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Quatermain: the Complete Adventures—7

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Quatermain: the Complete Adventures—7
Leonaur Original
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Author(s): H. Rider Haggard
Date Published: 2009/05
Page Count: 560
Softcover ISBN-13: 978-1-84677-685-4
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-1-84677-686-1

Quatermain and Umslopogaas embark on more adventures

his is volume seven, the final book of the Leonaur complete adventures of Allan Quatermain, H. Rider Haggard's famous adventurer, guide, trader and big game hunter—the consummate white man on the Dark Continent of the nineteenth century. This volume contains four shorter stories as well as the seventeenth adventure, ‘Allan and the Ice Gods’ and the eighteenth, Nada the Lily. Both, predictably encompass all the vital ingredients that make a Quatermain story such compulsive reading. Haggard also devoted a novel to the origins and early adventures of Quatermain's stalwart Zulu warrior companion, the mighty Umslopogaas. Although the tale only references Quatermain its principal character is an essential and important component of the Quatermain saga and so his story deserves its place in this collection. Readers will also be delighted to learn that 'Nada the Lily' is highly regarded in the Haggard canon and will deliver a satisfying, riveting and exciting read in its own right.

Even as Pag went, Henga lifted his arm and with fearful force hurled at Wi a flint knife set in a whale's tooth for handle, which he had hidden in his great paw. But Wi, being warned, was watching, and as a shout of "Ill done!" went up from the crowd, dropped to the ground so that the knife whizzed over him. Next instant, he was up again, charging at Henga, who now grasped the club with both hands and swung it aloft to crush him. <br>
Before it could fall, Wi, remembering Pag's counsel, smote with all his strength. Henga sloped the club sideways to protect his head. Wi's axe fell on it halfway up the handle, and the sharp steel, forged in heaven's furnace, shore through the tough wood, so that the thick part of the club fell to the ground, a sight that caused the people to shout with wonder.<br>
Henga threw the handle at Wi, striking him on the head and, as he staggered back, picked up the thick end of the club. Wi paused to wipe the blood out of his eyes, for the broken stick had grazed his skin. Then again he charged at Henga, and keeping out of reach of the shortened club, strove to smite him on the knee, once more following the counsel of Pag. But the giant's arms were very long and the handle of Wi's axe was short, so that the task was difficult. At length, however, a blow went home and although no sinew was severed, cut into Henga's flesh above the knee so deeply that he roared aloud.<br>
Maddened with rage and pain, the giant changed his plan. Dropping the club, as Wi straightened himself after the blow, he leapt at him and gripped him in his huge arms, purposing to break his bones or hug him to death as a bear does. They struggled together.<br>
"All is over," said Whaka. "That man whom Henga embraces is dead."<br>
Pag, who was standing beside him, smote him on the mouth, saying:<br>
"Is it so? Look, raven, look!"<br>
As he spoke, Wi slipped from the grasp of Henga as an eel slips from a child's hand. Again Henga caught him by the head, but Wi's hair having been cut and his scalp greased, he could not hold him. Then the giant smote at him with his great fist, a mighty blow that caught Wi upon the forehead and felled him to the ground. Before he could rise, Henga hurled himself onto him and the two struggled there upon the sand.<br>
Never before had the tribe seen a fight like this, nor did tradition tell of such a one. They writhed, they twisted, they rolled over, now this one uppermost, and now that one. Henga tried to get Wi by the throat, but his hands would not hold on the oiled skin, and always the hunter escaped from that deadly grasp, and twice or thrice found opportunity to pound Henga's face with his fist.<br>
Presently they were seen to rise together, the giant's arms still about Wi, whom he dared not loose because he was weaponless, while the axe still hung to the hunter's wrist. They wrestled, staggering to and fro, covered with blood and sand and sweat. The watchers shook their heads, for how, thought they, could any man stand against the weight and strength of Henga? But Pag, noting everything with his quick eye, whispered to Aaka, who forgetting her hate in her trouble and fear, had drawn near to him:<br>
"Keep courage, woman. The salmon does its work. Henga tires."<br>
It was true. The grip of the giant loosened, his breath came in short gasps, moreover, that leg into which the axe of Wi had cut began to fail and he dared not put all his weight upon it. Still, gathering up his strength, with a mighty effort he cast Wi from him with such force that the hunter fell to the ground and lay there a moment, as though he were stunned or the breath had been shaken out of him.<br>
Now Moananga groaned aloud, waiting to see Henga spring upon his foe's prostrate form and stamp him to death. But some change came over the man. It was as though a sudden terror had taken him. Or perhaps he thought that Wi was dead. If so he did not wait to look, but turning, ran toward the cave. Wi, recovering his wits or his breath, or both, sat up and saw. Then, with a shout, he leapt to his feet and sped after Henga, followed by all the people; yes, even by Urk the Aged, who hobbled along leaning on his wand of office.<br>
Henga had a long start, but at every step his hurt leg grew weaker, and Wi sped after him like a deer. At the very mouth of the cave, he overtook him, and those who followed saw the flash of a falling axe and heard the thud of its blow upon the back of Henga, who staggered forward. Then the pair of them vanished into the shadow of the cave, while the people halted without awaiting the issue, whatever it might be.<br>
A little while later, there was a stir in the shadows; out of them a man appeared. It was Wi, who bore something in his hands, Wi with the red axe still hanging from his right arm. He staggered forward; a ray from the setting sun pierced the mists and struck full upon him and that which he carried. Lo! it was the huge head of Henga.<br>
For a moment Wi stood still like one bemused, while the tribe shouted their welcome to him as chief by right of conquest. Then he swooned and fell forward into the arms of Pag who, seeing that he was about to fall, thrust himself past Aaka and caught him.