King Solomon's Mines HTML version
The Place Of Death
It was already dark on the third day after the scene described in the previous chapter
when we camped in some huts at the foot of the "Three Witches," as the triangle of
mountains is called to which Solomon's Great Road runs. Our party consisted of our three
selves and Foulata, who waited on us--especially on Good--Infadoos, Gagool, who was
borne along in a litter, inside which she could be heard muttering and cursing all day
long, and a party of guards and attendants. The mountains, or rather the three peaks of the
mountain, for the mass was evidently the result of a solitary upheaval, were, as I have
said, in the form of a triangle, of which the base was towards us, one peak being on our
right, one on our left, and one straight in front of us. Never shall I forget the sight
afforded by those three towering peaks in the early sunlight of the following morning.
High, high above us, up into the blue air, soared their twisted snow-wreaths. Beneath the
snow-line the peaks were purple with heaths, and so were the wild moors that ran up the
slopes towards them. Straight before us the white ribbon of Solomon's Great Road
stretched away uphill to the foot of the centre peak, about five miles from us, and there
stopped. It was its terminus.
I had better leave the feelings of intense excitement with which we set out on our march
that morning to the imagination of those who read this history. At last we were drawing
near to the wonderful mines that had been the cause of the miserable death of the old
Portuguese Dom three centuries ago, of my poor friend, his ill-starred descendant, and
also, as we feared, of George Curtis, Sir Henry's brother. Were we destined, after all that
we had gone through, to fare any better? Evil befell them, as that old fiend Gagool said;
would it also befall us? Somehow, as we were marching up that last stretch of beautiful
road, I could not help feeling a little superstitious about the matter, and so I think did
Good and Sir Henry.
For an hour and a half or more we tramped on up the heather-fringed way, going so fast
in our excitement that the bearers of Gagool's hammock could scarcely keep pace with
us, and its occupant piped out to us to stop.
"Walk more slowly, white men," she said, projecting her hideous shrivelled countenance
between the grass curtains, and fixing her gleaming eyes upon us; "why will ye run to
meet the evil that shall befall you, ye seekers after treasure?" and she laughed that
horrible laugh which always sent a cold shiver down my back, and for a while quite took
the enthusiasm out of us.
However, on we went, till we saw before us, and between ourselves and the peak, a vast
circular hole with sloping sides, three hundred feet or more in depth, and quite half a mile
"Can't you guess what this is?" I said to Sir Henry and Good, who were staring in
astonishment at the awful pit before us.
They shook their heads.
"Then it is clear that you have never seen the diamond diggings at Kimberley. You may
depend on it that this is Solomon's Diamond Mine. Look there," I said, pointing to the
strata of stiff blue clay which were yet to be seen among the grass and bushes that clothed