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 calls the White Death and the White Dead.