King Solomon's Mines HTML version
Good Falls Sick
After the fight was ended, Sir Henry and Good were carried into Twala's hut, where I
joined them. They were both utterly exhausted by exertion and loss of blood, and, indeed,
my own condition was little better. I am very wiry, and can stand more fatigue than most
men, probably on account of my light weight and long training; but that night I was quite
done up, and, as is always the case with me when exhausted, that old wound which the
lion gave me began to pain. Also my head was aching violently from the blow I had
received in the morning, when I was knocked senseless. Altogether, a more miserable trio
than we were that evening it would have been difficult to discover; and our only comfort
lay in the reflection that we were exceedingly fortunate to be there to feel miserable,
instead of being stretched dead upon the plain, as so many thousands of brave men were
that night, who had risen well and strong in the morning.
Somehow, with the assistance of the beautiful Foulata, who, since we had been the means
of saving her life, had constituted herself our handmaiden, and especially Good's, we
managed to get off the chain shirts, which had certainly saved the lives of two of us that
day. As I expected, we found that the flesh underneath was terribly contused, for though
the steel links had kept the weapons from entering, they had not prevented them from
bruising. Both Sir Henry and Good were a mass of contusions, and I was by no means
free. As a remedy Foulata brought us some pounded green leaves, with an aromatic
odour, which, when applied as a plaster, gave us considerable relief.
But though the bruises were painful, they did not give us such anxiety as Sir Henry's and
Good's wounds. Good had a hole right through the fleshy part of his "beautiful white
leg," from which he had lost a great deal of blood; and Sir Henry, with other hurts, had a
deep cut over the jaw, inflicted by Twala's battle-axe. Luckily Good is a very decent
surgeon, and so soon as his small box of medicines was forthcoming, having thoroughly
cleansed the wounds, he managed to stitch up first Sir Henry's and then his own pretty
satisfactorily, considering the imperfect light given by the primitive Kukuana lamp in the
hut. Afterwards he plentifully smeared the injured places with some antiseptic ointment,
of which there was a pot in the little box, and we covered them with the remains of a
pocket-handkerchief which we possessed.
Meanwhile Foulata had prepared us some strong broth, for we were too weary to eat.
This we swallowed, and then threw ourselves down on the piles of magnificent karrosses,
or fur rugs, which were scattered about the dead king's great hut. By a very strange
instance of the irony of fate, it was on Twala's own couch, and wrapped in Twala's own
particular karross, that Sir Henry, the man who had slain him, slept that night.
I say slept; but after that day's work, sleep was indeed difficult. To begin with, in very
truth the air was full
And mournings for the dead."
From every direction came the sound of the wailing of women whose husbands, sons, and
brothers had perished in the battle. No wonder that they wailed, for over twelve thousand
men, or nearly a fifth of the Kukuana army, had been destroyed in that awful struggle. It
was heart-rending to lie and listen to their cries for those who never would return; and it