King Solomon's Mines
And now I come to perhaps the strangest adventure that happened to us in all this strange
business, and one which shows how wonderfully things are brought about.
I was walking along quietly, some way in front of the other two, down the banks of the
stream which runs from the oasis till it is swallowed up in the hungry desert sands, when
suddenly I stopped and rubbed my eyes, as well I might. There, not twenty yards in front
of me, placed in a charming situation, under the shade of a species of fig-tree, and facing
to the stream, was a cosy hut, built more or less on the Kafir principle with grass and
withes, but having a full-length door instead of a bee-hole.
"What the dickens," said I to myself, "can a hut be doing here?" Even as I said it the door
of the hut opened, and there limped out of it a white man clothed in skins, and with an
enormous black beard. I thought that I must have got a touch of the sun. It was
impossible. No hunter ever came to such a place as this. Certainly no hunter would ever
settle in it. I stared and stared, and so did the other man, and just at that juncture Sir
Henry and Good walked up.
"Look here, you fellows," I said, "is that a white man, or am I mad?"
Sir Henry looked, and Good looked, and then all of a sudden the lame white man with a
black beard uttered a great cry, and began hobbling towards us. When he was close he
fell down in a sort of faint.
With a spring Sir Henry was by his side.
"Great Powers!" he cried, "it is my brother George!"
At the sound of this disturbance, another figure, also clad in skins, emerged from the hut,
a gun in his hand, and ran towards us. On seeing me he too gave a cry.
"Macumazahn," he halloed, "don't you know me, Baas? I'm Jim the hunter. I lost the note
you gave me to give to the Baas, and we have been here nearly two years." And the
fellow fell at my feet, and rolled over and over, weeping for joy.
"You careless scoundrel!" I said; "you ought to be well sjambocked" --that is, hided.
Meanwhile the man with the black beard had recovered and risen, and he and Sir Henry
were pump-handling away at each other, apparently without a word to say. But whatever
they had quarrelled about in the past--I suspect it was a lady, though I never asked--it was
evidently forgotten now.
"My dear old fellow," burst out Sir Henry at last, "I thought you were dead. I have been
over Solomon's Mountains to find you. I had given up all hope of ever seeing you again,
and now I come across you perched in the desert, like an old assvogel."[*]