Chapter 5 Summary

After killing nine elephants, Quatermain and his companions spend two days cutting out the valuable tusks, which they bury under a tall tree. They bury Khiva in an ant-bear hole, providing him with a spear for his journey to the next world.

They then face the next stage of their journey, which is the desert that lies before the Suliman Mountains. They are at the spot where Quatermain had met Silvestre following the Portuguese’s return from King Solomon’s Mines.

Umbopa speaks to Sir Henry as an equal, which angers Quatermain, who thinks that it is not decent for a native to speak to a white man familiarly. Umbopa warns Sir Henry that the way is hard, but Sir Henry assures him that he must go to find his brother. Umbopa vows to accompany Sir Henry to the mountains, even if he should die on the way. He cryptically says that he too seeks a brother over the mountains.

Quatermain views the native with suspicion, thinking that he knows too much. Umbopa assures him that there is no need to fear him, that he has not set any traps for him. He promises that if they cross the mountains, he will tell what he knows. He walks off, and the white men discuss how odd he is.

Since the journey across the desert will be difficult and tortuous, they leave many of their weapons behind in the care of a native at a nearby kraal. Quatermain warns him that if he touches the guns, he will curse him.

The native tests him on this and touches one of the guns. It fires, killing one of his oxen. He demands that Quatermain pay him for the lost cattle. Quatermain threatens him further that even if he dies he will return to haunt him.

Quatermain persuades three of the natives to join them as water bearers, offering them a good hunting knife in payment. When night comes, the party sets off across the desert. In the dark, there are many sounds which frighten even the natives. Captain Good walks off an embankment into a herd of quagga, a type of zebra, landing astride one of them. The quagga take off, including the one which Good rides, although he soon falls off.

The party keeps on, stopping to dig a pit in which they unsuccessfully take refuge from the brutal heat. As they lie down to sleep, Quatermain hears Umbopa mutter that if they do not soon find water, they will be dead the next day.