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. Quatermain copies the directions on his map for Jim to guide the reckless Neville.
Sir Henry and Captain Good ask Quatermain to come with them on their search for Sir Henry’s brother, but Quatermain refuses, saying that he is too old. Sir Henry says that he will split the wealth of the mines, should they be found, with Good. All expenses will also be paid. At this handsome offer, Quatermain promises to think it over.