Part 1 out of 7
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by H. RIDER HAGGARD
Ditchingham House, Norfolk,
My dear Roosevelt,--
You are, I know, a lover of old Allan Quatermain, one who
understands and appreciates the views of life and the aspirations
that underlie and inform his manifold adventures.
Therefore, since such is your kind wish, in memory of certain
hours wherein both of us found true refreshment and companionship
amidst the terrible anxieties of the World's journey along that
bloodstained road by which alone, so it is decreed, the pure Peak
of Freedom must be scaled, I dedicate to you this tale telling of
the events and experiences of my youth.
Your sincere friend,
H. RIDER HAGGARD.
To COLONEL THEODORE ROOSEVELT,
Sagamore Hill, U.S.A.
I. ALLAN QUATERMAIN MEETS ANSCOMBE
II. MR. MARNHAM
III. THE HUNTERS HUNTED
IV. DOCTOR RODD
V. A GAME OF CARDS
VI. MISS HEDA
VII. THE STOEP
VIII. RODD'S LAST CARD
XIV. THE VALLEY OF BONES
XV. THE GREAT COUNCIL
XVII. KAATJE BRINGS NEWS
XIX. ALLAN AWAKES
XX. HEDA'S TALE
XXI. THE KING VISITS ZIKALI
XXII. THE MADNESS OF NOMBE
XXIII. THE KRAAL JAZI
This book, although it can be read as a separate story, is the
third of the trilogy of which _Marie_ and _Child of Storm_ are
the first two parts. It narrates, through the mouth of Allan
Quatermain, the consummation of the vengeance of the wizard
Zikali, alias The Opener of Roads, or
"The-Thing-that-should-never-have-been-born," upon the royal Zulu
House of which Senzangacona was the founder and Cetewayo, our
enemy in the war of 1879, the last representative who ruled as a
king. Although, of course, much is added for the purposes of
romance, the main facts of history have been adhered to with some
With these the author became acquainted a full generation ago,
Fortune having given him a part in the events that preceded the
Zulu War. Indeed he believes that with the exception of Colonel
Phillips, who, as a lieutenant, commanded the famous escort of
twenty-five policemen, he is now the last survivor of the party
who, under the leadership of Sir Theophilus Shepstone, or Sompesu
as the natives called him from the Zambesi to the Cape, were
concerned in the annexation of the Transvaal in 1877. Recently
also he has been called upon as a public servant to revisit South
Africa and took the opportunity to travel through Zululand, in
order to refresh his knowledge of its people, their customs,
their mysteries, and better to prepare himself for the writing of
this book. Here he stood by the fatal Mount of Isandhlawana
which, with some details of the battle, is described in these
pages, among the graves of many whom once he knew, Colonels
Durnford, Pulleine and others. Also he saw Ulundi's plain where
the traces of war still lie thick, and talked with an old Zulu
who fought in the attacking Impi until it crumbled away before
the fire of the Martinis and shells from the heavy guns. The
battle of the Wall of Sheet Iron, he called it, perhaps because
of the flashing fence of bayonets.
Lastly, in a mealie patch, he found the spot on which the corn
grows thin, where King Cetewayo breathed his last, poisoned
without a doubt, as he has known for many years. It is to be
seen at the Kraal, ominously named Jazi or, translated into
English, "Finished." The tragedy happened long ago, but even now
the quiet-faced Zulu who told the tale, looking about him as he
spoke, would not tell it all. "Yes, as a young man, I was there
at the time, but I do not remember, I do not know--the Inkoosi
Lundanda (i.e. this Chronicler, so named in past years by the
Zulus) stands on the very place where the king died--His bed was
on the left of the door-hole of the hut," and so forth, but no
certain word as to the exact reason of this sudden and violent
death or by whom it was caused. The name of that destroyer of a
king is for ever hid.
In this story the actual and immediate cause of the declaration
of war against the British Power is represented as the appearance
of the white goddess, or spirit of the Zulus, who is, or was,
called Nomkubulwana or Inkosazana-y-Zulu, i.e. the Princess of
Heaven. The exact circumstances which led to this decision are
not now ascertainable, though it is known that there was much
difference of opinion among the Zulu Indunas or great captains,
and like the writer, many believe that King Cetewayo was
personally averse to war against his old allies, the English.
The author's friend, Mr. J. Y. Gibson, at present the
representative of the Union in Zululand, writes in his admirable
history: "There was a good deal of discussion amongst the
assembled Zulu notables at Ulundi, but of how counsel was swayed
it is not possible now to obtain a reliable account."
The late Mr. F. B. Fynney, F.R.G.S., who also was his friend in
days bygone, and, with the exception of Sir Theophilus Shepstone,
who perhaps knew the Zulus and their language better than any
other official of his day, speaking of this fabled goddess wrote:
"I remember that just before the Zulu War Nomkubulwana appeared
revealing something or other which had a great effect throughout
The use made of this strange traditional Guardian Angel in the
following tale is not therefore an unsupported flight of fancy,
and the same may be said of many other incidents, such as the
account of the reading of the proclamation annexing the Transvaal
at Pretoria in 1877, which have been introduced to serve the
purposes of the romance.
Mameena, who haunts its pages, in a literal as well as figurative
sense, is the heroine of _Child of Storm,_ a book to which she
gave her own poetic title.
ALLAN QUATERMAIN MEETS ANSCOMBE
You, my friend, into whose hand, if you live, I hope these
scribblings of mine will pass one day, must well remember the
12th of April of the year 1877 at Pretoria. Sir Theophilus
Shepstone, or Sompesu, for I prefer to call him by his native
name, having investigated the affairs of the Transvaal for a
couple of months or so, had made up his mind to annex that
country to the British Crown. It so happened that I, Allan
Quatermain, had been on a shooting and trading expedition at the
back of the Lydenburg district where there was plenty of game to
be killed in those times. Hearing that great events were toward
I made up my mind, curiosity being one of my weaknesses, to come
round by Pretoria, which after all was not very far out of my
way, instead of striking straight back to Natal. As it chanced I
reached the town about eleven o'clock on this very morning of the
12th of April and, trekking to the Church Square, proceeded to
outspan there, as was usual in the Seventies. The place was full
of people, English and Dutch together, and I noted that the
former seemed very elated and were talking excitedly, while the
latter for the most part appeared to be sullen and depressed.
Presently I saw a man I knew, a tall, dark man, a very good
fellow and an excellent shot, named Robinson. By the way you
knew him also, for afterwards he was an officer in the Pretoria
Horse at the time of the Zulu war, the corps in which you held a
commission. I called to him and asked what was up.
"A good deal, Allan," he said as he shook my hand. "Indeed we
shall be lucky if all isn't up, or something like it, before the
day is over. Shepstone's Proclamation annexing the Transvaal is
going to be read presently."
I whistled and asked,
"How will our Boer friends take it? They don't look very
"That's just what no one knows, Allan. Burgers the President is
squared, they say. He is to have a pension; also he thinks it
the only thing to be done. Most of the Hollanders up here don't
like it, but I doubt whether they will put out their hands
further than they can draw them back. The question is--what will
be the line of the Boers themselves? There are a lot of them
about, all armed, you see, and more outside the town."
"What do you think?"
"Can't tell you. Anything may happen. They may shoot Shepstone
and his staff and the twenty-five policemen, or they may just
grumble and go home. Probably they have no fixed plan."
"How about the English?"
"Oh! we are all crazy with joy, but of course there is no
organization and many have no arms. Also there are only a few of
"Well," I answered, "I came here to look for excitement, life
having been dull for me of late, and it seems that I have found
it. Still I bet you those Dutchmen do nothing, except protest.
They are slim and know that the shooting of an unarmed mission
would bring England on their heads."
"Can't say, I am sure. They like Shepstone who understands them,
and the move is so bold that it takes their breath away. But as
the Kaffirs say, when a strong wind blows a small spark will make
the whole veld burn. It just depends upon whether the spark is
there. If an Englishman and a Boer began to fight for instance,
anything might happen. Goodbye, I have got a message to deliver.
If things go right we might dine at the European tonight, and if
they don't, goodness knows where we shall dine."
I nodded sagely and he departed. Then I went to my wagon to tell
the boys not to send the oxen off to graze at present, for I
feared lest they should be stolen if there were trouble, but to
keep them tied to the trek-tow. After this I put on the best
coat and hat I had, feeling that as an Englishman it was my duty
to look decent on such an occasion, washed, brushed my hair--with
me a ceremony without meaning, for it always sticks up--and
slipped a loaded Smith & Wesson revolver into my inner poacher
pocket. Then I started out to see the fun, and avoiding the
groups of surly-looking Boers, mingled with the crowd that I saw
was gathering in front of a long, low building with a broad
stoep, which I supposed, rightly, to be one of the Government
Presently I found myself standing by a tall, rather loosely-built
man whose face attracted me. It was clean-shaven and much
bronzed by the sun, but not in any way good-looking; the features
were too irregular and the nose was a trifle too long for good
looks. Still the impression it gave was pleasant and the steady
blue eyes had that twinkle in them which suggests humour. He
might have been thirty or thirty-five years of age, and
notwithstanding his rough dress that consisted mainly of a pair
of trousers held up by a belt to which hung a pistol, and a
common flannel shirt, for he wore no coat, I guessed at once that
he was English-born.
For a while neither of us said anything after the taciturn habit
of our people even on the veld, and indeed I was fully occupied
in listening to the truculent talk of a little party of mounted
Boers behind us. I put my pipe into my mouth and began to hunt
for my tobacco, taking the opportunity to show the hilt of my
revolver, so that these men might see that I was armed. It was
not to be found, I had left it in the wagon.
"If you smoke Boer tobacco," said the stranger, "I can help you,"
and I noted that the voice was as pleasant as the face, and knew
at once that the owner of it was a gentleman.
"Thank you, Sir. I never smoke anything else," I answered,
whereon he produced from his trousers pocket a pouch made of lion
skin of unusually dark colour.
"I never saw a lion as black as this, except once beyond Buluwayo
on the borders of Lobengula's country," I said by way of making
"Curious," answered the stranger, "for that's where I shot the
brute a few months ago. I tried to keep the whole skin but the
white ants got at it."
"Been trading up there?" I asked.
"Nothing so useful," he said. "Just idling and shooting. Came
to this country because it was one of the very few I had never
seen, and have only been here a year. I think I have had about
enough of it, though. Can you tell me of any boats running from
Durban to India? I should like to see those wild sheep in
I told him that I did not know for certain as I had never taken
any interest in India, being an African elephant-hunter and
trader, but I thought they did occasionally. Just then Robinson
passed by and called to me--
"They'll be here presently, Quatermain, but Sompesu isn't coming
"Does your name happen to be Allan Quatermain?" asked the
stranger. "If so I have heard plenty about you up in Lobengula's
country, and of your wonderful shooting."
"Yes," I replied, "but as for the shooting, natives always
"They never exaggerated about mine," he said with a twinkle in
his eye. "Anyhow I am very glad to see you in the flesh, though
in the spirit you rather bored me because I heard too much of
you. Whenever I made a particularly, bad miss, my gun-bearer,
who at some time seems to have been yours, would say, 'Ah! if
only it had been the Inkosi Macumazahn, how different would have
been the end!' My name is Anscombe, Maurice Anscombe," he added
rather shyly. (Afterwards I discovered from a book of reference
that he was a younger son of Lord Mountford, one of the richest
peers in England.)
Then we both laughed and he said--
"Tell me, Mr. Quatermain, if you will, what those Boers are
saying behind us. I am sure it is something unpleasant, but as
the only Dutch I know is 'Guten Tag' and 'Vootsack' (Good-day and
Get out) that takes me no forwarder."
"It ought to," I answered, "for the substance of their talk is
that they object to be 'vootsacked' by the British Government as
represented by Sir Theophilus Shepstone. They are declaring that
they won the land 'with their blood' and want to keep their own
flag flying over it."
"A very natural sentiment," broke in Anscombe.
"They say that they wish to shoot all damned Englishmen,
especially Shepstone and his people, and that they would make a
beginning now were they not afraid that the damned English
Government, being angered, would send thousands of damned English
rooibatjes, that is, red-coats, and shoot _them_ out of evil
"A very natural conclusion," laughed Anscombe again, "which I
should advise them to leave untested. Hush! Here comes the
I looked and saw a body of blackcoated gentlemen with one officer
in the uniform of a Colonel of Engineers, advancing slowly. I
remember that it reminded me of a funeral procession following
the corpse of the Republic that had gone on ahead out of sight.
The procession arrived upon the stoep opposite to us and began to
sort itself out, whereon the English present raised a cheer and
the Boers behind us cursed audibly. In the middle appeared an
elderly gentleman with whiskers and a stoop, in whom I recognized
Mr. Osborn, known by the Kaffirs as Malimati, the Chief of the
Staff. By his side was a tall young fellow, yourself, my friend,
scarcely more than a lad then, carrying papers. The rest stood
to right and left in a formal line. _You_ gave a printed
document to Mr. Osborn who put on his glasses and began to read
in a low voice which few could hear, and I noticed that his hand
trembled. Presently he grew confused, lost his place, found it,
lost it again and came to a full stop.
"A nervous-natured man," remarked Mr. Anscombe. "Perhaps he
thinks that those gentlemen are going to shoot."
"That wouldn't trouble him," I answered, who knew him well. "His
fears are purely mental."
That was true since I know that this same Sir Melmoth Osborn as
he is now, as I have told in the book I called _Child of Storm_,
swam the Tugela alone to watch the battle of Indondakasuka raging
round him, and on another occasion killed two Kaffirs rushing at
him with a right and left shot without turning a hair. It was
reading this paper that paralyzed him, not any fear of what might
There followed a very awkward pause such as occurs when a man
breaks down in a speech. The members of the Staff looked at him
and at each other, then behold! you, my friend, grabbed the paper
from his hand and went on reading it in a loud clear voice.
"That young man has plenty of nerve," said Mr. Anscombe.
"Yes," I replied in a whisper. "Quite right though. Would have
been a bad omen if the thing had come to a stop."
Well, there were no more breakdowns, and at last the long
document was finished and the Transvaal annexed. The Britishers
began to cheer but stopped to listen to the formal protest of the
Boer Government, if it could be called a government when
everything had collapsed and the officials were being paid in
postage stamps. I can't remember whether this was read by
President Burgers himself or by the officer who was called State
Secretary. Anyway, it was read, after which there came an
awkward pause as though people were waiting to see something
happen. I looked round at the Boers who were muttering and
handling their rifles uneasily. Had they found a leader I really
think that some of the wilder spirits among them would have begun
to shoot, but none appeared and the crisis passed.
The crowd began to disperse, the English among them cheering and
throwing up their hats, the Dutch with very sullen faces. The
Commissioner's staff went away as it had come, back to the
building with blue gums in front of it, which afterwards became
Government House, that is all except you. You started across the
square alone with a bundle of printed proclamations in your hand
which evidently you had been charged to leave at the various
"Let us follow him," I said to Mr. Anscombe. "He might get into
trouble and want a friend."
He nodded and we strolled after you unostentatiously. Sure
enough you nearly did get into trouble. In front of the first
office door to which you came, stood a group of Boers, two of
whom, big fellows, drew together with the evident intention of
barring your way.
"Mynheeren," you said, "I pray you to let me pass on the Queen's
They took no heed except to draw closer together and laugh
insolently. Again you made your request and again they laughed.
Then I saw you lift your leg and deliberately stamp upon the foot
of one of the Boers. He drew back with an exclamation, and for a
moment I believed that he or his fellow was going to do something
violent. Perhaps they thought better of it, or perhaps they saw
us two Englishmen behind and noticed Anscombe's pistol. At any
rate you marched into the office triumphant and delivered your
"Neatly done," said Mr. Anscombe.
"Rash," I said, shaking my head, "very rash. Well, he's young
and must be excused."
But from that moment I took a great liking to you, my friend,
perhaps because I wondered whether in your place I should have
been daredevil enough to act in the same way. For you see I am
English, and I like to see an Englishman hold his own against
odds and keep up the credit of the country. Although, of course,
I sympathized with the Boers who, through their own fault, were
losing their land without a blow struck. As you know well, for
you were living near Majuba at the time, plenty of blows were
struck afterwards, but of that business I cannot bear to write.
I wonder how it will all work out after I am dead and if I shall
ever learn what happens in the end.
Now I have only mentioned this business of the Annexation and the
part you played in it, because it was on that occasion that I
became acquainted with Anscombe. For you have nothing to do with
this story which is about the destruction of the Zulus, the
accomplishment of the vengeance of Zikali the wizard at the kraal
named Finished, and incidentally, the love affairs of two people
in which that old wizard took a hand, as I did to my sorrow.
It happened that Mr. Anscombe had ridden on ahead of his wagons
which could not arrive at Pretoria for a day or two, and as he
found it impossible to get accommodation at the European or
elsewhere, I offered to let him sleep in mine, or rather
alongside in a tent I had. He accepted and soon we became very
good friends. Before the day was as out I discovered that he had
served in a crack cavalry regiment, but resigned his commission
some years before. I asked him why.
"Well," he said, "I came into a good lot of money on my mother's
death and could not see a prospect of any active service. While
the regiment was abroad I liked the life well enough, but at home
it bored me. Too much society for my taste, and that sort of
thing. Also I wanted to travel; nothing else really amuses me."
"You will soon get tired of it," I answered, "and as you are well
off, marry some fine lady and settle down at home."
"Don't think so. I doubt if I should ever be happily married, I
want too much. One doesn't pick up an earthly angel with a
cast-iron constitution who adores you, which are the bare
necessities of marriage, under every bush." Here I laughed.
"Also," he added, the laughter going out of his eyes, "I have had
enough of fine ladies and their ways."
"Marriage is better than scrapes," I remarked sententiously.
"Quite so, but one might get them both together. No, I shall
never marry, although I suppose I ought as my brothers have no
"Won't you, my friend," thought I to myself, "when the skin grows
again on your burnt fingers."
For I was sure they had been burnt, perhaps more than once. How,
I never learned, for which I am rather sorry for it interests me
to study burnt fingers, if they do not happen to be my own. Then
we changed the subject.
Anscombe's wagons were delayed for a day or two by a broken axle
or a bog hole, I forget which. So, as I had nothing particular
to do until the Natal post-cart left, we spent the time in
wandering about Pretoria, which did not take us long as it was
but a little dorp in those days, and chatting with all and
sundry. Also we went up to Government House as it was now
called, and left cards, or rather wrote our names in a book for
we had no cards, being told by one of the Staff whom we met that
we should do so. An hour later a note arrived asking us both to
dinner that night and telling us very nicely not to mind if we
had no dress things. Of course we had to go, Anscombe rigged up
in my second best clothes that did not fit him in the least, as
he was a much taller man than I am, and a black satin bow that he
had bought at Becket's Store together with a pair of shiny pumps.
I actually met you, my friend, for the first time that evening,
and in trouble too, though you may have forgotten the incident.
We had made a mistake about the time of dinner, and arriving half
an hour too soon, were shown into a long room that opened on to
the verandah. You were working there, being I believe a private
secretary at the time, copying some despatch; I think you said
that which gave an account of the Annexation. The room was lit
by a paraffin lamp behind you, for it was quite dark and the
window was open, or at any rate unshuttered. The gentleman who
showed us in, seeing that you were very busy, took us to the far
end of the room, where we stood talking in the shadow. Just then
a door opened opposite to that which led to the verandah, and
through it came His Excellency the Administrator, Sir Theophilus
Shepstone, a stout man of medium height with a very clever,
thoughtful face, as I have always thought, one of the greatest of
African statesmen. He did not see us, but he caught sight of you
and said testily--
"Are you mad?" To which you answered with a laugh--
"I hope not more than usual, Sir, but why?"
"Have I not told you always to let down the blinds after dark?
Yet there you sit with your head against the light, about the
best target for a bullet that could be imagined."
"I don't think the Boers would trouble to shoot me, Sir. If you
had been here I would have drawn the blinds and shut the shutters
too," you answered, laughing again.
"Go to dress or you will be late for dinner," he said still
rather sternly, and you went. But when you had gone and after we
had been announced to him, he smiled and added something which I
will not repeat to you even now. I think it was about what you
did on the Annexation day of which the story had come to him.
I mention this incident because whenever I think of Shepstone,
whom I had known off and on for years in the way that a hunter
knows a prominent Government official, it always recurs to my
mind, embodying as it does his caution and appreciation of danger
derived from long experience of the country, and the sternness he
sometimes affected which could never conceal his love towards his
friends. Oh! there was greatness in this man, although they did
call him an "African Talleyrand." If it had not been so would
every native from the Cape to the Zambesi have known and revered
his name, as perhaps that of no other white man has been revered?
But I must get on with my tale and leave historical discussions
to others more fitted to deal with them.
We had a very pleasant dinner that night, although I was so
ashamed of my clothes with smart uniforms and white ties all
about me, and Anscombe kept fidgeting his feet because he was
suffering agony from his new pumps which were a size too small.
Everybody was in the best of spirits, for from all directions
came the news that the Annexation was well received and that the
danger of any trouble had passed away. Ah! if we had only known
what the end of it would be!
It was on our way back to the wagon that I chanced to mention to
Anscombe that there was still a herd of buffalo within a few
days' trek of Lydenburg, of which I had shot two not a month
"Are there, by Jove!" he said. "As it happens I never got a
buffalo; always I just missed them in one sense or another, and I
can't leave Africa with a pair of bought horns. Let's go there
and shoot some."
I shook my head and replied that I had been idling long enough
and must try to make some money, news at which he seemed very
"Look here," he said, "forgive me for mentioning it, but business
is business. If you'll come you shan't be a loser."
Again I shook my head, whereat he looked more disappointed than
"Very well," he exclaimed, "then I must go alone. For kill a
buffalo I will; that is unless the buffalo kills me, in which
case my blood will be on your hands."
I don't know why, but at that moment there came into my mind a
conviction that if he did go alone a buffalo or something would
kill him and that then I should be sorry all my life.
"They are dangerous brutes, much worse than lions," I said.
"And yet you, who pretend to have a conscience, would expose me
to their rage unprotected and alone," he replied with a twinkle
in his eye which I could see even by moonlight." Oh! Quatermain,
how I have been mistaken in your character.
"Look here, Mr. Anscombe," I said, "it's no use. I cannot
possibly go on a shooting expedition with you just now. Only
to-day I have heard from Natal that my boy is not well and must
undergo an operation which will lay him up for quite six weeks,
and may be dangerous. So I must get down to Durban before it
takes place. After that I have a contract in Matabeleland whence
you have just come, to take charge of a trading store there for a
year; also perhaps to try to shoot a little ivory for myself. So
I am fully booked up till, let us say, October, 1878, that is for
about eighteen months, by which time I daresay I shall be dead."
"Eighteen months," replied this cool young man. "That will suit
me very well. I will go on to India as I intended, then home for
a bit and will meet you on the 1st of October, 1878, after which
we will proceed to the Lydenburg district and shoot those
buffalo, or if they have departed, other buffalo. Is it a
I stared at him, thinking that the Administrator's champagne had
got into his head.
"Nonsense," I exclaimed. "Who knows where you will be in
eighteen months? Why, by that time you will have forgotten all
"If I am alive and well, on the 1st of October, I878, I shall be
exactly where I am now, upon this very square in Pretoria, with a
wagon, or wagons, prepared for a hunting trip. But as not
unnaturally you have doubts upon that point, I am prepared to pay
forfeit if I fail, or even if circumstances cause you to fail."
Here he took a cheque-book from his letter-case and spread it out
on the little table in the tent, on which there were ink and a
"Now, Mr. Quatermain, will it meet your views if I fill this up
"No," I answered; "taking everything into consideration the sum
is excessive. But if you do not mind facing the risks of my
non-appearance, to say nothing of your own, you may make it #50."
"You are very moderate in your demands," he said as he handed me
the cheque which I put in my pocket, reflecting that it would
just pay for my son's operation.
"And you are very foolish in your offers," I replied. "Tell me,
why do you make such crack-brained arrangements?"
"I don't quite know. Something in me seems to say that we
_shall_ make this expedition and that it will have a very
important effect upon my life. Mind you, it is to be to the
Lydenburg district and nowhere else. And now I am tired, so
let's turn in."
Next morning we parted and went our separate ways.
So much for preliminaries, now for the story.
The eighteen months had gone by, bringing with them to me their
share of adventure, weal and woe, with all of which at present I
have no concern. Behold me arriving very hot and tired in the
post-cart from Kimberley, whither I had gone to invest what I had
saved out of my Matabeleland contract in a very promising
speculation whereof, today, the promise remains and no more. I
had been obliged to leave Kimberly in a great hurry, before I
ought indeed, because of the silly bargain which I have just
recorded. Of course I was sure that I should never see Mr.
Anscombe again, especially as I had heard nothing of him during
all this while, and had no reason to suppose that he was in
Africa. Still I had taken his #50 and he _might_ come. Also I
have always prided myself upon keeping an appointment.
The post-cart halted with a jerk in front of the European Hotel,
and I crawled, dusty and tired, from its interior, to find myself
face to face with Anscombe, who was smoking a pipe upon the
"Hullo, Quatermain," he said in his pleasant, drawling voice,
"here you are, up to time. I have been making bets with these
five gentlemen," and he nodded at a group of loungers on the
stoep," as to whether you would or would not appear, I putting
ten to one on you in drinks. Therefore you must now consume five
whiskies and sodas, which will save them from consuming fifty and
a subsequent appearance at the Police Court."
I laughed and said I would be their debtor to the extent of one,
which was duly produced.
After it was drunk Anscombe and I had a chat. He said that he
had been to India, shot, or shot at whatever game he meant to
kill there, visited his relations in England and thence proceeded
to keep his appointment with me in Africa. At Durban he had
fitted himself out in a regal way with two wagons, full teams,
and some spare oxen, and trekked to Pretoria where he had arrived
a few days before. Now he was ready to start for the Lydenburg
district and look for those buffalo.
"But," I said, "the buffalo probably long ago departed. Also
there has been a war with Sekukuni, the Basuto chief who rules
all that country, which remains undecided, although I believe
some kind of a peace has been patched up. This may make hunting
in this neighborhood dangerous. Why not try some other ground,
to the north of the Transvaal, for instance?"
"Quatermain," he answered, "I have come all the way from England,
I will not say to kill, but to try to kill buffalo in the
Lydenburg district, with you if possible, if not, without you,
and thither I am going. If you think it unsafe to accompany me,
don't come; I will get on as best I can alone, or with some other
skilled person if I can find one."
"If you put it like that I shall certainly come," I replied,
"with the proviso that should the buffalo prove to be
non-existent or the pursuit of them impossible, we either give up
the trip, or go somewhere else, perhaps to the country at the
back of Delagoa Bay."
"Agreed," he said; after which we discussed terms, he paying me
my salary in advance.
On further consideration we determined, as two were quite
unnecessary for a trip of the sort, to leave one of my wagons and
half the cattle in charge of a very respectable man, a farmer who
lived about five miles from Pretoria just over the pass near to
the famous Wonder-boom tree which is one of the sights of the
place. Should we need this wagon it could always be sent for;
or, if we found the Lydenburg hunting-ground, which he was so set
upon visiting, unproductive or impossible, we could return to
Pretoria over the high-veld and pick it up before proceeding
These arrangements took us a couple of days or so. On the third
we started, without seeing you, my friend, or any one else that I
knew, since just at that time every one seemed to be away from
Pretoria. You, I remember, had by now become the Master of the
High Court and were, they informed me at your office, absent on
The morning of our departure was particularly lovely and we
trekked away in the best of spirits, as so often happens to
people who are marching into trouble. Of our journey there is
little to say as everything went smoothly, so that we arrived at
the edge of the high-veld feeling as happy as the country which
has no history is reported to do. Our road led us past the
little mining settlement of Pilgrim's Rest where a number of
adventurous spirits, most of them English, were engaged in
washing for gold, a job at which I once took a turn near this
very place without any startling success. Of the locality I need
only say that the mountainous scenery is among the most
beautiful, the hills are the steepest and the roads are, or were,
the worst that I have ever travelled over in a wagon.
However, "going softly" as the natives say, we negotiated them
without accident and, leaving Pilgrim's Rest behind us, began to
descend towards the low-veld where I was informed a herd of
buffalo could still be found, since, owing to the war with
Sekukuni, no one had shot at them of late. This war had been
suspended for a while, and the Land-drost at Pilgrim's Rest told
me he thought it would be safe to hunt on the borders of that
Chief's country, though he should not care to do so himself.
Game of the smaller sort began to be plentiful about here, so not
more than a dozen miles from Pilgrim's Rest we outspanned early
in the afternoon to try to get a blue wildebeeste or two, for I
had seen the spoor of these creatures in a patch of soft ground,
or failing them some other buck. Accordingly, leaving the wagon
by a charming stream that wound and gurgled over a bed of
granite, we mounted our salted horses, which were part of
Anscombe's outfit, and set forth rejoicing. Riding through the
scattered thorns and following the spoor where I could, within
half an hour we came to a little glade. There, not fifty yards
away, I caught of a single blue wildebeeste bull standing in the
shadow of the trees on the further side of the glade, and pointed
out the ugly beast, for it is the most grotesque of all the
antelopes, to Anscombe.
"Off you get," I whispered. "It's a lovely shot, you can't miss
"Oh, can't I!" replied Anscombe. "Do you shoot."
I refused, so he dismounted, giving me his horse to hold, and
kneeling down solemnly and slowly covered the bull. Bang went
his rifle, and I saw a bough about a yard above the wildebeeste
fall on to its back. Off it went like lightning, whereon
Anscombe let drive with the left barrel of the Express, almost at
hazard as it seemed to me, and by some chance hit it above the
near fore-knee, breaking its leg.
"That was a good shot," he cried, jumping on to his horse.
"Excellent," I answered. "But what are you going to do?"
"Catch it. It is cruel to leave a wounded animal," and off he
Of course I had to follow, but the ensuing ride remains among the
more painful of my hunting memories. We tore through thorn trees
that scratched my face and damaged my clothes; we struck a patch
of antbear holes, into one of which my horse fell so that my
stomach bumped against its head; we slithered down granite
koppies, and this was the worst of it, at the end of each
chapter, so to speak, always caught sight of that accursed bull
which I fondly hoped would have vanished into space. At length
after half an hour or so of this game we reached a stretch of
open, rolling ground, and there not fifty yards ahead of us was
the animal still going like a hare, though how it could do so on
three legs I am sure I do not know. We coursed it like
greyhounds, till at last Anscombe, whose horse was the faster,
came alongside of the exhausted creature, whereon it turned
suddenly and charged.
Anscombe held out his rifle in his right hand and pulled the
trigger, which, as he had forgotten to reload it, was a mere
theatrical performance. Next second there was such a mix-up that
for a while I could not distinguish which was Anscombe, which was
the wildebeeste, and which the horse. They all seemed to be
going round and round in a cloud of dust. When things settled
themselves a little I discovered the horse rolling on the ground,
Anscombe on his back with his hands up in an attitude of prayer
and the wildebeeste trying to make up its mind which of them it
should finish first. I settled the poor thing's doubts by
shooting it through the heart, which I flatter myself was rather
clever of me under the circumstances. Then I dismounted to
examine Anscombe, who, I presumed, was done for. Not a bit of
it. There he sat upon the ground blowing like a blacksmith's
bellows and panting out--
"What a glorious gallop. I finished it very well, didn't I? You
couldn't have made a better shot yourself."
"Yes," I answered, "you finished it very well as you will find
out if you will take the trouble to open your rifle and count
your cartridges. I may add that if we are going to hunt together
I hope you will never lead me such a fool's chase again."
He rose, opened the rifle and saw that it was empty, for although
he had never re-loaded he had thrown out the two cartridges which
he had discharged in the glen.
"By Jingo," he said, "you must have shot it, though I could have
sworn that it was I. Quatermain, has it ever struck you what a
strange thing is the human imagination?"
"Drat the human imagination," I answered, wiping away the blood
that was trickling into my eye from a thorn scratch. "Let's look
at your horse. If it is lamed you will have to ride Imagination
back to the wagon which must be six miles away, that is if we can
find it before dark."
Sighing out something about a painfully practical mind, he
obeyed, and when the beast was proved to be nothing more than
blown and a little bruised, made remarks as to the inadvisability
of dwelling on future evil events, which I reminded him had
already been better summed up in the New Testament.
After this we contemplated the carcasse of the wildebeeste which
it seemed a pity to leave to rot. Just then Anscombe, who had
moved a few yards to the right out of the shadow of an
obstructing tree, exclaimed--
"I say, Quatermain, come here and tell me if I have been knocked
silly, or if I really see a quite uncommon kind of house built in
ancient Greek style set in a divine landscape."
"Temple to Diana, I expect," I remarked as I joined him on the
further side of the tree.
I looked and rubbed my eyes. There, about half a mile away,
situated in a bay of the sweeping hills and overlooking the
measureless expanse of bush-veld beneath, was a remarkable house,
at least for those days and that part of Africa. To begin with
the situation was superb. It stood on a green and swelling mound
behind which was a wooded kloof where ran a stream that at last
precipitated itself in a waterfall over a great cliff. Then in
front was that glorious view of the bush-veld, at which a man
might look for a lifetime and not grow tired, stretching away to
the Oliphant's river and melting at last into the dim line of the
The house itself also, although not large, was of a kind new to
me. It was deep, but narrow fronted, and before it were four
columns that carried the roof which projected so as to form a
wide verandah. Moreover it seemed to be built of marble which
glistened like snow in the setting sun. In short in that lonely
wilderness, at any rate from this distance, it did look like the
deserted shrine of some forgotten god.
"Well, I'm bothered!" I said.
"So am I," answered Anscombe, "to know the name of the Lydenburg
district architect whom I should like to employ; though I suspect
it is the surroundings that make the place look so beautiful.
Hullo! here comes somebody, but he doesn't look like an
architect; he looks like a wicked baronet disguised as a Boer."
True enough, round a clump of bush appeared an unusual looking
person, mounted on a very good horse. He was tall, thin and old,
at least he had a long white beard which suggested age, although
his figure, so far as it could be seen beneath his rough clothes,
seemed vigorous. His face was clean cut and handsome, with a
rather hooked nose, and his eyes were grey, but as I saw when he
came up to us, somewhat bloodshot at the corners. His general
aspect was refined and benevolent, and as soon as he opened his
mouth I perceived that he was a person of gentle breeding.
And yet there was something about him, something in his
atmosphere, so to speak, that I did not like. Before we parted
that evening I felt sure that in one way or another he was a
wrong-doer, not straight; also that he had a violent temper.
He rode up to us and asked in a pleasant voice, although the
manner of his question, which was put in bad Dutch, was not
"Who gave you leave to shoot on our land?"
"I did not know that any leave was required; it is not customary
in these parts," I answered politely in English. "Moreover, this
buck was wounded miles away."
"Oh!" he exclaimed in the same tongue, "that makes a difference,
though I expect it was still on our land, for we have a lot; it
is cheap about here." Then after studying a little, he added
apologetically, "You mustn't think me strange, but the fact is my
daughter hates things to be killed near the house, which is why
there's so much game about."
"Then pray make her our apologies," said Anscombe, "and say that
it shall not happen again."
He stroked his long beard and looked at us, for by now he had
dismounted, then said--
"Might I ask you gentlemen your names?"
"Certainly," I replied. "I am Allan Quatermain and my friend is
the Hon. Maurice Anscombe."
He started and said--
"Of Allan Quatermain of course I have heard. The natives told me
that you were trekking to those parts; and if you, sir, are one
of Lord Mountford's sons, oddly enough I think I must have known
your father in my youth. Indeed I served with him in the
"How very strange," said Anscombe. "He's dead now and my brother
is Lord Mountford. Do you like life here better than that in the
Guards? I am sure I should."
"Both of them have their advantages," he answered evasively, "of
which, if, as I think, you are also a soldier, you can judge for
yourself. But won't you come up to the house? My daughter Heda
is away, and my partner Mr. Rodd" (as he mentioned this name I
saw a blue vein, which showed above his cheek bone, swell as
though under pressure of some secret emotion) "is a retiring sort
of a man--indeed some might think him sulky until they came to
know him. Still, we can make you comfortable and even give you a
decent bottle of wine."
"No, thank you very much," I answered, "we must get back to the
wagon or our servants will think that we have come to grief.
Perhaps you will accept the wildebeeste if it is of any use to
"Very well," he said in a voice that suggested regret struggling
with relief. To the buck he made no allusion, perhaps because he
considered that it was already his own property. "Do you know
your way? I believe your wagon is camped out there to the east
by what we call the Granite stream. If you follow this Kaffir
path," and he pointed to a track near by, "it will take quite
"Where does the path run to?" I asked. "There are no kraals
about, are there?"
"Oh! to the Temple, as my daughter calls our house. My partner
and I are labour agents, we recruit natives for the Kimberley
Mines," he said in explanation, adding, "Where do you propose to
I told him.
"Isn't that rather a risky district?" he said. "I think that
Sekukuni will soon be giving more trouble, although there is a
truce between him and the English. Still he might send a
regiment to raid that way."
I wondered how our friend knew so much of Sekukuni's possible
intentions, but only answered that I was accustomed to deal with
natives and did not fear them.
"Ah!" he said, "well, you know your own business best. But if
you should get into any difficulty, make straight for this place.
The Basutos will not interfere with you here."
Again I wondered why the Basutos should look upon this particular
spot as sacred, but thinking it wisest to ask no questions, I
"Thank you very much. We'll bear your invitation in mind, Mr.--"
"Marnham," I repeated after him. "Good-bye and many thanks for
"One question," broke in Anscombe, "if you will not think me
rude. What is the name of the architect who designed that most
romantic-looking house of yours which seems to be built of
My daughter designed it, or at least I think she copied it from
some old drawing of a ruin. Also it _is_ marble; there's a whole
hill of the stuff not a hundred yards from the door, so it was
cheaper to use than anything else. I hope you will come and see
it on your way back, though it is not as fine as it appears from
a distance. It would be very pleasant after all these years to
talk to an English gentleman again."
Then we parted, I rather offended because he did not seem to
include me in the description, he calling after us--
"Stick close to the path through the patch of big trees, for the
ground is rather swampy there and it's getting dark."
Presently we came to the place he mentioned where the timber,
although scattered, was quite large for South Africa, of the
yellow-wood species, and interspersed wherever the ground was dry
with huge euphorbias, of which the tall finger-like growths and
sad grey colouring looked unreal and ghostlike in the waning
light. Following the advice given to us, we rode in single file
along the narrow path, fearing lest otherwise we should tumble
into some bog hole, until we came to higher land covered with the
scattered thorns of the country.
"Did that bush give you any particular impression?" asked
Anscombe a minute or two later.
"Yes," I answered, "it gave me the impression that we might catch
fever there. See the mist that lies over it," and turning in my
saddle I pointed with the rifle in my hand to what looked like a
mass of cotton wool over which, without permeating it, hung the
last red glow of sunset, producing a curious and indeed rather
unearthly effect. "I expect that thousands of years ago there
was a lake yonder, which is why trees grow so big in the rich
"You are curiously mundane, Quatermain," he answered. "I ask you
of spiritual impressions and you dilate to me of geological
formations and the growth of timber. You felt nothing in the
"I felt nothing except a chill," I answered, for I was tired and
hungry. "What the devil are you driving at?"
"Have you got that flask of Hollands about you, Quatermain?"
"Oh! those are the spirits you are referring to," I remarked with
sarcasm as I handed it to him.
He took a good pull and replied--
"Not at all, except in the sense that bad spirits require good
spirits to correct them, as the Bible teaches. To come to
facts," he added in a changed voice, "I have never been in a
place that depressed me more than that thrice accursed patch of
"Why did it depress you?" I asked, studying him as well as I
could in the fading light. To tell the truth I feared lest he
had knocked his head when the wildebeeste upset him, and was
suffering from delayed concussion.
"Can't tell you, Quatermain. I don't look like a criminal, do I?
Well, I entered those trees feeling a fairly honest man, and I
came out of them feeling like a murderer. It was as though
something terrible had happened to me there; it was as though I
had killed someone there. Ugh!" and he shivered and took another
pull at the Hollands.
"What bosh!" I said. "Besides, even if it were to come true, I
am sorry to say I've killed lots of men in the way of business
and they don't bother me overmuch."
"Did you ever kill one to win a woman?"
"Certainly not. Why, that would be murder. How can you ask me
such a thing? But I have killed several to win cattle," I
reflected aloud, remembering my expedition with Saduko against
the chief Bangu, and some other incidents in my career.
"I appreciate the difference, Quatermain. If you kill for cows,
it is justifiable homicide; if you kill for women, it is murder."
"Yes," I replied, "that is how it seems to work out in Africa.
You see, women are higher in the scale of creation than cows,
therefore crimes committed for their sake are enormously greater
than those committed for cows, which just makes the difference
between justifiable homicide and murder."
"Good lord! what an argument," he exclaimed and relapsed into
silence. Had he been accustomed to natives and their ways he
would have understood the point much better than he did, though I
admit it is difficult to explain.
In due course we reached the wagon without further trouble.
While we were shielding our pipes after an excellent supper I
asked Anscombe his impressions of Mr. Marnham.
"Queer cove, I think," he answered. "Been a gentleman, too, and
still keeps the manners, which isn't strange if he is one of the
Marnhams, for they are a good family. I wonder he mentioned
having served with my father."
"It slipped out of him. Men who live a lot alone are apt to be
surprised into saying things they regret afterwards, as I noticed
he did. But why do you wonder?"
"Because is it happens, although I have only just recalled it, my
father used to tell some story about a man named Marnham in his
regiment. I can't remember the details, but it had to do with
cards when high stakes were being played for, and with the
striking of a superior officer in the quarrel that ensued, as a
result of which the striker was requested to send in his papers."
"It may not have been the same man."
"Perhaps not, for I believe that more than one Marnham served in
that regiment. But I remember my father saying, by way of excuse
for the person concerned, that he had a most ungovernable temper.
I think he added, that he left the country and took service in
some army on the Continent. I should rather like to clear the
"It isn't probable that you will, for even if you should ever
meet this Marnham again, I fancy you would find he held his
tongue about his acquaintance with your father."
"I wonder what Miss Heda is like," went on Anscombe after a
pause. "I am curious to see a girl who designs a house on the
model of an ancient ruin."
"Well, you won't, for she's away somewhere. Besides we are
looking for buffalo, not girls, which is a good thing as they are
I spoke thus decisively because I had taken a dislike to Mr.
Marnham and everything to do with him, and did not wish to
encourage the idea of further meetings.
"No, never, I suppose. And yet I feel as though I were certainly
destined to see that accursed yellow-wood swamp again."
"Nonsense," I replied as I rose to turn in. Ah! if I had but
THE HUNTERS HUNTED
While I was taking off my boots I heard a noise of jabbering in
some native tongue which I took to be Sisutu, and not wishing to
go to the trouble of putting them on again, called to the driver
of the wagon to find out what it was. This man was a Cape Colony
Kaffir, a Fingo I think, with a touch of Hottentot in him. He
was an excellent driver, indeed I do not think I have ever seen a
better, and by no means a bad shot. Among Europeans he rejoiced
in the name of Footsack, a Boer Dutch term which is generally
addressed to troublesome dogs and means "Get out." To tell the
truth, had I been his master he would have got out, as I
suspected him of drinking, and generally did not altogether trust
him. Anscombe, however, was fond of him because he had shown
courage in some hunting adventure in Matabeleland, I think it was
at the shooting of that very dark-coloured lion whose skin had
been the means of making us acquainted nearly two years before.
Indeed he said that on this occasion Footsack had saved his life,
though from all that I could gather I do not think this was quite
the case. Also the man, who had been on many hunting trips with
sportsmen, could talk Dutch well and English enough to make
himself understood, and therefore was useful.
He went as I bade him, and coming back presently, told me that a
party of Basutos, about thirty in number, who were returning from
Kimberley, where they had been at work in the mines, under the
leadership of a Bastard named Karl, asked leave to camp by the
wagon for the night, as they were afraid to go on to "Tampel" in
At first I could not make out what "Tampel" was, as it did not
sound like a native name. Then I remembered that Mr. Marnham had
spoken of his house as being called the Temple, of which, of
course, Tampel was a corruption; also that he said he and his
partner were labour agents.
"Why are they afraid?" I asked.
"Because, Baas, they say that they must go through a wood in a
swamp, which they think is haunted by spooks, and they much
afraid of spooks;" that is of ghosts.
"What spooks?" I asked.
"Don't know, Baas. They say spook of some one who has been
"Rubbish," I replied. "Tell them to go and catch the spook; we
don't want a lot of noisy fellows howling chanties here all
Then it was that Anscombe broke in in his humorous, rather
"How can you be so hard-hearted, Quatermain? After the
supernatural terror which, as I told you, I experienced in that
very place, I wouldn't condemn a kicking mule to go through it in
this darkness. Let the poor devils stay; I daresay they are
So I gave in, and presently saw their fires beginning to burn
through the end canvas of the wagon which was unlaced because the
night was hot. Also later on I woke up, about midnight I think,
and heard voices talking, one of which I reflected sleepily,
sounded very like that of Footsack.
Waking very early, as is my habit, I peeped out of the wagon, and
through the morning mist perceived Footsack in converse with a
particularly villainous-looking person. I at once concluded this
must be Karl, evidently a Bastard compounded of about fifteen
parts of various native bloods to one of white, who, to add to
his attractions, was deeply scarred with smallpox and possessed a
really alarming squint. It seemed to me that Footsack handed to
this man something that looked suspiciously like a bottle of
squareface gin wrapped up in dried grass, and that the man handed
back to Footsack some small object which he put in his mouth.
Now, I wondered to myself, what is there of value that one who
does not eat sweets would stow away in his mouth. Gold coin
perhaps, or a quid of tobacco, or a stone. Gold was too much to
pay for a bottle of gin, tobacco was too little, but how about
the stone? What stone? Who wanted stones? Then suddenly I
remembered that these people were said to come from Kimberley,
and whistled to myself. Still I did nothing, principally because
the mist was still so dense that although I could see the men's
faces, I could not clearly see the articles which they passed to
each other about two feet lower, where it still lay very thickly,
and to bring any accusation against a native which he can prove
to be false is apt to destroy authority. So I held my tongue and
waited my chance. It did not come at once, for before I was
dressed those Basutos had departed together with their leader
Karl, for now that the sun was up they no longer feared the
It came later, thus: We were trekking along between the thorns
upon a level and easy track which enabled the driver Footsack to
sit upon the "voorkisse" or driving box of the wagon, leaving the
lad who is called the voorlooper to lead the oxen. Anscombe was
riding parallel to the wagon in the hope of killing some
guineafowl for the pot (though a very poor shot with a rifle he
was good with a shot-gun). I, who did not care for this small
game, was seated smoking by the side of Footsack who, I noted,
smelt of gin and generally showed signs of dissipation. Suddenly
I said to him--
"Show me that diamond which the Bastard Karl gave you this
morning in payment for the bottle of your master's drink."
It was a bow drawn at a venture, but the effect of the shot was
remarkable. Had I not caught it, the long bamboo whip Footsack
held would have fallen to the ground, while he collapsed in his
seat like a man who has received a bullet in his stomach.
"Baas," he gasped, "Baas, how did you know?"
"I knew," I replied grandly, "in the same way that I know
everything. Show me the diamond."
"Baas," he said, "it was not the Baas Anscombe's gin, it was some
I bought in Pilgrim's Rest."
"I have counted the bottles in the case and know very well whose
gin it was," I replied ambiguously, for the reason that I had
done nothing of the sort. "Show me the diamond."
Footsack fumbled about his person, his hair, his waistcoat
pockets and even his moocha, and ultimately from somewhere
produced a stone which he handed to me. I looked at it, and from
the purity of colour and size, judged it to be a diamond worth
#200, or possibly more. After careful examination I put it into
my pocket, saying,
"This is the price of your master's gin and therefore belongs to
him as much as it does to anybody. Now if you want to keep out
of trouble, tell me--whence came it into the hands of that man,
"Baas," replied Footsack, trembling all over, "how do I know? He
and the rest have been working at the mines; I suppose he found
"Indeed! And did he find others of the same sort?"
"I think so, Baas. At least he said that he had been buying
bottles of gin with such stones all the way down from Kimberley.
Karl is a great drunkard, Baas, as I am sure, who have known him
"That is not all," I remarked, keeping my eyes fixed on him.
"What else did he say?"
"He said, Baas, that he was very much afraid of returning to the
Baas Marnham whom the Kaffirs call White-beard, with only a few
"Why was he afraid?"
"Because the Baas Whitebeard, he who dwells at Tampel, is, he
says, a very angry man if he thinks himself cheated, and Karl is
afraid lest he should kill him as another was killed, he whose
spook haunts the wood through which those silly people feared to
pass last night."
"Who was killed and who killed him?" I asked.
"Baas, I don't know," replied Footsack, collapsing into sullen
silence in a way that Kaffirs have when suddenly they realize
that they have said too much. Nor did I press the matter
further, having learned enough.
What had I learned? This: that Messrs. Marnham & Rodd were
illicit diamond buyers, I.D.B.'s as they are called, who had
cunningly situated themselves at a great distance from the scene
of operations practically beyond the reach of civilized law.
Probably they were engaged also in other nefarious dealings with
Kaffirs, such as supplying them with guns wherewith to make war
upon the Whites. Sekukuni had been fighting us recently, so that
there would be a very brisk market for rifles. This, too, would
account for Marnham's apparent knowledge of that Chief's plans.
Possibly, however, he had no knowledge and only made a pretence
of it to keep us out of the country.
Later on I confided the whole story and my suspicions to
Anscombe, who was much interested.
"What picturesque scoundrels!" he exclaimed, "We really ought to
go back to the Temple. I have always longed to meet some real
"It is probable that you have done that already without knowing
it. For the rest, if you wish to visit that den of iniquity, you
must do so alone."
"Wouldn't whited sepulchre be a better term, especially as it
seems to cover dead men's bones?" he replied in his frivolous
Then I asked him what he was going to do about Footsack and the
bottle of gin, which he countered by asking me what I was going
to do with that diamond.
"Give it to you as Footsack's master," I said, suiting the action
to the word. "I don't wish to be mixed up in doubtful
Then followed a long argument as to who was the real owner of the
stone, which ended in its being hidden away be produced if called
for, and in Footsack, who ought have had a round dozen, receiving
a scolding from his master, coupled with the threat that if he
stole more gin he would be handed over to a magistrate--when we
On the following day we reached the hot, low-lying veld which the
herd of buffalo was said to inhabit. Next morning, however, when
we were making ready to begin hunting, a Basuto Kaffir appeared
who, on being questioned, said that he was one of Sekukuni's
people sent to this district to look for two lost oxen. I did
not believe this story, thinking it more probable that he was a
spy, but asked him whether in his hunt for oxen he had come
He replied that he had, a herd of thirty-two of them, counting
the calves, but that they were over the Oliphant's River about
five-and-twenty miles away, in a valley between some outlying
hills and the rugged range of mountains, beyond which was
situated Sekukuni's town. Moreover, in proof of his story he
showed me spoor of the beasts heading in that direction which was
quite a week old.
Now for my part, as I did not think it wise to get too near to
Sekukuni, I should have given them up and gone to hunt something
else. Anscombe, however, was of a different opinion and pleaded
hard that we should follow them. They were the only herd within
a hundred miles, he said, if indeed there were any others this
side of the Lebombo Mountains. As I still demurred, he
suggested, in the nicest possible manner, that if I thought the
business risky, I should camp somewhere with the wagon, while he
went on with Footsack to look for the buffalo. I answered that I
was well used to risks, which in a sense were my trade, and that
as he was more or less in my charge I was thinking of him, not of
myself, who was quite prepared to follow the buffalo, not only to
Sekukuni's Mountains but over them. Then fearing that he had
hurt my feelings, he apologized, and offered to go elsewhere if I
liked. The upshot was that we decided to trek to the Oliphant's
River, camp there and explore the bush on the other side on
horseback, never going so far from the wagon that we could not
reach it again before nightfall.
This, then, we did, outspanning that evening by the hot but
beautiful river which was still haunted by a few hippopotamus and
many crocodiles, one of which we shot before turning in. Next
morning, having breakfasted off cold guineafowl, we mounted,
crossed the river by a ford that was quite as deep as I liked, to
which the Kaffir path led us, and, leaving Footsack with the two
other boys in charge of the wagon, began to hunt for the buffalo
in the rather swampy bush that stretched from the further bank to
the slope of the first hills, eight or ten miles away. I did not
much expect to find them, as the Basuto had said that they had
gone over these hills, but either he lied or they had moved back
Not half a mile from the river bank, just as I was about to
dismount to stalk a fine waterbuck of which I caught sight
standing among some coarse grass and bushes, my eye fell upon
buffalo spoor that from its appearance I knew could not be more
than a few hours old. Evidently the beasts had been feeding here
during the night and at dawn had moved away to sleep in the dry
bush nearer the hills. Beckoning to Anscombe, who fortunately
had not seen the waterbuck, at which he would certainly have
fired, thereby perhaps frightening the buffalo, I showed him the
spoor that we at once started to follow.
Soon it led us into other spoor, that of a whole herd of thirty
or forty beasts indeed, which made our task quite easy, at least
till we came to harder ground, for the animals had gone a long
way. An hour or more later, when we were about seven miles from
the river, I perceived ahead of us, for we were now almost at the
foot of the hills, a cool and densely-wooded kloof.
"That is where they will be," I said. "Now come on carefully and
make no noise."
We rode to the wide mouth of the kloof where the signs of the
buffalo were numerous and fresh, dismounted and tied our horses
to a thorn, so as to approach them silently on foot. We had not
gone two hundred yards through the bush when suddenly about fifty
paces away, standing broadside on in the shadow between two
trees, I saw a splendid old bull with a tremendous pair of horns.
"Shoot," I whispered to Anscombe, "you will never get a better
chance. It is the sentinel of the herd."
He knelt down, his face quite white with excitement, and covered
the bull with his Express.
"Keep cool," I whispered again, "and aim behind the shoulder,
I don't think he understood me, for at that moment off went the
rifle. He hit the beast somewhere, as I heard the bullet clap,
but not fatally, for it turned and lumbered off up the kloof,
apparently unhurt, whereon he sent the second barrel after it, a
clean miss this time. Then of a sudden all about us appeared
buffaloes that had, I suppose, been sleeping invisible to us.
These, with snorts and bellows, rushed off towards the river, for
having their senses about them, they had no mind to be trapped in
the kloof. I could only manage a shot at one of them, a large
and long-horned cow which I knocked over quite dead. If I had
fired again it would have been but to wound, a thing I hate. The
whole business was over in a minute. We went and looked at my
dead cow which I had caught through the heart.
"It's cruel to kill these things," I said, "for I don't know what
use we are going to make of them, and they must love life as much
as we do."
"We'll cut the horns off," said Anscombe.
"You may if you like," I answered, "but you will find it a tough
job with a sheath knife."
"Yes, I think that shall be the task of the worthy Footsack
to-morrow," he replied. "Meanwhile let us go and finish off my
bull, as Footsack & Co. may as well bring home two pair of horns
I looked at the dense bush, and knowing something of the habits
of wounded buffaloes, reflected that it would be a nasty job.
Still I said nothing, because if I hesitated, I knew he would
want to go alone. So we started. Evidently the beast had been
badly hit, for the blood spoor was easy to follow. Yet it had
been able to retreat up to the end of the kloof that terminated
in a cliff over which trickled a stream of water. Here it was
not more than a hundred paces wide, and on either side of it were
other precipitous cliffs. As we went from one of these a
war-horn, such as the Basutos use, was blown. Although I heard
it, oddly enough, I paid no attention to it at the time, being
utterly intent upon the business in hand.
Following a wounded buffalo bull up a tree-clad and stony kloof
is no game for children, as these beasts have a habit of
returning on their tracks and then rushing out to gore you. So I
went on with every sense alert, keeping Anscombe well behind me.
As it happened our bull had either been knocked silly or
inherited no guile from his parents. When he found he could go
no further he stopped, waited behind a bush, and when he saw us
he charged in a simple and primitive fashion. I let Anscombe
fire, as I wished him to have the credit of killing it all to
himself, but somehow or other he managed to miss both barrels.
Then, trouble being imminent, I let drive as the beast lowered
its head, and was lucky enough to break its spine (to shoot at
the head of a buffalo is useless), so that it rolled over quite
dead at our feet.
"You have got a magnificent pair of horns," I said, contemplating
the fallen giant.
"Yes," answered Anscombe, with a twinkle of his humorous eyes,
"and if it hadn't been for you I think that I should have got
them in more senses than one."
As the words passed his lips some missile, from its peculiar
sound I judged it was the leg off an iron pot, hurtled past my
head, fired evidently from a smoothbore gun with a large charge
of bad powder. Then I remembered the war-horn and all that it
"Off you go," I said, "we are ambushed by Kaffirs."
We were indeed, for as we tailed down that kloof, from the top of
both cliffs above us came a continuous but luckily ill-directed
fire. Lead-coated stones, pot legs and bullets whirred and
whistled all round us, yet until the last, just when we were
reaching the tree to which we had tied our horses, quite
harmlessly. Then suddenly I saw Anscombe begin to limp. Still
he managed to run on and mount, though I observed that he did not
put his right foot into the stirrup.
"What's the matter?" I asked as we galloped off."
"Shot through the instep, I think," he answered with a laugh, "
but it doesn't hurt a bit."
"I expect it will later," I replied. "Meanwhile, thank God it
wasn't at the top of the kloof. They won't catch us on the
horses, which they never thought of killing first."
"They are going to try though. Look behind you."
I looked and saw twenty or thirty men emerging from the mouth of
the kloof in pursuit.
"No time to stop to get those horns," he said with a sigh.
"No," I answered, "unless you are particularly anxious to say
good-bye to the world pinned over a broken ant-heap in the sun,
or something pleasant of the sort."
Then we rode on in silence, I thinking what a fool I had been
first to allow myself to be overruled by Anscombe and cross the
river, and secondly not to have taken warning from that war-horn.
We could not go very fast because of the difficult and swampy
nature of the ground; also the great heat of the day told on the
horses. Thus it came about that when we reached the ford we were
not more than ten minutes ahead of our active pursuers, good
runners every one of them, and accustomed to the country. I
suppose that they had orders to kill or capture us at any cost,
for instead of giving up the chase, as I hoped they would, they
stuck to us in surprising fashion.
We splashed through the river, and luckily on the further bank
were met by Footsack who had seen us coming and guessed that
something was wrong.
"Inspan!" I shouted to him, "and be quick about it if you want to
see tomorrow's light. The Basutos are after us."
Off he went like a shot, his face quite green with fear.
"Now," I said to Anscombe, as we let our horses take a drink for
which they were mad, "we have got to hold this ford until the
wagon is ready, or those devils will get us after all. Dismount
and I'll tie up the horses."
He did so with some difficulty, and at my suggestion, while I
made the beasts fast, cut the lace of his boot which was full of
blood, and soaked his wounded foot, that I had no time to
examine, in the cool water. These things done, I helped him to
the rear of a thorn tree which was thick enough to shield most of
his body, and took my own stand behind a similar thorn at a
distance of a few paces.
Presently the Basutos appeared, trotting along close together
whereon Anscombe, who was seated behind the tree, fired both
barrels of his Express at them at a range of about two hundred
yards. It was a foolish thing to do, first because he missed
them clean, for he had over-estimated the range and the bullets
went above their heads, and secondly because it caused them to
scatter and made them careful, whereas had they come on in a lump
we could have taught them a lesson. However I said nothing, as I
knew that reproaches would only make him nervous. Down went
those scoundrels on to their hands and knees and, taking cover
behind stones and bushes on the further bank, began to fire at
us, for they were all armed with guns of one sort and another,
and there was only about a hundred yards of water between us. As
they effected this manoeuvre I am glad to say I was able to get
two of them, while Anscombe, I think, wounded another.
After this our position grew quite warm, for as I have said the
thorn trunks were not very broad, and three or four of the
natives, who had probably been hunters, were by no means bad
shots, though the rest of them fired wildly. Anscombe, in poking
his head round the tree to shoot, had his hat knocked off by a
bullet, while a slug went through the lappet of my coat. Then a
worse thing happened. Either by chance or design Anscombe's
horse was struck in the neck and fell struggling, whereon my
beast, growing frightened, broke its riem and galloped to the
wagon. That is where I ought to have left them at first, only I
thought that we might need them to make a bolt on, or to carry
Anscombe if he could not walk.
Quite a long while went by before, glancing behind me, I saw
that the oxen that had been grazing at a little distance had at
length arrived and were being inspanned in furious haste. The
Basutos saw it also, and fearing lest we should escape,
determined to try to end the business. Suddenly they leapt from
their cover, and with more courage than I should have expected of
them, rushed into the river, proposing to storm us, which, to
speak truth, I think they would have done had I not been a fairly
As it was, finding that they were losing too heavily from our
fire, they retreated in a hurry, leaving their dead behind them,
and even a wounded man who was clinging to a rock. He, poor
wretch, was in mortal terror lest we should shoot him again,
which I had not the heart to do, although as his leg was
shattered above the knee by an Express bullet, it might have been
true kindness. Again and again he called out for mercy, saying
that he only attacked us because his chief, who had been warned
of our coming "by the White Man," ordered him to take our guns
"What white man?" I shouted. "Speak or I shoot."
There was no answer, for at this moment he fainted from loss of
blood and vanished beneath the water. Then another Basuto, I
suppose he was their captain, but do not know for he was hidden
in some bushes, called out--
"Do not think that you shall escape, White Men. There are many
more of our people coming, and we will kill you in the night when
you cannot see to shoot us."
At this moment, too, Footsack shouted that the wagon was
inspanned and ready. Now I hesitated what to do. If we made for
the wagon, which must be very slowly because of Anscombe's
wounded foot, we had to cross seventy or eighty yards of rising
ground almost devoid of cover. If, on the other hand, we stayed
where we were till nightfall a shot might catch one of us, or
other Basutos might arrive and rush us. There was also a third
possibility, that our terrified servants might trek off and leave
us in order to save their own lives, which verily I believe they
would have done, not being of Zulu blood. I put the problem to
Anscombe, who shook his head and looked at his foot. Then he
produced a lucky penny which he carried in his pocket and said--
"Let us invoke the Fates. Heads we run like heroes; tails we
stay here like heroes," and he spun the penny, while I stared at
him open-mouthed and not without admiration.
Never, I thought to myself, had this primitive method of cutting
a gordian knot been resorted to in such strange and urgent
"Heads it is!" he said coolly. "Now, my boy, do you run and I'll
crawl after you. If I don't arrive, you know my people's
address, and I bequeath to you all my African belongings in
memory of a most pleasant trip."
"Don't play the fool," I replied sternly. "Come, put your right
arm round my neck and hop on your left leg as you never hopped
Then we started, and really our transit was quite lively., for
all those Basutos began what for them was rapid firing. I think,
however, that their best shots must have fallen, for not a bullet
touched us, although before we got out of their range one or two
went very near.
"There," said Anscombe, as a last amazing hop brought him to the
wagon rail, "there, you see how wise it is give Providence a
"In the shape of a lucky penny," I grumbled as I hoisted him up.
"Certainly, for why should not Providence inhabit a penny as much
as it does any other mundane thing? Oh, my dear Quatermain, have
you never been taught to look to the pence and let the rest take
care of itself?"
"Stop talking rubbish and look to your foot, for the wagon is
starting," I replied.
Then off we went at a good round trot, for never have I seen oxen
more scientifically driven than they were by Footsack and his
friends on this occasion, or a greater pace got out of them. As
soon as we reached a fairly level piece of ground I made Anscombe
lie down on the cartel of the wagon and examined his wound as
well as circumstances would allow. I found that the bullet or
whatever the missile may have been, had gone through his right
instep just beneath the big sinew, but so far as I could judge
without injuring any bone. There was nothing to be done except
rub in some carbolic ointment, which fortunately he had in his
medicine chest, and bind up the wound as best I could with a
clean handkerchief, after which I tied a towel, that was _not_
clean, over the whole foot.
By this time evening was coming on, so we ate of such as we had
with us, which we needed badly enough, without stopping the
wagon. I remember that it consisted of cheese and hard biscuits.
At dark we were obliged to halt a little by a stream until the
moon rose, which fortunately she did very soon, as she was only
just past her full. As soon as she was up we started again, and
with a breathing space or two, trekked all that night, which I
spent seated on the after part of the wagon and keeping a sharp
look out, while, notwithstanding the roughness of the road and
his hurt, Anscombe slept like a child upon the cartel inside.
I was very tired, so tired that the fear of surprise was the only
thing that kept me awake, and I recall reflecting in a stupid
kind of way, that it seemed always to have been my lot in life to
watch thus, in one sense or another, while others slept.
The night passed somehow without anything happening, and at dawn
we halted for a while to water the oxen, which we did with
buckets, and let them eat what grass they could reach from their
yokes, since we did not dare to outspan them. Just as we were
starting on again the voortrekker, whom I had set to watch at a
little distance, ran up with his eyes bulging out of his head,
and reported that he had seen a Basuto with an assegai hanging
about in the bush, as though to keep touch with us, after which
we delayed no more.
All that day we blundered on, thrashing the weary cattle that at
every halt tried to lie down, and by nightfall came to the
outspan near to the house called the Temple, where we had met the
Kaffirs returning from the diamond fields. This journey we had
accomplished in exactly half the time it had taken on the outward
trip. Here we were obliged to stop, as our team must have rest
and food. So we outspanned and slept that night without much
fear, since I thought it most improbable that the Basutos would
attempt to follow us so far, as we were now within a day's trek
of Pilgrim's Rest, whither we proposed to proceed on the morrow.
But that is just where I made a mistake.
I did get a little sleep that night, with one eye open, but
before dawn I was up again seeing to the feeding of our remaining
horse with some mealies that we carried, and other matters. The
oxen we had been obliged to unyoke that they might fill
themselves with grass and water, since otherwise I feared that we
should never get them on to their feet again. As it was, the
poor brutes were so tired that some of them could scarcely eat,
and all lay down at the first opportunity.
Having awakened Footsack and the other boys that they might be
ready to take advantage of the light when it came, for I was
anxious to be away, I drank a nip of Hollands and water and ate a
biscuit, making Anscombe do the same. Coffee would have been
more acceptable, but I thought it wiser not to light a fire for
fear of showing our whereabouts.
Now a faint glimmer in the east told me that the dawn was coming.
Just by the wagon grew a fair-sized, green-leaved tree, and as it
was quite easy to climb even by starlight, up it I went so as to
get above the ground mist and take a look round before we
trekked. Presently the sky grew pearly and light began to
gather; then the edge of the sun appeared, throwing long level
rays across the world. Everywhere the mist lay dense as cotton
wool, except at one spot about a mile behind us where there was a
little hill or rather a wave of the ground, over which we had
trekked upon the preceding evening. The top of this rise was
above mist level, and on it no trees grew because the granite
came to the surface. Having discovered nothing, I called to the
boys to drive up the oxen, some of which had risen and were
eating again, and prepared to descend from my tree.
As I did so, out of the corner of my eye I caught sight of
something that glittered far away, so far that it would only have
attracted the notice of a trained hunter. Yes, something was
shining on the brow of the rise of which I have spoken. I stared
at it through my glasses and saw what I had feared to see. A
body of natives was crossing the rise and the glitter was caused
by the rays of dawn striking on their spears and gun-barrels.
I came down out of that tree like a frightened wild cat and ran
to the wagon, thinking hard as I went. The Basutos were after
us, meaning to attack as soon as there was sufficient light. In
ten minutes or less they would be here. There was no time to
inspan the oxen, and even if there had been, stiff and weary as
the beasts were, we should be overtaken before we had gone a
hundred yards on that bad road. What then was to be done? Run
for it? It was impossible, Anscombe could not run. My eye fell
upon the horse munching the last of his mealies.
"Footsack," I said as quietly as I could, "never mind about
inspanning yet, but saddle up the horse. Be quick now."
He looked at me doubtfully, but obeyed, having seen nothing. If
he had seen I knew that he would have been off. I nipped round
to the end of the wagon, calling to the other two boys to let the
oxen be a while and come to me.
"Now, Anscombe," I said, "hand out the rifles and cartridges.
Don't stop to ask questions, but do what I tell you. They are on
the rack by your side. So. Now put on your revolver and let me
help you down. Man, don't forget your hat."
He obeyed quickly enough, and presently was standing on one leg
by my side, looking cramped and tottery.
"The Basutos are on us," I said.
He whistled and remarked something about Chapter No. 2.
"Footsack," I called, "bring the horse here; the Baas wishes to
ride a little to ease his leg."
He did so, stopping a moment to pull the second girth tight.
Then we helped Anscombe into the saddle.
"Which way?" he asked.
I looked at the long slope in front of us. It was steep and bad
going. Anscombe might get up it on the horse before the Kaffirs
overtook us, but it was extremely problematical if we could do
so. I might perhaps if I mounted behind him and the horse could
bear us both, which was doubtful, but how about our poor
servants? He saw the doubt upon my face and said in his quiet
"You may remember that our white-bearded friend told us to make
straight for his place in case of any difficulty with the
Basutos. It seems to have arisen."
"I know he did," I answered, "but I cannot make up my mind which
is the more dangerous, Marnham or the Basutos. I rather think
that he set them on to us."
"It is impossible to solve problems at this hour of the morning,
Quatermain, and there is no time to toss. So I vote for the
"It seems our best chance. At any rate that's your choice, so
Then I sang out to the Kaffirs, "The Basutos are on us. We go to
Tampel for refuge. Run!"
My word! they did run. I never saw athletes make better time
over the first quarter of a mile. We ran, too, or at least the
horse did, I hanging on to the stirrup and Anscombe holding both
the rifles beneath his arm. But the beast was tired, also blown
out with that morning feed of mealies, so our progress was not
very fast. When we were about two hundred yards from the wagon I
looked back and saw the Basutos beginning to arrive. They saw us
also, and uttering a sort of whistling war cry, started in
After this we had quite an interesting time. I scrambled on to
the horse behind Anscombe, whereon that intelligent animal,
feeling the double weight, reduced its pace proportionately, to a
slow tripple, indeed, out of which it could not be persuaded to
move. So I slipped off again over its tail and we went on as
before. Meanwhile the Basutos, very active fellows, were coming
up. By this time the yellow-wood grove in the swamp, of which I
have already written, was close to us, and it became quite a
question which of us would get there first (I may mention that
Footsack & Co. had already attained its friendly shelter).
Anscombe kicked the horse with his sound heel and I thumped it
with my fist, thereby persuading it to a hand gallop.
As we reached the outlying trees of the wood the first Basuto, a
lank fellow with a mouth like a rat trap, arrived and threw an
assegai at us which passed between Anscombe's back and my nose.
Then he closed and tried to stab with another assegai. I could
do nothing, but Anscombe showed himself cleverer than I expected.
Dropping the reins, he drew his pistol and managed to send a
bullet through that child of nature's head, so that he went down
like a stone.
"And you tell me I am a bad shot," he drawled.
"It was a fluke," I gasped, for even in these circumstances truth
"Wait and you'll see," he replied, re-cocking the revolver.
As a matter of fact there was no need for more shooting, since at
the verge of the swamp the Basutos pulled up. I do not think
that the death of their companion caused them to do this, for
they seemed to take no notice of him. It was as though they had
reached some boundary which they knew it would not be lawful for
them to pass. They simply stopped, took the dead man's assegai
and shield from the body and walked quietly back towards the
wagon, leaving him where he lay. The horse stopped also, or
rather proceeded at a walk.
"There!" exclaimed Anscombe. "Did I not tell you I had a
presentiment that I should kill a man in this accursed wood?"
"Yes," I said as soon as I had recovered my breath, "but you
mixed up a woman with the matter and I don't see one."