King Solomon's Mines HTML version

Now that this book is printed, and about to be given to the world, a sense of its
shortcomings both in style and contents, weighs very heavily upon me. As regards the
latter, I can only say that it does not pretend to be a full account of everything we did and
saw. There are many things connected with our journey into Kukuanaland that I should
have liked to dwell upon at length, which, as it is, have been scarcely alluded to.
Amongst these are the curious legends which I collected about the chain armour that
saved us from destruction in the great battle of Loo, and also about the "Silent Ones" or
Colossi at the mouth of the stalactite cave. Again, if I had given way to my own impulses,
I should have wished to go into the differences, some of which are to my mind very
suggestive, between the Zulu and Kukuana dialects. Also a few pages might have been
given up profitably to the consideration of the indigenous flora and fauna of
Kukuanaland.[*] Then there remains the most interesting subject--that, as it is, has only
been touched on incidentally--of the magnificent system of military organisation in force
in that country, which, in my opinion, is much superior to that inaugurated by Chaka in
Zululand, inasmuch as it permits of even more rapid mobilisation, and does not
necessitate the employment of the pernicious system of enforced celibacy. Lastly, I have
scarcely spoken of the domestic and family customs of the Kukuanas, many of which are
exceedingly quaint, or of their proficiency in the art of smelting and welding metals. This
science they carry to considerable perfection, of which a good example is to be seen in
their "tollas," or heavy throwing knives, the backs of these weapons being made of
hammered iron, and the edges of beautiful steel welded with great skill on to the iron
frames. The fact of the matter is, I thought, with Sir Henry Curtis and Captain Good, that
the best plan would be to tell my story in a plain, straightforward manner, and to leave
these matters to be dealt with subsequently in whatever way ultimately may appear to be
desirable. In the meanwhile I shall, of course, be delighted to give all information in my
power to anybody interested in such things.
[*] I discovered eight varieties of antelope, with which I was previously totally
unacquainted, and many new species of plants, for the most part of the bulbous tribe.--
And now it only remains for me to offer apologies for my blunt way of writing. I can but
say in excuse of it that I am more accustomed to handle a rifle than a pen, and cannot
make any pretence to the grand literary flights and flourishes which I see in novels--for
sometimes I like to read a novel. I suppose they--the flights and flourishes--are desirable,
and I regret not being able to supply them; but at the same time I cannot help thinking
that simple things are always the most impressive, and that books are easier to understand
when they are written in plain language, though perhaps I have no right to set up an
opinion on such a matter. "A sharp spear," runs the Kukuana saying, "needs no polish";
and on the same principle I venture to hope that a true story, however strange it may be,
does not require to be decked out in fine words.
Allan Quatermain.