King Solomon's Mines HTML version

Twala The King
It will not be necessary for me to detail at length the incidents of our journey to Loo. It
took two full days' travelling along Solomon's Great Road, which pursued its even course
right into the heart of Kukuanaland. Suffice it to say that as we went the country seemed
to grow richer and richer, and the kraals, with their wide surrounding belts of cultivation,
more and more numerous. They were all built upon the same principles as the first camp
which we had reached, and were guarded by ample garrisons of troops. Indeed, in
Kukuanaland, as among the Germans, the Zulus, and the Masai, every able-bodied man is
a soldier, so that the whole force of the nation is available for its wars, offensive or
defensive. As we travelled we were overtaken by thousands of warriors hurrying up to
Loo to be present at the great annual review and festival, and more splendid troops I
never saw.
At sunset on the second day, we stopped to rest awhile upon the summit of some heights
over which the road ran, and there on a beautiful and fertile plain before us lay Loo itself.
For a native town it is an enormous place, quite five miles round, I should say, with
outlying kraals projecting from it, that serve on grand occasions as cantonments for the
regiments, and a curious horseshoe-shaped hill, with which we were destined to become
better acquainted, about two miles to the north. It is beautifully situated, and through the
centre of the kraal, dividing it into two portions, runs a river, which appeared to be
bridged in several places, the same indeed that we had seen from the slopes of Sheba's
Breasts. Sixty or seventy miles away three great snow-capped mountains, placed at the
points of a triangle, started out of the level plain. The conformation of these mountains is
unlike that of Sheba's Breasts, being sheer and precipitous, instead of smooth and
Infadoos saw us looking at them, and volunteered a remark.
"The road ends there," he said, pointing to the mountains known among the Kukuanas as
the "Three Witches."
"Why does it end?" I asked.
"Who knows?" he answered with a shrug; "the mountains are full of caves, and there is a
great pit between them. It is there that the wise men of old time used to go to get
whatever it was they came for to this country, and it is there now that our kings are buried
in the Place of Death."
"What was it they came for?" I asked eagerly.
"Nay, I know not. My lords who have dropped from the Stars should know," he answered
with a quick look. Evidently he knew more than he chose to say.
"Yes," I went on, "you are right, in the Stars we learn many things. I have heard, for
instance, that the wise men of old came to these mountains to find bright stones, pretty
playthings, and yellow iron."