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Allan Quatermain by H. Rider Haggard

Part 6 out of 6

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sent by Curtis to assist the Queen had arrived from the scene
of the battle, which they had left two hours after sundown.
When they left, the wreck of Sorais' army was in full retreat
upon M'Arstuna, followed by all our effective cavalry. Sir Henry
was encamping the remains of his worn-out forces on the site
(such is the fortune of war) that Sorais had occupied the night
before, and proposed marching to M'Arstuna on the morrow. Having
heard this, I felt that I could die with a light heart, and then
everything became a blank.

When next I awoke the first thing I saw was the round disc of
a sympathetic eyeglass, behind which was Good.

'How are you getting on, old chap?' said a voice from the
neighbourhood of the eyeglass.

'What are you doing here?' I asked faintly. 'You ought to be
at M'Arstuna -- have you run away, or what?'

'M'Arstuna,' he replied cheerfully. 'Ah, M'Arstuna fell last
week -- you've been unconscious for a fortnight, you see -- with
all the honours of war, you know -- trumpets blowing, flags flying,
just as though they had had the best of it; but for all that,
weren't they glad to go. Israel made for his tents, I can tell
you -- never saw such a sight in my life.'

'And Sorais?' I asked.

'Sorais -- oh, Sorais is a prisoner; they gave her up, the scoundrels,'
he added, with a change of tone -- 'sacrificed the Queen to save
their skins, you see. She is being brought up here, and I don't
know what will happen to her, poor soul!' and he sighed.

'Where is Curtis?' I asked.

'He is with Nyleptha. She rode out to meet us today, and there
was a grand to-do, I can tell you. He is coming to see you tomorrow;
the doctors (for there is a medical "faculty" in Zu-Vendis as
elsewhere) thought that he had better not come today.'

I said nothing, but somehow I thought to myself that notwithstanding
the doctors he might have given me a look; but there, when a
man is newly married and has just gained a great victory, he
is apt to listen to the advice of doctors, and quite right too.

Just then I heard a familiar voice informing me that 'Monsieur
must now couch himself,' and looking up perceived Alphonse's
enormous black mustachios curling away in the distance.

'So you are here?' I said.

'Mais oui, Monsieur; the war is now finished, my military instincts
are satisfied, and I return to nurse Monsieur.'

I laughed, or rather tried to; but whatever may have been Alphonse's
failings as a warrior (and I fear that he did not come up to
the level of his heroic grandfather in this particular, showing
thereby how true is the saying that it is a bad thing to be
overshadowed by some great ancestral name), a better or kinder
nurse never lived. Poor Alphonse! I hope he will always think
of me as kindly as I think of him.

On the morrow I saw Curtis and Nyleptha with him, and he told
me the whole history of what had happened since Umslopogaas and
I galloped wildly away from the battle to save the life of the
Queen. It seemed to me that he had managed the thing exceedingly
well, and showed great ability as a general. Of course, however,
our loss had been dreadfully heavy -- indeed, I am afraid to
say how many perished in the desperate battle I have described,
but I know that the slaughter has appreciably affected the male
population of the country. He was very pleased to see me, dear
fellow that he is, and thanked me with tears in his eyes for
the little that I had been able to do. I saw him, however, start
violently when his eyes fell upon my face.

As for Nyleptha, she was positively radiant now that 'her dear
lord' had come back with no other injury than an ugly scar on
his forehead. I do not believe that she allowed all the fearful
slaughter that had taken place to weigh ever so little in the
balance against this one fact, or even to greatly diminish her
joy; and I cannot blame her for it, seeing that it is the nature
of loving woman to look at all things through the spectacles
of her love, and little does she reck of the misery of the many
if the happiness of the _one_ be assured. That is human nature,
which the Positivists tell us is just perfection; so no doubt
it is all right.

'And what art thou going to do with Sorais?' I asked her.

Instantly her bright brow darkened to a frown.

'Sorais,' she said, with a little stamp of the foot;
'ah, but Sorais!'

Sir Henry hastened to turn the subject.

'You will soon be about and all right again now, old fellow,'
he said.

I shook my head and laughed.

'Don't deceive yourselves,' I said. 'I may be about for a little,
but I shall never be all right again. I am a dying man, Curtis.
I may die slow, but die I must. Do you know I have been spitting
blood all the morning? I tell you there is something working
away into my lung; I can feel it. There, don't look distressed;
I have had my day, and am ready to go. Give me the mirror, will you?
I want to look at myself.'

He made some excuse, but I saw through it and insisted, and at
last he handed me one of the discs of polished silver set n a
wooden frame like a hand-screen, which serve as looking-glasses
in Zu-Vendis. I looked and put it down.

'Ah,' I said quietly, 'I thought so; and you talk of my getting
all right!' I did not like to let them see how shocked I really
was at my own appearance. My grizzled stubby hair was turned
snow-white, and my yellow face was shrunk like an aged woman's
and had two deep purple rings painted beneath the eyes.

Here Nyleptha began to cry, and Sir Henry again turned the subject,
telling me that the artists had taken a cast of the dead body
of old Umslopogaas, and that a great statue in black marble was
to be erected of him in the act of splitting the sacred stone,
which was to be matched by another statue in white marble of
myself and the horse Daylight as he appeared when, at the termination
of that wild ride, he sank beneath me in the courtyard of the
palace. I have since seen these statues, which at the time of
writing this, six months after the battle, are nearly finished;
and very beautiful they are, especially that of Umslopogaas,
which is exactly like him. As for that of myself, it is good,
but they have idealized my ugly face a little, which is perhaps
as well, seeing that thousands of people will probably look at
it in the centuries to come, and it is not pleasant to look at
ugly things.

Then they told me that Umslopogaas' last wish had been carried
out, and that, instead of being cremated, as I shall be, after
the usual custom here, he had been tied up, Zulu fashion, with
his knees beneath his chin, and, having been wrapped in a thin
sheet of beaten gold, entombed in a hole hollowed out of the
masonry of the semicircular space at the top of the stair he
defended so splendidly, which faces, as far as we can judge,
almost exactly towards Zululand. There he sits, and will sit
for ever, for they embalmed him with spices, and put him in an
air-tight stone coffer, keeping his grim watch beneath the spot
he held alone against a multitude; and the people say that at
night his ghost rises and stands shaking the phantom of Inkosi-kaas
at phantom foes. Certainly they fear during the dark hours to
pass the place where the hero is buried.

Oddly enough, too, a new legend or prophecy has arisen in the
land in that unaccountable way in which such things to arise
among barbarous and semi-civilized people, blowing, like the
wind, no man knows whence. According to this saying, so long
as the old Zulu sits there, looking down the stairway he defended
when alive, so long will the New House of the Stairway, springing
from the union of the Englishman and Nyleptha, endure and flourish;
but when he is taken from thence, or when, ages after, his bones
at last crumble into dust, the House will fall, and the Stairway
shall fall, and the Nation of the Zu-Vendi shall cease to be
a Nation.

CHAPTER XXIII
I HAVE SPOKEN

It was a week after Nyleptha's visit, when I had begun to get
about a little in the middle of the day, that a message came
to me from Sir Henry to say that Sorais would be brought before
them in the Queen's first antechamber at midday, and requesting
my attendance if possible. Accordingly, greatly drawn by curiosity
to see this unhappy woman once more, I made shift, with the help
of that kind little fellow Alphonse, who is a perfect treasure
to me, and that of another waiting-man, to reach the antechamber.
I got there, indeed, before anybody else, except a few of the
great Court officials who had been bidden to be present, but
I had scarcely seated myself before Sorais was brought in by
a party of guards, looking as beautiful and defiant as ever,
but with a worn expression on her proud face. She was, as usual,
dressed in her royal 'kaf', emblazoned with the emblem of the
Sun, and in her right hand she still held the toy spear of silver.
A pang of admiration and pity went through me as I looked at
her, and struggling to my feet I bowed deeply, at the same time
expressing my sorrow that I was not able, owing to my condition,
to remain standing before her.

She coloured a little and then laughed bitterly. 'Thou dost
forget, Macumazahn,' she said, 'I am no more a Queen, save in
blood; I am an outcast and a prisoner, one whom all men should
scorn, and none show deference to.'

'At least,' I replied, 'thou art still a lady, and therefore
one to whom deference is due. Also, thou art in an evil case,
and therefore it is doubly due.'

'Ah!' she answered, with a little laugh, 'thou dost forget that
I would have wrapped thee in a sheet of gold and hung thee to
the angel's trumpet at the topmost pinnacle of the Temple.'

'No,' I answered, 'I assure thee that I forgot it not; indeed,
I often thought of it when it seemed to me that the battle of
the Pass was turning against us; but the trumpet is there, and
I am still here, though perchance not for long, so why talk of
it now?'

'Ah!' she went on, 'the battle! the battle! Oh, would that I
were once more a Queen, if only for one little hour, and I would
take such a vengeance on those accursed jackals who deserted
me in my need; that it should only be spoken of in whispers;
those woman, those pigeon-hearted half-breeds who suffered
temselves to be overcome!' and she choked in her wrath.

'Ay, and that little coward beside thee,' she went on, pointing
at Alphonse with the silver spear, whereat he looked very
uncomfortable; 'he escaped and betrayed my plans. I tried to
make a general of him, telling the soldiers it was Bougwan,
and to scourge valour into him' (here Alphonse shivered at
some unhappy recollection), 'but it was of no avail. He hid
beneath a banner in my tent and thus overheard my plans.
I would that I had slain him, but, alas! I held my hand.

'And thou, Macumazahn, I have hard of what thou didst; thou art
brave, and hast a loyal heart. And the black one too, ah, he was
a _man_. I would fain have seen him hurl Nasta from the stairway.'

'Thou art a strange woman, Sorais,' I said; 'I pray thee now
plead with the Queen Nyleptha, that perchance she may show mercy
unto thee.'

She laughed out loud. 'I plead for mercy!' she said and at
that moment the Queen entered, accompanied by Sir Henry and Good,
and took her seat with an impassive face. As for poor Good,
he looked intensely ill at ease.

'Greeting, Sorais!' said Nyleptha, after a short pause. 'Thou
hast rent the kingdom like a rag, thou hast put thousands of
my people to the sword, thou hast twice basely plotted to destroy
my life by murder, thou hast sworn to slay my lord and his companions
and to hurl me from the Stairway. What hast thou to say why
thou shouldst not die? Speak, O Sorais!'

'Methinks my sister the Queen hath forgotten the chief count
of the indictment,' answered Sorais in her slow musical tones.
'It runs thus: "Thou didst strive to win the love of my lord
Incubu." It is for this crime that my sister will slay me, not
because I levied war. It is perchance happy for thee, Nyleptha,
that I fixed my mind upon his love too late.

'Listen,' she went on, raising her voice. 'I have nought to
say save that I would I had won instead of lost. Do thou with
me even as thou wilt, O Queen, and let my lord the King there'
(pointing to Sir Henry) -- 'for now will he be King -- carry
out the sentence, as it is meet he should, for as he is the beginning
of the evil, let him also be the end.' And she drew herself
up and shot one angry glance at him from her deep fringed eyes,
and then began to toy with her spear.

Sir Henry bent towards Nyleptha and whispered something that
I could not catch, and then the Queen spoke.

'Sorais, ever have I been a good sister to thee. When our father
died, and there was much talk in the land as to whether thou
shouldst sit upon the throne with me, I being the elder, I gave
my voice for thee and said, "Nay, let her sit. She is twin with
me; we were born at a birth; wherefore should the one be preferred
before the other?" And so has it ever been 'twixt thee and me,
my sister. But now thou knowest in what sort thou hast repaid
me, but I have prevailed, and thy life is forfeit, Sorais. And
yet art thou my sister, born at a birth with me, and we played
together when we were little and loved each other much, and at
night we slept in the same cot with our arms each around the
other's neck, and therefore even now does my heart go out to
thee, Sorais.

'But not for that would I spare thy life, for thy offence has
been too heavy; it doth drag down the wide wings of my mercy
even to the ground. Also, while thou dost live the land will
never be at peace.

'Yet shalt thou not die, Sorais, because my dear lord here hath
begged thy life of me as a boon; therefore as a boon and as a
marriage gift give I it to him, to do with even as he wills,
knowing that, though thou dost love him, he loves thee not, Sorais,
for all thy beauty. Nay, though thou art lovely as the night
in all her stars, O Lady of the Night, yet it is me his wife
whom he loves, and not thee, and therefore do I give thy life
to him.'

Sorais flushed up to her eyes and said nothing, and I do not
think that I ever saw a man look more miserable than did Sir
Henry at that moment. Somehow, Nyleptha's way of putting the
thing, though true and forcible enough, was not altogether pleasant.

'I understand,' stammered Curtis, looking at Good, 'I understood
that he were attached -- eh -- attached to -- to the Queen Sorais.
I am -- eh -- not aware what the -- in short, the state of your
feelings may be just now; but if they happened to be that way
inclined, it has struck me that -- in short, it might put a satisfactory
end to an unpleasant business. The lady also has ample private
estates, where I am sure she would be at liberty to live unmolested
as far as we are concerned, eh, Nyleptha? Of course, I only
suggest.'

'So far as I am concerned,' said Good, colouring up, 'I am quite
willing to forget the past; and if the Lady of the Night thinks
me worth the taking I will marry her tomorrow, or when she likes,
and try to make her a good husband.'

All eyes were now turned to Sorais, who stood with that same
slow smile upon her beautiful face which I had noticed the first
time that I ever saw her. She paused a little while, and cleared
her throat, and then thrice she curtseyed low, once to Nyleptha,
once to Curtis, and once to Good, and began to speak in measured tones.

'I thank thee, most gracious Queen and royal sister, for the
loving-kindness thou hast shown me from my youth up, and especially
in that thou hast been pleased to give my person and my fate
as a gift to the Lord Incubu -- the King that is to be. May
prosperity, peace and plenty deck the life-path of one so merciful
and so tender, even as flowers do. Long mayst thou reign, O
great and glorious Queen, and hold thy husband's love in both
thy hands, and many be the sons and daughters of thy beauty.
And I thank thee, my Lord Incubu -- the King that is to be --
I thank thee a thousand times in that thou hast been pleased
to accept that gracious gift, and to pass it on to thy comrade
in arms and in adventure, the Lord Bougwan. Surely the act is
worthy of thy greatness, my Lord Incubu. And now, lastly, I
thank thee also, my Lord Bougwan, who in thy turn hast deigned
to accept me and my poor beauty. I thank thee a thousand times,
and I will add that thou art a good and honest man, and I put
my hand upon my heart and swear that I would that I could say
thee "yea". And now that I have rendered thanks to all in turn'
-- and again she smiled -- 'I will add one short word.

'Little can you understand of me, Queen Nyleptha and my lords,
if ye know not that for me there is no middle path; that I scorn
your pity and hate you for it; that I cast off your forgiveness
as though it were a serpent's sting; and that standing here,
betrayed, deserted, insulted, and alone, I yet triumph over you,
mock you, and defy you, one and all, and _thus_ I answer you.'
And then, of a sudden, before anybody guessed what she intended
to do, she drove the little silver spear she carried in her hand
into her side with such a strong and steady aim that the keen
point projected through her back, and she fell prone upon the
pavement.

Nyleptha shrieked, and poor Good almost fainted at the sight,
while the rest of us rushed towards her. But Sorais of the Night
lifted herself upon her hand, and for a moment fixed her glorious
eyes intently on Curtis' face, as though there were some message
in the glance, then dropped her head and sighed, and with a sob
her dark but splendid spirit passed.

Well, they gave her a royal funeral, and there was an end of her.

It was a month after the last act of the Sorais tragedy that
a great ceremony was held in the Flower Temple, and Curtis was
formally declared King-Consort of Zu-Vendis. I was too ill to
go myself; and indeed, I hate all that sort of thing, with the
crowds and the trumpet-blowing and banner-waving; but Good, who
was there (in his full-dress uniform), came back much impressed,
and told me that Nyleptha had looked lovely, and Curtis had borne
himself in a right royal fashion, and had been received with
acclamations that left no doubt as to his popularity. Also he
told me that when the horse Daylight was led along in the procession,
the populace had shouted '_Macumazahn, Macumazahn!_' till they
were hoarse, and would only be appeased when he, Good, rose in
his chariot and told them that I was too ill to be present.

Afterwards, too, Sir Henry, or rather the King, came to see me,
looking very tired, and vowing that he had never been so bored
in his life; but I dare say that that was a slight exaggeration.
It is not in human nature that a man should be altogether bored
on such an extraordinary occasion; and, indeed, as I pointed
out to him, it was a marvellous thing that a man, who but little
more than one short year before had entered a great country as
an unknown wanderer, should today be married to its beautiful
and beloved Queen, and lifted, amidst public rejoicings, to its
throne. I even went the length to exhort him in the future not
to be carried away by the pride and pomp of absolute power, but
always to strive to remember that he was first a Christian gentleman,
and next a public servant, called by Providence to a great and
almost unprecedented trust. These remarks, which he might fairly
have resented, he was so good as to receive with patience, and
even to thank me for making them.

It was immediately after this ceremony that I caused myself to
be moved to the house where I am now writing. It is a very pleasant
country seat, situated about two miles from the Frowning City,
on to which it looks. That was five months ago, during the whole
of which time I have, being confined to a kind of couch, employed
my leisure in compiling this history of our wanderings from my
journal and from our joint memories. It is probable that it
will never be read, but it does not much matter whether it is
or not; at any rate, it has served to while away many hours of
suffering, for I have suffered a deal of pain lately. Thank God,
however, there will not be much more of it.

It is a week since I wrote the above, and now I take up my pen
for the last time, for I know that the end is at hand. My brain
is still clear and I can manage to write, though with difficulty.
The pain in my lung, which has been very bad during the last
week, has suddenly quite left me, and been succeeded by a feeling
of numbness of which I cannot mistake the meaning. And just
as the pain has gone, so with it all fear of that end has departed,
and I feel only as though I were going to sink into the arms
of an unutterable rest. Happily, contentedly, and with the same
sense of security with which an infant lays itself to sleep in
its mother's arms, do I lay myself down in the arms of the Angel
Death. All the tremors, all the heart-shaking fears which have
haunted me through a life that seems long as I looked back upon
it, have left me now; the storms have passed, and the Star of
our Eternal Hope shines clear and steady on the horizon that
seems so far from man, and yet is so very near to me tonight.

And so this is the end of it -- a brief space of troubling,
a few restless, fevered, anguished years, and then the arms of
that great Angel Death. Many times have I been near to them,
and now it is my turn at last, and it is well. Twenty-four hours
more and the world will be gone from me, and with it all its
hopes and all its fears. The air will close in over the space
that my form filled and my place know me no more; for the dull
breath of the world's forgetfulness will first dim the brightness
of my memory, and then blot it out for ever, and of a truth I
shall be dead. So is it with us all. How many millions have
lain as I lie, and thought these thoughts and been forgotten!
-- thousands upon thousands of years ago they thought them, those
dying men of the dim past; and thousands on thousands of years
hence will their descendants think them and be in their turn
forgotten. 'As the breath of the oxen in winter, as the quick
star that runs along the sky, as a little shadow that loses itself
at sunset,' as I once heard a Zulu called Ignosi put it, such
is the order of our life, the order that passeth away.

Well, it is not a good world -- nobody can say that it is, save
those who wilfully blind themselves to facts. How can a world
be good in which Money is the moving power, and Self-interest
the guiding star? The wonder is not that it is so bad, but that
there should be any good left in it.

Still, now that my life is over, I am glad to have lived, glad
to have known the dear breath of woman's love, and that true
friendship which can even surpass the love of woman, glad to
have heard the laughter of little children, to have seen the
sun and the moon and the stars, to have felt the kiss of the
salt sea on my face, and watched the wild game trek down to the
water in the moonlight. But I should not wish to live again!

Everything is changing to me. The darkness draws near, and the
light departs. And yet it seems to me that through that darkness
I can already see the shining welcome of many a long-lost face.
Harry is there, and others; one above all, to my mind the sweetest
and most perfect woman that ever gladdened this grey earth.
But of her I have already written elsewhere, and at length, so
why speak of her now? Why speak of her after this long silence,
now that she is again so near to me, now that I go where she
has gone?

The sinking sun is turning the golden roof of the great Temple
to a fiery flame, and my fingers tire.

So to all who have known me, or known of me, to all who can think
one kindly thought of the old hunter, I stretch out my hand from
the far-off shore and bid a long farewell.

And now into the hands of Almighty God, who sent it, do I commit
my spirit.

'_I have spoken,_' as the Zulus say.

CHAPTER XXIV
BY ANOTHER HAND

A year has elapsed since our most dear friend Allan Quatermain
wrote the words '_I have spoken_' at the end of his record of
our adventures. Nor should I have ventured to make any additions
to the record had it not happened that by a most strange accident
a chance has arisen of its being conveyed to England. The chance
is but a faint one, it is true; but, as it is not probable that
another will arise in our lifetimes, Good and myself think that
we may as well avail ourselves of it, such as it is. During the
last six months several Frontier Commissions have been at work
on the various boundaries of Zu-Vendis, with a view of discovering
whether there exists any possible means of ingress or egress from
the country, with the result that a channel of communication
with the outer world hitherto overlooked has been discovered.
This channel, apparently the only one (for I have discovered that
it was by it that the native who ultimately reached Mr Mackenzie's
mission station, and whose arrival in the country, together with
the fact of his expulsion -- for he _did_ arrive about three
years before ourselves -- was for reasons of their own kept a
dead secret by the priests to whom he was brought), is about
to be effectually closed. But before this is done, a messenger
is to be despatched bearing with him this manuscript, and also
one or two letters from Good to his friends, and from myself
to my brother George, whom it deeply grieves me to think I shall
never see again, informing them, as our next heirs, that they
are welcome to our effects in England, if the Court of Probate
will allow them to take them {Endnote 22}, inasmuchas we have
made up our minds never to return to Europe. Indeed, it would
be impossible for us to leave Zu-Vendis even if we wished to do so.

The messenger who is to go -- and I wish him joy of his journey
-- is Alphonse. For a long while he has been wearied to death
of Zu-Vendis and its inhabitants. 'Oh, oui, c'est beau,' he
says, with an expressive shrug; 'mais je m'ennuie; ce n'est pas
chic.' Again, he complains dreadfully of the absence of cafes
and theatres, and moans continually for his lost Annette, of
whom he says he dreams three times a week. But I fancy his secret
cause of disgust at the country, putting aside the homesickness
to which ever Frenchman is subject, is that the people here laugh
at him so dreadfully about his conduct on the occasion of the
great battle of the Pass about eighteen months ago, when he hid
beneath a banner in Sorais's tent in order to avoid being sent
forth to fight, which he says would have gone against his conscience.
Even the little boys call out at him in the streets, thereby
offending his pride and making his life unbearable. At any rate,
he has determined to brave the horrors of a journey of almost
unprecedented difficulty and danger, and also to run the risk
of falling into the hands of the French police to answer for
a certain little indiscretion of his own some years old (though
I do not consider that a very serious matter), rather than remain
in ce triste pays. Poor Alphonse! we shall be very sorry to
part with him; but I sincerely trust, for his own sake and also
for the sake of this history, which is, I think, worth giving
to the world, that he may arrive in safety. If he does, and
can carry the treasure we have provided him with in the shape
of bars of solid gold, he will be, comparatively speaking, a
rich man for life, and well able to marry his Annette, if she
is still in the land of the living and willing to marry her Alphonse.

Anyhow, on the chance, I may as well add a word or two to
dear old Quatermain's narrative.

He died at dawn on the day following that on which he wrote the
last words of the last chapter. Nyleptha, Good and myself were
present, and a most touching and yet in its way beautiful scene
it was. An hour before the daybreak it became apparent to us
that he was sinking, and our distress was very keen. Indeed,
Good melted into tears at the idea -- a fact that called forth
a last gentle flicker of humour from our dying friend, for even
at that hour he could be humorous. Good's emotion had, by loosening
the muscles, naturally caused his eyeglass to fall from its accustomed
place, and Quatermain, who always observed everything, observed
this also.

'At last,' he gasped, with an attempt at a smile, 'I have seen
Good without his eyeglass.'

After that he said no more till the day broke, when he asked
to be lifted up to watch the rising of the sun for the last time.

'In a very few minutes,' he said, after gazing earnestly at it,
'I shall have passed through those golden gates.'

Ten minutes afterwards he raised himself and looked us fixedly
in the face.

'I am going a stranger journey than any we have ever taken together.
Think of me sometimes,' he murmured. 'God bless you all.
I shall wait for you.' And with a sigh he fell back dead.

And so passed away a character that I consider went as near perfection
as any it has ever been my lot to encounter.

Tender, constant, humorous, and possessing of many of the qualities
that go to make a poet, he was yet almost unrivalled as a man
of action and a citizen of the world. I never knew any one so
competent to form an accurate judgment of men and their motives.
'I have studied human nature all my life,' he would say, 'and
I ought to know something about it,' and he certainly did.
He had but two faults -- one was his excessive modesty, and the
other a slight tendency which he had to be jealous of anybody
on whom he concentrated his affections. As regards the first
of these points, anybody who reads what he has written will be
able to form his own opinion; but I will add one last instance of it.

As the reader will doubtless remember, it is a favourite trick
of his to talk of himself as a timid man, whereas really, thought
very cautious, he possessed a most intrepid spirit, and, what
is more, never lost his head. Well, in the great battle of the
Pass, where he got the wound that finally killed him, one would
imagine from the account which he gives of the occurrence that
it was a chance blow that fell on him in the scrimmage. As a
matter of fact, however, he was wounded in a most gallant and
successful attempt to save Good's life, at the risk and, as it
ultimately turned out, at the cost of his own. Good was down
on the ground, and one of Nasta's highlanders was about to dispatch
him, when Quatermain threw himself on to his prostrate form and
received the blow on his own body, and then, rising, killed the
soldier.

As regards his jealousy, a single instance which I give in justice
to myself and Nyleptha will suffice. The reader will, perhaps,
recollect that in one or two places he speaks as though Nyleptha
monopolized me, and he was left by both of us rather out in the
cold. Now Nyleptha is not perfect, any more than any other woman
is, and she may be a little exigeante at times, but as regards
Quatermain the whole thing is pure imagination. Thus when he
complains about my not coming to see him when he is ill, the
fact was that, in spite of my entreaties, the doctors positively
forbade it. Those little remarks of his pained me very much
when I read them, for I loved Quatermain as dearly as though
he were my own father, and should never have dreamed of allowing
my marriage to interfere with that affection. But let it pass;
it is, after all, but one little weakness, which makes no great
show among so many and such lovable virtues.

Well, he died, and Good read the Burial Service over him in the
presence of Nyleptha and myself; and then his remains were, in
deference to the popular clamour, accorded a great public funeral,
or rather cremation. I could not help thinking, however, as
I marched in that long and splendid procession up to the Temple,
how he would have hated the whole thing could he have been there
to see it, for he had a horror of ostentation.

And so, a few minutes before sunset, on the third night after
his death, they laid him on the brazen flooring before the altar,
and waited for the last ray of the setting sun to fall upon his
face. Presently it came, and struck him like a golden arrow,
crowning the pale brows with glory, and then the trumpets blew,
and the flooring revolved, and all that remained of our beloved
friend fell into the furnace below.

We shall never see his like again if we live a hundred years.
He was the ablest man, the truest gentleman, the firmest friend,
the finest sportsman, and, I believe, the best shot in all Africa.

And so ended the very remarkable and adventurous life of
Hunter Quatermain.

Since then things have gone very well with us. Good has been,
and still is, busily employed in the construction of a navy on
Lake Milosis and another of the large lakes, by means of which
we hope to be able to increase trade and commerce, and also to
overcome some very troublesome and warlike sections of the population
who live upon their borders. Poor fellow! he is beginning to
get over the sad death of that misguided but most attractive
woman, Sorais, but it is a sad blow to him, for he was really
deeply attached to her. I hope, however, that he will in time
make a suitable marriage and get that unhappy business out of
his head. Nyleptha has one or two young ladies in view, especially
a daughter of Nasta's (who was a widower), a very fine imperial-looking
girl, but with too much of her father's intriguing, and yet haughty,
spirit to suit my taste.

As for myself, I should scarcely know where to begin if I set
to work to describe my doings, so I had best leave them undescribed,
and content myself with saying that, on the whole, I am getting
on very well in my curious position of King-Consort -- better,
indeed, than I had any right to expect. But, of course, it is
not all plain sailing, and I find the responsibilities very heavy.
Still, I hope to be able to do some good in my time, and I intend
to devote myself to two great ends -- namely, to the consolidation
of the various clans which together make up the Zu-Vendi people,
under one strong central government, and to the sapping of the
power of the priesthood. The first of these reforms will, if
it can be carried out, put an end to the disastrous civil wars
that have for centuries devastated this country; and the second,
besides removing a source of political danger, will pave the
road for the introduction of true religion in the place of this
senseless Sun worship. I yet hope to see the shadow of the Cross
of Christ lying on the golden dome of the Flower Temple; or,
if I do not, that my successors may.

There is one more thing that I intend to devote myself to, and
that is the total exclusion of all foreigners from Zu-Vendis.
Not, indeed, that any more are ever likely to get here, but
if they do, I warn them fairly that they will be shown the shortest
way out of the country. I do not say this from any sense of
inhospitality, but because I am convinced of the sacred duty
that rests upon me of preserving to this, on the whole, upright
and generous-hearted people the blessings of comparative barbarism.
Where would all my brave army be if some enterprising rascal
were to attack us with field-guns and Martini-Henrys? I cannot
see that gunpowder, telegraphs, steam, daily newspapers, universal
suffrage, etc., etc., have made mankind one whit the happier
than they used to be, and I am certain that they have brought
many evils in their train. I have no fancy for handing over
this beautiful country to be torn and fought for by speculators,
tourists, politicians and teachers, whose voice is as the voice
of Babel, just as those horrible creatures in the valley of the
underground river tore and fought for the body of the wild swan;
nor will I endow it with the greed, drunkenness, new diseases,
gunpowder, and general demoralization which chiefly mark the
progress of civilization amongst unsophisticated peoples. If
in due course it pleases Providence to throw Zu-Vendis open to
the world, that is another matter; but of myself I will not take
the responsibility, and I may add that Good entirely approves
of my decision. Farewell.

Henry Curtis

December 15, 18--.

PS -- I quite forgot to say that about nine months ago Nyleptha
(who is very well and, in my eyes at any rate, more beautiful
than ever) presented me with a son and heir. He is a regular
curly-haired, blue-eyed young Englishman in looks, and, though
he is destined, if he lives, to inherit the throne of Zu-Vendis,
I hope I may be able to bring him up to become what an English
gentleman should be, and generally is -- which is to my mind
even a prouder and a finer thing than being born heir apparent
to the great House of the Stairway, and, indeed, the highest
rank that a man can reach upon this earth.

H. C.

NOTE BY GEORGE CURTIS, Esq.

The MS of this history, addressed to me in the handwriting of
my dear brother Henry Curtis, whom we had given up for dead,
and bearing the Aden postmark, reached me in safety on December
20, 18--, or a little more than two years after it left his hands
in the far centre of Africa, and I hasten to give the astonishing
story it contains to the world. Speaking for myself, I have
read it with very mixed feelings; for though it is a great relief
to know that he and Good are alive and strangely prosperous,
I cannot but feel that for me and for all their friends they
might as well be dead, since we can never hope to see them more.

They have cut themselves off from old England and from their
homes and their relations for ever, and perhaps, under the
circumstances, they were right and wise to do so.

How the MS came to be posted I have been quite unable to discover;
but I presume, from the fact of its being posted at all, that
the little Frenchman, Alphonse, accomplished his hazardous journey
in safety. I have, however, advertised for him and caused various
inquiries to be made in Marseilles and elsewhere with a view
of discovering his whereabouts, but so far without the slightest
success. Possibly he is dead, and the packet was posted by another
hand; or possibly he is now happily wedded to his Annette, but
still fears the vengeance of the law, and prefers to remain incognito.
I cannot say, I have not yet abandoned my hopes of finding him,
but I am bound to say that they grow fainter day by day, and
one great obstacle to my search is that nowhere in the whole
history does Mr Quatermain mention his surname. He is always
spoken of as 'Alphonse', and there are so many Alphonses.
The letters which my brother Henry says he is sending with the
packet of manuscript have never arrived, so I presume that they
are lost or destroyed.

George Curtis

AUTHORITIES

A novelist is not usually asked, like a historian, for his 'Quellen'.
As I have, however, judging from certain experiences in the
past, some reason to anticipate such a demand, I wish to acknowledge
my indebtedness to Mr Thomson's admirable history of travel 'Through
Masai Land' for much information as to the habits and customs
of the tribes inhabiting that portion of the East Coast, and
the country where they live; also to my brother, John G. Haggard,
RN, HBM's consul at Madagascar, and formerly consul at Lamu,
for many details furnished by him of the mode of life and war
of those engaging people the Masai; also to my sister-in-law,
John Haggard, who kindly put the lines of p. 183 into rhyme for
me; also to an extract in a review from some book of travel of
which I cannot recollect the name, to which I owe the idea of
the great crabs in the valley of the subterranean river. {Endnote 23}
But if I remember right, the crabs in the book when irritated
projected their eyes quite out of their heads. I regret that I
was not able to 'plagiarize' this effect, but I felt that,
although crabs may, and doubtless do, behave thus in real life,
in romance they 'will not do so.'

There is an underground river in 'Peter Wilkins', but at the
time of writing the foregoing pages I had not read that quaint
but entertaining work.

It has been pointed out to me that there exists a similarity
between the scene of Umslopogaas frightening Alphonse with his
axe and a scene in Far from the Madding Crowd. I regret this
coincidence, and believe that the talented author of that work
will not be inclined to accuse me of literary immorality on
its account.

Finally, I may say that Mr Quatermain's little Frenchman appears
to belong to the same class of beings as those English ladies
whose long yellow teeth and feet of enormous size excite our
hearty amusement in the pages of the illustrated Gallic press.

The Writer of 'Allan Quatermain'

Endnote 1

Among the Zulus a man assumes the ring, which is made of a species
of black gum twisted in with the hair, and polished a brilliant
black, when he has reached a certain dignity and age, or is the
husband of a sufficient number of wives. Till he is in a position
to wear a ring he is looked on as a boy, though he may be thirty-five
years of age, or even more. -- A. Q.

Endnote 2

One of the fleetest of the African antelopes. -- A. Q.

Endnote 3

Alluding to the Zulu custom of opening the stomach of a dead
foe. They have a superstition that, if this is not done, as
the body of their enemy swells up so will the bodies of those
who killed him swell up. -- A. Q.

Endnote 4

No doubt this owl was a wingless bird. I afterwards learnt that
the hooting of an owl is a favourite signal among the Masai tribes.
-- A. Q.

Endnote 5

Since I saw the above I have examined hundreds of these swords,
but have never been able to discover how the gold plates were
inlaid in the fretwork. The armourers who make them in Zu-vendis
bind themselves by oath not to reveal the secret. -- A. Q.

Endnote 6

The Masai Elmoran or young warriors can own no property, so all
the booty they may win in battle belongs to their fathers
alone. -- A. Q.

Endnote 7

As I think I have already said, one of Umslopogaas's Zulu names
was the 'Woodpecker'. I could never make out why he was called
so until I saw him in action with Inkosi-kaas, when I at once
recognized the resemblance. -- A. Q.

Endnote 8

By a sad coincidence, since the above was written by Mr Quatermain,
the Masai have, in April 1886, massacred a missionary and his
wife -- Mr and Mrs Houghton -- on this very Tana River, and at
the spot described. These are, I believe, the first white people
who are known to have fallen victims to this cruel tribe. -- Editor.

Endnote 9

Mr Allan Quatermain misquotes -- Pleasure sat at the helm. -- Editor.

Endnote 10

Where Alph the sacred river ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea

Endnote 11

Mr Quatermain does not seem to have been aware that it is common
for animal-worshipping people to annually sacrifice the beasts
they adore. See Herodotus, ii. 45. -- Editor.

Endnote 12

There is another theory which might account for the origin of
the Zu-Vendi which does not seem to have struck my friend Mr
Quatermain and his companions, and that is, that they are descendants
of the Phoenicians. The cradle of the Phoenician race is supposed
to have been have been on the western shore of the Persian Gulf.
Thence, as there is good evidence to show, they emigrated in
two streams, one of which took possession of the shores of Palestine,
while the other is supposed by savants to have immigrated down
the coast of Eastern Africa where, near Mozambique, signs and
remains of their occupation are not wanting. Indeed, it would
have been very extraordinary if they did not, when leaving the
Persian Gulf, make straight for the East Coast, seeing that the
north-east monsoon blows for six months in the year dead in that
direction, while for the other six months it blows back again.
And, by the way of illustrating the probability, I may add that
to this day a very extensive trade is carried on between the
Persian Gulf and Lamu and other East African ports as far south
as Madagascar, which is of course the ancient Ebony Isle of the
'Arabian Nights'. -- Editor.

Endnote 13

There are twenty-two letters in the Phoenician alphabet
(see Appendix, Maspero's Histoire ancienne des peuples de
l'Orient, p. 746, etc.) Unfortunately Mr Quatermain gives us
no specimen of the Zu-Vendi writing, but what he here states
seems to go a long way towards substantiating the theory advanced
in the note on p. 149. -- Editor.

Endnote 14

These are internal measurements. -- A. Q.

Endnote 15

Light was also admitted by sliding shutters under the eaves of
the dome and in the roof. -- A. Q.

Endnote 16

This line is interesting as being one of the few allusions to
be found in the Zu-Vendi ritual to a vague divine essence independent
of the material splendour of the orb they worship. 'Taia',
the word used here, has a very indeterminate meaning, and signifies
essence, vital principle, spirit, or even God.

Endnote 17

Alluding to the Zulu custom. -- A. Q.

Endnote 18

In Zu-Vendis members of the Royal House can only be married by
the High Priest or a formally appointed deputy. -- A. Q.

Endnote 19

Alluding to the Zu-Vendi custom of carrying dead officers on
a framework of spears.

Endnote 20

The Zu-Vendi people do not use bows. -- A. Q.

Endnote 21

Of course, the roof of the Temple, being so high, caught the
light some time before the breaking of the dawn. -- A. Q.

Endnote 22

Of course the Court of Probate would allow nothing of the
sort. -- Editor.

Endnote 23

It is suggested to me that this book is The Cruise of the "Falcon",
with which work I am personally unacquainted.

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