Quatermain and his companions have been steadily making their way across a desert, fighting exhaustion and dehydration as they travel. After depleting their water reserves, they find themselves "suffering severely" due to a "torturing thirst." Nevertheless, they must endure a steep climb up a mountain, burning in the intense heat of the desert.
Their fatigue increases until they find a patch of wild melons. After satisfying their thirst with the liquid from the fruits, the group again ventures forward. For three more days, the group continues in their journey without finding further food; eating a bit of snow provides their only relief from thirst. The cold temperatures at higher elevations drain what little energy the men have left, and Ventvogel dies when they take temporary shelter in a cave.
The group continues on their journey, eventually coming to Solomon's Great Road. In this area, the land is markedly different from the arduous terrain they have endured. There are trees to provide firewood, antelope to provide nourishment, and a stream to quench their thirst.
Relaxation is a welcome reprieve from all they have encountered, and the group sits down to eat "with relish." They light pipes and finally have the strength to enjoy each other's company; the change in circumstance is "almost heavenly."
The stream itself is an almost magical environment. The ferns are dense and interspersed with wild asparagus, and the brook takes on a "merry" personality as it babbles alongside them. The air is soft, and colorful birds fly "like living gems" to provide richness and beauty.
This scene is a stark contrast compared to the suffering they have recently endured. Here, the group is comfortable, and their basic needs for survival are met; therefore, the time spent by the stream feels like paradise.