Legends of an Extraordinary Gentleman #2: An Allan Quatermain Omnibus: A Tale of Three Lions; The Holy Flower; Heu Heu
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by H. Rider Haggard
Category: Fantasy/Science Fiction
Description: Second Three Fantast-Adventures Of The Legendry Hunter/Hero! Allan Quatermain has a very personal encounter with a lion that threatens to end his career before it begins and he faces "Long Odds," against surviving in the first book in this blockbuster omnibus reprinting of the second three Quatermain adventures. Then the great hunter the natives call Macumazahn (He-Who-Watches-By-Night) must dare unholy magic and even deadlier assegais to enter a forbidden land in search of the woman known as the "Holy Flower," who may be an evil, ancient witch or who just might be a missing young English woman. In league with a group of friends Allan sets out to lift the curse of "Heu-Heu," the Monster-God from a thousand centuries past who rules over a terrified, cowering land, but discovers that, as always, he must brave the dangers of the Black Kloof and seek the counsel of its master, the all-knowing sorcerer Zikali whose awesome powers intimidate even fearless hunter Quatermain, and whose design he so often finds himself carrying out. Whether you learned to love Allan Quatermain through King Solomon's Mines or the movie, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, you will thrill to the exploits of Allan Quatermain as chronicled by H. Rider Haggard, who was at the top of his form when penning this trio of fantasy-adventure classics!
eBook Publisher: Renaissance E Books/PageTurner, 2006
eBookwise Release Date: June 2006
10 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [879 KB]
Reading time: 648-908 min.
I stared and stared, then was overcome with faintness and sat down upon the ground.
I see you laughing at me, young man [this was addressed to me, the recorder of the tale] who no doubt have already decided that this drawing was the work of some imaginative Bushman who had gone mad and set down upon the rock the hellish dream of a mind diseased. Of course, that was the conclusion I came to myself next morning, but at the time it did not strike me like that.
The place was lonesome and eerie, a horrible place with the pit full of bones near by; heavily silent also except for a distant hyena or jackal howling at the moon, and I had gone through some trials that day-the passage of the death-pit, for instance, which reminded me of the oubliettes in ancient Norman castles that I have read of down which prisoners were hurled to doom. Also, as you may have observed, even in your short career, moonlight differs from sunlight and we, or some of us, are much more affected by horrible things at night than we are by day. At any rate, I sat down because I felt faint and thought that I was going to be ill.
"What is it, Baas?" queried the observant Hans, still mocking. "If you want to be sick, Baas, please don't mind me, for I'll turn my back. I remember that I was sick myself when first I saw Heu-Heu-just there," he added reminiscently, pointing to a certain spot.
"Why do you call that thing 'Heu-Heu,' Hans?" I asked, trying to master the reflex action of my interior arrangements.
"Because that is his nice name, Baas, given him by his Mammie when he was little, perhaps."
(Here I nearly was sick, the idea of that creature with a mother almost finished me-like the sight and smell of a bit of fat bacon in a gale at sea.)
"How do you know that?" I gurgled.
"Because the Bushmen told me, Baas. They said that their fathers, a thousand years ago, knew this Heu-Heu far away, and that they left that part of the country because of him as they never slept well at night there, just like a Boer when another Boer comes and builds a house within six miles of him, Baas. I think they meant that they heard Heu-Heu when he talked, for they told me that their great-great-grandfathers could hear him doing it and beating his breast when he was miles away. But I daresay they lied, for I don't believe they really knew anything about Heu-Heu, or who painted his portrait on the rock, Baas."
"No," I answered, "nor do I. Well, Hans, I think I have had enough of your friend Heu-Heu for this evening, and should like to go back to bed."
"Yes, Baas, so should I, Baas. Still, take another good look at him before you leave. You don't see a picture like that every night, Baas, and you know you wanted to come."
Now I would have kicked Hans again, but luckily I remembered those nails in his pocket in time, so, after one lingering glance, I only rose and loftily motioned to him to lead on.
This was the last that I saw of the likeness of Heu-Heu or Beelzebub, or whoever the monster may have been. Somehow, although I intended to return to examine it more closely by the light of day, when morning came I thought that I would not risk another scramble over that ledge but would be satisfied with the memory of first impressions. These they say, are always the best-like first kisses, as Hans added when I explained this to him.
Not that I could forget Heu-Heu; on the contrary, it is not too much to say that this devilish creature haunted me. I could not dismiss that picture as some mere flight of distorted savage imagination. From a hundred characteristics I knew or thought I knew it, erroneously as I now believe, to be Bushmen's work and was certain that no Bushman, even if he had delirium tremens-not a complaint from which these people ever suffered, because they lacked the opportunity of doing so, could have evolved this monstrous creation out of his own soul-if a Bushman has a soul. No, Bushman or not, that artist was drawing something that he had seen, or thought that he had seen.
Of this there were several indications. Thus, on Heu-Heu's right arm the elbow joint was much swollen as though he had once suffered an injury there. Again, the claw of one of his horrible hands-the left, I think-was broken and divided at the point. Further, there was a wart or protuberance upon the brow, just beneath where the long iron-gray tufts of hair parted in the middle and hung down on each side of the demoniacal, womanish face. Now the painter must have remembered these blemishes and set them down faithfully, copying from some original, real or imagined. Certainly, I reflected, he would not have invented them.
Where, then, did he get his model? I have mentioned that I had heard rumours of creatures called Ngolokos, which I took it, if they existed at all, were peculiarly terrific apes of an unknown variety. Heu-Heu, then, might be a most distinguished and improved specimen of these apes. Yet that could scarcely be, for this beast was more man than monkey, notwithstanding his huge claws where the thumbs and big toes should be. Or perhaps I should say that he was more devil than either.
Another idea occurred to me: he might have been the god of these Bushmen, only I never heard that they had any god except their own stomaches. Afterwards I questioned Hans on this point but he replied that he did not know, as the Bushmen he lived with in the cave had never told him anything to that effect. It was true, however, that they did not go to the place where the picture was except through fear of enemies, and that when they did they would not look or speak about it more than they could help. Perhaps, he suggested with his usual shrewdness, Heu-Heu might be the god of some other people with whom the Bushmen had nothing to do.
Another question-when was this work executed? Owing to its sheltered position the colours were still fairly bright, but it must have been a long while ago. Hans said that the Bushmen told him that they did not know who painted it or what it represented, but that it was "old, old, old!" which might mean anything or nothing, since to a people without writing five or six generations become remote antiquity. One thing was certain, however, that another of the paintings in the cave was undoubtedly old, that of the Phoenicians raiding a kraal of which I have spoken, which can scarcely have been executed since the time of Christ. Of this I am sure, for I examined it carefully on the following morning and it was not more faded than that of the Monster. Further, in this picture a piece of the rock had scaled off just above the left knee, and I had noticed that the surface thus exposed seemed as much weathered as that of the surrounding rock outside the limits of the painting.
On the other hand, it must be remembered that the Phoenician picture was under cover, while that of Heu-Heu was exposed to the air and would therefore age more rapidly.
Well, all that night I dreamed of this horrid Heu-Heu, dreamed that he was alive and challenging me to fight him, dreamed that someone was calling to me to rescue her-it was certainly her-not him-from the power of the beast; dreamed that I did fight him and that he got me down and was about to twist my head off as he had done to the man in the picture, when something happened-I do not know what-and I woke up covered with perspiration and in a most pitiable fright.
Now at the time I visited this cave I was not far from the borders of Zululand on one of my trading expeditions, the wagon being laden with blankets, beads, iron pots, knives, hoes, and such other articles as the simple savage loves, or in those days loved to pay for in cattle. Before the storm overtook us, however, I was contemplating leaving the Zulus alone on this trip and trying to break new ground somewhere north of Pretoria among less sophisticated natives who might put a higher value on my wares. After seeing Heu-Heu, as it chanced, I changed my mind for two reasons. The first of these was that the lightning had killed my two best oxen and I thought that I could replace these without cash expenditure in Zululand, where debts were owing to me that I might collect in kind. The second was connected with that confounded and obsessing Heu-Heu. I felt convinced that only one man in the world could tell me about this monster, if, indeed, there were anything to tell, namely, old Zikali, the wizard of the Black Kloof, the Thing-that-should-never-have-been-born, as Chaka, the great Zulu king, named him.
I think that I have told you all about Zikali before, but in case I have not, I will say that he was the greatest witch doctor who ever lived in Zululand and the most terrible. No one knew when he was born, but undoubtedly he was very ancient and under his native name of "Opener-of-Roads" had been known and dreaded in the land for some generations. For many years, since my boyhood, indeed, he and I had been friends in a fashion, though of course I was aware that from the first he was using me for his own ends, as, indeed, became very clear before all was done and he had triumphed over and brought about the fall of the Zulu Royal House, which he hated.
However, Zikali, like a wise merchant, always paid those who served him with a generous hand, in one coin or another, as he paid those he hated. My coin was information, either historical or concerning the hidden secrets of the strange land of Africa, of which, for all our knowledge, we white men really understand so little. If any one could give information about the picture in the cave and its origin, it would be Zikali, and therefore to Zikali I would go. Curiosity about such matters, as perhaps you have guessed, was always one of my besetting sins.
We had great trouble in recovering our remaining fourteen oxen since some of them had wandered far to find cover from the storm. At last, however, they were found uninjured except for some bruises from the hailstones, for it is wonderful, if they are left alone, how cattle manage to protect themselves against the forces of nature. In Africa, however, they seldom take shelter beneath trees during a thunderstorm, as is their habit here in England, perhaps because, such tempests being so frequent, they have inherited from their progenitors an instinctive knowledge that lightning strikes trees and kills anything that happens to be underneath them. At least, that is my experience.
Well, we inspanned and trekked away from that remarkable cave. Many years afterwards, by the way, when Hans was dead, I tried to find it again and could not. I thought that I reached the same mountain slope in which it was, but I suppose that I must have been mistaken, since in that neighbourhood there are multitudes of such slopes and on the one that I identified I could discover no trace of the cave.
Perhaps this was because there had been a landslide and, with the funnel-like shaft in the mountain side down which the moonlight poured on to the picture of Heu-Heu, the orifice that, it will be remembered, was very small, had been covered up with rocks. Or it may be that I was searching the wrong slope, not having taken my bearings sufficiently when I visited the place at a time of tempest and hurry.
Further, I was pressed and, desiring to reach a certain outspan before night fell, could only give about an hour to the quest and when it failed was obliged to get on. Nor have I ever met any one who was acquainted with this cave, so I suppose that it must have been known to the Bushmen and Hans only, dead now all of them, which is a pity because of the wonderful paintings that it contains or contained.
You will remember I told you that just before the storm broke we were overtaken by a party of Kaffirs going to or returning from some feast. When we had gone about half a mile we found one of those Kaffirs again quite dead, but whether he (the body was that of a young man) had been killed by the lightning or by the hail, I was not sure. Evidently his companions were so frightened that they had left him where he lay, proposing, I suppose, to return and bury him later. So you will see that when it gave us shelter, this cave did us a good turn.
Now I will skip all the details of my trek into Zululand, which was as are other treks, only slower, because it was a hard job to get that heavily laden wagon along with but fourteen oxen. Once, indeed, we stuck in a river, the White Umfolozi, quite near to the Nongela Rock or Cliff which frowns above a pool of the river. I shall never forget that accident because it caused me to be the unwilling witness of a very dreadful sight.
Whilst we were fast in the drift a party of men appeared upon the brow of this Nongela Rock, about two hundred and fifty yards away, dragging with them two young women. Studying them through my glasses, I came to the conclusion from the way they moved their heads and stared wildly about them, that these young women were blind or had been blinded. As I looked at them, wondering what to do, the men seized the women by the arms and hurled them over the edge of the cliff. With a piteous wail the poor creatures rolled down the stratified rock into the deep pool below and there the crocodiles got them, for distinctly I saw the rush of the reptiles. Indeed, in this pool they were always on the look-out, as it was a favourite place of execution under the Zulu kings.
When their horrible business was finished the party of "slayers"--there were about fifteen of them-came down to the ford to interview us. At first I thought there might be trouble, and to tell the truth, should not have been sorry, for the sight of this butchery had made me furious and reckless. As soon as they found out, however, that the wagon belonged to me, Macumazahn, they were all amiability, and wading into the water, tackled on to the wheels, with the result that by their help we came safe to the farther bank.
There I asked their leader who the two murdered girls might be. He replied that they were the daughters of Panda, the King. I did not question this statement although, knowing Panda's kindly character, I doubted very much whether they were actually his children. Then I asked why they were blind, and what crime they had committed. The captain replied that they had been blinded by the order of Prince Cetywayo, who even then was the real ruler of Zululand, because "they had looked where they should not."
Further inquiry elicited the fact that these unhappy girls had fallen in love with two young men, and run away with them against the King's orders, or Cetywayo's, which was the same thing. The party were overtaken before they could reach the Natal border, where they would have been safe; the young men were killed at once and the girls brought up for judgment, with the result that I have described. Such was the end of their honeymoon!
Moreover, the captain informed me cheerfully that a body of soldiers had been sent out to kill the fathers and mothers of the young men and all who could be found in their kraals. This kind of free love must be put a stop to, he said, as there had been too much of it going on; indeed, he did not know what had come to the young people in Zululand, who had grown very independent of late, contaminated, no doubt, by the example of the Zulus in Natal, where the white men allowed them to do what they liked without punishment.
Then with a sigh over the degeneracy of the times, this crusted old conservative took a pinch of snuff, bade me a hearty farewell, and departed, singing a little song which I think he must have invented, as it was about the love of children for their parents. If it had been safe I should have liked to let him have a charge of shot behind to take away as a souvenir, but it was not. Also, after all, he was but an executive officer, a product of the iron system of Zululand in the day of the kings.
Well, I trekked on, trading as I went, and getting paid in cows and heifers, which I sent back to Natal, but could come by no oxen that were fit for the yoke, and much less any that had been broken in, since in those days such were almost unknown in Zululand. However, I did hear of some that had been left behind by a white trader because they were sick or footsore, I forget which, who took young cattle in exchange for them. These were said now to be fat again, but no one seemed to know exactly where they were. One friendly chief told me, however, that the "Opener-of-Roads," that is, old Zikali, might be able to do so, as he knew everything and the oxen had been traded away in his district.
Now by this time, although I was still obsessed about Heu-Heu, I had almost made up my mind to abandon the idea of visiting Zikali on this trip, because I had noticed that whenever I did so, always I became involved in arduous and unpleasant adventures as an immediate consequence. Being, however, badly in need of more oxen, for, not to mention the two that were dead, others of my team seemed never to have recovered from the effects of the hailstorm and one or two showed signs of sickness, this news caused me to revert to my original plan. So after consultation with Hans, who also thought it the best thing to be done, I headed for the Black Kloof, which was only two short days' trek away.
Arriving at the mouth of that hateful and forbidding gulf on the afternoon of the second day, I outspanned by the spring and, leaving the cattle in charge of Mavoon and Induka, walked up it accompanied by Hans.
The place, of course, was just as it had always been, and yet, as it ever did, struck me with a fresh sense of novelty and amazement. In all Africa I scarcely know a gorge that is so eerie and depressing. Those towering cliffsides that look as though they are about to fall in upon the traveller, the stunted, melancholy aloe plants which grow among the rocks; the pale vegetation; the jackals and hyaenas that start away at the sound of voices or echoing footsteps; the dense dark shadows; the whispering winds that seem to wail about one even when the air is still over-head, draughts, I suppose, that are drawing backwards and forwards through the gulley; all of these are peculiar to it. The ancients used to declare that particular localities had their own genii or spirits, but whether these were believed to be evolved by the locality or to come thither because it suited their character and nature, I do not know.
In the Black Kloof and some other spots to which I have wandered, I have often thought of this fable and almost found myself accepting it as true. But, then, what kind of a spirit would it be that chose to inhabit this dreadful gorge? I think some embodiment-no, that word is a contradiction-some impalpable essence of Tragedy, some doomed soul whereof the head was bowed and the wings were leaded with a weight of ineffable and unrepented crime.
Well, what need was there to fly to fable and imagine such an invisible inhabitant when Zikali, the Thing-that-should-never-have-been-born, was, and for uncounted years had been, the Dweller in this tomb-like gulf? Surely he was Tragedy personified, and that hoary head of his was crowned with ineffable and unrepented crime. How many had this hideous dwarf brought down to doom and how many were yet destined to perish in the snares that year by year he wove for them? And yet this sinner had been sinned against and did but pay back his sufferings in kind, he whose wives and children had been murdered and whose tribe had been stamped flat beneath the cruel feet of Chaka, whose House he hated and lived on to destroy. Even for Zikali allowances could be made; he was not altogether bad. Is any man altogether bad, I wonder.
Musing thus, I tramped on up the gorge, followed by the dejected Hans, whom the place always depressed, even more than it did myself.
"Baas," he said presently, in a hollow whisper, for here he did not dare to speak aloud, "Baas, do you think that the Opener-of-Roads was once Heu-Heu himself who has now shrunk to a dwarf with age, or at any rate, that Heu-Heu's spirit lives in him?"
"No, I don't," I answered, "for he has fingers and toes like the rest of us, but I do think that if there is any Heu-Heu he may be able to tell us where to find him."
"Then, Baas, I hope that he has forgotten, or that Heu-Heu has gone to heaven where the fires go on burning of themselves without the need for wood. For, Baas, I do not want to meet Heu-Heu; the thought of him turns my stomach cold."
"No, you would rather go to Durban and meet a gin bottle that would turn your stomach warm, Hans, and your head, too, and land you in the Trunk for seven days," I replied, improving the occasion.
Then we turned the corner and came upon Zikali's kraal. As usual, I appeared to be expected, for one of his great silent body servants was waiting, who saluted me with uplifted spear. I suppose that Zikali must have had a look-out man stationed somewhere who watched the plain beneath and told him who was approaching. Or possibly he had other methods of obtaining information. At any rate, he always knew of my advent and often enough why I came and whence, as, indeed, he did on this occasion.
"The Father of Spirits awaits you, Lord Macumazahn," said the body servant. "He bids the little yellow man who is named Light-in-Darkness, to accompany you and will see you at once."
I nodded and the man led me to the gate of the fence that surrounded Zikali's great hut, on which he tapped with the handle of his spear. It was opened, by whom I did not see, and we entered, whereon someone slipped out of the shadows and closed the gate behind us, then vanished. There in front of the door of his hut, with a fire burning before him, crouched the dwarf wrapped in a fur kaross, his huge head, on either side of which the gray locks fell down much as they did in the picture of Heu-Heu, bent forward, and the light of the fire into which he was staring shining in his cavernous eyes. We advanced across the shiny beaten floor of the courtyard and stood in front of him, but for half a minute or more he took no notice of our presence. At length, without looking up, he spoke in that hollow, resounding voice which was unlike to any other I ever heard, saying:
"Why do you always come so late, Macumazahn, when the sun is off the hut and it grows cold in the shadows? You know I hate the cold, as the aged always do, and I was minded not to receive you."
"Because I could not get here before, Zikali," I answered.
"Then you might have waited until to-morrow morning unless, perhaps, you thought that I should die in the night, which I shall not do. No, nor for many nights. Well, here you are, little white Wanderer who hops from place to place like a flea."
"Yes, here I am," I replied, nettled, "to visit you who do not wander but sit in one spot like a toad in a stone, Zikali."
"Ho, ho, ho!" he laughed-that wonderful laugh of his which echoed from the rocks and always made me feel cold down the back, "Ho, ho, ho! how easy it is to make you angry. Keep your temper, Macumazahn, lest it should run away with you as your oxen did before the storm in the mountains the other day. What do you want? You only come here when you want something from him whom once you named the Old Cheat. So I don't wander, don't I, but sit like a toad in a stone? How do you know that? Is it only the body that wanders? Cannot the spirit wander also, far, oh, far, even to the 'Heaven Above' sometimes, and perhaps to that land which is under the earth, the place where they say the dead are to be found again? Well, what do you want? Stay, and I will tell you, who explain yourself so badly, who, although you think that you speak Zulu like a native, have never really learned it properly because to do that you must think in it and not in your own stupid tongue, that has no words for many things. Man, my medicines."
A figure darted out of the hut, set down a cat-skin bag before him, and was gone again. Zikali plunged his claw-like hand into the bag and drew out a number of knuckle bones, polished, but yellow with age, which he threw carelessly on to the ground in front of him, then glanced at them.
"Ha," he said, "something about cattle, I see; yes, you want to get oxen, broken oxen, not wild ones, and think that I can tell you where to do it cheap. By the way, what present have you brought for me? Is it a pound of your white man's snuff?" (As a matter of fact, it was a quarter of a pound.) "Now am I right about the oxen?"
"Yes," I replied, rather amazed.
"That astonishes you. It is wonderful, isn't it, that the poor Old Cheat should know what you want? Well, I'll tell you how it is done. You lost two oxen by lightning, did you not? You therefore, naturally would want others, especially as some of those which remain"-here he glanced at the bones once more-"were hurt, yes, by hailstones, very large hailstones, and others are showing signs of sickness, red-water, I think. Therefore, it isn't strange that the poor Old Cheat should guess that you needed oxen, is it? Only a silly Zulu would put such a thing down to magic. About the snuff, too, which I see you have taken from your pocket-a very little parcel, by the way. You've brought me snuff before, haven't you? Therefore, it isn't strange that I should guess that you would do so again, is it? No magic there."
"None, Zikali, but how did you learn of the lightning killing the cattle and of the hailstorm?"
"How did I learn that the lightning killed your pole-oxen, Kaptein and Deutchmann? Why, are you not a very great man in whom all are interested, and is it wonderful that I should be told of accidents that happen a hundred miles or so away? You met a party going to a wedding, did you not, just before the storm, and found one of them dead afterwards? By the way, he wasn't killed either by lightning or by hail. The flash fell near and stunned him, but really he died of the cold during the night. I thought that you might like to know that, as you are curious on the point. Of course, those Kaffirs would have told me about it, would they not? No magic, again you see. That's how we poor witch doctors gain repute, just by keeping our eyes and ears open. When you are old you might set up in the trade yourself, Macumazahn, since you do the same thing, even at night, they say."
Now while he went on mocking me he had gathered up the bones out of the dust and suddenly threw them again with a curious spiral twist that caused them to fall in a little heap, perched on one another. He looked at them, and said,
"Why, what do these silly things remind me of? They are some of the tools of my trade, you know, Macumazahn, used to impress the fools that come to see us witch doctors, who think that they will tell us secrets, and to take off their attention while we read their hearts. Somehow or other they remind me of rocks piled one on another as on a mountain slope, and look! there is a hollow in the middle like the mouth of a cave.
"Did you chance to take refuge from that storm in a cave, Macumazahn? Oh, you did! Well, see how cleverly I guessed it. No magic there again, only just a guess. Isn't it likely that you would go to a cave to escape from such a tempest, leaving the wagon outside? Look at that bone there, lying a little distance off the others, that's what made me think of the wagon being outside. But the question is, what did you see in the cave? Anything out of the way, I wonder? The bones can't tell me that, can they? I must guess that somehow else, mustn't I? Well, I'll try to do so, just to give you, the wise white man, another lesson in the manner that we poor rascals of witch doctors do our work and take in fools. But won't you tell me, Macumazahn?"
"No, I won't," I answered crossly, who knew that the old dwarf was making a butt of me.
"Then I suppose that I must try to discover for myself, but how, how? Come here, you little yellow monkey of a man, and sit between me and the fire so that its light shines through you, for then perchance I may be able to see something of what is going on in that thick head of yours, Light-in-Darkness, as you are called, and get some light in my darkness."
Hans advanced unwillingly enough and squatted down at the spot that Zikali indicated with his bony finger, being very careful that none of the magic bones should touch any portion of his anatomy, for fear lest they should bewitch him, I suppose. There he sat, holding his ragged felt hat upon the pit of his stomach as though to ward off the gimlet-like glances of Zikali's burning eyes.
"Ho-ho! Yellow Man," said the dwarf after a few seconds of inspection, which caused Hans to wriggle uncomfortably and even to colour beneath his wrinkled skin, like a young woman being studied by her prospective husband, who desires to ascertain whether she will or will not do for a fifth wife. "Ho-ho! it seems to me that you knew this cave before you went there in the storm, but of course I should guess that, for how otherwise would you have found it in such a hurry; also that it had something to do with Bushmen, as most caves have in this land.
"The question is, what was in it? No, don't tell me. I want to find out for myself. It is strange that the thought comes to me of pictures. No, it isn't strange, since the Bushmen often used to paint pictures in caves. Now, you shouldn't nod your head, Yellow Man, because it makes the riddle too easy. Just stare at me and think of nothing at all. Pictures, lots of them, but one principal picture, I think; something that was difficult to come at. Yes, dangerous, even. Was it perchance a picture of yourself that a Bushman drew long ago when you were young and handsome, Yellow Man?
"There, again you are shaking your head. Keep it quite still, will you, so that the thoughts in it don't ripple like water beneath a wind. At least it was a picture of something hideous, but much bigger than you. Ah! it grows and grows. I am getting it now. Macumazahn, come and stand by me, and you, Yellow Man, turn your back so that you face the fire. Bah! it burns badly, does it not, and the air is so cold, so cold! I must make it brighter.
"Are you there, Macumazahn? Yes. Now look at this stuff of mine; see what a fine blaze it causes," and putting his hand into the bag, he drew out some kind of powder, only a little of it, which he threw on to the embers. Then he stretched his skinny fingers over them as though for warmth, and slowly lifted his arms high into the air. It is a fact that after him the flames sprang up to a height of three or four feet. He dropped his arms again and the flames sank down. He lifted them once more and once more they rose, only this time much higher. A third time he repeated this performance, and now the sheet of flame sprang fully fifteen feet into the air and so remained burning steadily, like the flame of a lamp.
"Look at that fire, Macumazahn, and you also, Yellow Man," he said, in a strange new voice, a sort of dreamy far-off voice, "and tell me if you see anything in it, for I can't-I can't."
I looked, and for a moment perceived nothing. Then some shape began to grow upon the blazing background. It wavered; it changed; it became fixed and definite, yes, clear and real. There before me, etched in flame, I saw Heu-Heu-Heu-Heu as he had been in the painting on the cave wall, only, as it seemed to me, alive, for his eyes blinked-Heu-Heu, looking like a devil in hell. I gasped but stood firm. As for Hans, he ejaculated in his vile Dutch,
"Allemaghte! Da is die leeliker auld deil!" (that is, "Almighty! There is the ugly old devil!") and having said this, rolled over on to his back and lay still, frozen with terror.
"Ho, ho, ho!" laughed Zikali. "Ho, ho, ho!" and from a dozen places the walls of the kloof echoed back, "Ho, ho, ho!"