King Solomon's Mines HTML version

Before The Battle
Luckily for us, Infadoos and the chiefs knew all the paths of the great town perfectly, so
that we passed by side-ways unmolested, and notwithstanding the gloom we made fair
For an hour or more we journeyed on, till at length the eclipse began to pass, and that
edge of the moon which had disappeared the first became again visible. Suddenly, as we
watched, there burst from it a silver streak of light, accompanied by a wondrous ruddy
glow, which hung upon the blackness of the sky like a celestial lamp, and a wild and
lovely sight it was. In another five minutes the stars began to fade, and there was
sufficient light to see our whereabouts. We then discovered that we were clear of the
town of Loo, and approaching a large flat-topped hill, measuring some two miles in
circumference. This hill, which is of a formation common in South Africa, is not very
high; indeed, its greatest elevation is scarcely more than 200 feet, but it is shaped like a
horseshoe, and its sides are rather precipitous and strewn with boulders. On the grass
table-land at its summit is ample camping-ground, which had been utilised as a military
cantonment of no mean strength. Its ordinary garrison was one regiment of three
thousand men, but as we toiled up the steep side of the mountain in the returning
moonlight we perceived that there were several of such regiments encamped there.
Reaching the table-land at last, we found crowds of men roused from their sleep,
shivering with fear and huddled up together in the utmost consternation at the natural
phenomenon which they were witnessing. Passing through these without a word, we
gained a hut in the centre of the ground, where we were astonished to find two men
waiting, laden with our few goods and chattels, which of course we had been obliged to
leave behind in our hasty flight.
"I sent for them," explained Infadoos; "and also for these," and he lifted up Good's long-
lost trousers.
With an exclamation of rapturous delight Good sprang at them, and instantly proceeded
to put them on.
"Surely my lord will not hide his beautiful white legs!" exclaimed Infadoos regretfully.
But Good persisted, and once only did the Kukuana people get the chance of seeing his
beautiful legs again. Good is a very modest man. Henceforward they had to satisfy their
aesthetic longings with his one whisker, his transparent eye, and his movable teeth.
Still gazing with fond remembrance at Good's trousers, Infadoos next informed us that he
had commanded the regiments to muster so soon as the day broke, in order to explain to
them fully the origin and circumstances of the rebellion which was decided on by the
chiefs, and to introduce to them the rightful heir to the throne, Ignosi.
Accordingly, when the sun was up, the troops--in all some twenty thousand men, and the
flower of the Kukuana army--were mustered on a large open space, to which we went.
The men were drawn up in three sides of a dense square, and presented a magnificent
spectacle. We took our station on the open side of the square, and were speedily
surrounded by all the principal chiefs and officers.