King Solomon's Mines is Allan Quatermain's account of his quest through a dangerous, unknown area of Africa, accompanied by Sir Henry Curtis and Captain John Good. Sir Henry retains Allan Quatermain to guide their expedition to find Sir Henry's lost brother, who had disappeared into the jungle to discover the legendary diamond mines of King Solomon. Following an ancient map, the adventurers set out from Durban, South Africa, and travel into the previously unexplored wilderness. For months they travel through the African bush, cross a great desert, where they almost die of thirst, and climb the snowy mountains known as "Sheba's Breasts," where they barely escape freezing to death. Eventually, they arrive in fertile Kukuanaland, where they help restore a native king to his rightful throne and discover both the legendary diamond mines and Sir Henry's lost brother.
Three times this was repeated, and each time the earth shook with the noise, that can only be compared to the deepest notes of thunder.
From the moment Quatermain meets his fellow adventurers, the action becomes increasingly fast-paced. The farther they venture from the white man's civilization, the more fantastic their adventures become. By the time Quatermain tells of his return to England at the end of the story, the reader has encountered some of the most compelling characters and fantastic adventures to be found in young adult fiction. King Solomon's Mines is indeed the...
(The entire section is 333 words.)
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Chapter 1 Summary
Allan Quatermain, a hunter and trader now more than sixty years of age, recently has made a great deal of money through his adventures. Although he is no writer, he decides to tell his story at the request of his two companions, Sir Henry Curtis and Captain John Good.
Since he is laid up with a bad leg from the bite of a lion, he decides he might as well take them up on it. Also his son Harry, who is in London studying to become a physician, would be amused by his father’s adventures as a means of passing the time away from his studies. But most importantly, Quatermain has the strangest story to tell, even though there are no women in it.
Quatermain relates that he was born a gentleman but has been nothing but a traveling trader and hunter all his life. Although he has killed many men, none of them have been of innocent blood.
Eighteen months previously, he had been hunting elephant but had run into a lot of bad luck. He decides to return to his home in Natal by boat. He sees another passenger, who is about thirty with blond hair, reminding him of an ancient Dane. He is talking to a stout, dark man who Quatermain immediately decides must be a naval officer, which indeed he turns out to be.
After the boat gets underway, the dark man complains to Quatermain that the pendulum near the engines was not properly weighted. He introduces himself as Captain John Good, a retired naval officer as Quatermain had guessed he must be. Captain Good and Quatermain dine together, meeting Sir Henry Curtis at a nearby table. As the captain and Quatermain talk, Sir Henry interrupts and asks if he is indeed Allan Quatermain, the hunter. When Quatermain assures him that he is, Sir Henry mumbles that it is “fortunate.”
After dinner, Sir Henry invites Quatermain and Captain Good to his quarters. Sir Henry seems to know of Quatermain’s recent travels, asking him if he met a man called Neville. When Quatermain explains that he met him heading into the interior of the continent, Sir Henry explains that Neville is really his brother George. They had had a quarrel, followed by their father’s death.
Sir Henry wants to find his lost brother, from whom nothing has been heard for a long time, because George, who has no...
(The entire section is 444 words.)
Chapter 2 Summary
Sir Henry asks Quatermain what he has heard about his brother’s journey. Quatermain replies that he heard that the man he knew as Neville was heading toward King Solomon’s Mines.
Sir Henry and Captain Good are shocked to hear of this legendary spot and ask where they are. Quatermain says that he saw the peaks of the mountains that border them, but there was more a hundred of miles of desert blocking him, so he did not dare to cross.
Quatermain tells his two new acquaintances of an old elephant hunter named Evans who first told him about the mines. He said that the Suliman Mountains are simply a corruption for the name “Solomon Mountains.” There a race of great wizards lived who had the secret of a mine of “bright stones.”
Evans died a year later, so Quatermain did not think of the mines for another twenty years. Then one day, as he was recovering from fever, a Portuguese man by the name of José Silvestre told him he was taking off on a journey that would make him the richest man in the world and promised to remember Quatermain.
A week passed, and Silvestre returned in an emaciated and starving condition. Quatermain tried to take care of him, but the man was clearly dying. Silvestre pointed off to the Suliman Mountains and told Quatermain that the mines were there.
He gave Quatermain an old map and letter that an ancestor of his passed down through the generations. The letter gave directions for reaching King Solomon’s Mines, which are guarded by Gagool the witch-finder. The explorer must kill Gagool before the treasure can be his. Silvestre soon died, and Quatermain buried him but kept the letter and the map.
Quatermain then answers Sir Henry’s question about his brother. Mr. Neville, as he still refers to him, was attended by a native Bechuana by the name of Jim. Jim tells Quatermain that he is soon leaving with Neville to go after the diamonds at “Suliman’s Berg,” or Solomon’s Mountain.
Quatermain objects that he has heard about the mines but believes that it is a foolish story. Jim disagrees, saying that he once knew a woman who came from there. As Neville leaves, Jim bids Quatermain good-bye since it is doubtful that he will ever return....
(The entire section is 467 words.)
Chapter 3 Summary
Allan Quatermain does not make up his mind about joining the adventure until they reach the port of Durban. As the three men wait to leave the boat, Quatermain announces that he agrees to guide them to the Suliman Mountains on three conditions: one, that he will receive half of all treasure recovered; two, that he will receive five hundred pounds before the trip begins; and three, that should he die, his son Harry will receive an annuity of two hundred pounds for five years.
Sir Henry readily agrees to these conditions, saying that he gladly would give more. Quatermain wishes that he had asked for more, but he will not go back on his word now. He warns Sir Henry and Captain Good that he doubts that they will survive this adventure because no white man has lived to tell the tale in more than three hundred years. He says that he is taking the chance because he believes that God will take him when his time to die has come. Also, he is a poor man and he would like a treasure to leave his son wealthy.
Sir Henry commends Quatermain for his courage, agreeing with the fatalistic attitude that the elephant hunter bears. They drink to seal their bargain.
The following day they go ashore, and Quatermain leads the two men to his shanty, although it is small and humble. They pitch a tent in the garden and sleep there. Quatermain begins to buy supplies, especially a wagon and oxen to carry them and their belongings to the mountains in the north.
A driver, a leader, and two servants are also hired, but a third servant is needed. Quatermain despairs of finding one fit for the journey, when a lighter skinned Zulu approaches him. Quatermain thinks he looks familiar and learns that they encountered each other in the Zulu war.
The Zulu’s name is Umbopa and he is a member of a distant branch of the traditionally dark-skinned Zulu tribe. Umbopa’s people had remained in the north when the Zulus migrated south many centuries ago. Now he wants to join Quatermain and his company, desiring to return to his home in the north.
Quatermain is concerned that Umbopa knew of his trip, even though he had tried to keep it a secret. He presents the Zulu to Sir Henry and Captain Good, who decide that he will be a worthy addition to their company, with Sir Henry...
(The entire section is 429 words.)
Chapter 4 Summary
Quatermain, Sir Henry, and Captain Good, along with their servants, leave Durban in January on a journey that extends a thousand miles, the last three hundred having to be made on foot.
In May, the party stops at Sitanda’s Kraal, where they camp. At Inyati, they leave their wagon with a missionary, along with the twelve remaining oxen. Eight of the oxen had died on the way. Goza and Tom, the driver and leader, remain to take care of them. Hiring a half a dozen bearers, Quatermain leads the group off into the wilderness.
After two weeks, they come into a region inhabited by elephants. They also spot a herd of giraffes. Captain Good takes aim and hits one in the neck, severing its spinal chord. They feast that night on giraffe steaks. For their safety, the men build a "scherm," a protected area surrounded by thorn bushes.
As they eat, the men hear the sounds of a lion at a nearby pool, following by the trumpeting of an elephant. Captain Good jumps up, ready to shoot more game. Sir Henry decides that they should stay at this spot for a few days to do some hunting. This surprises Quatermain because Sir Henry always had been the one to push them forward, especially since they had heard at Inyati that a white man named Neville sold his wagon there two years previously.
As they prepare for the night, the men hear sounds of a scuffling at the nearby watering hole. Rushing in that direction, they see the body of a lion impaled on the horns of a dead antelope. Quatermain surmises that the lion had jumped on the antelope and become caught on the horns. He continued to inflict damage to his prey until the antelope and the lion both died.
Quatermain orders the Kafirs, his bearers, to take the bodies back to the camp and skin them the next day. In the morning Quatermain, Sir Henry, and Captain Good, accompanied by Umbopa and Khiva (another of the servants), track down more of the elephants. They kill several before the herd manages to escape.
Captain Good refuses to dress appropriately for the bush, insisting on wearing ceremonial clothing. When an elephant comes running down the path, Good trips on his loose trousers, falling in front of the elephant. Khiva jumps in front of the marauding beast, which seizes him and hurls him to the ground. Stepping on Khiva’s middle, the elephant grabs Khiva’s upper...
(The entire section is 447 words.)
Chapter 5 Summary
After killing nine elephants, Quatermain and his companions spend two days cutting out the valuable tusks, which they bury under a tall tree. They bury Khiva in an ant-bear hole, providing him with a spear for his journey to the next world.
They then face the next stage of their journey, which is the desert that lies before the Suliman Mountains. They are at the spot where Quatermain had met Silvestre following the Portuguese’s return from King Solomon’s Mines.
Umbopa speaks to Sir Henry as an equal, which angers Quatermain, who thinks that it is not decent for a native to speak to a white man familiarly. Umbopa warns Sir Henry that the way is hard, but Sir Henry assures him that he must go to find his brother. Umbopa vows to accompany Sir Henry to the mountains, even if he should die on the way. He cryptically says that he too seeks a brother over the mountains.
Quatermain views the native with suspicion, thinking that he knows too much. Umbopa assures him that there is no need to fear him, that he has not set any traps for him. He promises that if they cross the mountains, he will tell what he knows. He walks off, and the white men discuss how odd he is.
Since the journey across the desert will be difficult and tortuous, they leave many of their weapons behind in the care of a native at a nearby kraal. Quatermain warns him that if he touches the guns, he will curse him.
The native tests him on this and touches one of the guns. It fires, killing one of his oxen. He demands that Quatermain pay him for the lost cattle. Quatermain threatens him further that even if he dies he will return to haunt him.
Quatermain persuades three of the natives to join them as water bearers, offering them a good hunting knife in payment. When night comes, the party sets off across the desert. In the dark, there are many sounds which frighten even the natives. Captain Good walks off an embankment into a herd of quagga, a type of zebra, landing astride one of them. The quagga take off, including the one which Good rides, although he soon falls off.
The party keeps on, stopping to dig a pit in which they unsuccessfully take refuge from the brutal heat. As they lie down to sleep, Quatermain hears Umbopa mutter that if they do not soon find water, they will be...
(The entire section is 424 words.)
Chapter 6 Summary
Allan Quatermain awakens, dreaming that he was bathing in a running stream. When he becomes aware of his surroundings, he remembers Umbopa’s warning that they would die that day if they did not find water.
Dawn is breaking, so he pulls out a book of poems to read, but the subject of water in the poem is torture. When his companions wake up, they discuss their need for water. Captain Good starts to drink some of the brandy, but Sir Henry stops him, telling him that alcohol in his dehydrated state would finish him off.
The other servant, a Hottentot named Ventvogel, examines the ground and finds signs of a springbok, which do not go far from water. Ventvogel then says that he smells water and heads off in search of it. Before them, about forty or fifty miles in front of them, are Sheba’s Breasts, where a cave leading to the mines is supposed to be.
The group climbs up into the hills and finds a pool at the top. Quatermain surmises that there must be an underground spring feeding the hilltop water source. They refresh themselves and bathe in the pool, and once again climb up Sheba’s left Breast. They find some melons that provide liquid as well as food. Quatermain shoots a bird, providing them with some much-needed fresh meat.
The group continues to climb during the cool of the night, anxious that they will soon run out of food. They had escaped from dying of thirst but now they face the possibility of dying from hunger.
Ventvogel, unused to the high altitude, is suffering greatly from the cold. At last they see the cave near the top of the mountain. They enter the cave and huddle to get warm, drinking the last of the brandy. However, the temperature is several degrees below the freezing point, and they are unable to sleep. This is fortunate, speculates Quatermain, because they would freeze to death if they were to fall asleep.
Not long before dawn, Quatermain hears Ventvogel’s teeth chattering. Soon they stop, and Quatermain thinks nothing more about it. In the morning they find that Venvogel has frozen to death.
The men look toward the mouth of the cavern and see someone sitting there. When they approach, they find that it is the body of a white man. They race out of the cave in fear, not bothering to examine the corpse any more closely.
(The entire section is 411 words.)
Chapter 7 Summary
Sir Henry determines that the body of the white man is not his brother. Quatermain realizes that it is Dom Jose da Silvestra, the man who made the map he is carrying. The bone pen he used is by his side, and the wound in his left arm is evidently where he drew the blood he used for ink.They set Ventvogel’s body next to him. Sir Henry takes the crucifix that hangs around Silvestra’s neck while Quatermain takes the bone pen.
Leaving the cave, the men see a small herd of antelope. They fire and kill one. Not having anything with which to build a fire, they eat the meat raw, proclaiming it delicious in their hunger.
Below them they see Solomon’s Great Road, although part of it had been covered by a lava flow. They continue walking along a ravine and find engravings on the walls. They show mailed figures driving chariots. Evidently the Egyptians had been here long before Solomon.
They come to some trees, which allows them to build a fire and roast the meat. Captain Good, always fastidious about his appearance, washes his clothes in a stream while using fat from the antelope to shine his boots. He also uses the fat to shave his overgrown beard.
He manages to shave only half his face when a flash from a thrown spear appears above his head. A group of natives of the same color as Umbopa approach them threateningly. They speak English, although from a previous century. They accuse the white men of invading their land, for which they must die.
Captain Good takes out his teeth, which startles the natives. Good puts them back in, seemingly performing magic. They are also surprised about his monocle, which gives him the appearance of having a large glass eye.
Quatermain takes advantage of their ignorance and superstition. He demonstrates his power of killing an antelope with only noise, firing his gun. The antelope appears to drop dead from the large bang.
The natives decide to let these miraculous strangers live. The oldest man introduces himself as Infadoos, son of the former king Kala. The current king, Twala, is his brother. He offers to lead the white men to his brother’s court.
Captain Good cries out when he sees the natives take the clothes from the bank of the stream, demanding to let him put on his clothes. Infadoos objects that he would deny them the sight of his beautiful white legs. This amuses...
(The entire section is 430 words.)
Chapter 8 Summary
The travelers are led by the guides, Infadoos and Scragga walking with them. Quatermain asks Infadoos who made the road and the sculptures in the ravine, and Infadoos tells him that they were made a long time ago by people from the north.
He also tells the hunter of the last war, which was a civil war between the warriors of Kukuanaland. The current king, Twala, had been born the younger twin of two boys. By tradition, the weaker twin was put to death; in this case, that would have been Twala, but his mother hid him. The other twin, Imotu, was made king at the death of his father, but Gagool, the wise woman, brought out Twala and revealed the serpent tattoo, which was put on the heir when he was born.
The people rose up in anger, taking sides between the two brothers. Imotu came out of his hut along with his wife and young son Ignosi. Twala stabbed him in the heart, and his wife and son ran away to a nearby kraal. That is the last time anyone saw the queen and her son alive.
Umbopa is behind them, listening to Infadoos’s story. Quatermain looks at him, thinking that he looks as though he is trying to remember something long forgotten.
Infadoos points out ahead of them to the very kraal where the queen was last seen. As Quatermain, Good, and Sir Henry watch, a large band of warriors emerges from the barricade surrounding the kraal, dressed as if for war. They come to the company of the white men and escort them into the kraal.
The inside is planned out, with a central pathway and surrounding huts. The people are tall, all of them greater than six feet in height. The people look with appreciation at Captain Good’s white legs until Good feels conspicuous.
Infadoos leads them to a large hut where they can rest. The native people bring them gifts of cattle, milk, and honey. The white men receive the gifts, have one of the oxen slaughtered, and pass the meat around among the people.
As the white men eat, the old gentleman among the natives is polite to his guests, but the young one soon begins to look upon them with suspicion. Sir Henry suggests that they ask the natives if they have heard anything about his missing brother, but Quatermain thinks it is wiser to wait.
When the white men take out their pipes to smoke, the natives are astonished. They learn that Twala, the king, is away at his principal...
(The entire section is 442 words.)
Chapter 9 Summary
For two days, the native Kukuana lead the white men to Loo, the place where Twala the king is residing. They travel along Solomon’s Great Road, which ends at the mountains that the Kukuanas call the “Three Witches.” These mountains are full of caves.
When Quatermain asks why men came to this place, Infadoos replies that the “men from the Stars,” as he calls the white men, should know. Quatermain says that he has heard that men came for “bright stones, pretty playthings, and yellow iron.” Infadoos tells him that he will have to ask Gagool, the old wise woman.
Umbopa says that the diamonds are there and will be found by the white men, who are so fond of such toys and money. Sir Henry is becoming more suspicious of Umbopa. The native has asked people if they have seen anything of a white man, but they have seen nothing.
Infadoos leads them to the kraal of Loo, which seems to be endless. They are taken to a hut where they are allowed to eat and bathe. They sleep late the next morning. They are then led to an enclosure surrounded by the huts of the king’s wives.
At Twala’s hut they seat themselves, waiting for the king’s arrival. When he enters, they are astounded at his great size, as well as the empty socket where one of his eyes used to be. The native people bow before him, and Twala speaks to the white men with great arrogance. One of the natives drops his shield, and Twala orders Scragga to kill him. When Scragga throws his spear at the man and kills him, the white men are outraged.
Twala demands to know why the “men from the Stars” have come. They speak of their guns, which can strike death from a distance. Twala demands proof and tells them to kill a man. Quatermain insists that they will not kill a human being but will demonstrate with an ox. Twala insists that it be a man, so Quatermain invites the king, or if not himself then Scragga, to be the example.
Twala gives in and orders an ox brought. Sir Henry shoots the animal, and the king is convinced. Quatermain gives Twala a rifle, but warns him that it will kill him if he uses it against another man.
An old woman comes in. Gagool is incredibly old, Quatermain sees. She warns the king that she hears the footsteps of approaching white men. Turning to Quatermain and the others, she tells them...
(The entire section is 480 words.)
Chapter 10 Summary
Quatermain tells Infadoos that it seems to him that Twala is a cruel king. Infadoos agrees and says that the land cries out against his tyranny.
Quatermain asks why the people do not get rid of him. Infadoos replies that they have respect for the office of king, even if they do not like the king himself. Also Scragga is the next in line, and he is even worse than his father.
Umbopa asks if he is sure that Ignosi, the son of Twala’s brother, is dead. He tells them that the queen and her son did not die but escaped over the mountains and were found by a wandering tribe. The queen eventually died and the son became a wanderer, working as a servant and a soldier.
Infadoos dismisses Umbopa as insane, but Umbopa, calling the old man “uncle,” tells him that he will show him. He takes off his loincloth and reveals the serpent tattoo. Infadoos realizes that Umbopa is really Ignosi, his nephew and his king. He bows before him, but Umbopa/Ignosi reminds him that he cannot be king as long as Twala lives.
Sir Henry asks Ignosi, as Umbopa is now known, if any white man had set foot within Kukuanaland, and Ignosi disappoints him by saying that no white man, which means Sir Henry’s brother, has been seen in that area.
Infadoos says that he has a plan. Messengers arrive with gifts of mail shirts, handed down through many generations, from the king. The white men put them on under their clothing and join the Kukuanas at their great dance.
Twala is sitting before the people with Gagool by his side. Infadoos told the white men that Twala used Gagool for a “witch hunt” to take people’s property and wives. One by one, Gagool identifies people as witches. They are killed immediately.
About a hundred men have been put to death when Gagool points to Ignosi as a witch. Quatermain objects that Ignosi is their servant (their “dog”) and thus immune to their witch hunt on the grounds of hospitality. Twala insists that Ignosi must die.
Sir Henry, Captain Good, and Quatermain all point their revolvers at Twala, warning the surrounding warriors that their king will die if any of them touch Ignosi. Twala relents, saying that it is only on the grounds of hospitality that Ignosi has been saved. They return to their hut accompanied by Ignosi and resolve to wait until Infadoos arrives.
(The entire section is 414 words.)
Chapter 11 Summary
Infadoos brings six warriors to Ignosi and the white men, asking Ignosi to show them the serpent tattoo. He does so but they are still cautious, saying that he easily could have tattooed himself recently.
The white men are unable to think of another sign until Captain Good shows them in his almanac that a lunar eclipse is to occur the following night. Quatermain is unsure, stating that they could be mistaken about the date, or it might be cloudy during the eclipse.
They have no other choice, however, so they tell the six warriors that they will cause the moon to disappear, and by this they will know that they tell the truth and Ignosi is their king. Ignosi is grateful for their help in regaining his throne for him, and he agrees to their request that when he becomes king, he will put an end to the witch hunts.
The next evening, the Girls’ Dance will occur, during which the prettiest girl will be sacrificed to the silent Stone Ones (the three mountains that rise nearby). The white men put on the chain mail that Twala gave them, hiding it under their shirts.
They go to the Dance, and Twala asks Quatermain which girl dancer is the prettiest. Quatermain points one out, immediately regretting that he has set the girl up for certain death. Twala will not relent because the prophecy states that the king who does not sacrifice a girl will die, ending the reign of his house as king of the Kukuana.
When Scragga prepares to throw his spear, the girl begs for mercy. She grabs onto Captain Good’s “beautiful white legs,” asking him to protect her. Quatermain demands that the girl, whose name is Foulata, be spared.
Seeing that the eclipse has started, Quatermain raises his hands and commands the moon to disappear. As the light fades, the people cry out in terror. Gagool tells them that she has seen this before and that the shadow will pass.
Scragga throws his spear at Sir Henry, but it bounces off his chain mail hidden under his shirt. Sir Henry picks up the spear and throws it at Scragga, killing him instantly.
King Twala and all the people race to the safety of their huts for protection against the magic that is causing the moon to disappear. Quatermain asks Infadoos and the six warriors to lead them to a place of safety while they make war upon King Twala to overthrow him...
(The entire section is 422 words.)
Chapter 12 Summary
Infadoos leads the way out of Loo, journeying for more than an hour as the eclipse passes. They go to a flat-topped hill, shaped like a horseshoe. There is a camping ground at the top where there is usually one regiment of three thousand men, but they see that there are several regiments gathered there.
Infadoos had sent for the white men’s goods along with Captain Good’s trousers, which he gratefully puts on at last. Infadoos regrets that he can no longer see Good’s “beautiful white legs.”
Infadoos explains that he has commanded all the regiments to muster at dawn. There are about twenty thousand warriors supporting Ignosi, although Twala has about thirty-five thousand with the prospect of more coming.
Ignosi stands before the soldiers and proclaims himself the king, daring anyone to challenge him if they do not believe him. Nobody responds to this challenge. He promises them that once he is king, the bloodshed will cease in the land. There will be no more witch hunts. No one shall die except those who break the law. The people respond that they have chosen Ignosi as their king.
Half an hour later, Quartermain, Good, and Sir Henry join the commanders of the regiments in a council of war. Knowing that they face an overwhelming force, the soldiers begin to strengthen their position in whatever way seems possible. They collect boulders to roll down on the invaders. The paths coming up the hill are blocked.
At sundown, a herald from Loo arrives, bearing a message from Twala. The king says that no one will be killed except for Infadoos, Scragga, and Sir Henry, who will all die by torture. Quartermain sends the herald back with a message of contempt and challenge.
The warriors continue to work through the night, fortifying the hill as much as possible. At last, they try to get some sleep before the battle coming the next day. Sir Henry points out to Quartermain that it is doubtful that all of the white men will survive, but he would prefer dying in battle than by any other means.
The following morning, they dress for the fight. Sir Henry puts on his chain mail and dresses as a Kukuana warrior. Quartermain is impressed with Sir Henry, seeing that this native dress shows off his physical strength to his greatest advantage. Infadoos reports that Twala’s warriors are going to attack the hill on three sides, which will weaken Ignosi’s forces’ position.
(The entire section is 417 words.)
Chapter 13 Summary
As Quatermain and the forces of Ignosi wait on the hilltop, three columns of Twala’s regiments approach, forming a three-prong assault. Captain Good wishes for a Gatling gun, but Sir Henry says there is no use wishing for what they do not have. He urges Quatermain to try a shot at the tallest warrior, who is probably the commander.
Quatermain takes careful aim but misses, killing an orderly a few feet to his left. Good goads him and Quatermain takes aim at the now-running warrior, killing him with the second shot.
The forces on the hillside cheer for the white man’s magic, and Sir Henry and Captain Good begin firing into the native troops below. They hear ominous roars from either side, signaling the attacks of the right and left flanks.
The battle is joined as the army of Twala climbs the hillside. The reserve regiment, the Greys (named for the color of their shields), moves forward.
One of the assailants runs toward Quatermain, who falls to the ground. The assailant trips over him, and Quatermain shoots him from behind. Soon after someone knocks him from behind, and he remembers nothing more.
He awakens to find himself back at the camp, tended by Captain Good. He learns that there were heavy casualties on both sides but Twala’s forces sustained more, two thousand to three thousand.
Quatermain sees the medicine men treating the wounded. Those who have suffered obviously fatal wounds are quickly dispatched by the opening of an artery. They slowly but painlessly bleed to death, avoiding suffering longer than necessary.
Quatermain and Captain Good find Sir Henry with Ignosi, confused at what the natives are contemplating. Twala is receiving reinforcements. Also, Infadoos informs them that they will soon run out of water.
Infadoos says that Twala is fearful of striking them again, so he will wait until they die of thirst. They have the choices of staying where they are and dying of thirst, retreating toward the north, or attacking with a straightforward assault.
They leave the decision to Quatermain, who says that their best chance is to attack. Ignosi agrees and prepares the regiments for the next battle. Captain Good and Sir Henry will take their places at the right and left wings.
The three white men...
(The entire section is 421 words.)
Chapter 14 Summary
Before the battle, Infadoos rouses his troops. The Greys (along with Sir Henry) and the Buffaloes (with Quatermain) will bear the brunt of the first fighting. Infadoos promises rewards to all should they prove victorious.
Quatermain, looking over the gallant men, realizes that most of them will soon be dead. The troops give their king a salute worthy of a Roman emperor.
Ignosi puts himself at the head of the Buffaloes, which will serve as a reserve force supporting the Greys. Quatermain looks on as the battle commences. Twala’s forces attack the Greys, who give ferocious battle, soon passing over the dead bodies of their foes.
There are heavy casualties, however, with the Greys losing one third of their number. Quatermain is heartened to see that Sir Henry is still among the living. Twala’s forces suffer four thousand casualties among the dead and wounded.
A second force attacks, but this one is even stronger. The outcome is in doubt, but the Greys manage to prevail. Twala’s regiments fall back, but now there are only six hundred Greys left, Sir Henry still among them.
Quatermain, admitting that he is usually a coward, is now full of a warlike spirit, eager to fight. He asks Ignosi if the Buffaloes are just going to stand by and watch the Greys fight, but Ignosi announces that their time has come. The Buffaloes charge. Quatermain unexpectedly finds himself in the midst of the Greys, standing beside Sir Henry. He thinks what a gallant vision it is to see the fighting men before him.
Twala confronts Sir Henry, fighting in close quarters. He is shocked when the right and left flanks of Ignosi’s army charge just as Sir Henry is struck to his knees by Twala’s blow. Clearly overwhelmed, Twala’s forces take flight. There are only ninety-five Greys left.
Infadoos praises his troops as well as Sir Henry. Ignosi announce that he is pressing the attack. Captain Good is found alive near a pile of bodies. One of these supposedly dead warriors suddenly springs up and attacks Good repeatedly with his spear. Good, who is wearing his chain mail, is unhurt.
Ignosi returns to Loo, where some of his troops are stationed at all exits. Twala and what is left of his army are inside. Entering the kraal, Ignosi finds Twala attended only by Gagool. All his wives and all his troops have...
(The entire section is 483 words.)
Chapter 15 Summary
Sir Henry, Captain Good, and Quatermain are taken to Twala’s hut, where their wounds can be treated. Foulata, the woman they saved from dying as a sacrifice to the mountains, serves as their nurse. Although their chain mail managed to save their lives, they are still terribly bruised by the blows of the enemies’ spears.
That night Sir Henry sleeps in the bed of Twala, the man whom he killed. It is a fitful night as the cries of those mourning their dead fill the air, as well as the terrible dreams that haunt their sleep.
In the morning, it is discovered that Captain Good is seriously ill with a high fever and internal injuries. When Infadoos comes to the hut to greet them, he is concerned about Good’s injuries. He treats Sir Henry with great reverence as the deliverer of the Kukuana people. He tells the white men that all of Twala’s regiments have submitted to the rule of Ignosi.
At this news, Quatermain reflects on the rise of Umbopa their servant to Ignosi the king of Kukuanaland. Ignosi announces that he will kill Gagool along with all the other witch hunters. Quatermain points out that she is the only one left who knows the secret of King Solomon’s Mines. Ignosi says that he remembers his promise to help his white friends to find the mines, so he will think about Gagool’s fate.
Captain Good is near death for several days, tended faithfully by Foulata. Quatermain is concerned to see that she has becoming increasingly devoted to the man with the “beautiful white legs.”
After five days, Quatermain comes to check on Good and sees him lying still. He fears his friend is dead, but Foulata, speaking from the shadows where she has remained at Good’s side for five days, assures him that Good is sleeping soundly and will live.
When Good recovers, he is told of Foulata’s devotion to him. He thanks Foulata for saving his life, but she reminds him that it is he who saved her life first (quite forgetting the part that Quatermain and Sir Henry played in that episode). Quatermain fears that Good, as a typical sailor, will take advantage of Foulata’s devotion.
Over the coming days, the three white men are treated with great reverence by the Kukuana people. When they express a desire to continue on with their quest, Ignosi tells them that Twala was buried in a...
(The entire section is 493 words.)
Chapter 16 Summary
Quatermain, Captain Good, and Sir Henry are accompanied by Infadoos, Gagool, Foulata, and several guards and attendants as they journey toward the three mountain peaks known as the Three Witches.
Solomon’s Great Road stops at the foot of the central peak. Quatermain is excited to be drawing near to the mines, even though they were the cause of death for so many. Gagool predicts that the same fate will befall them. She warns them not to hurry so quickly toward the evil that awaits them.
At last they come to a great pit where diamonds had been mined. The road goes around the pit toward three giant statues (one female and two male)—the Three Silent Ones. Quatermain remembers from the Bible the story of King Solomon going after three false gods; he assumes these are the three that led to Solomon’s apostasy.
Rather than stopping to rest and eat, the group proceeds to the “Place of Death.” Gagool asks the white men if they are ready, pessimistic of the outcome. Infadoos tells her to hold her tongue and keep on. Foulata is fearful but intends to go with Captain Good wherever he goes. Quatermain thinks that this will prove to be awkward if they ever return to civilization.
The party enters a huge chamber with clear, ice-like columns and stalactites. Some of the crystal pillars have figures carved in them. Quatermain wonders about the light source, but Gagool pushes them on so he has no time to investigate.
They enter a chamber containing a sculpture of a giant skeletal figure of Death. Quatermain almost runs from the cavern at the horror of the sight. He sees brown figures surrounding the statue. Drawing closer, he sees that one of the figures is the headless corpse of Twala. What he at first thought was water he now sees is the dripping from the ceiling, gradually turning the late king into a stalactite.
Looking around, he sees other brown figures in varying degrees of covering with crystal. These are the former kings of the Kukuana. The giant sculpture of Death evidently has been carved by the same hand to create the Three Silent Ones.
Good declares that the sculptures are perfect in anatomical design, down to the smallest bones. Quatermain thinks that perhaps the sculpture of Death was placed there to guard a treasure chamber. That and the figures surrounding it he...
(The entire section is 410 words.)
Chapter 17 Summary
Gagool checks on how Twala’s corpse is faring, kissing the lips of his severed head. She lights a lamp and leads the party behind the statue of Death. A rock rises from the floor to reveal an opening to another chamber. Quatermain begins to tremble, anxious to see if there really is a treasure chamber or if it is a hoax after all.
Gagool says that the diamonds were brought from the pit outside by the Three Silent Ones to this chamber. A white man and a woman came and put some diamonds in a goat skin bag. The white man became frightened of something, Gagool did not know what, and left the bag behind as he ran from the cave, holding only one diamond, which the kings of Kukuanas wore on their crown.
Gagool says that there is a legend that whoever enters the chamber will die within one month. The party enters the passage and finds a place where someone had started to wall up the passage. Foulata feels faint and stops. The men leave her there and go on.
They come to an elaborately painted door with a bag lying on its threshold, full of what appears to be pebbles. Good says that he thinks they are diamonds. They enter the chamber to find several hundred ivory tusks. This alone would make them wealthy enough for a lifetime. There are about twenty wooden boxes, which are full of gold pieces.
Gagool points out three large stone chests that contain uncut diamonds. When Gagool tells the white men to eat and drink the diamonds, they begin to laugh uproariously. Gagool does not laugh with them.
As the white men are looking at all the wealth, they do not notice the malevolent glares of Gagool, who creeps out of the chamber. Soon the men hear Foulata scream, saying that she has been stabbed and that the stone door is falling. The men rush to her to find Foulata and Gagool struggling.
Gagool falls under the stone as she tries to escape and is crushed to death. The men see that Foulata does not have long to live. Foulata asks Quatermain to give Captain Good a message because she cannot speak English. She says that she loves him but knows that they could never be together since she is black and he is white.
Foulata dies and Good grieves, but Sir Henry points out that they will all be in the same position. It will not be long before they die of starvation. Since Gagool was the only one to know the secret of raising the door, they are trapped. They now...
(The entire section is 500 words.)
Chapter 18 Summary
The men try to sleep, but the total silence and thoughts of their impending suffering and death prevent much rest. After a few hours, Sir Henry suggests that they eat some of the food that is still remaining from the basket that Foulata brought with her. Captain Good does not see why; the sooner they die, the better. Eating would just prolong their death, not prolong their life.
Sir Henry then suggests that they yell in case anyone should be looking for them and may be outside in the outer chamber. They cry out, but there is no response. All they hear is silence, so they give in to their despair. Quatermain and Captain Good begin to sob.
The day passes. They soon notice that there is a steady supply of fresh air. They look for the source, but after an hour Sir Henry and Quatermain give up. Captain Good perseveres and finds a corner where the stone sounds hollow and there seems to be a slight breeze. They all pull on the stone, which eventually gives way to reveal a stone stairway.
Quatermain fills his pockets and a basket with diamonds, but the others will take nothing with them. They begin to descend the dark stairway.
They find themselves in a labyrinth, which they follow with dwindling hope. Quatermain thinks about leaving the basket full of diamonds but decides he might as well die a rich man than a poor one.
Eventually they hear the sound of running water. Suddenly Good falls into an underground river and desperately grabs for something to hang onto. He finds a rock, and the two others pull him to safety.
They continue on their way, retracing their steps to find another tunnel leading in a different direction. Sir Henry suggests that they take it because all roads are alike and they might as well keep on walking until they drop.
Soon they see a speck of light ahead. They follow it to find a small opening, probably made by a jackal. They exit into the starlit night. The earth gives way under them, and they fall down to the grass below them.
They find that they are in the pit from where they diamonds were extracted, with the Three Silent Ones standing above. They make it to the top and walk down the mountainside. They find a fire below and meet once again Infadoos, who welcomes them with joy and tears.
(The entire section is 408 words.)
Chapter 19 Summary
After resting for two days, the men return down the mountain, not really that much worse for their experience. The only consequences seem to be a few more gray hairs on Quatermain’s head. Also, Captain Good has been changed by Foulata’s death, although Quatermain sees it as a blessing in disguise because such a relationship would have been impossible in white civilization, despite Foulata’s beauty.
Before they leave, they return to the Chamber of Death but can find no way to raise the stone doorway to the treasure chamber, although Gagool’s crushed body still remains. They leave the treasure, along with poor Foulata’s bones, to be found by some future explorer.
Ten days after they escape from the labyrinth, the three men return to Loo. Quatermain still has some diamonds in his pockets, although he lost some on the fall down the mountainside. It is still enough to make him wealthy for a long time to come.
On learning of Gagool’s death, Ignosi calls for his ancient councilor, Induna, who was born on the same day as Ignosi’s grandfather, and tells him of the witch hunter’s fate. Induna says that a great curse has been lifted from the land.
Quatermain tells Ignosi that it is time for him and his companions to leave, reminding him of his promise to rule justly. Ignosi is grief stricken by this news, accusing them of loving the diamonds more than him and cursing the “white stones.”
Quatermain reminds him how much he had missed his homeland in his years of wandering. It is the same for the white men. Ignosi swears that from now on, no white man will be allowed in his lands. His three white friends will be the only ones allowed to return.
Ignosi promises to send a regiment as an escort. The three white men bid him good-bye and leave Loo. Before they exit the town, however, a young girl begs to see Good’s “beautiful white legs” one more time. Good refuses, but eventually he gives in and raises his pant legs.
Infadoos leads the regiment that guides the white men across the Kukuana’s domains. He bids them farewell, telling them of an oasis on the way. Captain Good gives Infadoos a spare monocle as a gift, which Infadoos proudly wears.
Sir Henry and Captain Good reflect fondly on their adventures in Kukuanaland. Quatermain, however, is just glad to...
(The entire section is 423 words.)
Chapter 20 Summary
Quatermain is walking ahead of the other two down a stream that leads from the oasis until it disappears in the desert sands. He sees a grass hut that has a full doorway instead of the usual short “beehive” entrance.
A white man emerges dressed in skins and having an enormous black beard. He is limping as he walks toward the strangers, then falls down into a faint. Sir Henry cries out that it is his brother George.
Another man, also dressed in skins, appears from the hut. He exclaims when he sees Quatermain. It is Jim, the hunter whom Quatermain met several years earlier as he was leaving to follow “Mr. Neville” in his search for King Solomon’s mines. Sir Henry and George are greeting each other with great excitement, whatever disagreement between them (Quatermain suspects that it was over a woman) evidently forgotten.
George explains why he was found in the desert oasis, far from civilization and far from King Solomon’s mines. He and Jim had headed toward the mountains until George’s leg was shattered by a falling rock. Although it healed, George was in no condition to continue the quest to the mines or to cross the desert to return home.
Therefore, for two years they have lived like Robinson Crusoe on the desert oasis. There has been sufficient game coming to the oasis to keep them well fed. George had decided it was better to die of old age on the oasis than to die in the desert.
Quatermain and Captain Good agree between the two of them to divide up the diamonds into thirds, with one third going to Sir Henry, despite his objections. If he does not want them, then he can give them to his brother George.
The white men and Jim manage to get the lame George across the desert and eventually back to Quatermain’s home in Durban.
Sir Henry, George, and Captain Good return to England. Sir Henry writes a letter to Quatermain, telling him that when he tried to sell the diamonds, he was told that they would have to be sold in small portions over many years because no one could afford to buy them all at once.
From the few diamonds he sold, Sir Henry received one hundred and eighty thousand pounds. Sir Henry begs Quatermain to come to England. He has befriended Quatermain’s son Harry, inviting him to come to his home to hunt...
(The entire section is 451 words.)