The Ivory Child
H. Rider Haggard
Part 6 out of 6
of small things, although all the while I could see that he knew
exactly just where I began to lie and just where I stopped from lying.
Still he did not scold me, Baas; indeed, when I had finished, he said:
"'Well done, O good and faithful servant,' words that I think I have
heard him use before when he was alive, Baas, and used to preach to us
for such a long time on Sunday afternoons. Then he asked: 'And how
goes it with Baas Allan, my son, now, Hans?' to which I replied:
"'The Baas Allan is going to fight a very great battle in which he may
well fall, and if I could feel sorry here, which I can't, I should
weep, O reverend sir, because I have died before that battle began and
therefore cannot stand at his side in the battle and be killed for him
as a servant should for his master!'
"'You will stand at his side in the battle,' said your [missing line
in printed version--JB] do as it is fitting that you should. And
afterwards, Hans, you will make report to me of how the battle went
and of what honour my son has won therein. Moreover, know this, Hans,
that though while you live in the world you seem to see many other
things, they are but dreams, since in all the world there is but one
real thing, and its name is Love, which if it be but strong enough,
the stars themselves must obey, for it is the king of every one of
them, and all who dwell in them worship it day and night under many
names for ever and for ever, Amen.'
"What he meant by that I am sure I don't know, Baas, seeing that I
have never thought much of women, at least not for many years since my
last old vrouw went and drank herself to death after lying in her
sleep on the baby which I loved much better than I did her, Baas.
"Well, before I could ask him, or about hell either, he was gone like
a whiff of smoke from a rifle mouth in a strong wind."
Hans paused, puffed at his pipe, spat upon the ground in his usual
reflective way and asked:
"Is the Baas tired of the dream or would he like to hear the rest?"
"I should like to hear the rest," I said in a low voice, for I was
"Well, Baas, while I was standing in that place which was so full of
quiet, turning my hat in my hands and wondering what work they would
set me to there among the devils, I looked up. There I saw coming
towards me two very beautiful women, Baas, who had their arms round
each other's necks. They were dressed in white, with the little hard
things that are found in shells hanging about them, and bright stones
in their hair. And as they came, Baas, wherever they set a foot
flowers sprang up, very pretty flowers, so that all their path across
the quiet place was marked with flowers. Birds too sang as they
passed, at least I think they were birds though I could not see them."
"What were they like, Hans?" I whispered.
"One of them, Baas, the taller I did not know. But the other I knew
well enough; it was she whose name is holy, not to be mentioned. Yet I
must mention that name; it was the Missie Marie herself as last we saw
her alive many, many years ago, only grown a hundred times more
[*] See the book called /Marie/ by H. Rider Haggard.
Now I groaned, and Hans went on:
"The two White Ones came up to me, and stood looking at me with eyes
that were more soft than those of bucks. Then the Missie Marie said to
the other: 'This is Hans of whom I have so often told you, O Star.'"
Here I groaned again, for how did this Hottentot know that name, or
rather its sweet rendering?
"Then she who was called Star asked, 'How goes it with one who is the
heart of all three of us, O Hans?' Yes, Baas, those Shining Ones
joined /me/, the dirty little Hottentot in my old clothes and smelling
of tobacco, with themselves when they spoke of you, for I knew they
were speaking of you, Baas, which made me think I must be drunk, even
there in the quiet place. So I told them all that I had told your
reverend father, and a very great deal more, for they seemed never to
be tired of listening. And once, when I mentioned that sometimes,
while pretending to be asleep, I had heard you praying aloud at night
for the Missie Marie who died for you, and for another who had been
your wife whose name I did not remember but who had also died, they
both cried a little, Baas. Their tears shone like crystals and smelt
like that stuff in a little glass tube which Harūt said that he
brought from some far land when he put a drop or two on your
handkerchief, after you were faint from the pain in your leg at the
house yonder. Or perhaps it was the flowers that smelt, for where the
tears fell there sprang up white lilies shaped like two babes' hands
held together in prayer."
Hearing this, I hid my face in my hands lest Hans should see human
tears unscented with attar of roses, and bade him continue.
"Baas, the White One who was called Star, asked me of your son, the
young Baas Harry, and I told her that when last I had seen him he was
strong and well and would make a bigger man than you were, whereat she
sighed and shook her head. Then the Missie Marie said: 'Tell the Baas,
Hans, that I also have a child which he will see one day, but it is
not a son.'
"After this they, too, said something about Love, but what it was I
cannot remember, since even as I repeat this dream to you it is
beginning to slip away from me fast as a swallow skimming the water.
Their last words, however, I do remember. They were: 'Say to the Baas
that we who never met in life, but who here are as twin sisters, wait
and count the years and count the months and count the days and count
the hours and count the minutes and count the seconds until once more
he shall hear our voices calling to him across the night.' That's what
they say, Baas. Then they were gone and only the flowers remained to
show that they had been standing there.
"Now I set off to bring you the message and travelled a very long way
at a great rate; if Jana himself had been after me I could not have
gone more fast. At last I got out of that quiet place and among
mountains where there were dark kloofs, and there in the kloofs I
heard Zulu impis singing their war-song; yes, they sang the /ingoma/
or something very like it. Now suddenly in the pass of the mountains
along which I sped, there appeared before me a very beautiful woman
whose skin shone like the best copper coffee kettle after I have
polished it, Baas. She was dressed in a leopard-like moocha and wore
on her shoulders a fur kaross, and about her neck a circlet of blue
beads, and from her hair there rose one crane's feather tall as a
walking-stick, and in her hand she held a little spear. No flowers
sprang beneath her feet when she walked towards me and no birds sang,
only the air was filled with the sound of a royal salute which rolled
among the mountains like the roar of thunder, and her eyes flashed
like summer lightning."
Now I let my hands fall and stared at him, for well I knew what was
"'Stand, yellow man!' she said, 'and give me the royal salute.'
"So I gave her the /Bayéte/, though who she might be I did not know,
since I did not think it wise to stay to ask her if it were hers of
right, although I should have liked to do so. Then she said: 'The Old
Man on the plain yonder and those two pale White Ones have talked to
you of their love for your master, the Lord Macumazana. I tell you,
little Yellow Dog, that they do not know what love can be. There is
more love for him in my eyes alone than they have in all that makes
them fair. Say it to the Lord Macumazana that, as I know well, he goes
down to battle and that the Lady Mameena will be with him in the
battle as, though he saw her not, she has been with him in other
battles, and will be with him till the River of Time has run over the
edge of the world and is lost beyond the sun. Let him remember this
when Jana rushes on and death is very near to him to-day, and let him
look--for then perchance he shall see me. Begone now, Yellow Dog, to
the heels of your master, and play your part well in the battle, for
of what you do or leave undone you shall give account to me. Say that
Mameena sends her greetings to the Lord Macumazana and that she adds
this, that when the Old Man and the White ones told you that Love is
the secret blood of the worlds which makes them to be they did not
lie. Love reigns and I, Mameena, am its priestess, and the heart of
Macumazana is my holy house.'
"Then, Baas, I tumbled off a precipice and woke up here; and, Baas, as
we may not light a fire I have kept some coffee hot for you buried in
warm ashes," and without another word he went to fetch that coffee,
leaving me shaken and amazed.
For what kind of a dream was it which revealed to an old Hottentot all
these mysteries and hidden things about persons whom he had never seen
and of whom I had never spoken to him? My father and my wife Marie
might be explained, for with these he had been mixed up, but how about
Stella and above all Mameena, although of course it was possible that
he had heard of the latter, who made some stir in her time? But to hit
her off as he had done in all her pride, splendour, and dominion of
Well, that was his story which, perhaps fortunately, I lacked time to
analyse or brood upon, since there was much in it calculated to
unnerve a man just entering the crisis of a desperate fray. Indeed a
minute or so later, as I was swallowing the last of the coffee,
messengers arrived about some business, I forget what, sent by Ragnall
I think, who had risen before I woke. I turned to give the pannikin to
Hans, but he had vanished in his snake-like fashion, so I threw it
down upon the ground and devoted my mind to the question raised in
Next minute scouts came in who had been watching the camp of the Black
Kendah all night.
These were sleeping not more than half a mile away, in an open place
on the slope of the hill with pickets thrown out round them, intending
to advance upon us, it was said, as soon as the sun rose, since
because of their number they feared lest to march at night should
throw them into confusion and, in case of their falling into an
ambush, bring about a disaster. Such at least was the story of two
spies whom our people had captured.
There had been some question as to whether we should not attempt a
night attack upon their camp, of which I was rather in favour. After
full debate, however, the idea had been abandoned, owing to the
fewness of our numbers, the dislike which the White Kendah shared with
the Black of attempting to operate in the dark, and the well chosen
position of our enemy, whom it would be impossible to rush before we
were discovered by their outposts. What I hoped in my heart was that
they might try to rush us, notwithstanding the story of the two
captured spies, and in the gloom, after the moon had sunk low and
before the dawn came, become entangled in our pitfalls and outlying
entrenchments, where we should be able to destroy a great number of
them. Only on the previous afternoon that cunning old fellow, Hans,
had pointed out to me how advantageous such an event would be to our
cause and, while agreeing with him, I suggested that probably the
Black Kendah knew this as well as we did, as the prisoners had told
Yet that very thing happened, and through Hans himself. Thus: Old
Harūt had come to me just one hour before the dawn to inform me that
all our people were awake and at their stations, and to make some last
arrangements as to the course of the defence, also about our final
concentration behind the last line of walls and in the first court of
the temple, if we should be driven from the outer entrenchments. He
was telling me that the Oracle of the Child had uttered words at the
ceremony that night which he and all the priests considered were of
the most favourable import, news to which I listened with some
impatience, feeling as I did that this business had passed out of the
range of the Child and its Oracle. As he spoke, suddenly through the
silence that precedes the dawn, there floated to our ears the
unmistakable sound of a rifle. Yes, a rifle shot, half a mile or so
away, followed by the roaring murmur of a great camp unexpectedly
alarmed at night.
"Who can have fired that?" I asked. "The Black Kendah have no guns."
He replied that he did not know, unless some of my fifty men had left
While we were investigating the matter, scouts rushed in with the
intelligence that the Black Kendah, thinking apparently that they were
being attacked, had broken camp and were advancing towards us. We
passed a warning all down the lines and stood to arms. Five minutes
later, as I stood listening to that approaching roar, filled with
every kind of fear and melancholy foreboding such as the hour and the
occasion might well have evoked, through the gloom, which was dense,
the moon being hidden behind the hill, I thought I caught sight of
something running towards me like a crouching man. I lifted my rifle
to fire but, reflecting that it might be no more than a hyena and
fearing to provoke a fusilade from my half-trained company, did not do
Next instant I was glad indeed, for immediately on the other side of
the wall behind which I was standing I heard a well-known voice gasp
"Don't shoot, Baas, it is I."
"What have you been doing, Hans?" I said as he scrambled over the wall
to my side, limping a little as I fancied.
"Baas," he puffed, "I have been paying the Black Kendah a visit. I
crept down between their stupid outposts, who are as blind in the dark
as a bat in daytime, hoping to find Jana and put a bullet into his leg
or trunk. I didn't find him, Baas, although I heard him. But one of
their captains stood up in front of a watchfire, giving a good shot.
My bullet found /him/, Baas, for he tumbled back into the fire making
the sparks fly this way and that. Then I ran and, as you see, got here
"Why did you play that fool's trick?" I asked, "seeing that it ought
to have cost you your life?"
"I shall die just when I have to die, not before, Baas," he replied in
the intervals of reloading the little rifle. "Also it was the trick of
a wise man, not of a fool, seeing that it has made the Black Kendah
think that we were attacking them and caused them to hurry on to
attack /us/ in the dark over ground that they do not know. Listen to
As he spoke a roar of sound told us that the great charge had swept
round a turn there was in the pass and was heading towards us up the
straight. Ivory horns brayed, captains shouted orders, the very
mountains shook beneath the beating of thousands of feet of men and
horses, while in one great yell that echoed from the cliffs and
forests went up the battle-cry of "/Jana! Jana!/"--a mixed tumult of
noise which contrasted very strangely with the utter silence in our
"They will be among the pitfalls presently," sniggered Hans, shifting
his weight nervously from one leg on to the other. "Hark! they are
going into them."
It was true. Screams of fear and pain told me that the front ranks had
begun to fall, horse and foot together, into the cunningly devised
snares of which with so much labour we had dug many, concealing them
with earth spread over thin wickerwork, or rather interlaced boughs.
Into them went the forerunners, to be pierced by the sharp, fire-
hardened stakes set at the bottom of each pit. Vainly did those who
were near enough to understand their danger call to the ranks behind
to stop. They could not or would not comprehend, and had no room to
extend their front. Forward surged the human torrent, thrusting all in
front of it to death by wounds or suffocation in those deadly holes,
till one by one they were filled level with the ground by struggling
men and horses, over whom the army still rushed on.
How many perished there I do not know, but after the battle was over
we found scarcely a pit that was not crowded to the brim with dead.
Truly this device of Ragnall's, for if I had conceived the idea, which
was unfamiliar to the Kendah, it was he who had carried it out in so
masterly a fashion, had served us well.
Still the enemy surged on, since the pits were only large enough to
hold a tithe of them, till at length, horsemen and footmen mixed up
together in inextricable confusion, their mighty mass became faintly
visible quite close to us, a blacker blot upon the gloom.
Then my turn came. When they were not more than fifty yards away from
the first wall, I shouted an order to my riflemen to fire, aiming low,
and set the example by loosing both barrels of an elephant gun at the
thickest of the mob. At that distance even the most inexperienced
shots could not miss such a mark, especially as those bullets that
went high struck among the oncoming troops behind, or caught the
horsemen lifted above their fellows. Indeed, of the first few rounds I
do not think that one was wasted, while often single balls killed or
injured several men.
The result was instantaneous. The Black Kendah who, be it remembered,
were totally unaccustomed to the effects of rifle fire and imagined
that we only possessed two or three guns in all, stopped their advance
as though paralyzed. For a few seconds there was silence, except for
the intermittent crackle of the rifles as my men loaded and fired.
Next came the cries of the smitten men and horses that were falling
everywhere, and then--the unmistakable sound of a stampede.
"They have gone. That was too warm for them, Baas," chuckled Hans
"Yes," I answered, when I had at length succeeded in stopping the
firing, "but I expect they will come back with the light. Still, that
trick of yours has cost them dear, Hans."
By degrees the dawn began to break. It was, I remember, a particularly
beautiful dawn, resembling a gigantic and vivid rose opening in the
east, or a cup of brightness from which many coloured wines were
poured all athwart the firmament. Very peaceful also, for not a breath
of wind was stirring. But what a scene the first rays of the sun
revealed upon that narrow stretch of pass in front of us. Everywhere
the pitfalls and trenches were filled with still surging heaps of men
and horses, while all about lay dead and wounded men, the red harvest
of our rifle fire. It was dreadful to contrast the heavenly peace
above and the hellish horror beneath.
We took count and found that up to this moment we had not lost a
single man, one only having been slightly wounded by a thrown spear.
As is common among semi-savages, this fact filled the White Kendah
with an undue exultation. Thinking that as the beginning was so the
end must be, they cheered and shouted, shaking each other's hands,
then fell to eating the food which the women brought them with
appetite, chattering incessantly, although as a general rule they were
a very silent people. Even the grave Harūt, who arrived full of
congratulations, seemed as high-spirited as a boy, till I reminded him
that the real battle had not yet commenced.
The Black Kendah had fallen into a trap and lost some of their number,
that was all, which was fortunate for us but could scarcely affect the
issue of the struggle, since they had many thousands left. Ragnall,
who had come up from his lines, agreed with me. As he said, these
people were fighting for life as well as honour, seeing that most of
the corn which they needed for their sustenance was stored in great
heaps either in or to the rear of the temple behind us. Therefore they
must come on until they won or were destroyed. How with our small
force could we hope to destroy this multitude? That was the problem
which weighed upon our hearts.
About a quarter of an hour later two spies that we had set upon the
top of the precipitous cliffs, whence they had a good view of the pass
beyond the bend, came scrambling down the rocks like monkeys by a
route that was known to them. These boys, for they were no more,
reported that the Black Kendah were reforming their army beyond the
bend of the pass, and that the cavalry were dismounting and sending
their horses to the rear, evidently because they found them useless in
such a place. A little later solitary men appeared from behind the
bend, carrying bundles of long sticks to each of which was attached a
piece of white cloth, a proceeding that excited my curiosity.
Soon its object became apparent. Swiftly these men, of whom in the end
there may have been thirty or forty, ran to and fro, testing the
ground with spears in search for pitfalls. I think they only found a
very few that had not been broken into, but in front of these and also
of those that were already full of men and horses they set up the
flags as a warning that they should be avoided in the advance. Also
they removed a number of their wounded.
We had great difficulty in restraining the White Kendah from rushing
out to attack them, which of course would only have led us into a trap
in our turn, since they would have fled and conducted their pursuers
into the arms of the enemy. Nor would I allow my riflemen to fire, as
the result must have been many misses and a great waste of ammunition
which ere long would be badly wanted. I, however, did shoot two or
three, then gave it up as the remainder took no notice whatever.
When they had thoroughly explored the ground they retired until, a
little later, the Black Kendah army began to appear, marching in
serried regiments and excellent order round the bend, till perhaps
eight or ten thousand of them were visible, a very fierce and awe-
inspiring /impi/. Their front ranks halted between three and four
hundred yards away, which I thought farther off than it was advisable
to open fire on them with Snider rifles held by unskilled troops. Then
came a pause, which at length was broken by the blowing of horns and a
sound of exultant shouting beyond the turn of the pass.
Now from round this turn appeared the strangest sight that I think my
eyes had ever seen. Yes, there came the huge elephant, Jana, at a
slow, shambling trot. On his back and head were two men in whom, with
my glasses, I recognized the lame priest whom I already knew too well
and Simba, the king of the Black Kendah, himself, gorgeously
apparelled and waving a long spear, seated in a kind of wooden chair.
Round the brute's neck were a number of bright metal chains, twelve in
all, and each of these chains was held by a spearman who ran
alongside, six on one side and six on the other. Lastly, ingeniously
fastened to the end of his trunk were three other chains to which were
attached spiked knobs of metal.
On he came as docilely as any Indian elephant used for carrying teak
logs, passing through the centre of the host up a wide lane which had
been left, I suppose for his convenience, and intelligently avoiding
the pitfalls filled with dead. I thought that he would stop among the
first ranks. But not so. Slackening his pace to a walk he marched
forwards towards our fortifications. Now, of course, I saw my chance
and made sure that my double-barrelled elephant rifle was ready and
that Hans held a second rifle, also double-barrelled and of similar
calibre, full-cocked in such a position that I could snatch it from
him in a moment.
"I am going to kill that elephant," I said. "Let no one else fire.
Stand still and you shall see the god Jana die."
Still the enormous beast floundered forward; up to that moment I had
never realized how truly huge it was, not even when it stood over me
in the moonlight about to crush me with its foot. Of this I am sure,
that none to equal it ever lived in Africa, at least in any times of
which I have knowledge.
"Fire, Baas," whispered Hans, "it is near enough."
But like the Frenchman and the cock pheasant, I determined to wait
until it stopped, wishing to finish it with a single ball, if only for
the prestige of the thing.
At length it did stop and, opening its cavern of a mouth, lifted its
great trunk and trumpeted, while Simba, standing up in his chair,
began to shout out some command to us to surrender to the god Jana,
"the Invincible, the Invulnerable."
"I will show you if you are invulnerable, my boy," said I to myself,
glancing round to make sure that Hans had the second rifle ready and
catching sight of Ragnall and Harūt and all the White Kendah standing
up in their trenches, breathlessly awaiting the end, as were the Black
Kendah a few hundred yards away. Never could there have been a fairer
shot and one more certain to result in a fatal wound. The brute's head
was up and its mouth was open. All I had to do was to send a hard-
tipped bullet crashing through the palate to the brain behind. It was
so easy that I would have made a bet that I could have finished him
with one hand tied behind me.
I lifted the heavy rifle. I got the sights dead on to a certain spot
at the back of that red cave. I pressed the trigger; the charge boomed
--and nothing happened! I heard no bullet strike and Jana did not even
take the trouble to close his mouth.
An exclamation of "O-oh!" went up from the watchers. Before it had
died away the second bullet followed the first, with the same result
or rather lack of result, and another louder "O-oh!" arose. Then Jana
tranquilly shut his mouth, having finished trumpeting, and as though
to give me a still better target, turned broadside on and stood quite
With an inward curse I snatched the second rifle and aiming behind the
ear at a spot which long experience told me covered the heart let
drive again, first one barrel and then the other.
Jana never stirred. No bullet thudded. No mark of blood appeared upon
his hide. The horrible thought overcame me that I, Allan Quatermain, I
the famous shot, the renowned elephant-hunter, had four times missed
this haystack of a brute from a distance of forty yards. So great was
my shame that I think I almost fainted. Through a kind of mist I heard
"Great Heavens!" said Ragnall.
"/Allemagte!/" remarked Hans.
"The Child help us!" muttered Harūt.
All the rest of them stared at me as though I were a freak or a
lunatic. Then somebody laughed nervously, and immediately everybody
began to laugh. Even the distant army of the Black Kendah became
convulsed with roars of unholy merriment and I, Allan Quatermain, was
the centre of all this mockery, till I felt as though I were going
mad. Suddenly the laughter ceased and once more Simba the King began
to roar out something about "Jana the Invincible and Invulnerable," to
which the White Kendah replied with cries of "Magic" and "Bewitched!
"Yes," yelled Simba, "no bullet can touch Jana the god, not even those
of the white lord who was brought from far to kill him."
Hans leaped on to the top of the wall, where he danced up and down
like an intoxicated monkey, and screamed:
"Then where is Jana's left eye? Did not my bullet put it out like a
lamp? If Jana is invulnerable, why did my bullet put out his left
Hans ceased from dancing on the wall and steadying himself, lifted the
little rifle Intombi, shouting:
"Let us see whether after all this beast is a god or an elephant."
Then he touched the trigger, and simultaneously with the report, I
heard the bullet clap and saw blood appear on Jana's hide just by the
very spot over the heart at which I had aimed without result. Of
course, the soft ball driven from a small-bore rifle with a light
charge of powder was far too weak to penetrate to the vitals. Probably
it did not do much more than pierce through the skin and an inch or
two of flesh behind it.
Still, its effects upon this "invulnerable" god were of a marked
order. He whipped round; he lifted his trunk and screamed with rage
and pain. Then off he lumbered back towards his own people, at such a
pace that the attendants who held the chains on either side of him
were thrown over and forced to leave go of him, while the king and the
priest upon his back could only retain their seats by clinging to the
chair and the rope about his neck.
The result was satisfactory so far as the dispelling of magical
illusions went, but it left me in a worse position than before, since
it now became evident that what had protected Jana from my bullets was
nothing more supernatural than my own lack of skill. Oh! never in my
life did I drink of such a cup of humiliation as it was my lot to
drain to the dregs in this most unhappy hour. Almost did I hope that I
might be killed at once.
And yet, and yet, how was it possible that with all my skill I should
have missed this towering mountain of flesh four times in succession.
The question is one to which I have never discovered any answer,
especially as Hans hit it easily enough, which at the time I wished
heartily he had not done, since his success only served to emphasize
my miserable failure. Fortunately, just then a diversion occurred
which freed my unhappy self from further public attention. With a
shout and a roar the great army of the Black Kendah woke into life.
The advance had begun.
On they came, slowly and steadily, preceded by a cloud of skirmishers
--a thousand or more of these--who kept as open an order as the narrow
ground would allow and carried, each of them, a bundle of throwing
spears arranged in loops or sockets at the back of the shield. When
these men were about a hundred yards away we opened fire and killed a
great number of them, also some of the marshalled troops behind. But
this did not stop them in the least, for what could fifty rifles do
against a horde of brave barbarians who, it seemed, had no fear of
death? Presently their spears were falling among us and a few
casualties began to occur, not many, because of the protecting wall,
but still some. Again and again we loaded and fired, sweeping away
those in front of us, but always others came to take their places.
Finally at some word of command these light skirmishers vanished,
except whose who were dead or wounded, taking shelter behind the
advancing regiments which now were within fifty yards of us.
Then, after a momentary pause another command was shouted out and the
first regiment charged in three solid ranks. We fired a volley point
blank into them and, as it was hopeless for fifty men to withstand
such an onslaught, bolted during the temporary confusion that ensued,
taking refuge, as it had been arranged that we should do, at a point
of vantage farther down the line of fortifications, whence we
maintained our galling fire.
Now it was that the main body of the White Kendah came into action
under the leadership of Ragnall and Harūt. The enemy scrambled over
the first wall, which we had just vacated, to find themselves in a
network of other walls held by our spearmen in a narrow place where
numbers gave no great advantage.
Here the fighting was terrible and the loss of the attackers great,
for always as they carried one entrenchment they found another a few
yards in front of them, out of which the defenders could only be
driven at much cost of life.
Two hours or more the battle went on thus. In spite of the desperate
resistance which we offered, the multitude of the Black Kendah, who I
must say fought magnificently, stormed wall after wall, leaving
hundreds of dead and wounded to mark their difficult progress.
Meanwhile I and my riflemen rained bullets on them from certain
positions which we had selected beforehand, until at length our
ammunition began to run low.
At half-past eight in the morning we were driven back over the open
ground to our last entrenchment, a very strong one just outside of the
eastern gate of the temple which, it will be remembered, was set in a
tunnel pierced through the natural lava rock. Thrice did the Black
Kendah come on and thrice we beat them off, till the ditch in front of
the wall was almost full of fallen. As fast as they climbed to the top
of it the White Kendah thrust them through with their long spears, or
we shot them with our rifles, the nature of the ground being such that
only a direct frontal attack was possible.
In the end they drew back sullenly, having, as we hoped, given up the
assault. As it turned out, this was not so. They were only resting and
waiting for the arrival of their reserve. It came up shouting and
singing a war-song, two thousand strong or more, and presently once
more they charged like a flood of water. We beat them back. They
reformed and charged a second time and we beat them back.
Then they took another counsel. Standing among the dead and dying at
the base of the wall, which was built of loose stones and earth, where
we could not easily get at them because of the showers of spears which
were rained at anyone who showed himself, they began to undermine it,
levering out the bottom stones with stakes and battering them with
In five minutes a breach appeared, through which they poured
tumultuously. It was hopeless to withstand that onslaught of so vast a
number. Fighting desperately, we were driven down the tunnel and
through the doors that were opened to us, into the first court of the
temple. By furious efforts we managed to close these doors and block
them with stones and earth. But this did not avail us long, for,
bringing brushwood and dry grass, they built a fire against them that
soon caught the thick cedar wood of which they were made.
While they burned we consulted together. Further retreat seemed
impossible, since the second court of the temple, save for a narrow
passage, was filled with corn which allowed no room for fighting,
while behind it were gathered all the women and children, more than
two thousand of them. Here, or nowhere, we must make our stand and
conquer or die. Up to this time, compared with what which we had
inflicted upon the Black Kendah, of whom a couple of thousand or more
had fallen, our loss was comparatively slight, say two hundred killed
and as many more wounded. Most of such of the latter as could not walk
we had managed to carry into the first court of the temple, laying
them close against the cloister walls, whence they watched us in a
This left us about sixteen hundred able-bodied men or many more than
we could employ with effect in that narrow place. Therefore we
determined to act upon a plan which we had already designed in case
such an emergency as ours should arise. About three hundred and fifty
of the best men were to remain to defend the temple till all were
slain. The rest, to the number of over a thousand, were to withdraw
through the second court and the gates beyond to the camp of the women
and children. These they were to conduct by secret paths that were
known to them to where the camels were kraaled, and mounting as many
as possible of them on the camels to fly whither they could. Our hope
was that the victorious Black Kendah would be too exhausted to follow
them across the plain to the distant mountains. It was a dreadful
determination, but we had no choice.
"What of my wife?" Ragnall asked hoarsely.
"While the temple stands she must remain in the temple," replied
Harūt. "But when all is lost, if I have fallen, do you, White Lord, go
to the sanctuary with those who remain and take her and the Ivory
Child and flee after the others. Only I lay this charge on you under
pain of the curse of Heaven, that you do not suffer the Ivory Child to
fall into the hands of the Black Kendah. First must you burn it with
fire or grind it to dust with stones. Moreover, I give this command to
all in case of the priests in charge of it should fail me, that they
set flame to the brushwood that is built up with the stacks of corn,
so that, after all, those of our enemies who escape may die of
Instantly and without murmuring, for never did I see more perfect
discipline than that which prevailed among these poor people, the
orders given by Harūt, who in addition to his office as head priest
was a kind of president of what was in fact a republic, were put in
the way of execution. Company by company the men appointed to escort
the women and children departed through the gateway of the second
court, each company turning in the gateway to salute us who remained,
by raising their spears, till all were gone. Then we, the three
hundred and fifty who were left, marshalled ourselves as the Greeks
may have done in the Pass of Thermopylę.
First stood I and my riflemen, to whom all the remaining ammunition
was served out; it amounted to eight rounds per man. Then, ranged
across the court in four lines, came the spearmen armed with lances
and swords under the immediate command of Harūt. Behind these, near
the gate of the second court so that at the last they might attempt
the rescue of the priestess, were fifty picked men, captained by
Ragnall, who, I forgot to say, was wounded in two places, though not
badly, having received a spear thrust in the left shoulder and a sword
cut to the left thigh during his desperate defence of the
By the time that all was ready and every man had been given to drink
from the great jars of water which stood along the walls, the massive
wooden doors began to burn through, though this did not happen for
quite half an hour after the enemy had begun to attempt to fire them.
They fell at length beneath the battering of poles, leaving only the
mound of earth and stones which we had piled up in the gateway after
the closing of the doors. This the Black Kendah, who had raked out the
burning embers, set themselves to dig away with hands and sticks and
spears, a task that was made very difficult to them by about a score
of our people who stabbed at them with their long lances or dashed
them down with stones, killing and disabling many. But always the dead
and wounded were dragged off while others took their places, so that
at last the gateway was practically cleared. Then I called back the
spearmen who passed into the ranks behind us, and made ready to play
I had not long to wait. With a rush and a roar a great company of the
Black Kendah charged the gateway. Just as they began to emerge into
the court I gave the word to fire, sending fifty Snider bullets
tearing into them from a distance of a few yards. They fell in a heap;
they fell like corn before the scythe, not a man won through. Quickly
we reloaded and waited for the next rush. In due course it came and
the dreadful scene repeated itself. Now the gateway and the tunnel
beyond were so choked with fallen men that the enemy must drag these
out before they could charge any more. It was done under the fire of
myself, Hans and a few picked shots--somehow it was done.
Once more they charged, and once more were mown down. So it went on
till our last cartridge was spent, for never did I see more
magnificent courage than was shown by those Black Kendah in the face
of terrific loss. Then my people threw aside their useless rifles and
arming themselves with spears and swords fell back to rest, leaving
Harūt and his company to take their place. For half an hour or more
raged that awful struggle, since the spot being so narrow, charge as
they would, the Black Kendah could not win through the spears of
despairing warriors defending their lives and the sanctuary of their
god. Nor, the encircling cliffs being so sheer, could they get round
any other way.
At length the enemy drew back as though defeated, giving us time to
drag aside our dead and wounded and drink more water, for the heat in
the place was now overwhelming. We hoped against hope that they had
given up the attack. But this was far from the case; they were but
making a new plan.
Suddenly in the gateway there appeared the huge bulk of the elephant
Jana, rushing forward at speed and being urged on by men who pricked
it with spears behind. It swept through the defenders as though they
were but dry grass, battering those in front of it with its great
trunk from which swung the iron balls that crushed all on whom they
fell, and paying no more heed to the lance thrusts than it might have
done to the bites of gnats. On it came, trumpeting and trampling, and
after it in a flood flowed the Black Kendah, upon whom our spearmen
flung themselves from either side.
At the time I, followed by Hans, was just returning from speaking with
Ragnall at the gate of the second court. A little before I had retired
exhausted from the fierce and fearful fighting, whereon he took my
place and repelled several of the Black Kendah charges, including the
last. In this fray he received a further injury, a knock on the head
from a stick or stone which stunned him for a few minutes, whereon
some of our people had carried him off and set him on the ground with
his back against one of the pillars of the second gate. Being told
that he was hurt I ran to see what was the matter. Finding to my joy
that it was nothing very serious, I was hurrying to the front again
when I looked up and saw that devil Jana charging straight towards me,
the throng of armed men parting on each side of him, as rough water
does before the leaping prow of a storm-driven ship.
To tell the truth, although I was never fond of unnecessary risks, I
rejoiced at the sight. Not even all the excitement of that hideous and
prolonged battle had obliterated from my mind the burning sense of
shame at the exhibition which I had made of myself by missing this
beast with four barrels at forty yards.
Now, thought I to myself with a kind of exultant thrill, now, Jana, I
will wipe out both my disgrace and you. This time there shall be no
mistake, or if there is, let it be my last.
On thundered Jana, whirling the iron balls among the soldiers, who
fled to right and left leaving a clear path between me and him. To
make quite sure of things, for I was trembling a little with fatigue
and somewhat sick from the continuous sight of bloodshed, I knelt down
upon my right knee, using the other as a prop for my left elbow, and
since I could not make certain of a head shot because of the continual
whirling of the huge trunk, got the sight of my big-game rifle dead on
to the beast where the throat joins the chest. I hoped that the heavy
conical bullet would either pierce through to the spine or cut one of
the large arteries in the neck, or at least that the tremendous shock
of its impact would bring him down.
At about twenty paces I fired and hit--not Jana but the lame priest
who was fulfilling the office of mahout, perched upon his shoulders
many feet above the point at which I had aimed. Yes! I hit him in the
head, which was shattered like an eggshell, so that he fell lifeless
to the ground.
In perfect desperation again I aimed, and fired when Jana was not more
than thirty feet away. This time the bullet must have gone wide to the
left, for I saw a chip fly from the end of the animal's broken and
deformed tusk, which stuck out in that direction several feet clear of
Then I gave up all hope. There was no time to gain my feet and escape;
indeed I did not wish to do so, who felt that there are some failures
which can only be absolved by death. I just knelt there, waiting for
In an instant the giant creature was almost over me. I remember
looking up at it and thinking in a queer sort of a way--perhaps it was
some ancestral memory--that I was a little ape-like child about to be
slain by a primordial elephant, thrice as big as any that now inhabit
the earth. Then something appeared to happen which I only repeat to
show how at such moments absurd and impossible things seem real to us.
The reader may remember the strange dream which Hans had related to me
One incident of this phantasy was that he had met the spirit of the
Zulu lady Mameena, whom I knew in bygone years, and that she bade him
tell me she would be with me in the battle and that I was to look for
her when death drew near to me and "Jana thundered on," for then
perchance I should see her.
Well, no doubt in some lightning flash of thought the memory of these
words occurred to me at this juncture, with the ridiculous result that
my subjective intelligence, if that is the right term, actually
created the scene which they described. As clearly, or perhaps more
clearly than ever I saw anything else in my life, I appeared to behold
the beautiful Mameena in her fur cloak and her blue beads, standing
between Jana and myself with her arms folded upon her breast and
looking exactly as she did in the tremendous moment of her death
before King Panda. I even noted how the faint breeze stirred a loose
end of her outspread hair and how the sunlight caught a particular
point of a copper bangle on her upper arm.
So she stood, or rather seemed to stand, quite still; and as it
happened, at that moment the giant Jana, either because something had
frightened him, or perhaps owing to the shock of my bullet striking on
his tusk having jarred the brain, suddenly pulled up, sliding along a
little with all his four feet together, till I thought he was going to
sit down like a performing elephant. Then it appeared to me as though
Mameena turned round very slowly, bent towards me, whispering
something which I could not hear although her lips moved, looked at me
sweetly with those wonderful eyes of hers and vanished away.
A fraction of a second later all this vision had gone and something
that was no vision took its place. Jana had recovered himself and was
at me again with open mouth and lifted trunk. I heard a Dutch curse
and saw a little yellow form; saw Hans, for it was he, thrust the
barrels of my second elephant rifle almost into that red cave of a
mouth, which however they could not reach, and fire, first one barrel,
then the other.
Another moment, and the mighty trunk had wrapped itself about Hans and
hurled him through the air to fall on to his head and arms thirty or
forty feet away.
Jana staggered as though he too were about to fall; recovered himself,
swerved to the right, perhaps to follow Hans, stumbled on a few paces,
missing me altogether, then again came to a standstill. I wriggled
myself round and, seated on the pavement of the court, watched what
followed, and glad am I that I was able to do so, for never shall I
behold such another scene.
First I saw Ragnall run up with a rifle and fire two barrels at the
brute's head, of which he took no notice whatsoever. Then I saw his
wife, who in this land was known as the Guardian of the Child, issuing
from the portals of the second court, dressed in her goddess robes,
wearing the cap of bird's feathers, attended by the two priestesses
also dressed as goddesses, as we had seen her on the morning of
sacrifice, and holding in front of her the statue of the Ivory Child.
On she came quite quietly, her wide, empty eyes fixed upon Jana. As
she advanced the monster seemed to grow uneasy. Turning his head, he
lifted his trunk and thrust it along his back until it gripped the
ankle of the King Simba, who all this while was seated there in his
chair making no movement.
With a slow, steady pull he dragged Simba from the chair so that he
fell upon the ground near his left foreleg. Next very composedly he
wound his trunk about the body of the helpless man, whose horrified
eyes I can see to this day, and began to whirl him round and round in
the air, gently at first but with a motion that grew ever more rapid,
until the bright chains on the victim's breast flashed in the sunlight
like a silver wheel. Then he hurled him to the ground, where the poor
king lay a mere shattered pulp that had been human.
Now the priestess was standing in front of the beast-god, apparently
quite without fear, though her two attendants had fallen back. Ragnall
sprang forward as though to drag her away, but a dozen men leapt on to
him and held him fast, either to save his life or for some secret
reason of their own which I never learned.
Jana looked down at her and she looked up at Jana. Then he screamed
furiously and, shooting out his trunk, snatched the Ivory Child from
her hands, whirled it round as he had whirled Simba, and at last
dashed it to the stone pavement as he had dashed Simba, so that its
substance, grown brittle on the passage of the ages, shattered into
ten thousand fragments.
At this sight a great groan went up from the men of the White Kendah,
the women dressed as goddesses shrieked and tore their robes, and
Harūt, who stood near, fell down in a fit or faint.
Once more Jana screamed. Then slowly he knelt down, beat his trunk and
the clattering metal balls upon the ground thrice, as though he were
making obeisance to the beautiful priestess who stood before him,
shivered throughout his mighty bulk, and rolled over--dead!
The fighting ceased. The Black Kendah, who all this while had been
pressing into the court of the temple, saw and stood stupefied. It was
as though in the presence of events to them so pregnant and terrible
men could no longer lift their swords in war.
A voice called: "The god is dead! The king is dead! Jana has slain
Simba and has himself been slain! Shattered is the Child; spilt is the
blood of Jana! Fly, People of the Black Kendah; fly, for the gods are
dead and your land is a land of ghosts!"
From every side was this wail echoed: "Fly, People of the Black
Kendah, for the gods are dead!"
They turned; they sped away like shadows, carrying their wounded with
them, nor did any attempt to stay them. Thirty minutes later, save for
some desperately hurt or dying men, not one of them was left in the
temple or the pass beyond. They had all gone, leaving none but the
dead behind them.
The fight was finished! The fight that had seemed lost was won!
I dragged myself from the ground. As I gained my tottering feet, for
now that all was over I felt as if I were made of running water, I saw
the men who held Ragnall loose their grip of him. He sprang to where
his wife was and stood before her as though confused, much as Jana had
stood, Jana against whose head he rested, his left hand holding to the
brute's gigantic tusk, for I think that he also was weak with toil,
terror, loss of blood and emotion.
"Luna," he gasped, "Luna!"
Leaning on the shoulder of a Kendah man, I drew nearer to see what
passed between them, for my curiosity overcame my faintness. For quite
a long while she stared at him, till suddenly her eyes began to
change. It was as though a soul were arising in their emptiness as the
moon arises in the quiet evening sky, giving them light and life. At
length she spoke in a slow, hesitating voice, the tones of which I
remembered well enough, saying:
"Oh! George, that dreadful brute," and she pointed to the dead
elephant, "has killed our baby. Look at it! Look at it! We must be
everything to each other now, dear, as we were before it came--unless
God sends us another."
Then she burst into a flood of weeping and fell into his arms, after
which I turned away. So, to their honour be it said, did the Kendah,
leaving the pair alone behind the bulk of dead Jana.
Here I may state two things: first, that Lady Ragnall, whose bodily
health had remained perfect throughout, entirely recovered her reason
from that moment. It was as though on the shattering of the Ivory
Child some spell had been lifted off her. What this spell may have
been I am quite unable to explain, but I presume that in a dim and
unknown way she connected this effigy with her own lost infant and
that while she held and tended it her intellect remained in abeyance.
If so, she must also have connected its destruction with the death of
her own child which, strangely enough, it will be remembered, was
likewise killed by an elephant. The first death that occurred in her
presence took away her reason, the second seeming death, which also
occurred in her presence, brought it back again!
Secondly, from the moment of the destruction of her boy in the streets
of the English country town to that of the shattering of the Ivory
Child in Central Africa her memory was an utter blank, with one
exception. This exception was a dream which a few days later she
narrated to Ragnall in my presence. That dream was that she had seen
him and Savage sleeping together in a native house one night. In view
of a certain incident recorded in this history I leave the reader to
draw his own conclusions as to this curious incident. I have none to
offer, or if I have I prefer to keep them to myself.
Leaving Ragnall and his wife, I staggered off to look for Hans and
found him lying senseless near the north wall of the temple. Evidently
he was beyond human help, for Jana seemed to have crushed most of his
ribs in his iron trunk. We carried him to one of the priest's cells
and there I watched him till the end, which came at sundown.
Before he died he became quite conscious and talked with me a good
"Don't grieve about missing Jana, Baas," he said, "for it wasn't you
who missed him but some devil that turned your bullets. You see, Baas,
he was bewitched against you white men. When you look at him closely
you will find that the Lord Igeza missed him also" (strange as it may
seem, this proved to be the case), "and when you managed to hit the
tip of his tusk with the last ball the magic was wearing off him,
that's all. But, Baas, those Black Kendah wizards forgot to bewitch
him against the little yellow man, of whom they took no account. So I
hit him sure enough every time I fired at him, and I hope he liked the
taste of my bullets in that great mouth of his. He knew who had sent
them there very well. That's why he left you alone and made for me, as
I had hoped he would. Oh! Baas, I die happy, quite happy since I have
killed Jana and he caught me and not you, me who was nearly finished
anyhow. For, Baas, though I didn't say anything about it, a thrown
spear struck my groin when I went down among the Black Kendah this
morning. It was only a small cut, which bled little, but as the
fighting went on something gave way and my inside began to come
through it, though I tied it up with a bit of cloth, which of course
means death in a day or two." (Subsequent examination showed me that
Hans's story of this wound was perfectly true. He could not have lived
for very long.)
"Baas," he went on after a pause, "no doubt I shall meet that Zulu
lady Mameena to-night. Tell me, is she really entitled to the royal
salute? Because if not, when I am as much a spook as she is I will not
give it to her again. She never gave me my titles, which are good ones
in their way, so why should I give her the /Bayéte/, unless it is hers
by right of blood, although I am only a little 'yellow dog' as she
chose to call me?"
As this ridiculous point seemed to weigh upon his mind I told him that
Mameena was not even of royal blood and in nowise entitled to the
salute of kings.
"Ah!" he said with a feeble grin, "then now I shall know how to deal
with her, especially as she cannot pretend that I did not play my part
in the battle, as she bade me do. Did you see anything of her when
Jana charged, Baas, because I thought I did?"
"I seemed to see something, but no doubt it was only a fancy."
"A fancy? Explain to me, Baas, where truths end and fancies begin and
whether what we think are fancies are not sometimes the real truths.
Once or twice I have thought so of late, Baas."
I could not answer this riddle, so instead I gave him some water which
he asked for, and he continued:
"Baas, have you any messages for the two Shining ones, for her whose
name is holy and her sister, and for the child of her whose name is
holy, the Missie Marie, and for your reverend father, the Predikant?
If so, tell it quickly before my head grows too empty to hold the
I will confess, however foolish it may seem, that I gave him certain
messages, but what they were I shall not write down. Let them remain
secret between me and him. Yes, between me and him and perhaps those
to whom they were to be delivered. For after all, in his own words,
who can know exactly where fancies end and truth begin, and whether at
times fancies are not the veritable truths in this universal mystery
of which the individual life of each of us is so small a part?
Hans repeated what I had spoken to him word for word, as a native
does, repeated it twice over, after which he said he knew it by heart
and remained silent for a long while. Then he asked me to lift him up
in the doorway of the cell so that he might look at the sun setting
for the last time, "for, Baas," he added, "I think I am going far
beyond the sun."
He stared at it for a while, remarking that from the look of the sky
there should be fine weather coming, "which will be good for your
journey towards the Black Water, Baas, with all that ivory to carry."
I answered that perhaps I should never get the ivory from the
graveyard of the elephants, as the Black Kendah might prevent this.
"No, no, Baas," he replied, "now that Jana is dead the Black Kendah
will go away. I know it, I know it!"
Then he wandered for a space, speaking of sundry adventures we had
shared together, till quite before the last indeed, when his mind
returned to him.
"Baas," he said, "did not the captain Mavovo name me Light-in-
Darkness, and is not that my name? When you too enter the Darkness,
look for that Light; it will be shining very close to you."
He only spoke once more. His words were:
"Baas, I understand now what your reverend father, the Predikant,
meant when he spoke to me about Love last night. It had nothing to do
with women, Baas, at least not much. It was something a great deal
bigger, Baas, something as big as what I feel for you!"
Then Hans died with a smile on his wrinkled face.
There is not much more to write of this expedition, or if that
statement be not strictly true, not much more that I wish to write,
though I have no doubt that Ragnall, if he had a mind that way, could
make a good and valuable book concerning many matters on which,
confining myself to the history of our adventure, I have scarcely
touched. All the affinities between this Central African Worship of
the Heavenly Child and its Guardian and that of Horus and Isis in
Egypt from which it was undoubtedly descended, for instance. Also the
part which the great serpent played therein, as it may be seen playing
a part in every tomb upon the Nile, and indeed plays a part in our own
and other religions. Further, our journey across the desert to the Red
Sea was very interesting, but I am tired of describing journeys--and
of making them.
The truth is that after the death of Hans, like to Queen Sheba when
she had surveyed the wonders of Solomon's court, there was no more
spirit in me. For quite a long while I did not seem to care at all
what happened to me or to anybody else. We buried him in a place of
honour, exactly where he shot Jana before the gateway of the second
court, and when the earth was thrown over his little yellow face I
felt as though half my past had departed with him into that hole. Poor
drunken old Hans, where in the world shall I find such another man as
you were? Where in the world shall I find so much love as filled the
cup of that strange heart of yours?
I dare say it is a form of selfishness, but what every man desires is
something that cares for him /alone/, which is just why we are so fond
of dogs. Now Hans was a dog with a human brain and he cared for me
alone. Often our vanity makes us think that this has happened to some
of us in the instance of one or more women. But honest and quiet
reflection may well cause us to doubt the truth of such supposings.
The woman who as we believed adored us solely has probably in the
course of her career adored others, or at any rate other things.
To take but one instance, that of Mameena, the Zulu lady whom Hans
thought he saw in the Shades. She, I believe, did me the honour to be
very fond of me, but I am convinced that she was fonder still of her
ambition. Now Hans never cared for any living creature, or for any
human hope or object, as he cared for me. There was no man or woman
whom he would not have cheated, or even murdered for my sake. There
was no earthly advantage, down to that of life itself, that he would
not, and in the end did not forgo for my sake; witness the case of his
little fortune which he invested in my rotten gold mine and thought
nothing of losing--for my sake.
That is love /in excelsis/, and the man who has succeeded in inspiring
it in any creature, even in a low, bibulous, old Hottentot, may feel
proud indeed. At least I am proud and as the years go by the pride
increases, as the hope grows that somewhere in the quiet of that great
plain which he saw in his dream, I may find the light of Hans's love
burning like a beacon in the darkness, as he promised I should do, and
that it may guide and warm my shivering, new-born soul before I dare
the adventure of the Infinite.
Meanwhile, since the sublime and the ridiculous are so very near akin,
I often wonder how he and Mameena settled that question of her right
to the royal salute. Perhaps I shall learn one day--indeed already I
have had a hint of it. If so, even in the blaze of a new and universal
Truth, I am certain that their stories will differ wildly.
Hans was quite right about the Black Kendah. They cleared out,
probably in search of food, where I do not know and I do not care,
though whether this were a temporary or permanent move on their part
remains, and so far as I am concerned is likely to remain, veiled in
obscurity. They were great blackguards, though extraordinarily fine
soldiers, and what became of them is a matter of complete indifference
to me. One thing is certain, however, a very large percentage of them
never migrated at all, for something over three thousand of their
bodies did our people have to bury in the pass and about the temple, a
purpose for which all the pits and trenches we had dug came in very
useful. Our loss, by the way, was five hundred and three, including
those who died of wounds. It was a great fight and, except for those
who perished in the pitfalls during the first rush, all practically
hand to hand.
Jana we interred where he fell because we could not move him, within a
few feet of the body of his slayer Hans. I have always regretted that
I did not take the exact measurements of this brute, as I believe the
record elephant of the world, but I had no time to do so and no rule
or tape at hand. I only saw him for a minute on the following morning,
just as he was being tumbled into a huge hole, together with the
remains of his master, Simba the King. I found, however, that the sole
wounds upon him, save some cuts and scratches from spears, were those
inflicted by Hans--namely, the loss of one eye, the puncture through
the skin over the heart made when he shot at him for the second time
with the little rifle Intombi, and two neat holes at the back of the
mouth through which the bullets from the elephant gun had driven
upwards to the base of the brain, causing his death from hęmorrhage on
I asked the White Kendah to give me his two enormous tusks,
unequalled, I suppose, in size and weight in Africa, although one was
deformed and broken. But they refused. These, I presume, they wished
to keep, together with the chains off his breast and trunk, as
mementoes of their victory over the god of their foes. At any rate
they hewed the former out with axes and removed the latter before
tumbling the carcass into the grave. From the worn-down state of the
teeth I concluded that this beast must have been extraordinarily old,
how old it is impossible to say.
That is all I have to tell of Jana. May he rest in peace, which
certainly he will not do if Hans dwells anywhere in his neighbourhood,
in the region which the old boy used to call that of the "fires that
do not go out." Because of my horrible failure in connection with this
beast, the very memory of which humiliates me, I do not like to think
of it more than I can help.
For the rest the White Kendah kept faith with us in every particular.
In a curious and semi-religious ceremony, at which I was not present,
Lady Ragnall was absolved from her high office of Guardian or Nurse to
a god whereof the symbol no longer existed, though I believe that the
priests collected the tiny fragments of ivory, or as many of them as
could be found, and preserved them in a jar in the sanctuary. After
this had been done women stripped the Nurse of her hallowed robes, of
the ancient origin of which, by the way, I believe that none of them,
except perhaps Harūt, had any idea, any more than they knew that the
Child represented the Egyptian Horus and his lady Guardian the moon-
goddess Isis. Then, dressed in some native garments, she was handed
over to Ragnall and thenceforth treated as a stranger-guest, like
ourselves, being allowed, however, to live with her husband in the
same house that she had occupied during all the period of her strange
captivity. Here they abode together, lost in the mutual bliss of this
wonderful reunion to which they had attained through so much bodily
and spiritual darkness and misery, until a month or so later we
started upon our journey across the mountains and the great desert
that lay beyond them.
Only once did I find any real opportunity of private conversation with
This happened after her husband had recovered from the hurts he
received in the battle, on an occasion when he was obliged to separate
from her for a day in order to attend to some matter in the Town of
the Child. I think it had to do with the rifles used in the battle,
which he had presented to the White Kendah. So, leaving me to look
after her, he went, unwillingly enough, who seemed to hate losing
sight of his wife even for an hour.
I took her for a walk in the wood, to that very point indeed on the
lip of the crater whence we had watched her play her part as priestess
at the Feast of the First-fruits. After we had stood there a while we
went down among the great cedars, trying to retrace the last part of
our march through the darkness of that anxious night, whereof now for
the first time I told her all the story.
Growing tired of scrambling among the fallen boughs, at length Lady
Ragnall sat down and said:
"Do you know, Mr. Quatermain, these are the first words we have really
had since that party at Ragnall before I was married, when, as you may
have forgotten, you took me in to dinner."
I replied that there was nothing I recollected much more clearly,
which was both true and the right thing to say, or so I supposed.
"Well," she said slowly, "you see that after all there was something
in those fancies of mine which at the time you thought would best be
dealt with by a doctor--about Africa and the rest, I mean."
"Yes, Lady Ragnall, though of course we should always remember that
coincidence accounts for many things. In any case they are done with
"Not quite, Mr. Quatermain, even as you mean, since we have still a
long way to go. Also in another sense I believe that they are but
"I do not understand, Lady Ragnall."
"Nor do I, but listen. You know that of anything which happened during
those months I have no memory at all, except of that one dream when I
seemed to see George and Savage in the hut. I remember my baby being
killed by that horrible circus elephant, just as the Ivory Child was
killed or rather destroyed by Jana, which I suppose is another of your
coincidences, Mr. Quatermain. After that I remember nothing until I
woke up and saw George standing in front of me covered with blood, and
you, and Jana dead, and the rest."
"Because during that time your mind was gone, Lady Ragnall."
"Yes, but where had it gone? I tell you, Mr. Quatermain, that although
I remember nothing of what was passing about me then, I do remember a
great deal of what seemed to be passing either long ago or in some
time to come, though I have said nothing of it to George, as I hope
you will not either. It might upset him."
"What do you remember?" I asked.
"That's the trouble; I can't tell you. What was once very clear to me
has for the most part become vague and formless. When my mind tries to
grasp it, it slips away. It was another life to this, quite a
different life; and there was a great story in it of which I think
what we have been going through is either a sequel or a prologue. I
see, or saw, cities and temples with people moving about them, George
and you among them, also that old priest, Harūt. You will laugh, but
my recollection is that you stood in some relationship to me, either
that of father or brother."
"Or perhaps a cousin," I suggested.
"Or perhaps a cousin," she repeated, smiling, "or a great friend; at
any rate something very intimate. As for George, I don't know what he
was, or Harūt either. But the odd thing is that little yellow man,
Hans, whom I only saw once living for a few minutes that I can
remember, comes more clearly back to my mind than any of you. He was a
dwarf, much stouter than when I saw him the other day, but very like.
I recall him curiously dressed with feathers and holding an ivory rod,
seated upon a stool at the feet of a great personage--a king, I think.
The king asked him questions, and everyone listened to his answers.
That is all, except that the scenes seemed to be flooded with
"Which is more than this place is. I think we had better be moving,
Lady Ragnall, or you will catch a chill under these damp cedars."
I said this because I did not wish to pursue the conversation. I
considered it too exciting under all her circumstances, especially as
I perceived that mystical look gathering on her face and in her
beautiful eyes, which I remembered noting before she was married.
She read my thoughts and answered with a laugh:
"Yes, it is damp; but you know I am very strong and damp will not hurt
me. For the rest you need not be afraid, Mr. Quatermain. I did not
lose my mind. It was taken from me by some power and sent to live
elsewhere. Now it has been given back and I do not think it will be
taken again in that way."
"Of course it won't," I exclaimed confidently. "Whoever dreamed of
such a thing?"
"/You/ did," she answered, looking me in the eyes. "Now before we go I
want to say one more thing. Harūt and the head priestess have made me
a present. They have given me a box full of that herb they called
tobacco, but of which I have discovered the real name is Taduki. It is
the same that they burned in the bowl when you and I saw visions at
Ragnall Castle, which visions, Mr. Quatermain, by another of your
coincidences, have since been translated into facts."
"I know. We saw you breathe that smoke again as priestess when you
uttered the prophecy as Oracle of the Child at the Feast of the First-
fruits. But what are you going to do with this stuff, Lady Ragnall? I
think you have had enough of visions just at present."
"So do I, though to tell you the truth I like them. I am going to keep
it and do nothing--as yet. Still, I want you always to remember one
thing--don't laugh at me"--here again she looked me in the eyes--"that
there is a time coming, some way off I think, when I and you--no one
else, Mr. Quatermain--will breathe that smoke again together and see
"No, no!" I replied, "I have given up tobacco of the Kendah variety;
it is too strong for me."
"Yes, yes!" she said, "for something that is stronger than the Kendah
tobacco will make you do it--when I wish."
"Did Harūt tell you that, Lady Ragnall?"
"I don't know," she answered confusedly. "I think the Ivory Child told
me; it used to talk to me often. You know that Child isn't really
destroyed. Like my reason that seemed to be lost, it has only gone
backwards or forwards where you and I shall see it again. You and I
and no others--unless it be the little yellow man. I repeat that I do
not know when that will be. Perhaps it is written in those rolls of
papyrus, which they have given me also, because they said they
belonged to me who am 'the first priestess and the last.' They told
me, however, or perhaps," she added, passing her hand across her
forehead, "it was the Child who told me, that I was not to attempt to
read them or have them read, until after a great change in my life.
What the change will be I do not know."
"And had better not inquire, Lady Ragnall, since in this world most
changes are for the worse."
"I agree, and shall not inquire. Now I have spoken to you like this
because I felt that I must do so. Also I want to thank you for all you
have done for me and George. Probably we shall not talk in such a way
again; as I am situated the opportunity will be lacking, even if the
wish is present. So once more I thank you from my heart. Until we meet
again--I mean really meet--good-bye," and she held her right hand to
me in such a fashion that I knew she meant me to kiss it.
This I did very reverently and we walked back to the temple almost in
That month of rest, or rather the last three weeks of it, since for
the first few days after the battle I was quite prostrate, I occupied
in various ways, amongst others in a journey with Harūt to Simba Town.
This we made after our spies had assured us that the Black Kendah were
really gone somewhere to the south-west, in which direction fertile
and unoccupied lands were said to exist about three hundred miles
away. It was with very strange feelings that I retraced our road and
looked once more upon that wind-bent tree still scored with the marks
of Jana's huge tusk, in the boughs of which Hans and I had taken
refuge from the monster's fury. Crossing the river, quite low now, I
travelled up the slope down which we raced for our lives and came to
the melancholy lake and the cemetery of dead elephants.
Here all was unchanged. There was the little mount worn by his feet,
on which Jana was wont to stand. There were the rocks behind which I
had tried to hide, and near to them some crushed human bones which I
knew to be those of the unfortunate Marūt. These we buried with due
reverence on the spot where he had fallen, I meanwhile thanking God
that my own bones were not being interred at their side, as but for
Hans would have been the case--if they were ever interred at all. All
about lay the skeletons of dead elephants, and from among these we
collected as much of the best ivory as we could carry, namely about
fifty camel loads. Of course there was much more, but a great deal of
the stuff had been exposed for so long to sun and weather that it was
Having sent this ivory back to the Town of the Child, which was being
rebuilt after a fashion, we went on to Simba Town through the forest,
dispatching pickets ahead of us to search and make sure that it was
empty. Empty it was indeed; never did I see such a place of
The Black Kendah had left it just as it stood, except for a pile of
corpses which lay around and over the altar in the market-place, where
the three poor camelmen were sacrificed to Jana, doubtless those of
wounded men who had died during or after the retreat. The doors of the
houses stood open, many domestic articles, such as great jars
resembling that which had been set over the head of the dead man whom
we were commanded to restore life, and other furniture lay about
because they could not be carried away. So did a great quantity of
spears and various weapons of war, whose owners being killed would
never want them again. Except a few starved dogs and jackals no living
creature remained in the town. It was in its own way as waste and even
more impressive than the graveyard of elephants by the lonely lake.
"The curse of the Child worked well," said Harūt to me grimly. "First,
the storm; the hunger; then the battle; and now the misery of flight
"It seems so," I answered. "Yet that curse, like others, came back to
roost, for if Jana is dead and his people fled, where are the Child
and many of its people? What will you do without your god, Harūt?"
"Repent us of our sins and wait till the Heavens send us another, as
doubtless they will in their own season," he replied very sadly.
I wonder whether they ever did and, if so, what form that new divinity
I slept, or rather did not sleep, that night in the same guest-house
in which Marūt and I had been imprisoned during our dreadful days of
fear, reconstructing in my mind every event connected with them. Once
more I saw the fires of sacrifice flaring upon the altar and heard the
roar of the dancing hail that proclaimed the ruin of the Black Kendah
as loudly as the trumpet of a destroying angel. Very glad was I when
the morning came at length and, having looked my last upon Simba Town,
I crossed the moats and set out homewards through the forest whereof
the stripped boughs also spoke of death, though in the spring these
would grow green again.
Ten days later we started from the Holy Mount, a caravan of about a
hundred camels, of which fifty were laden with the ivory and the rest
ridden by our escort under the command of Harūt and our three selves.
But there was an evil fate upon this ivory, as on everything else that
had to do with Jana. Some weeks later in the desert a great sandstorm
overtook us in which we barely escaped with our lives. At the height
of the storm the ivory-laden camels broke loose, flying before it.
Probably they fell and were buried beneath the sand; at any rate of
the fifty we only recovered ten.
Ragnall wished to pay me the value of the remaining loads, which ran
into thousands of pounds, but I would not take the money, saying it
was outside our bargain. Sometimes since then I have thought that I
was foolish, especially when on glancing at that codicil to his will
in after days, the same which he had given me before the battle, I
found that he had set me down for a legacy of £10,000. But in such
matters every man must follow his own instinct.
The White Kendah, an unemotional people especially now when they were
mourning for their lost god and their dead, watched us go without any
demonstration of affection, or even of farewell. Only those
priestesses who had attended upon the person of Lady Ragnall while she
played a divine part among them wept when they parted from her, and
uttered prayers that they might meet her again "in the presence of the
The pass through the great mountains proved hard to climb, as the
foothold for the camels was bad. But we managed it at last, most of
the way on foot, pausing a little while on their crest to look our
last for ever at the land which we had left, where the Mount of the
Child was still dimly visible. Then we descended their farther slope
and entered the northern desert.
Day after day and week after week we travelled across that endless
desert by a way known to Harūt on which water could be found, the only
living things in all its vastness, meeting with no accidents save that
of the sandstorm in which the ivory was lost. I was much alone during
that time, since Harūt spoke little and Ragnall and his wife were
wrapped up in each other.
At length, months later, we struck a little port on the Red Sea, of
which I forget the Arab name, a place as hot as the infernal regions.
Shortly afterwards, by great good luck, two trading vessels put in for
water, one bound for Aden, in which I embarked en route for Natal, and
the other for the port of Suez, whence Ragnall and his wife could
travel overland to Alexandria.
Our parting was so hurried at the last, as is often the way after long
fellowship, that beyond mutual thanks and good wishes we said little
to one another. I can see them now standing with their arms about each
other watching me disappear. Concerning their future there is so much
to tell that of it I shall say nothing; at any rate here and now,
except that Lady Ragnall was right. We did not part for the last time.
As I shook old Harūt's hand in farewell he told me that he was going
on to Egypt, and I asked him why.
"Perchance to look for another god, Lord Macumazana," he answered
gravely, "whom now there is no Jana to destroy. We may speak of that
matter if we should meet again."
Such are some of the things that I remember about this journey, but to
tell truth I paid little attention to them and many others.
For oh! my heart was sore because of Hans.
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