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 meet together, certain that this is the last time they will see each other alive. They shake hands, keeping their emotions under control with the British “stiff upper lip.” They each take their places along the line of attack.