King Solomon's Mines HTML version

Ignosi's Farewell
Ten days from that eventful morning found us once more in our old quarters at Loo; and,
strange to say, but little the worse for our terrible experience, except that my stubbly hair
came out of the treasure cave about three shades greyer than it went in, and that Good
never was quite the same after Foulata's death, which seemed to move him very greatly. I
am bound to say, looking at the thing from the point of view of an oldish man of the
world, that I consider her removal was a fortunate occurrence, since, otherwise,
complications would have been sure to ensue. The poor creature was no ordinary native
girl, but a person of great, I had almost said stately, beauty, and of considerable
refinement of mind. But no amount of beauty or refinement could have made an
entanglement between Good and herself a desirable occurrence; for, as she herself put it,
"Can the sun mate with the darkness, or the white with the black?"
I need hardly state that we never again penetrated into Solomon's treasure chamber. After
we had recovered from our fatigues, a process which took us forty-eight hours, we
descended into the great pit in the hope of finding the hole by which we had crept out of
the mountain, but with no success. To begin with, rain had fallen, and obliterated our
spoor; and what is more, the sides of the vast pit were full of ant-bear and other holes. It
was impossible to say to which of these we owed our salvation. Also, on the day before
we started back to Loo, we made a further examination of the wonders of the stalactite
cave, and, drawn by a kind of restless feeling, even penetrated once more into the
Chamber of the Dead. Passing beneath the spear of the White Death we gazed, with
sensations which it would be quite impossible for me to describe, at the mass of rock that
had shut us off from escape, thinking the while of priceless treasures beyond, of the
mysterious old hag whose flattened fragments lay crushed beneath it, and of the fair girl
of whose tomb it was the portal. I say gazed at the "rock," for, examine as we could, we
could find no traces of the join of the sliding door; nor, indeed, could we hit upon the
secret, now utterly lost, that worked it, though we tried for an hour or more. It is certainly
a marvellous bit of mechanism, characteristic, in its massive and yet inscrutable
simplicity, of the age which produced it; and I doubt if the world has such another to
At last we gave it up in disgust; though, if the mass had suddenly risen before our eyes, I
doubt if we should have screwed up courage to step over Gagool's mangled remains, and
once more enter the treasure chamber, even in the sure and certain hope of unlimited
diamonds. And yet I could have cried at the idea of leaving all that treasure, the biggest
treasure probably that in the world's history has ever been accumulated in one spot. But
there was no help for it. Only dynamite could force its way through five feet of solid
So we left it. Perhaps, in some remote unborn century, a more fortunate explorer may hit
upon the "Open Sesame," and flood the world with gems. But, myself, I doubt it.
Somehow, I seem to feel that the tens of millions of pounds' worth of jewels which lie in
the three stone coffers will never shine round the neck of an earthly beauty. They and
Foulata's bones will keep cold company till the end of all things.
With a sigh of disappointment we made our way back, and next day started for Loo. And
yet it was really very ungrateful of us to be disappointed; for, as the reader will
remember, by a lucky thought, I had taken the precaution to fill the wide pockets of my