told me an hour ago they spied two canoes with
white men in them coming up the river; so we have just come down
to meet you.'

'And it is very glad that we are to see a white face again, let
me tell you,' put in the lady -- a charming and refined-looking
person.

We took off our hats in acknowledgment, and proceeded to introduce
ourselves.

'And now,' said Mr Mackenzie, 'you must all be hungry and weary;
so come on, gentlemen, come on, and right glad we are to see
you. The last white who visited us was Alphonse -- you will
see Alphonse presently -- and that was a year ago.'

Meanwhile we had been walking up the slope of the hill, the lower
portion of which was fenced off, sometimes with quince fences
and sometimes with rough stone walls, into Kaffir gardens, just
now full of crops of mealies, pumpkins, potatoes, etc. In the
corners of these gardens were groups of neat mushroom-shaped
huts, occupied by Mr Mackenzie's mission natives, whose women
and children came pouring out to meet us as we walked. Through
the centre of the gardens ran the roadway up which we were walking.
It was bordered on each side by a line of orange trees, which,
although they had only been planted ten years, had in the lovely
climate of the uplands below Mt Kenia, the base of which is about
5,000 feet above the coastline level, already grown to imposing
proportions, and were positively laden with golden fruit. After
a stiffish climb of a quarter of a mile or so -- for the hillside
was steep -- we came to a splendid quince fence, also covered
with fruit, which enclosed, Mr Mackenzie told us, a space of
about four acres of ground that contained his private garden,
house, church, and outbuildings, and, indeed, the whole hilltop.
And what a garden it was! I have always loved a good garden,
and I could have thrown up my hands for joy when I saw Mr Mackenzie's.
First there were rows upon rows of standard European fruit-trees,
all grafted; for on top of this hill the climate was so temperate
that nearly all the English vegetables, trees, and flowers flourished
luxuriantly, even including several varieties of the apple, which,
generally, runs to wood in a warm climate and obstinately refuses
to fruit. Then there were strawberries and tomatoes (such tomatoes!),
and melons and cucumbers, and, indeed, every sort of vegetable
and fruit.

'Well, you have something like a garden!' I said, overpowered
with admiration not untouched by envy.

'Yes,' answered the missionary, 'it is a very good garden, and
has well repaid my labour; but it is the climate that I have
to thank. If you stick a peach-stone into the ground it will
bear fruit the fourth year, and a rose-cutting with bloom in
a year. It is a lovely clime.'

Just then we came to a ditch about ten feet wide, and full of
water, on the other side of which was a loopholed stone wall
eight feet high, and with sharp flints plentifully set in mortar
on the coping.

'There,' said Mr Mackenzie, pointing to the ditch and wall, 'this
is my magnum opus; at least, this and the church, which is the
other side of the house. It took me and twenty natives two years
to dig the ditch and build the wall, but I never felt safe till
it was done; and now I can defy all the savages in Africa, for
the spring that fills the ditch is inside the wall, and bubbles
out at the top of the hill winter and summer alike, and I always
keep a store of four months' provision in the house.'

Crossing over a plank and through a very narrow opening in the
wall, we entered into what Mrs Mackenzie called _her_ domain --
namely, the flower garden, the beauty of which is really beyond
my power to describe. I do not think I ever saw such roses,
gardenias, or camellias (all reared from seeds or cuttings sent
from England); and there was also a patch given up to a collection
of bulbous roots mostly collected by Miss Flossie, Mr Mackenzie's
little daughter, from the surrounding country, some of which
were surpassingly beautiful. In the middle of this garden, and
exactly opposite the veranda, a beautiful fountain of clear water
bubbled up from the ground, and fell into a stone-work basin
which had been carefully built to receive it, whence the overflow
found its way by means of a drain to the moat round the outer
wall, this moat in its turn serving as a reservoir, whence an
unfailing supply of water was available to irrigate all the gardens
below. The house itself, a massively built single-storied building,
was roofed with slabs of stone, and had a handsome veranda in
front. It was built on three sides of a square, the fourth side
being taken up by the kitchens, which stood separate from the
house -- a very good plan in a hot country. In the centre of
this square thus formed was, perhaps, the most remarkable object
that we had yet seen in this charming place, and that was a single
tree of the conifer tribe, varieties of which grow freely on
the highlands of this part of Africa. This splendid tree, which
Mr Mackenzie informed us was a landmark for fifty miles round,
and which we had ourselves seen for the last forty miles of our
journey, must have been nearly three hundred feet in height,
the trunk measuring about sixteen feet in diameter at a yard
from the ground. For some seventy feet it rose a beautiful tapering
brown pillar without a single branch, but at that height splendid
dark green boughs, which, looked at from below, had the appearance
of gigantic fern-leaves, sprang out horizontally from the trunk,
projecting right over the house and flower-garden, to both of
which they furnished a grateful proportion of shade, without
-- being so high up -- offering any impediment to the passage
of light and air.

'What a beautiful tree!' exclaimed Sir Henry.

'Yes, you are right; it is a beautiful tree. There is not another
like it in all the country round, that I know of,' answered Mr
Mackenzie. 'I call it my watch tower. As you see, I have a
rope ladder fixed to the lowest bough; and if I want to see anything
that is going on within fifteen miles or so, all I have to do
is to run up it with a spyglass. But you must be hungry, and
I am sure the dinner is cooked. Come in, my friends; it is but
a rough place, but well enough for these savage parts; and I
can tell you what, we have got -- a French cook.' And he led
the way on to the veranda.

As I was following him, and wondering what on earth he could
mean by this, there suddenly appeared, through the door that
opened on to the veranda from the house, a dapper little man,
dressed in a neat blue cotton suit, with shoes made of tanned
hide, and remarkable for a bustling air and most enormous black
mustachios, shaped into an upward curve, and coming to a point
for all the world like a pair of buffalo-horns.

'Madame bids me for to say that dinnar is sarved. Messieurs,
my compliments;' then suddenly perceiving Umslopogaas, who was
loitering along after us and playing with his battleaxe, he threw
up his hands in astonishment. 'Ah, mais quel homme!' he ejaculated
in French, 'quel sauvage affreux! Take but note of his huge
choppare and the great pit in his head.'

'Ay,' said Mr Mackenzie; 'what are you talking about, Alphonse?'

'Talking about!' replied the little Frenchman, his eyes still
fixed upon Umslopogaas, whose general appearance seemed to fascinate
him; 'why I talk of him' -- and he rudely pointed -- 'of ce monsieur noir.'

At this everybody began to laugh, and Umslopogaas, perceiving
that he was the object of remark, frowned ferociously, for he
had a most lordly dislike of anything like a personal liberty.

'Parbleu!' said Alphonse, 'he is angered -- he makes the grimace.
I like not his air. I vanish.' And he did with considerable rapidity.

Mr Mackenzie joined heartily in the shout of laughter which we
indulged in. 'He is a queer character -- Alphonse,' he said.
'By and by I will tell you his history; in the meanwhile let
us try his cooking.'

'Might I ask,' said Sir Henry, after we had eaten a most excellent
dinner, 'how you came to have a French cook in these wilds?'

'Oh,' answered Mrs Mackenzie, 'he arrived here of his own accord
about a year ago, and asked to be taken into our service.
He had got into some trouble in France, and fled to Zanzibar,
where he found an application had been made by the French Government
for his extradition. Whereupon he rushed off up-country, and
fell in, when nearly starved, with our caravan of men, who were
bringing us our annual supply of goods, and was brought on here.
You should get him to tell you the story.'

When dinner was over we lit our pipes, and Sir Henry proceeded
to give our host a description of our journey up here, over which
he looked very grave.

'It is evident to me,' he said, 'that those rascally Masai are
following you, and I am very thankful that you have reached this
house in safety. I do not think that they will dare to attack
you here. It is unfortunate, though, that nearly all my men
have gone down to the coast with ivory and goods. There are
two hundred of them in the caravan, and the consequence is that
I have not more than twenty men available for defensive purposes
in case they should attack us. But, still, I will just give
a few orders;' and, calling a black man who was loitering about
outside in the garden, he went to the window, and addressed him
in a Swahili dialect. The man listened, and then saluted and
departed.

'I am sure I devoutly hope that we shall bring no such calamity
upon you,' said I, anxiously, when he had taken his seat again.
'Rather than bring those bloodthirsty villains about your ears,
we will move on and take our chance.'

'You will do nothing of the sort. If the Masai come, they come,
and there is an end on it; and I think we can give them a pretty
warm greeting. I would not show any man the door for all the
Masai in the world.'

'That reminds me,' I said, 'the Consul at Lamu told me that he
had had a letter from you, in which you said that a man had arrived
here who reported that he had come across a white people in the
interior. Do you think that there was any truth in his story?
I ask, because I have once or twice in my life heard rumours
from natives who have come down from the far north of the existence
of such a race.'

Mr Mackenzie, by way of answer, went out of the room and returned,
bringing with him a most curious sword. It was long, and all
the blade, which was very thick and heavy, was to within a quarter
of an inch of the cutting edge worked into an ornamental pattern
exactly as we work soft wood with a fret-saw, the steel, however,
being invariably pierced in such a way as not to interfere with
the strength of the sword. This in itself was sufficiently curious,
but what was still more so was that all the edges of the hollow
spaces cut through the substance of the blade were most beautifully
inlaid with gold, which was in some way that I cannot understand
welded on to the steel {Endnote 5}.

'There,' said Mr Mackenzie, 'did you ever see a sword like that?'

We all examined it and shook our heads.

'Well, I have got it to show you, because this is what the man
who said he had seen the white people brought with him, and because
it does more or less give an air of truth to what I should otherwise
have set down as a lie. Look here; I will tell you all that
I know about the matter, which is not much. One afternoon, just
before sunset, I was sitting on the veranda, when a poor, miserable,
starved-looking man came limping up and squatted down before
me. I asked him where he came from and what he wanted, and thereon
he plunged into a long rambling narrative about how he belonged
to a tribe far in the north, and how his tribe was destroyed
by another tribe, and he with a few other survivors driven still
further north past a lake named Laga. Thence, it appears, he
made his way to another lake that lay up in the mountains, "a
lake without a bottom" he called it, and here his wife and brother
died of an infectious sickness -- probably smallpox -- whereon
the people drove him out of their villages into the wilderness,
where he wandered miserably over mountains for ten days, after
which he got into dense thorn forest, and was one day found there
by some _white men_ who were hunting, and who took him to a place
where all the people were white and lived in stone houses. Here
he remained a week shut up in a house, till one night a man with
a white beard, whom he understood to be a "medicine-man", came
and inspected him, after which he was led off and taken through
the thorn forest to the confines of the wilderness, and given
food and this sword (at least so he said), and turned loose.'

'Well,' said Sir Henry, who had been listening with breathless
interest, 'and what did he do then?'

'Oh! he seems, according to his account, to have gone through
sufferings and hardships innumerable, and to have lived for weeks
on roots and berries, and such things as he could catch and kill.
But somehow he did live, and at last by slow degrees made his
way south and reached this place. What the details of his journey
were I never learnt, for I told him to return on the morrow,
bidding one of my headmen look after him for the night. The
headman took him away, but the poor man had the itch so badly
that the headman's wife would not have him in the hut for fear
of catching it, so he was given a blanket and told to sleep outside.
As it happened, we had a lion hanging about here just then,
and most unhappily he winded this unfortunate wanderer, and,
springing on him, bit his head almost off without the people
in the hut knowing anything about it, and there was an end of
him and his story about the white people; and whether or no there
is any truth in it is more than I can tell you. What do you
think, Mr Quatermain?'

I shook my head, and answered, 'I don't know. There are so many
queer things hidden away in the heart of this great continent
that I should be sorry to assert that there was no truth in it.
Anyhow, we mean to try and find out. We intend to journey to
Lekakisera, and thence, if we live to get so far, to this Lake
Laga; and, if there are any white people beyond, we will do our
best to find them.'

'You are very venturesome people,' said Mr Mackenzie,
with a smile, and the subject dropped.

CHAPTER IV
ALPHONSE AND HIS ANNETTE

After dinner we thoroughly inspected all the outbuildings and
grounds of the station, which I consider the most successful
as well as the most beautiful place of the sort that I have seen
in Africa. We then returned to the veranda, where we found Umslopogaas
taking advantage of this favourable opportunity to clean all
the rifles thoroughly. This was the only _work_ that he ever did
or was asked to do, for as a Zulu chief it was beneath his dignity
to work with his hands; but such as it was he did it very well.
It was a curious sight to see the great Zulu sitting there upon
the floor, his battleaxe resting against the wall behind him,
whilst his long aristocratic-looking hands were busily employed,
delicately and with the utmost care, cleaning the mechanism of
the breech-loaders. He had a name for each gun. One -- a double
four-bore belonging to Sir Henry -- was the Thunderer; another,
my 500 Express, which had a peculiarly sharp report, was 'the
little one who spoke like a whip'; the Winchester repeaters were
'the women, who talked so fast that you could not tell one word
from another'; the six Martinis were 'the common people'; and
so on with them all. It was very curious to hear him addressing
each gun as he cleaned it, as though it were an individual, and
in a vein of the quaintest humour. He did the same with his
battle-axe, which he seemed to look upon as an intimate friend,
and to which he would at times talk by the hour, going over all
his old adventures with it -- and dreadful enough some of them
were. By a piece of grim humour, he had named this axe 'Inkosi-kaas',
which is the Zulu word for chieftainess. For a long while I
could not make out why he gave it such a name, and at last I
asked him, when he informed me that the axe was very evidently
feminine, because of her womanly habit of prying very deep into
things, and that she was clearly a chieftainess because all men
fell down before her, struck dumb at the sight of her beauty
and power. In the same way he would consult 'Inkosi-kaas' if
in any dilemma; and when I asked him why he did so, he informed
me it was because she must needs be wise, having 'looked into
so many people's brains'.

I took up the axe and closely examined this formidable weapon.
It was, as I have said, of the nature of a pole-axe. The haft,
made out of an enormous rhinoceros horn, was three feet three
inches long, about an inch and a quarter thick, and with a knob
at the end as large as a Maltese orange, left there to prevent
the hand from slipping. This horn haft, though so massive, was
as flexible as cane, and practically unbreakable; but, to make
assurance doubly sure, it was whipped round at intervals of a
few inches with copper wire -- all the parts where the hands
grip being thus treated. Just above where the haft entered the
head were scored a number of little nicks, each nick representing
a man killed in battle with the weapon. The axe itself was made
of the most beautiful steel, and apparently of European manufacture,
though Umslopogaas did not know where it came from, having taken
it from the hand of a chief he had killed in battle many years
before. It was not very heavy, the head weighing two and a half
pounds, as nearly as I could judge. The cutting part was slightly
concave in shape -- not convex, as it generally the case with
savage battleaxes -- and sharp as a razor, measuring five and
three-quarter inches across the widest part. From the back of
the axe sprang a stout spike four inches long, for the last two
of which it was hollow, and shaped like a leather punch, with
an opening for anything forced into the hollow at the punch end
to be pushed out above -- in fact, in this respect it exactly
resembled a butcher's pole-axe. It was with this punch end,
as we afterwards discovered, that Umslopogaas usually struck
when fighting, driving a neat round hole in his adversary's skull,
and only using the broad cutting edge for a circular sweep, or
sometimes in a melee. I think he considered the punch a neater
and more sportsmanlike tool, and it was from his habit of pecking
at his enemy with it that he got his name of 'Woodpecker'. Certainly
in his hands it was a terribly efficient one.

Such was Umslopogaas' axe, Inkosi-kaas, the most remarkable and
fatal hand-to-hand weapon that I ever saw, and one which he cherished
as much as his own life. It scarcely ever left his hand except
when he was eating, and then he always sat with it under his
leg.

Just as I returned his axe to Umslopogaas, Miss Flossie came
up and took me off to see her collection of flowers, African
liliums, and blooming shrubs, some of which are very beautiful,
many of the varieties being quite unknown to me and also, I believe,
to botanical science. I asked her if she had ever seen or heard
of the 'Goya' lily, which Central African explorers have told
me they have occasionally met with and whose wonderful loveliness
has filled them with astonishment. This lily, which the natives
say blooms only once in ten years, flourishes in the most arid
soil. Compared to the size of the bloom, the bulb is small,
generally weighing about four pounds. As for the flower itself
(which I afterwards saw under circumstances likely to impress
its appearance fixedly in my mind), I know not how to describe
its beauty and splendour, or the indescribable sweetness of its
perfume. The flower -- for it has only one bloom -- rises from
the crown of the bulb on a thick fleshy and flat-sided stem,
the specimen that I saw measured fourteen inches in diameter,
and is somewhat trumpet-shaped like the bloom of an ordinary
'longiflorum' set vertically. First there is the green sheath,
which in its early stage is not unlike that of a water-lily,
but which as the bloom opens splits into four portions and curls
back gracefully towards the stem. Then comes the bloom itself,
a single dazzling arch of white enclosing another cup of richest
velvety crimson, from the heart of which rises a golden-coloured
pistil. I have never seen anything to equal this bloom in beauty
or fragrance, and as I believe it is but little known, I take
the liberty to describe it at length. Looking at it for the
first time I well remember that I realized how even in a flower
there dwells something of the majesty of its Maker. To my great
delight Miss Flossie told me that she knew the flower well and
had tried to grow it in her garden, but without success, adding,
however, that as it should be in bloom at this time of the year
she thought that she could procure me a specimen.

After that I fell to asking her if she was not lonely up here
among all these savage people and without any companions of her
own age.

'Lonely?' she said. 'Oh, indeed no! I am as happy as the day
is long, and besides I have my own companions. Why, I should
hate to be buried in a crowd of white girls all just like myself
so that nobody could tell the difference! Here,' she said, giving
her head a little toss, 'I am I; and every native for miles around
knows the "Water-lily", -- for that is what they call me -- and
is ready to do what I want, but in the books that I have read
about little girls in England it is not like that. Everybody
thinks them a trouble, and they have to do what their schoolmistress
likes. Oh! it would break my heart to be put in a cage like
that and not to be free -- free as the air.'

'Would you not like to learn?' I asked.

'So I do learn. Father teaches me Latin and French and arithmetic.'

'And are you never afraid among all these wild men?'

'Afraid? Oh no! they never interfere with me. I think they
believe that I am "Ngai" (of the Divinity) because I am so white
and have fair hair. And look here,' and diving her little hand
into the bodice of her dress she produced a double-barrelled
nickel-plated Derringer, 'I always carry that loaded, and if
anybody tried to touch me I should shoot him. Once I shot a
leopard that jumped upon my donkey as I was riding along. It
frightened me very much, but I shot it in the ear and it fell
dead, and I have its skin upon my bed. Look there!' she went
on in an altered voice, touching me on the arm and pointing to
some far-away object, 'I said just now that I had companions;
there is one of them.'

I looked, and for the first time there burst upon my sight the
glory of Mount Kenia. Hitherto the mountain had always been
hidden in mist, but now its radiant beauty was unveiled for many
thousand feet, although the base was still wrapped in vapour
so that the lofty peak or pillar, towering nearly twenty thousand
feet into the sky, appeared to be a fairy vision, hanging between
earth and heaven, and based upon the clouds. The solemn majesty
and beauty of this white peak are together beyond the power of
my poor pen to describe. There it rose straight and sheer --
a glittering white glory, its crest piercing the very blue of
heaven. As I gazed at it with that little girl I felt my whole
heart lifted up with an indescribable emotion, and for a moment
great and wonderful thoughts seemed to break upon my mind, even
as the arrows of the setting sun were breaking upon Kenia's snows.
Mr Mackenzie's natives call the mountain the 'Finger of God',
and to me it did seem eloquent of immortal peace and of the pure
high calm that surely lies above this fevered world. Somewhere
I had heard a line of poetry,

A thing of beauty is a joy for ever,

and now it came into my mind, and for the first time I thoroughly
understood what it meant. Base, indeed, would be the man who
could look upon that mighty snow-wreathed pile -- that white
old tombstone of the years -- and not feel his own utter insignificance,
and, by whatever name he calls Him, worship God in his heart.
Such sights are like visions of the spirit; they throw wide
the windows of the chamber of our small selfishness and let in
a breath of that air that rushes round the rolling spheres, and
for a while illumine our darkness with a far-off gleam of the
white light which beats upon the Throne.

Yes, such things of beauty are indeed a joy for ever, and I can
well understand what little Flossie meant when she talked of
Kenia as her companion. As Umslopogaas, savage old Zulu that
he was, said when I pointed out to him the peak hanging in the
glittering air: 'A man might look thereon for a thousand years
and yet be hungry to see.' But he gave rather another colour
to his poetical idea when he added in a sort of chant, and with
a touch of that weird imagination for which the man was remarkable,
that when he was dead he should like his spirit to sit upon that
snow-clad peak for ever, and to rush down the steep white sides
in the breath of the whirlwind, or on the flash of the lightning,
and 'slay, and slay, and slay'.

'Slay what, you old bloodhound?' I asked.

This rather puzzled him, but at length he answered --

'The other shadows.'

'So thou wouldst continue thy murdering even after death?' I said.

'I murder not,' he answered hotly; 'I kill in fair fight. Man
is born to kill. He who kills not when his blood is hot is a
woman, and no man. The people who kill not are slaves. I say
I kill in fair fight; and when I am "in the shadow", as you white
men say, I hope to go on killing in fair fight. May my shadow
be accursed and chilled to the bone for ever if it should fall
to murdering like a bushman with his poisoned arrows!' And he
stalked away with much dignity, and left me laughing.

Just then the spies whom our host had sent out in the morning
to find out if there were any traces of our Masai friends about,
returned, and reported that the country had been scoured for
fifteen miles round without a single Elmoran being seen, and
that they believed that those gentry had given up the pursuit
and returned whence they came. Mr Mackenzie gave a sigh of relief
when he heard this, and so indeed did we, for we had had quite
enough of the Masai to last us for some time. Indeed, the general
opinion was that, finding we had reached the mission station
in safety, they had, knowing its strength, given up the pursuit
of us as a bad job. How ill-judged that view was the sequel
will show.

After the spies had gone, and Mrs Mackenzie and Flossie had retired
for the night, Alphonse, the little Frenchman, came out, and
Sir Henry, who is a very good French scholar, got him to tell
us how he came to visit Central Africa, which he did in a most
extraordinary lingo, that for the most part I shall not attempt
to reproduce.

'My grandfather,' he began, 'was a soldier of the Guard, and
served under Napoleon. He was in the retreat from Moscow, and
lived for ten days on his own leggings and a pair he stole from
a comrade. He used to get drunk -- he died drunk, and I remember
playing at drums on his coffin. My father --'

Here we suggested that he might skip his ancestry and come to
the point.

'Bien, messieurs!' replied this comical little man, with a polite
bow. 'I did only wish to demonstrate that the military principle
is not hereditary. My grandfather was a splendid man, six feet
two high, broad in proportion, a swallower of fire and gaiters.
Also he was remarkable for his moustache. To me there remains
the moustache and -- nothing more.

'I am, messieurs, a cook, and I was born at Marseilles. In that
dear town I spent my happy youth. For years and years I washed
the dishes at the Hotel Continental. Ah, those were golden days!'
and he sighed. 'I am a Frenchman. Need I say, messieurs, that
I admire beauty? Nay, I adore the fair. Messieurs, we admire
all the roses in a garden, but we pluck one. I plucked one,
and alas, messieurs, it pricked my finger. She was a chambermaid,
her name Annette, her figure ravishing, her face an angel's,
her heart -- alas, messieurs, that I should have to own it! --
black and slippery as a patent leather boot. I loved to desperation,
I adored her to despair. She transported me -- in every sense;
she inspired me. Never have I cooked as I cooked (for I had
been promoted at the hotel) when Annette, my adored Annette,
smiled on me. Never' -- and here his manly voice broke into
a sob -- 'never shall I cook so well again.' Here he melted
into tears.

'Come, cheer up!' said Sir Henry in French, smacking him smartly
on the back. 'There's no knowing what may happen, you know.
To judge from your dinner today, I should say you were in a
fair way to recovery.'

Alphonse stopped weeping, and began to rub his back. 'Monsieur,'
he said, 'doubtless means to console, but his hand is heavy.
To continue: we loved, and were happy in each other's love.
The birds in their little nest could not be happier than Alphonse
and his Annette. Then came the blow -- sapristi! -- when I think
of it. Messieurs will forgive me if I wipe away a tear.
Mine was an evil number; I was drawn for the conscription. Fortune
would be avenged on me for having won the heart of Annette.

'The evil moment came; I had to go. I tried to run away, but
I was caught by brutal soldiers, and they banged me with the
butt-end of muskets till my mustachios curled with pain. I had
a cousin a linen-draper, well-to-do, but very ugly. He had drawn
a good number, and sympathized when they thumped me. "To thee,
my cousin," I said, "to thee, in whose veins flows the blue blood
of our heroic grandparent, to thee I consign Annette. Watch
over her whilst I hunt for glory in the bloody field."

'"Make your mind easy," said he; "I will." As the sequel shows,
he did!

'I went. I lived in barracks on black soup. I am a refined
man and a poet by nature, and I suffered tortures from the coarse
horror of my surroundings. There was a drill sergeant, and he
had a cane. Ah, that cane, how it curled! Alas, never can I
forget it!

'One morning came the news; my battalion was ordered to Tonquin.
The drill sergeant and the other coarse monsters rejoiced.
I -- I made enquiries about Tonquin. They were not satisfactory.
In Tonquin are savage Chinese who rip you open. My artistic
tastes -- for I am also an artist -- recoiled from the idea of
being ripped open. The great man makes up his mind quickly.
I made up my mind. I determined not to be ripped open. I deserted.

'I reached Marseilles disguised as an old man. I went to the
house of my cousin -- he in whom runs my grandfather's heroic
blood -- and there sat Annette. It was the season of cherries.
They took a double stalk. At each end was a cherry. My cousin
put one into his mouth, Annette put the other in hers. Then
they drew the stalks in till their eyes met -- and alas, alas
that I should have to say it! -- they kissed. The game was a
pretty one, but it filled me with fury. The heroic blood of
my grandfather boiled up in me. I rushed into the kitchen.
I struck my cousin with the old man's crutch. He fell -- I had
slain him. Alas, I believe that I did slay him. Annette screamed.
The gendarmes came. I fled. I reached the harbour. I hid
aboard a vessel. The vessel put to sea. The captain found me
and beat me. He took an opportunity. He posted a letter from
a foreign port to the police. He did not put me ashore because
I cooked so well. I cooked for him all the way to Zanzibar.
When I asked for payment he kicked me. The blood of my heroic
grandfather boiled within me, and I shook my fist in his face
and vowed to have my revenge. He kicked me again. At Zanzibar
there was a telegram. I cursed the man who invented telegraphs.
Now I curse him again. I was to be arrested for desertion,
for murder, and que sais-je? I escaped from the prison. I fled,
I starved. I met the men of Monsieur le Cure. They brought
me here. I am full of woe. But I return not to France. Better
to risk my life in these horrible places than to know the Bagne.'

He paused, and we nearly choked with laughter, having to turn
our faces away.

'Ah! you weep, messieurs,' he said. 'No wonder -- it is a sad
story.'

'Perhaps,' said Sir Henry, 'the heroic blood of your
grandparent will triumph after all; perhaps you will still be
great. At any rate we shall see. And now I vote we go to bed.
I am dead tired, and we had not much sleep on that confounded
rock last night.'

And so we did, and very strange the tidy rooms and clean white
sheets seemed to us after our recent experiences.

CHAPTER V
UMSLOPOGAAS MAKES A PROMISE

Next morning at breakfast I missed Flossie and asked where she was.

'Well,' said her mother, 'when I got up this morning I found
a note put outside my door in which -- But here it is, you can
read it for yourself,' and she gave me the slip of paper on which
the following was written: --

'Dearest M--, -- It is just dawn, and I am off to the hills to
get Mr Q-- a bloom of the lily he wants, so don't expect me till
you see me. I have taken the white donkey; and nurse and a couple
of boys are coming with me -- also something to eat, as I may
be away all day, for I am determined to get the lily if I have
to go twenty miles for it. -- Flossie.'

'I hope she will be all right,' I said, a little anxiously;
'I never meant her to trouble after the flower.'

'Ah, Flossie can look after herself,' said her mother; 'she often
goes off in this way like a true child of the wilderness.' But
Mr Mackenzie, who came in just then and saw the note for the
first time, looked rather grave, though he said nothing.

After breakfast was over I took him aside and asked him whether
it would not be possible to send after the girl and get her back,
having in view the possibility of there still being some Masai
hanging about, at whose hands she might come to harm.

'I fear it would be of no use,' he answered. 'She may be fifteen
miles off by now, and it is impossible to say what path she has
taken. There are the hills;' and he pointed to a long range
of rising ground stretching almost parallel with the course followed
by the river Tana, but gradually sloping down to a dense bush-clad
plain about five miles short of the house.

Here I suggested that we might get up the great tree over the
house and search the country round with a spyglass; and this,
after Mr Mackenzie had given some orders to his people to try
and follow Flossie's spoor, we did.

The ascent of the mighty tree was rather an alarming performance,
even with a sound rope-ladder fixed at both ends to climb up,
at least to a landsman; but Good came up like a lamplighter.

On reaching the height at which the first fern-shaped boughs
sprang from the bole, we stepped without any difficulty upon
a platform made of boards, nailed from one bough to another,
and large enough to accommodate a dozen people. As for the view,
it was simply glorious. In ever direction the bush rolled away
in great billows for miles and miles, as far as the glass would
show, only here and there broken by the brighter green of patches
of cultivation, or by the glittering surface of lakes. To the
northwest, Kenia reared his mighty head, and we could trace the
Tana river curling like a silver snake almost from his feet,
and far away beyond us towards the ocean. It is a glorious country,
and only wants the hand of civilized man to make it a most productive
one.

But look as we would, we could see no signs of Flossie and her
donkey, so at last we had to come down disappointed. On reaching
the veranda I found Umslopogaas sitting there, slowly and lightly
sharpening his axe with a small whetstone he always carried with
him.

'What doest thou, Umslopogaas?' I asked.

'I smell blood,' was the answer; and I could get no more out
of him.

After dinner we again went up the tree and searched the surrounding
country with a spyglass, but without result. When we came down
Umslopogaas was still sharpening Inkosi-kaas, although she already
had an edge like a razor. Standing in front of him, and regarding
him with a mixture of fear and fascination, was Alphonse. And
certainly he did seem an alarming object -- sitting there, Zulu
fashion, on his haunches, a wild look upon his intensely savage
and yet intellectual face, sharpening, sharpening, sharpening
at the murderous-looking axe.

'Oh, the monster, the horrible man!' said the little French cook,
lifting his hands in amazement. 'See but the hole in his head;
the skin beats on it up and down like a baby's! Who would nurse
such a baby?' and he burst out laughing at the idea.

For a moment Umslopogaas looked up from his sharpening, and a
sort of evil light played in his dark eyes.

'What does the little "buffalo-heifer" [so named by Umslopogaas,
on account of his mustachios and feminine characteristics] say?
Let him be careful, or I will cut his horns. Beware, little
man monkey, beware!'

Unfortunately Alphonse, who was getting over his fear of him,
went on laughing at 'ce drole d'un monsieur noir'. I was about
to warn him to desist, when suddenly the huge Zulu bounded off
the veranda on to the open space where Alphonse was standing,
his features alive with a sort of malicious enthusiasm, and began
swinging the axe round and round over the Frenchman's head.

'Stand still,' I shouted; 'do not move as you value your life
-- he will not hurt you;' but I doubt if Alphonse heard me, being,
fortunately for himself, almost petrified with horror.

Then followed the most extraordinary display of sword, or rather
of axemanship, that I ever saw. First of all the axe went flying
round and round over the top of Alphonse's head, with an angry
whirl and such extraordinary swiftness that it looked like a
continuous band of steel, ever getting nearer and yet nearer
to that unhappy individual's skull, till at last it grazed it
as it flew. Then suddenly the motion was changed, and it seemed

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