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 understand what she meant when she told them to eat and drink the diamonds.
They try to find the release for the stone door but are unsuccessful. They divide up the food and eat it. The lamp dies out, and they are trapped in darkness. Their only hope is that Infadoos will find them and rescue them.